Our 2017 Festival of Ideas conference on the 'Historic Mystery of Old St Oswald's Church' was such a success that it's still top of our News Page!
Read more on our Old St Oswald's page and listen to Prof Jane Hawkes talking about the Anglo-Saxon cross which was found built into the nave in 1980, when the building was being converted into a private house. CLICK HERE
How Feisty Local Women Won the Vote
Our October 2018 meeting was a wonderfully informative and interesting talk by Mike Waters about the campaign for women to have equal voting rights. A fuller report will follow shortly, but you can read Mike's script HERE
In July 2018, members visited Imphal Barracks and the Kohima Museum (open Thursday mornings). We climbed the stairs to the top of the Keep, which was built to be the armoury and walked among the late-Victorian buildings, led by our 1st Chairman, Bob Cook, and Brian Ward, we ended with Bob's talk about the terrifying battle of Kohima, which prevented the Japanese invasion of north east India during WW2. Many thanks to Major Jim Watt for his generous hospitality.
Our 2018 Festival of ideas event was 1795 and all that! - The Coming of the Cavalry to Fulford.
Judy Nicholson gave a vivid talk to 65 members and friends about the cavalry and infantry barracks and the impact of their presence on local people. Barbara King and Judy also mounted a very interesting display of images and maps, which will be on show again at Fulford Show. Louise made another of her fabulous cakes, this time iced with the Union flag, very appropriate! (image courtesy Catherine Sotheran)
Margaret Scott gave us a very interesting talk in March about how York celebrated the 1951
Festival of Britain, the main event of which was the revival of the medieval Mystery Plays, the first time they had been performed in the city since the 16th century.
Many local people took part, including Judy Dench, who played an angel, and the production was a huge success.
You can look for relatives and friends in the cast list HERE.
This picture of Lucifer (Satan), played by John van Eyssen, and his demons is from the repeat production in 1954.
Image courtesy Nation Centre for Early Music.
Over 70 people came to hear Paula Ware and Kelly Hunter talk about the archaeological investigations at the controversial Germany Beck housing site on 20th January 2018. Everyone had a great time looking at the finds they brought along, including the earliest Neolithic pot found in York, a Roman Trumpet Brooch, Civil War musket Balls, medieval coins and an early 20th Century Tram Wheel, masquerading as a shield boss!
Read more about the site HERE
We presented our biographies of the seven men named on the Heslington Church Great war memorial window on 18th November 2017.
Seven people read a script edited from each man's biography, including Prof. Gavin Thomas, pictured here, interspersed by local people describing the village they would have known. It was a very moving occasion.
For a photograph of the window and extracts from the biographies, please see our WW1 page HERE
Our 2017 Christmas Social was a very sociable success!
As well as sharing lovely food with members new and old, we tried to spot photographs of date plaques on local buildings.
Click HERE to see how many you can identify.
Cecily Spall’s Talk to FFH on ‘Our Area – After the Romans Left’
14th October 2017 - A report by Rosemary Newman
Cecily Spall’s talk focused on both earlier and current thinking about change within this area during the Anglian period (5th-9th Century) after the Romans left York around 410AD.
Although the departure of the Romans from the city of Eboracum was swift this outlying area was less affected, with evidence of a continued pattern of rural settlement and trade that had existed from Neolithic times. This has been shown by past projects, more recent geophysics and new discoveries at Heslington East, Lamel Hill, Heslington Hill (misnamed Siward’s How) and in the Fishergate area. This is not so true of Fulford where fewer Anglian finds have been made, possibly reflecting the denser later development there. The notable exceptions are the cross shaft at old St Oswald’s and the Fulford gold Shilling.
While Anglian remains in York itself are limited, recent geophysics has revealed the signature of a settlement pattern of small sunken-featured dwellings or ‘Grubenhauser’ stretching from East Heslington across to Sherburn, similar to those found on the Wolds, with cremations present.
East Heslington itself has yielded evidence of both burial and cremations, and Anglian settlement with metal working, together with weaving tools, Anglian wrist clasps (Copper Alum) and post-Roman iron penannular broches.
