Previous Events

This is a list of the previous events/talks that have been held by the Stockton on the Forest History Group :

Thursday 16 September 2021

Our first meeting since the start of COVID 19


 Joy welcomed Hugh Ainsley from Sheriff Hutton History Group who gave us a very interesting talk entitled "A Tale of Two World War 1 Heroes". We heard the fascinatingstory of two men with local connections from relatively humble backgrounds who not only took part in the Boer War, but also in the First World War. We gained a rare insight into their lives along with other historic aspects and implications of the wars. Hugh’s presentation and photographs will be added to our website archives.


Thursday 21st November 2019 -AGM

Our very own Dave Williams gave a very interesting and informative talk on some of his many finds which he has discovered whilst metal detecting over the last 10 years.  Dave displayed some of the finds for the group to actually handle and discuss with him.  He was asked lots of questions about the method of declaring treasure (items over 300 years old) and technical details about metal detectors.  Some of the items Dave shared with us included an Iron Age Coral Brooch, a Pilgrims Ampular (lead), Bronze Age Axe Head, very early Roman Brooch, Personal Lead Seal (one owned by Alicia de Sutt (early medieval) and another owned by Isolde Towthorpe which was found in Towthorpe).  He also showed us a Cartwheel Twopence coin in pure copper from 1797, a Claudius III coin, a Silver Dinarius worth one weeks’ wage for a Roman Soldier (Lucilla Augusta who was the wife of Lucius) from around 160-180AD.
The group gave a warm round of applause to show Dave their appreciation of the talk and of his knowledge of history and the items.
Mick P had very kindly arranged for Mental Health Action York (MHAY) to provide an array of photographs of Bootham Park Hospital.  The ladies from MHAY provided an insight into the history of the building and described the awful recent events which have led to the demise of the Mental Health Service in York at Bootham Park (and elsewhere) and their fear that the building is likely to be demolished.  MHAY are fighting for the preservation of the building at least in every area they can and appealed for any assistance that the group can provide.


Thursday 19th September 2019 - Julie-Ann Vickers from York Explore on the “York Poor Law Union”. 

Julie-Ann’s talk was very enlightening and reassured us that Workhouses were not all bad latterly as they were a free source of healthcare and provided food and shelter. She dispelled the myth that they were Dickensian and not everyone was a pauper and many chose to go there e.g. single parents, the sick and disabled people. They also provided good local economies where staff could also live on site York had two workhouses, one in Marygate that later moved to Huntington Road.

Bobby offered a vote of thanks to Julie-Ann and the group warmly applauded her. 


Thursday 27th June 2019 - Sister Anne of the Bar Convent - “The Bar Convent; York’s Best Kept Secret Since 1686.”

 Sister Anne began by talking about the life of Mary Ward who was born in 1585 to a strict Catholic family.  Mary was the eldest of five children and two of her brothers were involved with the Gunpowder Plot!

Mary effectively was sent away to “learn” religious life and despite her Father’s encouragement, turned down four suitors who wanted to marry her.

She felt that God was telling her to move and so she went to London.  In 1609 she experienced the “Glory Vision” where she felt God spoke to her and she felt there should be a new way of life for women.

Whilst being a sickly young person, she managed to walk to Rome and was received by the Pope.  At one point she was imprisoned in Munich and almost died but the Pope had her released.

Mary returned to Yorkshire under the safety and guidance of the Ingleby’s and Thwing families who provided her a house in Heworth where she died.

A technical hitch prevented the entire film of Mary’s life in paintings being shown, but Sister Anne spoke so well without any notes at all and continued to tell us the history of the Bar Convent.  The following paragraphs are taken from the Bar Convent website:

The community of sisters who still reside at The Bar Convent belong to the Congregation of Jesus, which was founded by Mary Ward.

We were established in 1686 by Frances Bedingfield, an early member of Mary Ward’s institute. The £450 it took to build was donated by Sir Thomas Gascoigne, who said, "We must have a school for our daughters."

At this time of religious turbulence, the early sisters were careful to conceal their identity. They wore slate-coloured gowns in the fashion of the day to avoid arousing suspicion. When Mother Aspinal’s new Chapel was built in 1769, it was designed with eight separate exits to allow the congregation to escape in the event of a raid by authorities. Its magnificent neoclassical dome is still concealed beneath our pitched slate roof.

During the First World War, Belgian nuns and refugee children were given a home in the convent, while the Concert Hall was converted into a hospital ward for wounded soldiers. In the Second World War, the convent was bombed during the Baedeker Raids. Five sisters lost their lives in the blast.

