Yorkshire Branch Activities


2016 Activities

Reports of 2016 Events

Yorkshire Branch Arthur Cockerill Lecture
The 216 lecture was given by Dr Natalie McCaul on the subject of the Middleham Jewel. The jewel was discovered in September 1985 in the Middleham area, reportedly on a path from Coverham Abbey. It was about 10cm beneath the ground, when found by Mr Ted Seaton using a metal detector.
DR McCaul began by explaining that most of the “star” objects within collections these days are metal detector finds. She spoke of how the find led to a change in the “Treasury Trove” finds, and how fortunate the museum was to finally manage to purchase the jewel after it had been feared it would be lost to a foreign buyer after it was first put up for sale and purchased by an unknown buyer, and how there was a great deal of media coverage on the subject before the museum finally was able to purchase the jewel in 1992 for 2point 2 million pounds, the sum being raised by public subscription. Dr McCaul explained the jewel is now valued at £5 and a half million pounds.
It was explained that the history of the jewel remains a mystery and we are still unaware, to a great extent, of its history and who owned it. Dr McCaul explained the design of the jewel, along with a full description of its appearance, the fact that it was a “childbirth” jewel and the premise that the sapphire is of Sri Lankan origin. It was explained one of the principle figures engraved on the jewel is St Cecilia. There followed a session where several suggestions were put forwards as to the ownership. Was it possible Richard bought the jewel for his mother: Perhaps it had belonged to Margaret of Anjou.
Dr McCaul then went on to explain that the soil in the jewel was certainly not seepage due to being buried. This, of course, is of intense interest to members since the Branch’s latest project is an examination of the jewel and its contents. We hope this will lead to a broader knowledge as to the origin of this lovely artefact.

Towton Battlefield visit
On Saturday 7 May Scowen Sykes led a group of members around Towton battlefield and associated sites. The trip was made by car, with frequent stops to allow those with limited mobility a chance to view the site. Scowen was one of those involved in discovering the site, and certainly knows his subject. The weather was perfect and the members who attended were treated to a lively and comprehensive account of the battle and the relevant points of the battlefield. The first call was at Lead chapel, with which Yorkshire Branch has been connected for many years and which contains in its east window a quarry of King Richard's badge presented by the Branch in 1983. The party then went on to Saxton church and visited Lord Dacre's grave and other features. Afterwards there was a leisurely stop at the Dacre Cross, and the final call was at Scarthingwell to see evidence of local Templar habitation (not Wars of the Roses, we know, but a very interesting place in its own right!).
We must mention here that there was no £20 charge for the event - unlike the English Heritage visit to part of the same area. The afternoon proved so enjoyable that members have asked for it to be repeated next year.

Branch Study Day
The Branch Study Day was once again well attended. The programme consisted of four interesting items. We began with Scowen Sykes talk about Arms and Armour. Scowen described a number of items which would be found on a medieval battlefield including swords, machetes, pikes, caltrops and various other items. He backed up his talk with a computer presentation showing the effects of these weapons, a part of his talk which proved somewhat to descriptive for some members.
Rosemarie
Lynda
The final talk of the day was given by Rev Barrie Williams. Barrie   on the subject of the Templer Order in England. Barrie described the Order and its work throughout the centuries.

Yorkshire Branch visit to Fountains Abbey
The following report arrived from Lynda Telford giving details of the recent visit to Fountains:
"The 6 July saw us at Fountains Abbey for our second visit. The weather was certainly cooler than last year, when we had unfortunately what proved to be the hottest day of the year, with the result that the sun beating down on us became very tiring.
This year the group was more able to discuss the work done by the obedientaries, or officials, of the monastery, their responsibilities and the range of their influence, from the Priors, who deputised for the often absent Abbot, to the novices being schooled for a career. Whether a novice remained a simple monk or was sent to Oxford to become a priest with an eye to higher administrative office would be decided early, when his aptitude had been assessed.
There were several calls for this trip to become an annual Branch event, as there are so many different aspects of monastic life to be explored, not to mention the opportunity of spending the day in one of the most beautiful spots in Yorkshire.
We were particularly pleased to have Trevor Law with us, who has undergone two operations this year with a third in the offing. We all wish him a swift recovery."