Anglian C8th and C9th burials (about 40 skeletons) were found in the 1980s at Lamel Hill, in the grounds of The Retreat, and at nearby Belle Vue House. Lamel Hill was itself the site of Roman cremation; more recently a badly damaged Roman wall was uncovered here. At the 2002 excavation of Heslington Hill behind the Morrell Library some mid-Anglian (C5-C7th) finds of pottery vessels/sherds, glass beads, a knife, and animal bones dating to the same period were found. However, there were no human bones evident, suggesting this was a likely domestic settlement area with meat and grain production, the site being abandoned in the mid C6th when Fishergate (Eoforwic) grew in importance. Read more about this HERE.
The origin and purpose of Heslington Hill (Siward’s How) is still uncertain. It has been suggested that it was early medieval burial ground but more investigation is planned. The ridge and furrow visible from the road to the west of the site dates from the C11th and passes under the mound.
In Fishergate itself there is evidence of small enclosed fields showing a rural setting before entering urban York, a number of which contain Roman cremation burials.
The Blue Bridge Lane excavation of 1999- 2001 uncovered many Saxon cess pits later used to deposit working remains of antler combs, buckles, and spinning and weaving tools, as well as similar lost personal items and beads. The nearby Fishergate House site excavation revealed not only 200 skeletons of the C12-C16 (from old St Helen’s) but also a female Anglian inhumation (dated c.680-930 AD, with the data indicating the earlier end of this range).
Read all about the Blue Bridge Lane investigations here: http://www.mgassocs.com/mono/001/index.html
One significant Anglian find in Fulford has been the Fulford Gold Shilling dated 620-650 AD, although how it came to be there is anyone’s guess. What the evidence from the research and recent finds at Heslington East and West, and Fishergate reveals is the continuity of settlement and the importance of trade after the Romans left. This was followed by with a gradual movement down from Heslington Moraine to the lower level of the present village, and to Fulford and Fishergate (Eoforwic).
We are particularly grateful to Cecily, as she gave this talk just after taking her dogs to the vet following an attack by another dog early that morning. She also had to contend with the very poor acoustics of the church, rather than our usual meeting place. We are pleased t report that the dogs are recovering well from their ordeal.
Cecily Spall BSc MA MIfA FSA Scot, is a Director of FAS Heritage, based in Hospital Fields Rd. York.
Our Exhibition at Fulford Show - August 2017
These photos speak for themselves - showing visitors pouring over our displays and information folders in the Scout Hut (thanks Scouts) and talking to our members.
Big thanks to Judy Nicholson, Louise Wheatley, Geoff Shearsmith, Rosemary Newman Barbara King, Martin Lomas and others for helping to make the day such a success.
Louise sold all her Fulford Biscuits too!
Germany Beck Community Archaeology
Archaeologists working on the housing site in Fulford have discovered Romano-British field systems and a range of finds from this period and other items which show that people have lived here since soon after the end of the Ice Age, including flints and a Neolithic 'Mortlake' type pot - thought to be the earliest dated pot for York or its environs.
We will be starting our programme of 2018 meetings with Paula Ware, Director of Malton Archaeology, telling us about the site and showing us some of the exciting finds. The meeting will be on Saturday 20th January at 10am at St Oswald's Church Hall.
Read more about the Germany Beck site on this website HERE
Our 5th Annual General Meeting
Our annual general meeting was held on 2nd April 2017. Read the Chairman's Report HERE.
The meeting was followed by the launch of our Fulford Main Street Walking Trail, with Judy Nicholson (pictured speaking below) and Barbara King giving a short talk on some highlights from the leaflet, illustrated by Martin Lomas' beautiful drawings.
Click HERE to read more about Fulford and our new leaflet
On 17th September, just a few days before the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Fulford, Chris Rock gave us a very interesting talk on the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
Chris put the invasion by the king of Norway, Harald Hardrada and the deposed earl of Northumberland, Tostig Godwinson, nicely in context with the national power struggle after the death of Edward the Confessor. This is one of the big 'what if' questions in history, as Harold Godwinson may have defeated William of Normandy's invasion at Hastings if only he hadn't travelled north to crush the invaders. For more information on the Battle of Stamford Bridge and Heritage Society see their website here.
Our Walk along the New Walk, 9 August
Led by Margaret Scott
The walk began at the junction of the Foss and Ouse, the promontory where in 1858 cannons captured at Sebastopol were placed as a war memorial for York men of the Crimean War. (They were removed in 1941.)