The community ran the school for 299 years, until in 1985 it was transferred to the Diocese of Middlesbrough.

Today, The Bar Convent is still home to sisters of Mary Ward's religious order, the Congregation of Jesus. The Grade I Listed buildings are open to the public, welcoming those of all faiths and none.

Bobby offered a vote of thanks to Sister Anne and the group warmly applauded her.  The group gave a small donation to the Bar Convent by way of thanks for the talk.




Thursday 21st March 2019 - Marion Jefferies  “History of the Women’s Land Army in WW1 and WW2 and the Hostel at Stockton on the Forest”.

 After a shaky beginning due to a heavy cold, Marion’s voice became stronger and she was able to give us a detailed account of the life and work of the Women’s Land Army.  Marion had numerous photographs (some of which had been taken by Dorothy Buckton, who was a special guest at the meeting) and various slides giving information about the ladies work and the various places they had been housed.  Very often, they were housed with farmers in their own farmhouses, or in hostels.  There were more hostels in Yorkshire than anywhere else.

 There were almost no records in the National Records Office at Kew (6 photographs) but Marion had created a wonderful catalogue of various hostels around the country and in Yorkshire.  In Stockton on the Forest at Stockton House, there were 45 girls in the main house which was extremely cold and 8 more plus 2 or 3 staff in the Hutment at the back of the house.

 Duties included working the land with (very often) their bare hands, rat catching and spending weeks clearing snow.  A normal working day would very often mean 12 to 14 hours per day.

 Girls as young as 17 and a half were recruited by Miss Winifred Jacob Smith and were referred to as the Lilac Bonnet ladies in their uniforms provided by Harrods.

 In 2015, it was 100 years since the Women’s Land Army was started and to celebrate this, Marion Jefferies has written a book which is for sale via Amazon and from Marion herself.  The book is called “Yorkshire Women at War”.

 Joy thanked Marion for a super talk and the group expressed their gratitude.


 Thursday 20th September 2018 -  York Civic Trust -  “Conservation In York Throughout the Last Century”

Malcolm introduced David Fraser, Chief Executive of York Civic Trust. 

David stood in at late notice as his colleague was called away.  He spoke enthusiastically (without notes) about the work of the Civic Trust which was formed in 1946.  The work of Y.C.T. is very much about “promoting heritage; shaping tomorrow”. David highlighted this all the way through the talk and described how they deal with the threats and challenges which face the city's architecture, transport structure and so on.  This includes the changing population demands, environmental challenges and being reactive to Planning Applications.  A slideshow of projects that YCT have been involved in accompanied the talk and he encouraged the audience to give their opinions on some of the more controversial buildings e.g. Stonebow and Sparks.

David ended his talk by inviting new members to join York Civic Trust and as a local history group, we will be making an application for Affiliate Membership.

Chairman Malcolm led the group in a warm vote of thanks to David.

Thursday 21st June 2018 "The Yorkshire Film Archives".
Malcolm introduced Yorkshire Film Archives, represented by Graham Relton (otherwise doubling as Lee Mack).
Graham had put together over an hour of entertaining footage of York and the North Yorkshire scenery including social history from New Earswick School, Rowntrees and even tanks down Micklegate and on the Knavesmire.
The films were quite amazing and everyone enjoyed the informative content and Graham's comedic narrative.
There was an opportunity to purchase some of the YFA cd's – Joy will purchase on on behalf of the group so that we can have a 'film evening' at a later date.
A most enjoyable evening once again,  followed by Madeline's now famous cheese scones and other refreshments.
Thank you all who helped with setting up, washing up and tidying afterwards.