Yorkshire Branch Bosworth Commemoration, 21 August
As usual the Yorkshire Branch Committee and members gathered at King Richard’s Collegiate Foundation at Middleham on a bright and sunny day in beautiful Wensleydale.
This event is intended to celebrate the life of King Richard III, in a place where he certainly lived and was known and respected. We consider this more appropriate than mourning his unfortunate death at Bosworth on this day, and where he was killed far away from all he held dear, although it is important to remember his death and the deaths of those who fell with him.
This event was well attended and the Orders of Service were kindly organised by Mr David May, lay reader at St Alkelda’s, who led the brief nondenominational service. It began with short readings which would have been familiar to King Richard, including Psalm 72 verses 1-4 with its references to  a king judging his people fairly and dealing out justice to the suffering and needy. We know the high value Richard placed on fairness and justice. Mr May then read from Paul's first letter to Timothy, a passage stating that kings and all in high office need to know that their subjects support them by prayer and intercessions. There was also a brief reading from King Richard's Book of Hours, referring to the "tribulation, sorrow and trouble" which the King felt afflicted him and for which he prayed to be freed by God's goodness and mercy.
Our Chairman, Angela Moreton, spoke very feelingly of war and its aftermath, and in speaking about King Richard compared his death to those of local men, of the Great War, whose memorial is nearby, and whose lives are well recorded. Three of them had been bell ringers in this church and had been remembered recently by a special peal rung for them. She stressed the local loyalties and connections of conflict, in 1485 and 1916, and reminded us of King Richard's own remembrance by name of the squires who had died in his service at the battle of Barnet. The theme of her address was "For King and Country", and we are aware that King Richard's men might well have considered that they were repelling a "foreign" invader, who certainly had foreign troops in his army .It was left to listeners to reflect that all the deaths during conflict, particularly civil wars such as the Wars of the Roses, may be considered to have been tragic in the long term, however heroic at the time. Bereaved families during the Great War were officially notified that their loved ones had "passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty", and King Richard had done his duty at Bosworth trying to rid his land of the threat of a foreign usurper. It is well known that writers under the Tudors never failed to record the King's courage, and his fighting "in the thickest press of his enemies" before treachery overwhelmed him.
A beautiful basket of white roses was then placed before the Richard III window. These were, as always, the kind contribution of our Branch Secretary/Research Officer Pauline Harrison Pogmore. These are left in the church annually by the Yorkshire Branch, for the pleasure of visitors. St Alkelda’s church has of late, been very keen to celebrate its Ricardian connections, and now features a display of copies of documents of the period, found in the Archives at Northallerton, some relating to the founding of the College by Richard when Duke of Gloucester. These help to take visitors back in time, as if the intervening centuries were removed.
After the commemoration, the members were delighted to be shown a most beautiful statue of King Richard, mounted on White Surrey, both in full battle array. This is an astonishing piece, recently acquired by Committee member Scowen Sykes, who has generously offered to use it for the Branch events. It is quite large, made of metal, with every leather strap, metal buckle, or piece of weaponry in perfect detail and working order.
This is an absolutely stunning piece, perfect in every detail, from the crown on Richard’s helmet to the white boar on the base. There has been some suggestion that it may originally have been commissioned by one of York’s banks in 1985, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth. Branch research will continue to verify this if possible.
It is worth repeating that the Yorkshire Branch has members from all over the country, and indeed from all over the world. All these members are made very welcome at our events, which regularly take place from early spring until our Branch Carol Service at Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York, in December. We are always delighted to meet fellow Ricardians and enjoy showing them the many Ricardian sites in God's Own County.
Lynda Telford (Events Organiser)
Additional information: Angela Moreton