The first part of the New Walk was formed by a path from here to the King’s Staith in 1730, by tree planting and river-bank levelling.
It was so popular with the gentry that in 1738 a blue-painted bridge was installed to allow the Walk to continue after crossing the Foss. No-one knows why it was blue! Various bridges have replaced it, the current one dates from 1929.
The City Council has maintained the levelling and the tree-planting along the river for nearly 300 years. Limes, elms and horse-chestnut have mixed with other more water tolerant ones; sadly elms have gone since 1980.
The Walk was created into empty fields and later, nursery gardens. With the exception of Lady Well and bath (at the river end of Sandringham Street), which was recorded in 1701 and John Carr’s building the Pikeing Well (at the river end of Hartoft Street) in 1752 there were no features. Even the end was just a pond. The point was to turn round and admire the view walking back into York.
The streets facing the Ouse and running away from the river were built as developers decided. New Walk Terrace began in 1825, Alma Terrace in 1855 (a year after that Crimean battle). 1879 – 1900 saw Marlborough Villas, Frances Street, Ambrose Street, Holly Terrace, Lastingham Terrace, and the 1930s saw Grange Garth built around Fulford Grange.
The houses were needed as the military grew, with the Cavalry Barracks, the Infantry Barracks and the Northern Command HQ. A military hospital was built there from 1854 – just before the Crimean War – with the main building finished in 1862. A civilian hospital was added. The Army left in 1958 and the hospital closed in 1976.
The Army’s Ordnance Works was a big feature at the south end of the Walk, behind the prominent brick wall. In 1887 a wharf was built on the Ouse to allow ‘the powder boat’ to sail up from Woolwich. Boats unloaded into trucks at the water’s edge and the little horse-drawn railway pulled gunpowder and other supplies into the Works. The railway was uncovered during changes in the riverside for the Millennium Bridge.
The Walk was built alongside a tidal Ouse, busy with sailing boats trying to avoid underwater shoals to reach York. A towing path was moved to the west side. It took several tides to come up the Ouse from Hull. 20 years after the Walk’s extension southwards, in 1757 Naburn Lock was built to level out the flows, manage river traffic and collect tolls. A second bigger lock had to be built to take steam boats, in 1888, and later the City Council owned profitable steam tugs to pull barges up river. There were sailing boats well into the 20th century.
A ferry crossed the Ouse from the New Walk, first mentioned in the 18th century but later for workers to get to their jobs in the military, the railway and Terrys. The location varied over the years, and rowing was overtaken by diesel eventually.
The walk finished beyond the Millennium Bridge, which cost £4.2 million. In the 1960s the ground was lifted by ten feet (through tipping) and levelled off to minimise flooding. It retains the name Love Lane and the old fields are now much ‘sanitised’. Lilac House is the former New Walk Tavern, where weary boatmen could wait out the tide.
Frankie Howerd gets a plaque
FFH is delighted that a blue plaque has been placed on 53 Hartoft Street, Fishergate, to mark the birthplace of the actor and comedian, Frankie Howerd.
The plaque was unveiled on 26th July by the Mayor of York, Dave Taylor and Tang Hall born actor Mark Addy and is one of many across the city installed by the Civic Trust.
Frankie Howerd was born in 1917 and lived at No. 53 Hartoft Street until he was three years old. His father, was Francis Alfred and his mother was Edith Florence. The family name was Howard, but he changed it "to be different".
He lived in Hartoft Street until he was three years old and he later went to Shooter's Hill Grammar School in Woolwich.
He was just 13 when he made his first stage appearance, but his early hopes of becoming a serious actor were dashed when he failed an audition for RADA. He adapted his surname during his military service in WW2.
He was famous for his seemingly off -the-cuff remarks to the audience, especially in the show Up Pompeii! and his television work was characterised by making asides directly to the camera and by his monologues and verbal tics such as "Oooh, no missus" and "Titter ye not".
1914-1918 commemorations in
Fishergate, Fulford & Heslington
100 years since the Slaughter on the Somme
Read our biographies of two men named on the Fulford War Memorial, who were killed in July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.
William Henry Harris, aged 18, lived in Frances Street, killed on 5th July 1916.