Thursday 15th March 2018: “the Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project”
Pam introduced the ladies from the Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project.  We were given a marvellous recount of the run up to and the detail of the Stamford Bridge Battle between the Saxons and the Vikings.  Heather Cawte was most impressive with her story of the battle which was packed with factual (and gory) detail despite the background singing of the cast from OLIVER! who were rehearsing in the main hall.
Shirley Smith provided us with an insight into the technical side of creating a massive tapestry and we were able to handle the linen/calico samples as well as view the actual panels themselves.
The Project is continuing in the memory of Tom Wyles who instigated it and commemorates a turning point in British History.
A most enjoyable evening, followed by Madeline's now famous cheese scones and other refreshments.
Thursday 21st September 2017: "An Auctioneer's Lot"
Malcolm welcomed William Wilson of Clubleys Auctioneers.  The audience had been invited to bring items which they hoped to gain more information about or to have valued.  William gave us a complete insight into his life and love of antiques, from a 12 year old boy with an obsession for sale rooms to present day and his role as Auctioneer.  He started by asking “What is an antique?” and then talked about the changing face of the antiques market over the last 300 years and how various factors can effect the value/demand for an item.As he talked, William was both entertaining, funny and informative.  He picked up items from those brought by our audience and talked about each one in turn, using them to enforce a fact from his talk – including fakes (apologies to Dave Williams and his boat)!Items varied from War Medals, to beautiful jewellery, crockery, a butter pat, vases and a Grandmother clock.  William continued to chat to the audience individually whilst tea, coffee, cake, scones and biscuits were enjoyed (grateful thanks to everyone who helped with baking, serving and clearing away).
Thursday 22nd June 2017: Guest Speaker - Ben Reeves on "The Haymarket"
Malcolm welcomed Ben Reeves from York Archaeological Trust.  Ben went on to give us a detailed report of the work done on the old Haymarket area of York, which is adjacent to the new Hiscock Building on Peaseholm Green.  The history of the site dates back to early Roman and because of the proximity of the River Foss, elements of the finds have been well preserved.  Ben amazed us by the sheer number of burials within such a small area surrounding All Saints In The Marsh Church. 

In 1986 77 burials were discovered and in 2012 many more were found.  The most recent dig in 2014 has uncovered almost 700 burials and because some of the area has now been covered by new construction, it is anticipated that a further 1000 burials could be concealed.

Many of the burials are thought to be victims of disease/malnutrition and further chemical analysis is required.  There was little dating evidence found but it is anticipated that they were buried prior to 1586 when the Chruch closed.

Ben also explained that the dig had uncovered various 1m thick walls of what appears to be a late Norman (circa 1200AD) high status domestic building with the floor robbed out.  Unfortunately it is now impossible to establish any more information on this theory due to the new construction.

Finds from the graves and backfill included 3 Papal Bullae Lead Seals which are extremely rare.

The group gave a warm applause in appreciation.



Malcolm   welcomed   our   Guest   Speaker,   Peter   Stanhope   who   gave   us   a   fascinating   talk   on "Disappearing York”. 

Inspired by Edwin Ridsdale Tate  (b. 1862/d. 1922), an Artist and Architect, Peter showed recent photographs of York which were compared to images drawn by Ridsdale Tate. The many changes in the landscape of the City were quite amazing and at the same time rather frustrating   as   the   destruction   of   some   beautiful   and   historic   buildings   appeared   to   be   due   to fashion/taste of the era or complete ignorance of the 1960/1970's City Council.  One example of this was the demolition of The Great George Hotel in the 1960's to create Stonebow.

Peter shared images of which showed how narrow roads were, but then how they had been widened to allow the electric trams to manoevre. There were lots of anecdotes of famous York characters – the draper called Henry Rhodes Brown who leased a small part of the corner of Century House in 1900 from the Melrose family.   The family of H. R. Brown now own most of the building which stands on the corner of Davygate/St. Samson's Square. Another street was known as “Mucky Peg Lane” which we know as Finkle Street.

Peter fondly spoke of his time as a young boy, going to meet the “bargee's” who operated the barges which frequented the Ouse and borrowing their “coggie boats”.  Barges were used by the Freemen of the City to export goods from the area and to import items such as satins, spices and tar.  The Bonding Warehouse was used by companies such as Rowntrees, Terry's and Cravens to store Cocoa, Almonds etc., for a period of time until they required some of the goods.  At that time, a quantity of the goods were released on payment of a duty.

Finally Peter ended the talk with a promotion of his book “Quaint and History York Remembered” which is about to be re-published. Chairman Malcolm led warm applause and thanks to Peter for a superb reflection of how the City has changed.



Malcolm welcomed our Guest Speaker, Ivan Martin who gave us a pictorial tour of Minster Close.  As always, Ivan delivered the commentary to the photographs with humour and interesting facts.  We 'toured' around the Minster Close which was described as being “akin to the Vatican City” as a 12ft boundary wall originally enclosed the area.  It had four original gateways; only one remains in Goodramgate.

Ivan showed us old pictures and etchings by Pumphey (1853), Fenton (1854), Carter (1827), Joseph Duncan (1879), Hill & Adamson (1844). 

We learned of the cottage which was built in front of St. Michael Le Belfy Church, cottages which were built right up against the Minster walls, the addition of the flying buttresses on the Minster and the grave of Dean Purey Cust who wanted to be buried within the Minster but it was (is) illegal to do so.

Some of the other features of the Minster depict the faces of the Master Masons not gargoyles and in the garden, a raised grass area disguises a massive water reservior/tank below the surface which had to be checked out by Police Divers prior to H. M. Queen Mother's visit in 1984.