Yorkshire Branch Day
The Branch Day this year took place slightly later this year owing to the Society AGM in York taking place on the same date as used in previous years. Members travelled to York from various locations around the county on a perfect autumn day and enjoyed the glorious sight of trees in their autumn glory. The subject due to be debated this year was Edmund, Earl of Rutland. Over forty members gathered in Jacobs Well to hear Scowen Sykes and Pauline Harrison Pogmore debate Edmund’s character and death. Scowen began the debate mentioning the theory put forward by some chroniclers that Edmund could possibly have been slightly lacking in wits. Scowen read some accounts of Edmund and his death written by extremely dubious sources, some of which caused much hilarity. He also showed members portraits painted in the Victorian era depicting Edmund’s death at the hands of John, Lord Clifford. These portraits again caused a great deal of amusement since they all depicted not a young knight in armour but a boy, in three of the portraits. as young as three years old, begging for his life on his knees before Clifford. Scowen also debated exactly where the death of Lord Clifford took place three months later. Many sources claim he was killed at the battle of Towton when in fact his death took place the day before the battle. Although the day is certain the fact is that the exact location is by no means clear.
Pauline concentrated on facts. She pointed out that had Edmund not been a normal young man he would very likely have been dedicated to God as a child and spent his life in a monastery and would certainly not have shared his brother Edward’s education and childhood. Her first point was that every account of Edmund but one was written over seventy years after Edmund’s death and all rely on the chronicler Edward Hall. These were about as factual as Thomas More and William Shakespeare on Richard III. The discussion also debated the assertion, again by Hall, that Edmund was accompanied on his escape from the battle of Wakefield by a priest and explained on the contrary the said priest is documented on lists as a knight. The discussion ended with an assertion by Pauline that Edmund’s death had been a tragedy for the House of York, robbing his brother Edward of a right hand man he could rely on in much the same way he later relied on Richard.
Members were not slow to join in the discussion that followed with several well thought out questions varying from was it possible that Edmund had been led into a trap after the battle, why does he appear to have attempted an escape in the wrong direction and was there a blood connection between Edmund and Clifford. All in all an enjoyable debate. We look forward to Friday December 30th this year when we will be unveiling a plaque to the memory of Edmund in the Wakefield Bridge Chantry Chapel. A tribute to a young man who has previously had no memorial anywhere. An extremely enjoyable and informative day.

Yorkshire Branch Carol Service: a report from Norma Benathan
On Wednesday 14 December, members and guests of the Yorkshire Branch were again at Holy Trinity, Micklegate, for a Carol Service.
Holy Trinity is the sole survivor in York of a Pre-Reformation monastic house still in use as a Parish Church. The original Abbey was part of the Order of St Benedict. Its history goes back to the earliest days of Christian worship in the city, pre-dating even the Minster.
The present church was part of the nave of the medieval Abbey building, restored and enlarged at the beginning of the twentieth century.
As the service has to be held on a weekday, some people cannot attend because of work or other commitments. Those who could, however, greeted old friends and chose seats after being welcomed and given the order of service.
The first hymn was, appropriately, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”. The Reverend Eric Robinson was once again officiating and welcomed us as old friends. Some members had travelled quite a distance to attend, one indeed all the way from Tenerife!  (In fact she and her husband had come home for Christmas.) It was great too that Christine and Trevor Beech- Law could attend.
Reverend Eric then gave his bidding prayer and later Angela, our Branch Chairman, also gave a welcome. Readings from Isaiah and St Luke and further hymns, including, “While shepherds watched”, “Silent night”, Once, in royal David’s city” and Hark! the herald angels”, were enjoyed by all, and after the closing words and the blessing, the service ended with the organist sending us on our way with a very lively piece of music which brought a grin to our faces and a spring to our steps. Thanks to all for the arrangements. After the farewells some of us crossed the road to "Brigantes" for further chat and a drink before going our separate ways. A very enjoyable day.