George Goldsworth Smith, aged 23, lived in Ambrose Street, killed on 19th July 1916.
Fishergate School WW1 Memorial
We have begun researching the lives of the 87 former pupils of Fishergate School, named on the WW1 memorial plaque in the porch of the school. We are hoping that people will have memories to share with us which will allow the lives of these men to be presented in as much detail as possible.
Please get in touch with us if you are interested in this research
Heslington WW1 Memorial
We are nearing completion of our research into the lives of the 7 men named on the memorial glass in St John's Church, Heslington. In addition to telling the stories of these men, our forthcoming publication will describe life in the village with photographs and other details.
St Oswald's Church WW1 Memorial
We have now published our three biographical booklets on the lives of the 86 men named on the memorial at Fulford Church.
Each volume costs £10, or £25 for all three volumes. To obtain copies, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on WW1 in our area see our pages on war memorials.
York Historical Atlas
The former Director of York Archaeology Trust, Dr Peter Addyman gave a very interesting illustrated talk on 18th June on the newly published York Historical Atlas. This was our Festival of Ideas event and was attended by some 45 people, many of whom were not FFH members.
Soon after joining YAT as its founding Director, the Chairman, Maurice Barley, suggested that Peter should begin compiling the York edition of the Historic Towns Atlas, suggesting it could be fitted in to his spare time. That was 43 years ago and the publication is a triumph of scholarship that describes the current understanding of the history of York and is so much better for the knowledge that has been accumulated by academics and archaeologists over the years.
The York Historic Towns Atlas is based on the remarkably detailed 1852 Ordnance Survey map of York and traces the history of the city from its Roman origins to the 21st century. Its editor Peter Addyman described working with a group of expert colleagues to create the Atlas and explained its significance to our understanding of the city today.
Peter set the Atlas in the context of the other publications in the series across Europe and brought copies of Central London, Winchester and other cities for everyone to look at.
The Atlas has 11 maps, period by period, bringing together topographical, archaeological, historical and cartographic evidence to present a clear picture of what is known of the city through time. In addition, 9 sheets of plates present numerous illustrations, including the earliest medieval images of York, reproductions of early maps and plans, views of the city and its buildings, and the latest aerial records.
A substantial scholarly gazetteer explains every name on the maps, ancient or modern, and for each period there is an introductory essay by the specialist contributing authors:
Patrick Ottaway (Roman York),
Richard Hall and Ailsa Mainman (Anglian York; Anglo-Scandinavian York),
David Palliser and Sarah Rees-Jones (York 1066-1272 and 1272-1536),
William Sheils (York 1536-1840 and York since 1840).
An article about the Atlas appeared in the York Press on 3rd Feb 2016. click here
Fulford Biscuits in the paper!
Louise Wheatley was featured in the York Press in September 2015 in a feature about the Fulford Biscuits that the FFH have been researching - and Louise has been cooking!
Download a copy of a leaflet on the Fulford Biscuit here.
Lord Deramore's Primary School in Heslington have built replica WW1 trenches as part of their projects to learn about the conflict - More on this link
Our Fourth Annual General Meeting, 19th March 2016
I must begin by expressing my very special thanks to Barbara, Judy, Louise and Roger for their outstanding work in researching, writing and publishing our biographies of the 86 Fishergate and Fulford men named on the St Oswald’s WW1 memorial. The subsequent exhibition at the York Cemetery Chapel, which we shared with other groups and interesting speakers, greatly impressed the many visitors who saw it, including the MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell.
As you will probably be aware, we eventually agreed a 75% reduction in the cost of the 64 photographs from the King’s Book of York Heroes; to £4.64each. This was, I think, mainly due to the intervention of Dean Vivienne Faull, and it allowed us to use good quality digital copies of the photographs of the men in our biographies. I worked on preparing one of the booklets for publication and was taken aback at the power of these images, as their faces looked back at me across time and I read the brief details of their cruelly truncated lives.
The committee are very grateful to FFH members who gave very generously towards the cost of the King’s Book photographs. Their donations, together with a grant from the Western Front Association and the (reasonably) healthy state of our funds, subsidised the cost of the pamphlets so we sold many more than we thought was possible - 87 and rising!
