Ebor Players Present Dick Whittington… The Review

“You feel part of it, as though you could get up and join in.”

“Each performance is individual; it keeps to the plot and keeps on getting better.”

“This is a local institution, just like the Theatre Royal.”

“There is no star turn, all the actors are equal and nobody steals the show”

“Cool, funny, clever”

These are just somepantp_2010_1 of the comments made by the audience.

I arrived on a cold winter’s night to watch the annual pantomime by the Ebor Players, this year Dick Whittington. On arrival the atmosphere in the hall was electric even before the performance had started. The professional looking electronic kit was plentiful… sound machines, lights to laptops along with people who cleverly knew how to operate them.

The performance started with rats running around the audience, clearly a very clever way to warm up the gathered crowd. They were soon followed by King Rat, (Tom Davis) & Razor, (Lisa Thornton) who only could be described as excellent.

I was asking myself at this point if this was a professional production as it could hardly be described as ‘amateur dramatics’ I also had in my mind that the standard was so high from the beginning, would this continue throughout the performance or would there be the inevitable ‘lull’ as the story gets lost and the magic starts to fade.

As the performance continued my fears for the rest of the show were soon quashed. The story, sounds, lights, music & songs were all excellent and ran smoothly. All the characters from small to tall were comfortable in their parts making this a whole magical village event. No one actor or actress stole the show as everybody excelled in their own way.

The audience’s hearts were captured many times and the songs were sung with so much feeling they brought many a tear to my eye.

pantp_2010_2Ethel Burger played by David Rose was a sure match for Berwick Kaler. Ethel was surrounded by all the humour, wit and slapstick you would expect from a professional pantomime. Audience participation was plentiful and there were even sweets for the children!

Each scene just got better and better. I could only describe the neon light octopus’ garden scene as fabulous. I could hear gasps from the audience at just how brilliant this was.

All rounded off with a community song for dessert – what better way to spend an evening out.  In fact why go all that way to the Theatre Royal when in my opinion you have better on the doorstep?

pantp_2010_3The pantomime has run from Monday to Saturday this year due to popular demand. Should we expect a run from December to February next year to rival other productions? I would be careful though, you may find Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass in the audience looking to capture some new ideas!

Well done Ebor Players, from acting to behind the scenes, whatever your role in this production- you are amazing!

In Celebration of Local Guiding

This year, Girl Guides and Brownies throughout the world celebrated the centenary of the Girl Guide movement.  Here in Bishopthorpe, we discovered that the Guides can trace their roots back to 1926 when the 20th York (Bishopthorpe) Company registered with the Girl Guide Association.  (They later became the 1st Bishopthorpe Company.)

This prompted a search through the Bishopthorpe Archive for photographs, some of which we share with you below.

If you have memories of time spent with the Bishopthorpe Brownies and Guides, we’d be very pleased to hear from you.  Just add a comment below or email us on historygroup@bishopthorpe.net

1) November 1944: Armistice Day Parade


In 1944 the Girl Guides and Brownies, pictured above, were invited to join the Bishopthorpe Armistice Day Parade.  This included the local members of the Home Guard, the National Fire Service, Civil Defence and the be-medalled ex-servicemen from the First World War.  Following a service in St. Andrew’s Church, they marched through the village to the Palace where photographs were taken of all the units.

We know the names of most of the girls in the photograph, including the two adults who are Myrtle Simpson (left) and Jean Hudson (right).

During the Second World War Guide uniforms were almost unobtainable.  One former guide told us that Clothing Coupons were needed for warm winter clothes so uniforms had to be passed down by girls who had left the guides or outgrown their uniforms.  The girls took badges for First Aid, Knots, Morse Code, Field Survival, International Flag Recognition and mending and patching. (All very important in war time.)

2) June 1963: Queen’s Guide Award


Bishopthorpe Guides Pauline Horton, Margaret Colton and Isobel Wilmot congratulate Jane Standing on gaining her Queen’s Guide Award.  Introduced in 1946, this award is the highest that can be earned in the Guide movement.  It involves completing a series of tough challenges within a three-year period.

3) April 1967: St. George’s Day Parade


Bishopthorpe Guides march down Davygate to the Minster where Scouts and Guides from the York area gather for the St. George’s Day service.

4) 1991-1992: Adding colour to the neighbourhood


In 1991, a large number of daffodil bulbs were given to the Brownies and Guides of this district.  Mrs. Overfield, who helped with the Bishopthorpe Brownies, suggested that the bulbs should be planted around the base of trees in Maple Avenue and Vernon Close.  This would add some spring-time colour to an area where so many elderly people lived.

