On Monday 24th July 2000, I was the last of the Pageant organisers on site at Bishopthorpe Palace. The previous day, many of the participants had turned up and cleared almost everything away, but the toilets, caravans, rubbish bins and generators had to wait for Monday collection.
For me there were feelings of pride at our success, relief at our avoidance of disaster and pleasure in new friendships made.
So much had been done by so many people from Bishopthorpe and Acaster over the preceding year. A grant from the Millennium Fund had been secured, use of the Palace and its grounds generously granted by our Archbishop David Hope, the script written, the parts cast, many and frequent rehearsals held. Individuals and businesses kindly loaned their equipment, their animals and their services. We had identified suppliers and contractors for insurance, security, tent, stands, bar, toilets, etc. Licences had been obtained for the use of animals, children, toilets, explosives…
There were, of course, unanticipated problems to overcome. Some were quite major such as the need for access through Chantry Lane construction works. Others are trivial in retrospect but important at the time such as my (it can now be revealed) locking out the Home Guard between scenes. (Surely their predecessors would have learned to climb over fences!) Even the last job was not destined to be easy. A generator was too heavy to be towed out of the sunken garden. A tipper truck from Chantry Lane came to our rescue.
The week itself was a triumph. The sun shone. After the first night we had full houses. The performances went well. About a thousand local people enjoyed an event in which about two hundred friends and family participated. Over £17,000 was raised for the villages.
I remember David Hope’s warm acceptance of our presence at the Palace, his willingness to allow us free access to the ground floor rooms and the ‘stable’ facilities and his very effective prayers for fine weather on each performance. Unfortunately the spell wore off a few weeks later when floods after torrential rain filled the Palace cellars!
I remember the humour and dedication shown by all the participants in the enterprise: actors, stage crews, costume designers, choreographers, and front of house alike.
I directed three of the episodes in the production. I was especially grateful for the help of the Manager at Murton who provided the costumes for the Roman soldiers and drilled them, marching to the chant of “sin-dek’ (Sinister! Dexter Left Right). My second scene was a 16th century scene involved a dancing routine featuring the Volta and a pavane which were coached by Sandra Smith and executed delightfully by the actors. I also loved the expressions of the maids who were peeping through a window of the Palace to watch the ‘toffs’ dancing.
My third episode featured a performance by our previous vicar. It was based on the flood of 1892. and John Bettridge designed an ingenious boat constructed over his own trailer so it could be wheeled over the imaginary flood water to enable the Rev John Keble and two church wardens to disembark up the Palace steps. Several weeks later they would have needed a real boat!
The Millennium Pageant was certainly a wonderful occasion which enabled the whole village to come together and co-operate in so many ways. Fortunately the performance was professionally filmed so we still have the video to bring it back to life. My thanks to everyone involved.
THE PAGEANT PROPS TEAM
My involvement in the pageant started when a note dropped through our letter box inviting people in the village to help in various ways. I had recently set up a workshop in our barn with some woodworking machinery and I replied to say that I could probably help make some props and scenery. A reply arrived to say that before volunteering I should be aware of the list of props required – this included: 15 Roman soldiers’ uniforms complete with shields and swords; an assortment of staves; a large medieval chair (or throne); a Roman altar (portable); an effigy of an archbishop; 100 flaming torches; ways to simulate explosions (off stage); Army Bren guns and rifles for the Home Guard scene; and – particularly challenging – a boat to hold 3 people which could move across the tarmac in front of the palace.
It was clear that we would need a team of people to tackle these projects, so we got together a group of 6 enthusiasts with appropriate skills including John Lynch (builder) and Lin Taylor who had lots of relevant artistic skills. We had many meetings at our house to plan our work and do the research – for example, none of us had any idea what a portable Roman altar looked like – and the internet was not as widely used as it is today.
Making the boat was a challenge. Thankfully, Ian Jemison (Jemison Engineering) who lives very close to the palace, came to our rescue by making a metal front end (complete with wheel) to be joined on to my old wooden car trailer; this provided an excellent base on which a pretend wooden boat could be built. All this took time and my wife and I remember finishing the woodwork on the boat and painting it just a few hours before the dress rehearsal!
Luckily, we found a professional company which could supply the Roman soldiers’ uniforms and the flaming torches for the procession. A local military museum lent us the Army Bren guns and rifles. We set up a store for all the props and equipment in the Palace basement but looking after the guns and rifles was more of a challenge. We imagined the headlines in the press if some had gone missing – perhaps “arms cache in Archbishop of York’s palace raided”, so I found myself (with a helper) walking home after performances to store them in our house. A few neighbours were somewhat surprised to see guns on the streets of Bishopthorpe late at night.