Judy, Barbara and Robert are now gathering information on the lives of the seven men named on the Heslington church WW1 memorial window. During the year we were given photographs of the area from the Jim Murphy collection, so they are combining these and other images with the biographies to give a picture of early 20th century life in Heslington. Please let them know if you have anything which may be useful, and also if you would like to join them with this interesting research project.
We have recently made contact with Fishergate School, in preparation for research into the lives of the 87 former pupils listed on the memorial in the school porch. We have been given access to the Head Teacher’s log books, and we are hoping to involve former pupils and parents to show how the war affected the school. We will also need to approach the Minster Library for more photographs. Again, please let us know if you are interested in joining this research team.
In July, many of our members took part in the geophysical investigations at the Sir John Hunt Memorial Cottage Homes. This Festival of Archaeology event came about following a suggestion by Paul Durdin after last year’s AGM. The results confirmed that the area was mostly cultivated in ridge and furrow strips, and the only specific sign of occupation was at the north-western corner, close to where Roman building materials had been found in 2014.
The year has been filled with interesting walks and talks. My favourite combined both when Mr Jagger showed us around Water Fulford Hall and Judy and Barbara explained the complex history of the hall and its owners. Other highlights included Mary Garrison bringing the 8th century alive with a lively explanation of Alcuin, York’s Anglian period ecclesiastical scholar, and Jane Cullen on the Backhouse Nurseries in York.
Louise organised two evening visits to Heslington Hall and she also gave us a typically scholarly examination of Jacobian York, based around the Heslington Hall painting of Mrs. Brooke that she successfully encouraged the art gallery to purchase last year.
On the northern fringes of Heslington, we learnt much about the Siward’s Howe area during a walk led by Jon Kenny and supported by Al Oswald. Al is leading a further walk in April this year, beginning where we left off at Green Dykes Lane and heading towards Lamel Hill.
In June, the internationally distinguished Professor Sir John Lawton led us on a walk into the Heslington Outgang, explaining the landscape history and ecology of this ancient trackway. In June this year we will have another visit to Heslington, when Nick Allen will lead us on an evening walk around the village.
More recently, Judy Nicholson finally persuaded me to apply the experience of a life-long watery career and to join her in a talk on the river Ouse through time. Judy’s appreciation of the social, economic and political significance of the river was an inspiration, and I hope you all enjoyed mixing her insights with my ramblings on tide levels, ships and navigation problems.
Thanks to the generosity of local Scouts, our Fulford Show exhibition was both larger and drier than previous years. Hundreds of people saw the exhibits and some visitors gave us yet more interesting personal stories to add to the Fulford and Heslington village history files.
Terry Court, Martin Lomas and I have been preparing a small walking guide to Main Street, Fulford. Much of the information is drawn from the Fulford village files, and Martin’s wonderful artwork has created a new standard for the genre!
Our meetings are very well attended, and as Louise Wheatley will explain in her finance and membership report, we have a (reasonably) sound foundation for our activities. This is largely due to the generosity of our members – many thanks to you all.
One important area where we need help is the FFH website. I am grateful to Margaret Scott for giving it life support, but we desperately need a new ‘webmaster’ to keep it up to date with reports on our activities, details of forthcoming events and information about our area. Please let me know if you are able to help. (it’s a weebly, which may mean something to someone!)
We are very keen to support members in their local history research and would welcome new faces on the steering committee. Please let me know if you are interested.
This is a wonderful group, with interesting and warm-hearted members. I look forward to seeing you all at our talks and walks during the coming year. Do Get Involved!
Chairman, March 2016
Our Third Annual General Meeting, 21st March 2015
This has been a great year for FFH. We have become recognised as a dynamic and enterprising local history group and we are firmly ‘on the map’ with the great and good of York’s history establishment!
As Louise Wheatley will tell you in her report, we have reasonably sound finances and a growing membership, with good numbers of people coming to our interesting and stimulating programme of monthly meetings. Huge thanks to Louise for her recent Newsletter and for planning and arranging the speakers. Also, many thanks to everyone who helps to make these events such a sociable treat. Suggestions for future meetings and walks will be very welcome.
One major event of 2014 was the conference on Anglian Fishergate, where over 90 people heard fascinating talks by leading specialists, followed by a wide ranging discussion chaired by City Archaeologist, John Oxley.