We saw pictures of the Minster School, St. William's College, the Stone Yard, College Street, Treasurers House (now owned by the National Trust), The Deanery, Alcuin Chapel/Library and many more.  A sad fact we learned was that most of the brass signs which described the buildings and their significance, have been stolen.

Chairman Malcolm thanked Ivan profusely for another superb talk and the group gave Ivan warm applause and then everyone enjoyed Madeline's superb cheese scones and other refreshments.


Thursday 17th September, 2015 - Members Evening.

The annual opportunity to show other members what research and discoveries you have made during the past year. Items on display included:-

Two aerial pictures of the village and some literature on local properties donated to the group by John Strong. 

Malcolm Jennings brought some books for everyone to look at – one on the Bedern excavations and Villages Around York.

Pam had brought copies of an aerial view over the piggeries next to Deans and the semi-detached houses owned now by Mr. Harry Laverack.

Bobby Hughes brought a massive tome by Francis Drake on the History of York.

Dave Williams brought a small collection of items which he has acquired including a superb antique silver spoon which had been found by a dog!


Thursday 18th June 2015 - History and Working of The Minster Library

Mrs McEwan gave a most comprehensive insight into what she described as ‘York’s most well-kept secret’.

Started with the Collection of scholar Alcuin’s books [hand written manuscripts – some 40 volumes] after the building of the first Saxon chapel on the Minster site for the conversion of King Edwin to Christianity in 627 AD, this collection was destroyed by fire in 866AD at the hands of marauding  Vikings.

 Further collections were then built up rivalling the best in Europe only again to be destroyed by fire in 1136.

The next major boost to the collection was from John Newton giving some 40+ manuscript volumes and because of the size these were placed in the first library on the 2nd floor above the present Minster shop – and chained up!

The library increased rapidly in size covering many varied subjects including geography, history, science and, of course, religion.

In 1628 a further 3000+ books from Toby Mathews collection [ex Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York], perversely much of these books were acquired by him as Official Censor and were books he thought unfit for publication!

The library moved to its present home in 1819 after the Archbishop’s Palace in The Deanery Gardens had been renovated – this building previously having been the ‘Pied de Terre’ of Archbishops then living at Cawood. The chapel of the palace seeing the investiture of the new Prince of Wales by his father Richard the Third in in 1483

After many extensions it now holds a massive collection of early books [1475-1810] and newer books [1811- to date] all of which are available for public viewing [early editions] or even borrowing [newer collection] - in total over 200000 books not counting maps, leaflets and other printed materials – all catalogued!

Much of the work is carried out by some 70 volunteers and more still required – a major part of the job being painstaking renovation.


Thursday 20th November 2014 - ‘The Reluctant Funeral Director’.

Semi retired undertaker David Rymer gave a most fascinating and at times humorous insight into the history and vagaries of his profession including illuminating details of the final journeys of royals, the famous and infamous. Many questions were forthcoming from the floor – always a good sign of an interest audience.


2nd/3rd August 2014 - Exhibition to mark the 100th Anniversary of WWI - held at Holy Trinity Church.

Uncle Percy

Picture from ‘The Press”  - You can read their article about the exhibition here


Thursday 19th June, 2014 - Old York by Ivan Martin

Ivan a Minster Guide, Mansion House Guide, & Secretary of YAYAS has a vast knowledge of all things York and this evening gave a fascinating insight into Edwardian York comparing photographs of the time with there modern counterparts and by the use of advertising materials to show the vast range of goods and services available. It proved a very entertaining informative talk enjoyed by all.


1st May 2014 - Visit to Howsham Hall


20th March 2014 - Maureen Sutcliffe talk: “It Was A Good Life

Maureen’s talk was entitled ‘The Good Life’ and covered the period since they moved to the Village in 1974 acquiring a paddock with their new house number 73 next to Sowrays Trod. The reason for the move was to obtain garden space for their growing family , The decided at first to grow vegetables to save money and after ‘Reading a book’ cleared and planted many rows of fine young plants – only to discover their complete disappearance the next morning due to appreciative bird life!

Having overcome that hurdle and with encouragement from Harold Crossley, and many other ‘Books read’, their endeavours graduated through chickens, geese, goats, calves, cattle and sheep.

Throughout this time many aspects of animal husbandry had to be overcome, as well as the trials and tribulations of Farm Markets. These were described, often with basic reference to bodily functions, but always with great humour and she kept her audience spell bound and in stitches for nearly an hour – a memorable performance!




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