Town museum to hold Jubilee history fest

A community history festival will be held to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend and move one step closer to the launch of a new Knaresborough museum.

By Janet Harrison
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 1:00 am
Kathy Allday outside Knaresborough Castle with Castle Girls School in the background Picture Gerard Binks
Kathy Allday outside Knaresborough Castle with Castle Girls School in the background Picture Gerard Binks

Knaresborough Museum Association (KMA) will host family-friendly events at Knaresborough House from Thursday June 2 to Saturday June 4, 10am-4.30pm.

Chairperson Kathy Allday said: “This is a vital stepping stone to the Museum’s opening, and I’m so delighted we have reached this stage.

“So many people in Knaresborough and the surrounding area – whether individuals or businesses – have been generous in helping us.

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“We’ve uncovered some hidden history while unearthing the treasured artefacts which will help us build the museum’s displays and show off this town’s fascinating past.

“This project began three years ago and has become more than full-time work for me.

“I love it because of my passion for history and archaeology.”

When it opens next year the museum - which has received donations of £47,000 - will be housed in an old Georgian school building near the town’s Castle, to complement the Courthouse Museum, forming a heritage hub.

The festival is designed to give an early taste of the museum’s eight exhibition zones focusing on different aspects of Knaresborough’s fascinating past – including the town’s thriving linen industry, its wartime history and the geology and ecology of the Nidd Gorge, Knaresborough’s dramatic backdrop.

Among the highlights visitors will be able to see during the Community History Festival are a four metre long model railway showing Knaresborough town centre, two one metre wide paintings by local artist and fossil specialist James McKay and demonstrations of heritage crafts including medieval manuscript writing, leather working and rag rugging.

Separate displays across the three days from local community groups include Renaissance Knaresborough, Rotary Club, the Royal British Legion, The Historical Society, First Responders, the Civic Society, and the Claro Group, who’ve produced historic books about Knaresborough.

There will also be free guided walks around Knaresborough’s historic centre at 11am and 2pm on each day of the event.

These are bookable in advance via the KMA website or by emailing [email protected]

Raffle tickets will be on sale before and throughout the event. Generous donations mean £1,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs.

KMA are reviving a medieval tradition from the days when Knaresborough Priory granted “indulgences”: for a small fundraising fee, a scribe will create a bespoke manuscript from any confessions and pledges visitors may wish to offer.

Kathy added: “We’ve uncovered so many artefacts – including medieval documents which have never been seen in Knaresborough before.

“We’ve heard from so many ordinary people – all with extraordinary stories to tell.”

The museum is scheduled to formally open at its permanent home, on the ground floor of the old Castle Girls’ School, next year.

Once fully open, the museum will use its flexible temporary exhibition space as an education heritage hub where workshops and presentations will be run for schools and community groups.