The ‘buzz’ around the conference led to Yorkshire Museum inviting us to partner an Art-Fund sponsored event where the Fishergate Ring was shown to local people at the Novotel. Particular thanks to Anne Akeroyd and Louise Wheatley for helping to distribute flyers around Fishergate to publicise the event. Since then, I have been working with the museum on the design of a poster about the ring, copies of which will be given to us shortly.
The centenary of the First World War has loomed large throughout 2014. Roger Thompson presented biographies of some of the men named on the St Oswald’s memorial to our November meeting, where we also had an interesting display of WW1 memorabilia and an exhibition on York women during the war by pupils from The Mount School.
Roger, Barbara King and Judy Nicholson have been working hard throughout the year on researching and compiling short biographies of all 86 men named on the Fulford memorial. The research has been quite complicated, but also very worthwhile. The stories they have uncovered have been both interesting and harrowing.
A small grant from the Western Front Association will help with the cost of publishing the biographies to commemorate these men. Edited and prepared for publication by Louise, the edition covering the 26 Fulford men will be available for sale at the AGM. It is hoped to publish the Fishergate section at an event York Cemetery Chapel in November.
An unfortunate issue has arisen during the WW1 research work. The Minster Library has refused to allow us copies of photographs, at cost price, of men pictured in the King’s Book of Heroes, and has insisted on charging us their normal, unaffordable, fee. We are still trying to resolve this matter through negotiation and have asked the Dean for help in reaching an amicable settlement.
As well as excellent presentations in the church hall, we have also had some great walking tours, including old St Oswald’s church (which I sadly missed), led by Alan Francis and Roger Walton, and New Walk Terrace area led by Margaret Scott. Rob Griffiths led us around the grounds of The Retreat, where we learned about the history of the site and the hospital’s pioneering approach to treating mental illness.
Judy and Barbara took us on the second of their detailed and fascinating walks along Fulford Main Street. On this occasion, we looked at the buildings on the west side and learned of the families and business that occupied them over the years. Judy and Barbara have accumulated an amazing archive on the village which is proving very useful for other research, including the WW1 project. People are still giving them information, including the former owner of the Saddle Inn during the campaign to prevent its re-development.
We struggled with a windy afternoon at Fulford Show, but the WW1 displays were very well received and we sold a good number of ‘Fulford type’ biscuits to raise funds for the group.
Another battle of Fulford has recently been lost and the large housing development and road realignment at Germany Beck looks set to go ahead. Some pre-works archaeology has already been undertaken along the route of the access road and part of the development site. A couple of Roman brooches and medieval coins have been found, but nothing so far relating to the 1066 battle. City Archaeologist, John Oxley insisted on an extensive programme of archaeology being undertaken on the site, so we should find a lot more about early Fulford during the coming year.
The archaeological dig at Connaught Court found medieval and Roman fields and artefacts, suggesting there was a Roman trackway, defensive palisade and buildings nearby.
Judy’s recent presentation of her photos and Geoff Shearsmith’s postcard collection brought a record turn-out to hear about the history of the Cattle Market. Like so many of our meetings, the lively discussion added even more colour to the picture.
We recently won a council grant for a Community Notice Board at Fishergate shops. Sponsored by FFH, funding was also given by the Friends of New Walk and Friends of the Cemetery Trust and a generous contribution from Mirchiz restaurant.
Work has recently begun on writing and designing a Local History Train along Fulford Main Street.
We are very keen to support members undertaking local history research and would welcome anyone who wants to join the committee and/or become more involved in the activities of the group. Please let me know if you are interested.
I look forward to seeing many of you at our talks and walks during the coming year.
Second AGM March 15th 2014
Around 30 members turned up on a bright Saturday morning for our 2nd AGM. Our acting Chairman Chris Rainger opened the meeting by presenting his Chairman’s report (appended below), which was followed by short reports by our Treasurer Louise Wheatley and Webmaster Gavin Thomas. The committee was re-elected with Chris Rainger confirmed as the Chairman.
Also, committee member Barbara King and member Mary Maldon Owen revealed their first batch of Fulford Biscuits, using an ingredients list passed down through the Leng family and a recipe that Barbara and Mary, after many different variations, think was most like the original biscuit. Look out for batches of these for sale at future meetings!