Battle of Wakefield Commemoration 2016
This year’s commemoration of the Battle of Wakefield was a special occasion for members as it included the unveiling of the Branch’s plaque commemorating Edmund, Earl of Rutland. Members, guests and friends, over thirty of us, from all over  the country, gathered at the Duke of York’s statue on Manygates Lane, a short distance from Sandal castle, to remember the Duke and those who died in the cause of the House of York.
It was sad to see as we passed the castle a 'To Let' notice attached to the building which was formerly the visitor centre and shop on the site. As members probably know the castle site is, at present, experiencing financial difficulties and much of it is closed.
Scowen Sykes gave an excellent account of the facts concerning the battle. He pointed out that the duke's statue is situated on the supposed spot where the duke was killed. He also mentioned the fact that the green area at the other side of the road, now a park, is now the only remaining area of the battle site not built on. We were reminded that although Sandal castle was owned by the Duke of York, the area was predominantly Lancastrian in allegiance. The service included, as always, a two minutes' silence in remembrance of the dead, and the laying of an arrangement of white roses at the base of the statue.
The short service at the statue completed, our group then moved a short distance away into Wakefield itself, to the Bridge Chantry Chapel. The main object of the day here was to commemorate Edmund, Earl of Rutland, killed near the location of the chapel by John, Lord Clifford, in the aftermath of the battle. The chapel is a little gem and one of only three remaining in the country. We were impressed to find how beautifully it is being cared for by the Friends of Wakefield Chapel.
Once again Scowen gave a short talk, on the circumstances of Edmund’s death, before unveiling our commemorative plaque. The plaque has been paid for by donations from members of the Yorkshire Branch, and as far as we are aware is the only memorial to Edmund. The plaque will now be placed in the chapel, but for yesterday’s unveiling it was placed on the altar beside an arrangement of white roses, also a gift from the Branch. The conclusion of the formalities gave us a chance to socialise with members who had taken the trouble to travel distances to attend, which is always appreciated.
All in all it was a successful commemoration on a freezing cold, but sunny day.
The Committee would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our plaque appeal, Scowen Sykes for all his work liaising with the Friends of the Chapel, who organised the plaque initiative, and member Marisa Mrocek who arranged entry to the chapel for us. In addition, the Chairman thanks her friends on the Committee for leading the event on 30 December in her own unavoidable abs.

Yorkshire Branch Day
The Branch Day this year took place slightly later this year owing to the Society AGM in York taking place on the same date as used in previous years. Members travelled to York from various locations around the county on a perfect autumn day and enjoyed the glorious sight of trees in their autumn glory. The subject due to be debated this year was Edmund, Earl of Rutland. Over forty members gathered in Jacobs Well to hear Scowen Sykes and Pauline Harrison Pogmore debate Edmund’s character and death. Scowen began the debate mentioning the theory put forward by some chroniclers that Edmund could possibly have been slightly lacking in wits. Scowen read some accounts of Edmund and his death written by extremely dubious sources, some of which caused much hilarity. He also showed members portraits painted in the Victorian era depicting Edmund’s death at the hands of John, Lord Clifford. These portraits again caused a great deal of amusement since they all depicted not a young knight in armour but a boy, in three of the portraits. as young as three years old, begging for his life on his knees before Clifford. Scowen also debated exactly where the death of Lord Clifford took place three months later. Many sources claim he was killed at the battle of Towton when in fact his death took place the day before the battle. Although the day is certain the fact is that the exact location is by no means clear.
Pauline concentrated on facts. She pointed out that had Edmund not been a normal young man he would very likely have been dedicated to God as a child and spent his life in a monastery and would certainly not have shared his brother Edward’s education and childhood. Her first point was that every account of Edmund but one was written over seventy years after Edmund’s death and all rely on the chronicler Edward Hall. These were about as factual as Thomas More and William Shakespeare on Richard III. The discussion also debated the assertion, again by Hall, that Edmund was accompanied on his escape from the battle of Wakefield by a priest and explained on the contrary the said priest is documented on lists as a knight. The discussion ended with an assertion by Pauline that Edmund’s death had been a tragedy for the House of York, robbing his brother Edward of a right hand man he could rely on in much the same way he later relied on Richard.
Members were not slow to join in the discussion that followed with several well thought out questions varying from was it possible that Edmund had been led into a trap after the battle, why does he appear to have attempted an escape in the wrong direction and was there a blood connection between Edmund and Clifford. All in all an enjoyable debate. We look forward to Friday December 30th this year when we will be unveiling a plaque to the memory of Edmund in the Wakefield Bridge Chantry Chapel. A tribute to a young man who has previously had no memorial anywhere. An extremely enjoyable and informative day.


2015 Activities

Yorkshire Branch Service of Thanksgiving for the life of King Richard III. 25th June, 2015.

Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York.
For almost two years our Branch Committee worked on the idea of a service to honour King Richard and give thanks for his life in a place he would have known and loved well, his “Faire Citie of York”. The aim was to celebrate his life, not to concentrate on his death. The service was arranged for 25 June in Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York.
On a beautiful sunny day nearly ninety members of the Branch and the Society from Lancashire, London, County Durham, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Kent, Cheshire and Northumberland, along with members from Scotland and Wales, gathered in this beautiful mediaeval church, the only former monastic church in York now in parish use, to honour King Richard.