Working as a props team turned out to be not only rewarding and good fun but also a way of making new friends. It showed us the value of having a community project which was sufficiently challenging to bring us together to work as a team.
Postscript. When Bishopthorpe Main Street was flooded a few months after the pageant, I remember a neighbour standing in about 3 feet of water, calling out to me “have you still got your boat?”
Could this be the last surviving bottle of Pageant Ale? Did you try it? When did you drink your last bottle?
There are more personal pageant memories in the public Comments section of this article.
If you don’t currently see these comments then Click Here to view the full article including the comments at the bottom of the article.
The memories and comments on this page show some individuals’ experiences of the Pageant and its aftermath. Many others took part in and enjoyed that week in 2000. I hope the recollections published here will provide for posterity some flavour not simply of what happened but of how village life was affected. You are still welcome at any time to add your comments, to help complete the picture.
One important fact still needs to be emphasised. Our Director, Andrew Dunn, worked almost full time on the project for months, helped and supported throughout by his wife, Romy. Sadly, Andrew is no longer with us, but it is to him that we should dedicate these reminiscences. Thank you, Andrew!
P.S. when the Village Hall re-opens, any written memories of the event can be handed in to the Bishopthorpe Community Archive. We also have the facility to record memories for the Archive if anyone wishes to contact us through email@example.com
First York are now operating a half hourly frequency service during the day on Mondays to Fridays, and an hourly service in the evenings and on Saturdays. There is no Sunday service.
We are asked to travel only if it is essential, and face masks must be worn.
Seating capacity will be very limited in order to adhere to the social distancing rules, so be prepared for buses to be classed as full even if they appear to have empty seats. Electronic displays and First Bus apps will show the current free capacity on approaching services.
Please pay by card or by app wherever possible. Cash will be accepted if it is the only option. Bus passes will be accepted at any time of day.
Passengers are asked to be considerate to people with prams or in wheelchairs.
If you intend to continue a journey by another route, check in advance. Some services have been suspended.
York-based ‘Keep your pet’ (KYP) is continuing to provide its valued service to pet owners, and will do so as long as sufficient of its amazing volunteers are available.
KYP volunteers and staff recognise how especially important the company and security of a pet can be at this time, not least in maintaining a routine and sense of normality. So far during the current crisis KYP, administered by Age UK York, has helped over 60 people.
However, having had to cancel its major fund-raising event of the year, the annual dog walk on the Knavesmire and other events, Keep Your Pet is instead asking people to join in a ‘virtual dog walk’.
Keep Your Pet clients, supporters and all other dog owners are invited to take part by submitting photographs of their dogs, with or without their owners, along with a minimum donation of £5 per entry.
Keep Your Pet will create a ‘dog walk gallery’ on its website, and photos will be submitted to the press.
Winning entrants will receive a virtual and (in time) a real rosette.
As with the traditional dog walk other activities are also on offer:
Whilst receiving a majority of its funds from Age UK York, Keep Your Pet cannot function at the current level without donations and fundraising events. Expenditure includes publicity & administration costs. Chair of KYP, Keith Martin said:
“We would love to see you at our virtual dog walk and we also welcome support for Keep Your Pet on a regular basis – details can be downloaded from the website here. We are still hoping that the actual dog walk can be rearranged for September 2020.”
How to enter
Entries should be sent between 3rd and 10th May 2020 to firstname.lastname@example.org. One photo of a dog with a suitable caption and/or one photo of owner and dog to enter the lookalike competition. Photos need to be in jpg format. In addition entrants can guess the name of the female puppy displayed on the Keep Your Pet website.
The details and conditions of the competition rules can be found at www.keepyourpet.co.uk
Entries will need to be accompanied by a minimum £5 donation. Donations can be made through PayPal on the website www.keepyourpet.co.uk or by cheque payable to Keep Your Pet and sent to: KYP Treasurer, 8 Cromwell Road, Bishophill, York, YO1 6DU. Name and address to be included so that receipt can be acknowledged.
The names of entrants need to be stated in the submission email. It will be assumed that there is approval for the picture to be posted online & published in the media unless otherwise stated. An address for the postage of rosettes should be included in the event of the entrant achieving one of the top three places.
‘Keep your pet’ (KYP) helps older & vulnerable people in York and Selby by looking after their pets during times of medical or other emergency, so that they can return to caring for their pet when they have recovered. KYP was launched in November 2012 by a partnership between RSPCA York & District, Age UK York, & Age UK Selby. A team of local volunteers offers dog walking, pet fostering, feeding animals or transport to a vet. A part-time organiser administers the scheme from the Age UK Priory Street office.