Report of the Chairman (shortened for the WWW site), but available in full here. "This time last year, our first AGM elected John Hurd as Chair of the Society. He was leading us with great vigour and intellect, but was forced to resign due to ill health, so the steering committee elected me to be acting chair until this AGM. I’m delighted to report that John is making a good recovery and is hoping to become involved again before too long. One of John’s last actions for FFH was handing over some exquisite Stone-Age tools and other items, collected by the late Geoff Rounthwaite at Lingcroft Farm, Naburn, to the Yorkshire Museum.
This has been an exciting year for FFH, with growing membership and attendance at meetings and events. We have made a mark on the local history scene, and thanks to Gavin Thomas the website also has many more articles. We have also attracted grants to support our activities. One of our research projects which has been particularly successful is Barbara King and Judith Nicholson’s work on Fulford Main Street. They are gathering an increasing collection of family history stories, linked to past and present buildings in the village, and have received warm appreciation from local people as they draw together the family threads and make local history come alive. It was wonderful to see the pleasure of the people they gathered together last year in this hall to exchange stories and meet old friends. Judith and Barbara have developed an amazing filing system to manage the information they are continuing to gather, and this will be invaluable as the project moves towards some form of publication.
Main Street information and pictures also created much interest at Fulford Show, where the story of one family during WW1 was also presented, along with a variety of ‘Fulford-type’ biscuits made by Louise Wheatley. After the talk by Mary Malden-Owen in January, we now know much more about how changes in farming led to the foundation of a specialised biscuit making business in the village and shops selling them in the city.
We published our first local history walk around Fishergate during the summer and arranged a launch-event at the Postern Tower, with an exhibition of photographs, maps and drawings of the area opened by York MP, Hugh Bayley. This was arranged in association with the Friends of York Walls, and FFH members joined their volunteers in the daily opening the Tower for the British Council for Archaeology’s Archaeology Fortnight. Particular thanks are due to FFH member, Martin Lomas, whose help in designing and installing the exhibition was invaluable, and also to the Shepherd Family Trust for their generous grant. The Fishergate History Walk leaflet was partly funded by donations from local shops, pubs and other businesses, including Mecca Bingo, where we discovered that the archaeological finds from the site are being stored in the building. We are now working with City Archaeologist, John Oxley, to negotiate the transfer of these items to the Yorkshire Museum.
I have already mentioned some of the splendid monthly meetings over the year and I could fill this report reviewing all of them. Louise Wheatley deserves our heartfelt thanks for arranging such a fascinating and stimulating programme for us.
Roger Thompson is leading our preparations to commemorate WW1 and has successfully applied for a grant from the Western Front Association to support publication of a booklet later this year about the men listed on the Fulford and Heslington memorials. This dovetails well with the research and knowledge of committee members and others in FFH and will aim to give a rounded picture of the lives of these men. I hope you will continue to give us your support, and perhaps become drawn in to some of these activities. Every encouragement will be given to anyone who has an idea for their own research and we will help in any way we can."
After the close of the formal AGM business, we were treated to a presentation by York City Archaeologist John Oxley on the Archaeology in and around York over the past year. This was a fascinating exposition of recent work in the City covering some aspects of the Hungate and King’s Square digs, including some wonderful evidence of the Viking reusing old boats in making their houses. More locally we discussed finding from the All Saint’s Fishergate dig (which is under the Barbican car park) showing the site of the church and the 17th century mass graves that were discovered that are likely Fairfax’s troops who died of infection during the siege of York in 1644. John closed with some comments on the Germany Beck development and stated that in his professional opinion as an archaeologist he thinks that it is ‘possibly’ the site for the Battle of Fulford, but that there isn’t enough hard evidence to support this site over a number of other in the area. He also showed a particularly revealing overlay of the contours of York over an OS map, which he used to shoe the lines of the York and Escrick glacial moraines that were important areas of raised land in prehistoric times. York sits on a break in the York moraine at the modern confluence of the Ouse and Foss and the aerial map reveals the wash through of the breakpoint likely formed the slightly higher ground to either site of the river, on which now sits the Fulford Road on one side and the Bishopthorpe Road on the other.
Finally the members had assembled a wonderful lunch spread which was enjoyed by the members while many interesting discussions about the FFH continued.