The planting ceremony was attended by important guests including the chairman of Selby District Council and the Guide’s Division Commissioner.  For one scary moment at the ceremony, the Brownies and Guides thought they wouldn’t be able to dig the holes because the ground was too hard!  However, Mr. Melemendjian came to the rescue and the bulbs were eventually planted.  The girls are seen above admiring the daffodills the following spring.

5) 22 February 1997: World Thinking Day


This photograph shows the 2nd Bishopthorpe Brownies lighting candles on Thinking Day.  In this way, they remember the family of guiding throughout the world.  Guides and Brownies concentrate on specific themes for each World Thinking Day – for instance this year – 2010 – it was ‘Poverty and Hunger’.

The 22nd February was chosen for this special day because it was the birthday of both Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell, the first Chief Guide.

6) 20 May 2000: Fun at the Victorian Street Fair


The Victorian Street Fair was part of the Bishopthorpe Millennium celebrations.  The Brownies set up their stall in Main Street and sold crafts they had made in aid of the N.S.P.C.C.


With thanks to Janet Melemendjian, June Whittaker, Sylvia Overfield, Norman Antlett and The Yorkshire Evening Press for their help.


Jean Maybury on December 21, 2010 9:12 PM

Great to see the older photos. I believe that the un-named guide on the right of picture #2 is Naomi Standing, Jane’s sister.

In picture #3 taken in 1967 I think that the girls in the front tow might be left to right Linda Hutchinson??. Elizabeth Oxtoby, Eve Hudson and in the second row could it be Margaret Antlett, Diane Scott and Elisabeth Pogmore and behind Elisabeth is it Carolyn Roberts? Can anyone else comment?


Ruth M on March 4, 2011 8:21 PM

What a blast from the past seeing the 1944 Brownies & Girl Guides on the Palace steps. I was a member of both when I lived in Bishopthorpe and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Don’t see myself in the photo though. Definitely remember Myrtle Simpson as our leader (“too-whit-too-whoo, clap”).

I love your website and it is wonderful to see the village residents continue these traditions, and still putting on plays.

Ruth Spindler (Proctor)

Leaf Fall at the Woodman

Following on from Joanne Carter’s search for her Bishopthorpe ancestors, the Leaf family, I found the following sad story:

Richard Leaf was a 56 year-old tailor who lived in Main Street, Bishopthorpe.  On the afternoon of Tuesday, 21 April 1868, he called into The Woodman for a quiet drink and received a little more than he had bargained for.  His life came to an abrupt and unexpected end which necessitated a Coroner’s Inquest. The case had excited much interest because of the reluctance of some witnesses to give a straightforward account of the mystery which, at first, seemed to surround Richard Leaf’s death.

It was during this period that the York to Selby line of the North Eastern Railway was being built and the village pubs would have seen their fair share of navvies who were working in the area.  On the afternoon in question, Mr. Leaf found himself at The Woodman in the company of two navvies.  One of the men started to quarrel with his companion who refused to respond.  John Simpson, the landlord’s son, told the inquest that Leaf spoke to the quarrelsome navvy who objected to his interfering in a private argument.  They argued for a short while and then Leaf jumped up and challenged the navvy to a fight.  The two men fought until Leaf took a blow which knocked him into a chair.  His opponent wished to continue but John Simpson would not let him. Simpson also remarked that Leaf received a blow on his right cheek near the eye.  Leaf got up, put on his coat, and walked out.  He appeared to be well and was not drunk as testified by Sarah Kezia Simpson, the landlord’s daughter.  She stated that he had had two glasses of whisky, but added she noticed his face was bleeding.

Later, witnesses found Richard Leaf lying on his face on the ground outside The Woodman.  Two men carried him into the pub, laid him on the floor where he slept and snored loudly.  His wife Charlotte arrived, assumed her husband was drunk, and promptly returned home.  A further fight broke out between the navvies while Leaf was unconscious on the floor but witnesses claimed he was not touched.  Charlotte returned to the inn and found two men lifting up her husband. It was then she noticed that his face was bleeding.

The surgeon, Mr. J. I. F. Marshall of York, was sent for but, as he was not at home, he did not arrive at Bishopthorpe until a quarter-past nine in the evening.  By then, Richard Leaf was dead.  Mr. Marshall carried out a post mortem examination and discovered a small wound near the left eye and a bruise on the left cheek bone.  There were no other marks of violence on the body.  However, he found the body in a very diseased state and said he attributed death to apoplexy arising from the diseased condition of the brain.  Death might have been accelerated by excitement and, it was revealed, Leaf was also subject to apoplectic fits.

