In another busy week for York 800, City of York Council archives team have unveiled their first ever exhibition exploring the city’s archive collection. The free exhibition – ‘A city making history : 800 years of York’s archives’ - is both inside and outside York Explore Library Learning Centre, and runs until 30 September.
Councillor Sonja Crisp, City of York Council member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said : “This is a fascinating display of York’s history over the last 800 years, and brings to life a whole series of documents which have been hidden in our archives. I’m sure that people will find a great deal of interest, adding to everyone’s knowledge of the last eight centuries in the city”.
Twelve volunteer curators were invited by the council to delve into the collections in the archives for the first time and design an exhibition that lifted the lid on the archives’ secrets – thousands of handwritten documents about the last 800 years of York’s history which had previously been hidden away in locked strongrooms. They contain a treasury of stories about people who have lived and worked in York since the 13th century, from mayors to street-sweepers, from tram conductors to workhouse orphans.
Some volunteers worked on exhibition panels about medieval and modern York, uncovering stories like that of Margaret Lassels, a Stonegate servant turned jewel thief convicted of theft during the reign of Richard III. Others chose to focus on the tale of the Mystery Plays, medieval and modern, to compliment the August performances in the Museum Gardens.
Funding for the exhibition has come from Yorventure, who gave almost £10,000 for the design and construction of bespoke exhibition stands. These will now be available to use for future displays from the archive.
A programme of talks, walks and workshops with historians and authors will accompany the exhibition, as part of the Big City Read programme, which also launched this week. Highlights include lectures from Professor Robert Bartlett from the BBC’s The Normans on 4th September and an evening with best-selling author Elizabeth Chadwick on 16th August.
A full programme is available to download here.