Reports on 2014 Activities

The following reports give a flavour of what took place in 2014; see what you may have missed!

Visit to the church of St Helen and the Holy Cross, and the castles of Sheriff Hutton

Sixteen Members assembled at the Church for a guided tour of the Church and Castles of Sheriff Hutton by Roy Thompson on Saturday 28th June 2014.

The tour began with a walk around the outside of the church to see the different building phases and building materials. St Helen was built in several stages which can best be seen from the outside at the SE corner of the churchyard. The period of building began at around 1100 with the Norman church. Extensions followed including the chancel, aisles, chantry chapels and the clerestory.

Sandstone was used from the local Mowthorpe Quarry and also limestone reused from the tower and aisles, these different materials can be seen on the outside mixed together in places.

Hover over an image for a description; click for a larger version...

The church exterior from the SE corner
The NW corner with a glimpse of the brick C18th porch
The present church interior looking towards the Victorian east window with Georgian box pews and chantry chapels to left and right
During the installation of a much larger arch in the aisle a strengthening arch was installed in the wall above
Reflects the links with the Nevilles and Richard III. This photo is of the tomb of Edward Prince of Wales, son of Richard III and Anne Neville
A Saxon-Norman Gravestone previously used as a coping stone recovered in 2005

We next walked past the remains of the first castle built by Sir Bertram de Bulmer, a Norman baron, in 1140, through the village to the later Plantaganet Castle built by Ralph Neville in 1382. This castle was used frequently during the Wars of the Roses by Richard, Earl of Salisbury and his son Richard, Earl of Warwick (The Kingmaker).

King Richard III, Duke of Gloucester was sent to serve his apprenticeship in knighthood with the Earl or Warwick in his castles of Middleham and Sheriff Hutton. During this period he met Anne, the Earl's younger daughter whom he later married.

It was indeed a privilege to be allowed access to the castle to view the remains at close quarters, as the castle is in private ownership.

View of the SE tower, guardroom and gateway which is said to resemble the Neville gateway at Raby castle. The kitchen was also said to be on a par with the magnificent kitchen at Raby castle which almost completely retains its original medieval form.  Note the Neville coat of arms above the gateway made up of four shields which also appears on the wall at Middleham castle
The gateway arches which reflect the various remains of at least three arches
The SE tower showing the remains of the guardroom
At the entrance to the vaulted  chamber in the SW tower is a date stone, difficult to read. Considering the castle build date could it be 1469? it can be interpreted into many different dates
This is the SW tower and the most complete, the walls are 8ft thick and five stories high including a basement
The NW tower

There are two other towers standing, the NW tower and the NE tower, not as accessible as the SW tower but none the less spectacular at close quarters.

We are indebted to Roy Thompson for such an informative and splendid afternoon, explaining in such detail the church and the castle, and also for the hospitality of his fellow church members.

Text and images courtesy of Ken Shutt

A Guided Walk around Helmsley Town

Around 12 members joined NYMNP voluntary ranger Peter Turton at the Feversham Monument for a look at the buildings of Helmsley and their history at 7pm on Wednesday 21st May 2014.

Current photographs on the left are shown next to earlier images from The Helmsley Archive, on the right. Click images for larger versions...

The Police Station built 1858 and used until 1934
Before the Town Hall was built - pre-1900

The Police Station built 1858 and used until 1934 is now a café adjoining the Helmsley Town Hall.

The Town Hall in the early 1900's

Helmsley Town Hall was opened in 1901. The image on the right shows the building in the early 1900s.

Early 20th century image shows guests arriving at "The Hotel"

Members looking perplexed trying to locate the Black Swan Hotel. The hotel sign just reads "The Hotel"; The Black Swan is indicated only by the Swan mounted on the bracket on the wall. The hotel now extends to include the two buildings on the left. All three buildings are very different in design.

Canons Garth derelict before its restoration in 1893

Canons Garth dates back to medieval times and previously was used as a religious house and vicarage; the house is now a private dwelling. The view on the right shows the older, central portion of the house.

High Street and Boro Beck, 1929 : the workhouse is now called Woodard House

This photograph shows what was the Helmsley Workhouse, erected in the 1859-1861, designed by John and William Atkinson, architects of many Yorkshire Workhouses. The workhouse had closed by 1924 and is now in residential use.

The outing was very informative and enjoyable, ending at approximately 8:30 pm; our thanks are due to Peter Turton.

Pictures courtesy of Ken Shutt and The Helmsley Archive.

Visit to Yearsley Mill Site - Saturday April 26th, 2014

Ten members of the Society met with Elizabeth Sanderson and Geoff Snowdon, the leaders of the Yearsley Mill Research Project, for a guided tour of the Yearsley Mill site.

Our route to the mill was along a Forestry track which ran parallel to a much older, but much wetter path, thought to have been the direct link between Yearsley village and the mill when the mill was in use. We made a slight detour from our track to see the site of the mill pond, now only a shallow depression completely silted up. Auger samples taken by the Yearsley Moor Exploration Team had confirmed that this area was indeed formerly a pond.

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Standing in the mill pond - all that now remains is a narrow stream running through

The next stop was the mill itself. The structure so far revealed in the 2012 excavations poses many intriguing questions concerning the extent of the building and the workings of the mill. Hopefully some of this will be resolved by the 2014 work.

Although we had previously seen pictures of the site and received progress reports, today's visit to the site, combined with the detailed explanation supplied by Elizabeth and Geoff, enabled us to gain a much clearer understanding of what was involved.

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The mill stone, not in its working position, but inverted and apparently used as part of the mill floor The wheel pit is thought to have been just out of picture to the right

The mill appears to have been part of a complex of buildings, the largest of which was investigated before the mill excavations began.

As the final part of our tour we were shown where a trench had been dug to confirm the line of the Park Pale ditch and bank.

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Could this substantial building have been occupied by the miller? This boundary was originally built in the 14th century when permission to create a deer park was granted

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Wheelpit, cogwheel pit and millstone (not in working position) Water course running through the site (not the mill race) Geoff Snowdon (left) describing the trench through the park pale

We all enjoyed a really interesting afternoon and are looking forward to hearing the results of the 2014 excavations. Whatever the outcome of this year's work, our visit will definitely help us to understanding its significance.

The 2014 excavations will begin in May, will last three weeks and continue in September for another three weeks.

Thanks to Susan Hall and Ken Shutt for the photographs

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