It was common practice to hold inquests on licensed premises and so The Woodman Inn served as the Coroner’s Court.  The inquest was held there two days after Leaf’s death and adjourned until the following Tuesday, for want of further evidence. In his closing remarks, the Coroner, J. P. Wood, Esq., said that, at one time, the case had assumed a very serious aspect.  There had been a great deal of discrepancy in the early stage of the evidence regarding the deceased being injured on the face.  He was particularly critical of the landlord, Thomas Simpson and his wife, from whom he had considerable difficulty in extracting the real history of the case.  However, following the surgeon’s evidence, the jury could not come to any other conclusion than that the deceased died of apoplexy and, therefore, returned this verdict.

Richard Leaf had lived and worked in the village since about 1834 raising many children from two marriages.  For the last few years of his life, he lived in the house next to The Ebor (currently no. 48 Main Street).  It’s, perhaps, not surprising to learn from a letter, written by a villager on the day after Leaf died, that there was “quite a gloom cast over Bishopthorpe” as a result of the death.  He was laid to rest in St. Andrew’s Churchyard down by the river.


Yorkshire Gazette, 25 April and 2 May 1868.

C.E.W. Brayley, The Annals of Bishopthorpe, (pamphlet 3, p2).

Seeking Leaf Ancestry

Joanne Carter contacted us with the following request about her Bishopthorpe ancestors – can anyone help?


I am tracing my family tree and it would seem that my great great great grandmother Elizabeth Leaf and her family came from Bishopthorpe.  She was born on 14 Sept 1811 and baptised on 29 Sept 1811.  Her parents were John Leaf and Lydia (nee Mathers).  Does anyone know of this family, are there any old tales relating to the family or things of interest, photos perhaps?  I know it’s a long shot but worth a go at asking. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 Joanne Carter

Email: joanne.carter@roadways.co.uk

Parish Council Romp Home

They say that a week is a long time in politics but a year was a long time to wait for the Parish Council to gain revenge for last year’s heavy defeat in this, the fifth instalment of the annual match with the Ebor Players.

Ebor_players_2010Having finally won the toss, newly appointed Parish Council captain Liam Godfrey put the Ebor Players into bat. Moreover, a disastrous start it was too with opening batsman Bev Linfoot being run out early on for 0. The Council followed this up with tight bowling and although wickets were rarer than England football victories, the Players were finding runs difficult to come by. There were worthwhile contributions from Rose (7) Patrick S. (11) and Bruce T. (8) the latter riding his luck surviving dropped catches and a brilliant ‘run out’ from the fielding of Jemison but like Lampards ‘goal’ the referee, or in this case umpire did not see it. A late flurry of run outs and a caught & bowled by Davis overcoming his phobia following a childhood broken finger, restricted the Players to a modest 59 (the lowest score since the 15 over format was adopted)

The Council needed 60 to win at 4 an over. Openers Godfrey & Bewley began in contrasting fashion, the latter cracking balls to the boundary to retire on 10 the former opting for a more Boycottesque approach. New signing Dale M could not resist hitting his first ball for 6 and in the process nearly decapitating a nearby dog walker on Ferry Lane, he too retired on double figures as did Stewart Harrison whose undefeated 12 gave him the record for most runs scored in all the matches played to date.

The only blip in an otherwise perfect innings was when debutant Kay Redhead bowled Tom Davis for 2. This will not be the last time this year that Redhead (Puss in this years production of Dick Whittington) will get the better of Davis (King Rat)

And so, it was left to Godfrey and Chris Dale to see the Parish Council home, which they achieved despite very vocal harassment from the Players team that would have made Shane Warne blush. Victory by 4 wickets and with 5 overs to spare. The Ebor Players now lead the series 3.2


Ebor Players

B Linfoot              RUN OUT                                             0

D Rose                  RETIRED                                               7

T Bruce RETIRED                                               8

K Redhead          RETIRED                                               3

S Patrick               RETIRED                                               11

T Patrick               c&b Davis                                            1

J Eason RUN OUT                                             2

L Thornton          NOT OUT                                             1

S Pendleton       RUN OUT                                             4

N Pendleton      NOT OUT                                             1


Extras                                                                                    21

Total                                                                                      59

Parish Council

L Godfrey            NOT OUT                                             4

J Bewley              RETIRED                                               10

M Dale  RETIRED                                               13

T Davis  b Redhead                                          2

S Harrison            RETIRED                                               12

C Dale                   NOT OUT                                             13


Extras                                                                                    11

Total                                                                                      63

Did not bat: I Jemison, C Bruce, A Dunn

Dogged Determination

Dogs_1Zak shows how it’s done around the agility course

The dogs of Bishopthorpe were out in force on Sunday, as they and their owners converged on St Andrews Church for the Bishopthorpe Fun Dog Show.

There were six show classes to compete in, so if ‘cutest pup’ didn’t quite suit your dog there was always ‘best turned out pair’ or ‘best six legs’. There were some notably creative entries for ‘dog most like the handler’, and some sob-stories to go with ‘best rehomed dog’, but the most popular class was ‘the dog the judges would like to take home’ – perhaps in the hope that they would!