KYP works in three ways in that it benefits animals, their owners, & the volunteers, particularly those who are unable to keep an animal of their own but wish to have contact, or those whose own animals have recently died.
First Bus is now operating a reduced service on route 11.
From Bishopthorpe, there is a journey at 06-23, then at 07-20 and thereafter every 70 minutes to 19-00. Evening journeys are at 19-56, 20-35, 21-35 and 22-35.
The Saturday timetable starts at 07-20 and operates every 70 minutes until 19-00, and thereafter as weekdays.
Sunday Service 11S
First York’s website says this is operated by EYMS, which if correct is a new development. The EYMS site doesn’t seem to mention it.
A Saturday timetable will operate on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Sunday timetable (if it exists) should apply on Easter Sunday and Monday.
York Pullman is operating only three journeys daily (Mon. – Sat.) timed at 08-35, 12-30 and 15-55 to York and at 11-34, 14-59 and 18-34 to Colton.
The current timetable is operating to ensure key workers, including health service and emergency workers, can get to and from their places of work and those without a car can still collect medical prescriptions or do their essential shopping.
The company is aware of the importance of maintaining services, but if further changes are necessary the details will be found on the First Bus Corona Virus web page.
The revised No 11 Timetables can be viewed and downloaded via these links:
Passengers are asked to pay with cards rather than cash where possible, and to observe government advice regarding hand cleansing, use of handkerchiefs, etc.
|Ainsty Ales||Home delivery & Drive through|
|Beadlam Grange Farm Shop||Call (ext 3) to arrange delivery|
|Bish ‘n’ Chips||Free delivery Tue-Sat if self-isolating|
|Burnholme Fisheries||Delivery of fresh and frozen fish|
|Co-operative||7am to 10pm every day|
|Early Bird Milkman||Milk and more|
|Old Sun Inn||Shop and takeaway|
|Pig And Pastry||Call on 675115 if you are isolated and need supper|
|Scott Lock||Emergency locksmith service|
|Tesco||Priority access 9-10am, Mon,Wed,Fri|
|Treeboom Brewery||Delivery and sales|
|Woodman||Deliver soup on Wednesdays, but not open otherwise|
Please pass on the details of all the shops in the above link who deliver to elderly neighbours who may not have the internet.
Remember to keep your distance when doing so.
For up-to-date details, please call in on
Lots of information and advice is available through the official channels, and there’s a whole load of correspondence and comments on the Bishopthorpe Community Facebook page.
However, we’re aware that not everyone uses Facebook so if you’re not on Facebook and there are items of local importance you think the community should be aware of, comments you’d like to make, or information you’d like to impart, please feel free to add your comments to this page.
Further details about resumption of meetings when we know more about what is safe.
Please note that it is now impossible for the Environment Agency to attend the parish council meeting next week.
The two EA officers have been invited to the meeting on 24 March instead.
The next Parish Council meeting is on Tuesday 25 February, 19.00 in the village hall.
Kathy Stevenson, the Flood Risk Officer, and project manager Andrew Houston from the Environment Agency are planning to come along to provide us with a brief update on the Bishopthorpe flood relief scheme, and in particular to discuss opportunities for tree planting in the Bishopthorpe area.
They said that they very much hope for as little impact as possible for Bishopthorpe over the next few days but they are sure the community will work together whatever Storm Dennis has in store.
Please note that the latest river level and 36 hr forecast can be viewed on
and will be also be available to you via Floodline. This forecast is subject to change significantly over the weekend as the impacts of Dennis and snow melt from the upper catchments are realised. Read more Envir Agency Mtg Postponed
Have a guitar lying around somewhere that’s feeling neglected?
Wish you used it a bit more?
Or maybe you’ve learnt a few simple chords but would like to be able to play a couple of songs right through?
Then you might be interested in the new guitar for fun group that we’re setting up. The idea is that it’s not formal tuition, so there are no lessons and we won’t be trying to teach scales, theory, modes and the like; instead it’s simply people getting together to play some well known songs from a songbook that will cover a range of styles. We aim to cover music of artists from the 50s right through to the present day (as long as it’s not too challenging!).
Playing with others is a great way to build on your skills and gain confidence in your playing, and you’ll likely find you learn new skills and techniques just by being with a group of players.
We’re all of very mixed abilities so as long as you know which way up to hold your guitar and maybe a couple of basic chords then you won’t feel out of depth.
We meet twice a month in Vernon House. Our first meeting will be Friday 7th February, and then again on the 21st. The regular pattern will then be for sessions on the first and third Friday of each month.
