Middle Ages festival

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A North Yorkshire church is teaming up with local historians to give people an idea of what their community was like in the Middle Ages.

All Saints Church in Northallerton and the town’s District Local History Society are staging a Medieval Festival inside the Grade 1 listed church on Saturday August 1 between 10am and 4pm.

The event is part of the Jorvik Medieval Festival’s Church Explorers initiative.

“All Saints was the centre of community life for the whole of the medieval period and is now the only building in the town remaining from that time” said the Revd Fiona Mayer-Jones, the vicar of Northallerton.

“We want to celebrate that continuity and encourage local people to feel that the church still belongs them today in the same way it did then.”

For the whole of the medieval period the church was under the jurisdiction of the Bishops of Durham who had their own Palace close by.

The site of this and other medieval remains in the town will be explored in walking tours which will start from the church every hour during the day.

There will also be a rare opportunity to visit the bellringing chamber and even to see the bells themselves, housed in the church’s 15th century tower which dominates the town.

Pride of place in the displays will be taken by a Norman grave slab, carved around 1150, which was only identified in 2003 and has never previously been properly displayed to the public.

Unusually it carries an inscription, which clearly links it to Northallerton and a local family.

Peter Harbord, who leads the group organising the event, said: “This is high quality art and local history combined in a single object, and something for the whole town to take delight in.”

There will be interest and fun for children too. The Jorvik Group are bringing their interactive archaeology exhibit, DIG, and there will be an opportunities to try out archery and play medieval music.

Mike Sanders of the Local History Society said: “It is important that we explain to our young people about the past events and people that shaped our community. “They can find out where William the Conqueror’s castle was, how what is now Northallerton School and Sixth Form College started in 1212, and why the famous Battle of the Standard was so important.”

The day will end with a recreated medieval service of Vespers at 4pm.

Anyone who would like to learn to sing plainsong for this can join a workshop starting at 2pm.

Details of the whole event can be found at www.cofe-northallerton.org.uk; or phone 01609 761059, or email medfest@cofe-northallerton.org.uk.

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