The service began with organist Max Elliott playing Sir William Walton's incidental music to Laurence Olivier’s film of “Richard III”. This was followed by the Last Post, played by Nick Garrett of the Harrogate Band, a tribute to King Richard as a soldier, which proved extremely emotional for many of those present.  Next, Elgar's “Nimrod” was played on the organ as Scowen Sykes walked down the aisle carrying a large arrangement of flowers, mostly white roses, arranged round King Richard’s portrait and his motto Loyaulte me Lie which were then placed on the altar. We were formally welcomed by the Reverend Eric Robinson (assistant priest of Holy Trinity), and by our Chairman Angela Moreton. Rev. Robinson pointed out the church's links with the guild of Corpus Christi, of which Richard and his wife Anne Neville became members in 1477, and that Richard would certainly have known the church and often been present there.

All the hymns had been chosen by our members. The first one, “He who would valiant be,” was followed by three short readings by members about King Richard in his lifetime. The first was written following Edward IV’s recovery of the throne after the battle of Barnet and was on Richard’s character at the time. The second was from Richard's Chantry endowment of 1484 whereby he set up a chantry to pray for those men killed in his service. The third was a short excerpt from Edward IV’s letter to the Pope praising his brother’s virtues after the Scottish campaign in 1482.

The hymn “I vow to thee, my country” was followed by Rev Robinson reading 1 Chronicles 17 vv 1-15, and his well thought-out sermon. Two more readings by members followed: the opinion of the Scottish Ambassador, Archbishop Whitelaw, on King Richard in 1484, and that of Lord Chancellor Campbell in the nineteenth century on Richard’s Parliament and his care for his people. There followed an excellent address by our Chairman Angela Moreton on Richard and his connection with his “Faire Citie of York”. The final readings of the afternoon followed: the letter from Richard’s secretary John Kendall to York City Council before his visit in 1483, and finally the entry in the York City Records recording the city’s sorrow at Richard’s death. The hymn “Abide with me” was followed by concluding words from Rev Robinson and Angela, before the final hymn, "Jerusalem". All in all it was a lovely and thought- provoking service in Richard’s honour.

Many of our members then went to Jacob’s Well, the mediaeval parish hall, for a lively and enjoyable Strawberry Tea, at which they could share their thoughts on the day and at which King Richard’s health was drunk with great enthusiasm.
We are all extremely grateful for the help, expertise and kindness of Rev Robinson, Nick Garrett and Max Elliott. The Committee can’t thank the members, some of whom travelled great distances, enough, for attending and making the day such a success and being kind enough to tell us afterwards how much they had enjoyed it. It proved to be an emotional day, full of affection and admiration for our King. If Richard’s spirit was around in the church, I hope he felt the love and approved of our tribute.

Pauline Harrison Pogmore: “The Branch were delighted and humbled to receive from various persons attending praise for the service.”

David Johnson wrote: “The Richard III service at Holy Trinity was a wonderful occasion, particularly Eric Robinsons sermon, the Last Post, the choice of hymns and the large congregation. Richard would have been very proud.”

Marjorie and John Smith: “The service in the church was perfect, the readings were all interesting, and I am sure there were very few dry eyes in the building when the last reading took place. I am sure Richard himself would be surprised and moved to realise the care with which we keep his memory. I was very glad to have the opportunity to take part in a church service in Remembrance of Richard. Thank you, Yorkshire Branch, and well done!”

Irene Halkyard: ”I was very glad I went to York for the service. I found it very moving, and felt the love we all feel for Richard. The people who organised the service got it just right. I applaud them.”

Senga Neilson: “I found the service held in York absolutely beautiful. This is the first time I have heard something dedicated purely to King Richard and I found it quite emotional.”

Philippa Langley: “It sounds perhaps a little strange to say that the kings reinterment didn’t move me. Throughout there wasn’t much sense of the man we were reburying; other than the beautiful and evocative poem by Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate. In York it was a very different story. It was hard to find something that did not reflect the man who had died fighting bravely on the field of battle defending crown and country. As a result, it was incredibly powerful and moving for all those privileged to be there.”