May 2013 Committee meeting
A full meeting of the committee and a new member to introduce, Chris Rainger, who led the Fishergate walking tour early this year and will be preparing some material for the site on Fishergate. Hence, the committee is now John Hurd (Chair), Judy Nicholson (Secretary), Louise Wheatley (Treasurer), Gavin Thomas (Web), and Anne Akeroyd, Barbara King, Chris Rainger and Dr. Robert Visick. The Chairman reported that he has submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for some support for the FFH. We appear to be getting closer to tracking down the Boer War memorial that went missing from some cottages in Fulford - more on this later. Also, Chris will be launching his Fishergate walking tour leaflet on Wednesday 24th July at 2pm at Fishergate Postern Tower - come along and celebrate.
September committee meeting
Biggest news this month is that we have a new Chairman, John Hurd, who has taken over from Bob Cook who resigned due to being over-committed. We also welcome a new Committee member, Barbara King from Fulford. Barbara will be helping Louise Wheatley with the membership list. The Committee also consists of Robert Visick, Anne Akeroyd, Gavin Thomas and Judith Nicholson.
We hope to start 2013 with real membership of the group which is likely to be £5 per year, with £1 per meeting and £2 for visitors, unless we have to pay more for certain speakers. We now have a bank account and insurance, with an archival policy and health and safety policy underway. We also intend to apply for a lottery grant to help us to buy some equipment and get the group up and running, so we can begin to work on more projects in Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington. At the moment the projects we are working on include, WW1 memorials, the history of the Cavalry Barracks, buildings of note, oral history and Fulford biscuits.
May Steering group meeting
At our second meeting we have made some working appointment for the next year so we have some structure in assembling and submitting our constitution. The acting Chairman of the FFH is Bob Cook, acting secretary Judith Nicholson, acting treasurer Louise Wheatley and acting Webmaster Gavin Thomas. Along with Anne Ackroyd and Robert Visick we will work toward gaining constitution for the society by the end of 2012. The programme is in place until the end of 2012, which is available on the Event page of this site. Also, we are working towards a stand at the Fulford Show which will be themed around the Fulford Biscuit, manufactured in the 19th century by the Leng family of Fulford as its a good excuse for people to make their favourite biscuits!
I have added a page on the old theatre facade on Chelmsford Place (Fulford Road opposite the Priory Hotel). Also, I have added a picture of the Coadestone sculpture from the Cavalry barracks that now sits in the Imphal Barracks.
February Steering group meeting
We had our first steeting group meeting on the 8th February 2012 and have resolved to form a constitution and actually become a real society! Also, we firmed up the rest of the programme for 2012 which will be available here soon. We are excited that the York Historian Hugh Murray has agreed to lead a walk for the FFH around the York Cemetery in July.
Following the January meeting we put out a call for members of a small steering committee which will now try and meet relatively frequently to coordinate FFH activities. The steering group at the moment consists of Louise Wheatley, Gavin Thomas, Judith Nichols, Anne Ackroyd, Robert Visick and Bob Cook. Informal minutes of our meetings will be posted on the site once we have arranged our first session.
FFH projects for 2012-2014
_Following our January 20112 meeting we have decided to start a group project to learn more about the 77 soldiers named on the Fulford memorial for 1914-1918 and the 7 soldiers named on the 1914-1919 memorial window in Heslington Church. We aim to produce short biographies for all of these brave local men and use some of them as starting points for larger activities following family history in the FFH area through involvement of local schools. Watch this space!
We also plan a more ambitious project "3000 Years Down on the Farm", which will involved an archeaological study of Lincroft Farm, which is being led by Louise Wheatley. Lots of potential activities to do here including some Time Team style geophysics!
February 2012Wednesday 21 November, 6.30 to 8pm, McLagan Room, St William’s College. An extra opening to the public of the fantastic one-off exhibition comparing today’s York Streets with how they looked decades ago, or even two hundred years ago. The exhibition is raising funds for charities York Civic Trust, York against Cancer and York Minster. Entry is £12 but you can buy the book with all the images (and more) for only £20. It will rise to £30 afterwards – if still available. Some of the paintings/photographs are available to purchase. Take advantage of this last chance! The exhibition closes on 22 November.