Come along .. we may even have a spare guitar or two ….
When: First and third Friday of the month
Where: Vernon House
Time: 13:00 to 15:00
If you want to contact us please e-mail:
This National Lottery funded project aimed to highlight Bishopthorpe’s orchard heritage and create a new community orchard for the village on the edge of the sports field on Ferry Lane. The project was run by volunteers on behalf of Bishopthorpe Parish Council.
The funding for this project came to an end in October, and it was a fitting time to get the fruit trees planted in the new community orchard. 11 Scouts, and other helpers, planted out the trees on a lovely sunny afternoon. The orchard has been carefully cared for over the summer to get wildflowers established and weeds reduced. We hope the trees will thrive in their new home, and wildflowers will bloom next summer! Five more ‘bare root’ trees will be planted this winter. The list of varieties are: Apples: Belle de Boskoop, Lord Lambourne, Worcester Permain, Peasgood Nonsuch, Ribston Pippin, Flower of the Town, Ellison’s Orange, James Grieve, Discovery. Pears: Concorde, Beurre Hardy. Plums/gages: Victoria, Early Rivers, Gage Reine Claude de Bavay.
The project’s book, ‘Bishopthorpe in Blossom,’ is now on sale at Bishopthorpe library, Brunswick Organic Nursery and the Bishopthorpe archive in the village hall. It will also be available on loan from the library. The book includes photographs, interviews with local residents, information about local fruit varieties, and the fascinating history of the Archbishop’s walled kitchen garden.
We have been very lucky to have the assistance of experts from the Northern Fruit Group. In September, expert Anne Lee, visited the walled garden again and identified the varieties of the 8 veteran pear trees that still remain. They were once espaliers, trained against the warm south facing wall, and they are now tall trees: their blossom can be seen peeking over the top of the walls in spring. They include Souvenir du Congres, Calabas Bosc, Beurre d’Amanlis, Louise Bonne of Jersey, and Pitmaston Duchess. They still bear fruit, which would once have been considered a delicacy, grown for the Archbishop’s table.
Many kind people gave their labour and expert advice for free throughout the project. As a result, we had an underspend which we were able to add to our equipment budget. All of the project money was spent, and we purchased:
Apple juicing equipment, including an apple press for use at the Apple Pressing day. A smaller apple press for small scale events. Professional tools for fruit tree pruning, including a telescopic pruning saw/secateurs, loppers, and fruit picker. A wooden sign and interpretation panel for the community orchard. Metal tree tags for recording the variety of fruit. Magnifying glasses and ‘bug hunting’ jars for playgroup’s Forest Schools. Reference books about orchards and fruit varieties.
The books and the project reports will be kept in the reference section of the village library. The intention is for the smaller press and the tools to be made available on loan.
Thank you to everyone who helped with the project, whether it was sharing memories, giving time and expertise, allowing access to fruit trees and gardens, or participating in the community orchard and training events. You all made this project possible.
There will be a dedicated page on the Bishopthorpe Community website where we will provide information about the community orchard as it develops, and you can read the final newsletter here.
The project can still be contacted at email@example.com.
With thanks from the Bishopthorpe Orchard Project Team
This is a Heritage Lottery funded project which aims to highlight Bishopthorpe’s orchard heritage and create a new community orchard for the village. The project runs from 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2019 and the grant award is £8,900. The project is being run by volunteers on behalf of the Parish Council.
This month the project is reaching its major milestones. The booklet “Bishopthorpe in Blossom” should be ready in time for the Apple Pressing day on 13 October. After that it will be available from the library, both on loan and for sale. Hours of research have revealed fascinating aspects of the history of fruit growing and market gardening in Bishopthorpe and the Archbishop’s walled garden, which has been brought together for the first time. For example, school log books from the 1800s record children regularly missing from school in summer to ‘pull fruit’ in the grounds and gardens around the village.
The community orchard site has been carefully tended over the summer to keep on top of the weeds and establish grasses and wildflowers. This month it will be planted up with fruit trees by the Bishopthorpe Scouts. Initially there will be 8 apples and 2 pears, with more to be added this winter, including plums and a gage.
We will be taking further samples of apples and pears to RHS Harlow Carr Apple Day for identification. There are a few varieties in Bishopthorpe which are very old, including the Hessle Pear, Balsam apple and Keswick Codlin apple. The Northern Fruit Group is interested in grafting some of these heritage varieties.
The funded part of the project finishes at the end of the month, but the project will continue with the help of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who has made the project a success! There will be a dedicated page on the Bishopthorpe Community website where we will provide information about the community orchard. We hope that you will enjoy the community orchard as it develops.