Ebor Dog Training gave exciting displays of dog agility and dog handling, and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf gave a thought-provoking demonstration of how their trained dogs can make a real difference to the lives of deaf people.

So with fine weather, well-behaved dogs (and owners), good competition, and fresh strawberries on hand, a good day was had by all.

A Rare Royal Snap

Through the centuries, there have been many royal visits to the Archbishops’ Palace in Bishopthorpe. The twentieth century alone has seen a number of royal guests passing through the famous gateway but, as they have been private visits, photographs of the events are few and far between. However, we are lucky that Jill Black, one of our Australian bishdotnet readers, decided to sort through her photo albums and found a snap of Princess Elizabeth descending the steps of the Palace. Jill contacted us to ask which year this could have been.

Palace_1949The photograph snapped in 1949 which winged it’s way from Australia. It shows Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh leaving the Palace after taking tea with Archbishop Garbett, who is standing on the left.


Having searched through old newspapers, we know that Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh made their first official visit to Yorkshire from 26 – 28 July 1949. The last day of that trip was spent in the City of York looking round the Minster and lunching with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House. During the afternoon, the young couple, who had been married for less than two years, toured the new Carr Estate at Acomb. From there, they were driven to Bishopthorpe Palace where the villagers were “allowed” to gather within the grounds as far as the clock gateway. The local Brownies, Guides and other children lined the drive waving flags and streamers at the royal visitors.

Palace_1949_2This press photograph of some of the children lining the drive, appeared in The Yorkshire Herald. Does anyone recognise him or herself?


The appointment with Archbishop Garbett and his sister was meant to be a quiet, relaxed affair taking tea in the elegant drawing room. The only other guests present were the Archbishop’s private chaplain and secretary. One hour later at 5.30 p.m., Jill Black, who was ten-years-old at the time, watched as her friend snapped Princess Elizabeth taking her leave of the Archbishop on the Palace steps. The Duke can be seen just behind her.

It should be remembered that in the years following the war, fewer people owned a camera compared to now. So, with her Box Brownie, Jill’s friend scooped the press photographers who were kept at some distance.

Jill remembers that, although the photograph was taken from a long way off, they did catch a closer glimpse of the royal party as the car passed them by. Robin Hill, another resident present at the time, noted in his diary that the line of cars travelled “very slowly both coming in [to the Palace] and more especially on leaving for York”. On arrival at York Station, the couple were met by the civic party before catching the royal train for London.

Thanks to Jill and her friend a rare, fleeting royal moment was captured and can now, over sixty years later, be shared with the residents of Bishopthorpe.

Thriller at the Ebor

Following last years heavy defeat the Parish Council were out for revenge in the second annual darts match with the Ebor Players as ‘sporting’ rivalry resumed for 2010.

Darts_2010First match up was the ladies doubles which after a closely fought match was narrowly edged by the Ebor Players represented by Diane Curran who finished with a three dart check out & her daughter Jo against Jo Bewley & Cayley Godfrey. Bewley being very unlucky with her final dart bouncing out of the 5 needed to win.

The next match, the mens doubles was a much more one sided affair with Tom Davis & newcomer Paddy Thornton always having the better of Tim Bruce and gender bender Christine Higgins, a ‘man’ for the night due to a shortage of the latter on the Ebor Players team. Honours even 1.1

Next up was mixed doubles with the Ebor Players represented as last year by David ‘the steelman’ Rose and Bev Linfoot. They continued their winning ways and narrowly edged a close contest with Stewart Harrison & Catherine Bruce.

Now we were into the singles with Lisa Thornton (Parish Council) and Julia Sykes (Ebor Players) both coming into this match with unbeaten records, something would have to give and it was Thornton who emerged victorious to make the overall match score even again at 2.2

Men’s singles newcomer Steve ‘the boatman’ Poulter easily defeated Andrew ‘the scientist’ Dunn meaning that Ian Jemison from the Parish Council had to defeat Ebor Players captain Liam Godfrey to keep the match alive. Jemison duly obliged leaving Godfrey with a 0-2 record, his place must be in jeopardy for next year.

So with the scores tied at 3.3 the decider was a mixed doubles between Poulter & Diane Curran & Sandra MacDonald & Chris Dale for the Parish Council. The match ebbed and flowed in true tie-breaker fashion until finally ‘the boatman’ prevailed to claim his second victory of the evening.

Victory for the Ebor Players by the narrowest of margins by 4 matches to 3.

Thanks must go to Ros Kerr for donating a trophy and getting it engraved, to the Ebor Inn for their hospitality and to all who agreed to take part from the Parish Council & Ebor Players