Places

North Yorkshire Market Town Celebrates 950th Anniversary

Residents of Richmond in North Yorkshire – the original place of this name copied by around 55 others around the world - are marking the 950th anniversary since Richmond Castle was commissioned by Alan Rufus.

Towering above the River Swale in the heart of Richmond, the castle has been a spectacular and imposing sight since its foundation in 1071. A bold statement of wealth and power and incredible survival of an early 11th century stone castle. Built to subdue the unruly North of England following William Duke of Normandy’s victory over King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the castle is one of the greatest Norman fortresses in Britain.

For over two years, organisers from the town’s Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association (ORBTA) have been planning a year of celebrations for 2021. The Coronavirus Pandemic looked like all their plans might be scuppered, but nevertheless planning continued and at last it seems that over 70 events that have been organised will be able to go ahead.

The castle is, of course, central to the celebrations and organisers are exceedingly pleased to announce that English Heritage and Historic England have given consent for the 3-week Community Archaeology Project, planned for mid-July/early August, to take place within the castle walls. Funding from Richmondshire District Council, Richmond Civic Society and the Castle Studies Trust has made this exciting project possible. Local company, Solstice Heritage, will be running the excavations and those interested in participating will soon be invited by Solstice to sign up online. As many people as possible will be given a place, but there may not be room for all.

On Saturday 8th May events will gather pace with a Historical Market, which will run from 10am – 4pm alongside the traditional Saturday Market. In addition to their weekly shop, visitors to the market will be able to buy historical costumes, honey and wax products, leather goods, historic toys, weapons and shields, jewellery, amber and pewter, haberdashery, regency clothes and accessories and more.

Richmond’s Town Crier will introduce the Mayor, Councillor Hodgson, and the year’s Patron, for the year, Baroness Harris of Richmond, who will speak about this remarkable anniversary and our beautiful, historic town. Medieval musicians, jesters and handbell ringers will entertain throughout the day.

Three special 950 brews have been created by Richmond Brewing Company and these will be on sale alongside ales from Brewlab, who are the UK’s leading provider of brewing training and analysis. This is a great opportunity to try some new beers, sign up for Brewlab’s beer tastings and brewing workshops and maybe find out why that beer you made in Lockdown is so very strong!

Internationally known Northern artist, Mackenzie Thorpe, who has  a studio in Richmond, worked with Richmond Brewing Company, to create a distinctive new image for the three new Beers – Home Front Mild Ale, Red Rufus Ruby Ale and 1071 IPA.  The labels feature a classic Mackenzie Thorpe image of a shepherd and his flock, wending their way through Richmond in the shadow of the castle beneath evocative skies.  A special 950 commemorative limited edition print of the image is available from 8th May.'

A Richmond and Me Writing 950 Project has begun involving children and staff from Richmond’s primary schools and nurseries, as well as residents and staff from Richmond nursing and residential homes. People young and old have been invited to write their memories and ideas of what Richmond means to them. Following display around the town, the pieces of writing will later be archived in Richmondshire Museum along with oral history recordings that will be available in the museum through a new audio installation. Throughout the year there will also be opportunities in the museum for people to write their own memories on that now almost obsolete instrument, the typewriter – fond memories of the click clack of typewriter keys and the battle with those fiddly ribbons!

Many more events are organised for the forthcoming months, including Norman and Tudor concerts, outdoor cinema, a re-enactment by Conquest Living History in the castle and a three-week exhibition curated by Richmond Rotary Club detailing 950 Years of Communication in Richmond.

One of the organisers of the exhibition, Marcia McLuckie said, “when the Pandemic struck it looked as if we might have to scrap our plans. Funding for the year became a major issue and groups found it very difficult to make plans when they didn’t know what would be able to go ahead.”

Marcia continued, “My fellow organisers, Phil Upton and Carol Watson – whose idea it was to have a year of celebrations – and I decided that we should continue with planning and hope that all would be well. With things looking positive and a programme of around 70 events planned, we are very pleased we did. This is a brilliant way to welcome people back to Richmond to enjoy all the history and beauty the town has to offer and to celebrate the arts and creative spirit amongst the people who live here.”

Commemorative merchandise and leaflets about Celebrate Richmond 950 are available from the Information Centre in the Victorian Market Hall and at various outlets around town. The full list of events and a timeline of Richmond may be seen at www.richmond950.co.uk

There is still time and room for more events to be included in this year’s programme. Anyone who would like to organise an event or needs more information please email celebrate@richmond950.co.uk

For details on where to stay, eat and shop please telephone the Information Centre on 01748 826468.

To take part in the Community Archaeology project in Richmond Castle please sign up here. Places are limited to 15 a day, so sign up early to avoid disappointment.

Celebrate Richmond 950 has been organised and part funded by the Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association with additional funding from Richmondshire District Council, Richmond Town Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Richmond Civic Society and the Castle Studies Trust. Local people and businesses have added to the funds that have enabled the full programme for the year to go ahead.

ENDS

For further details on this release please contact Marcia McLuckie, Chair Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association on 01748 825525 / 07740 927 608 marcia@originalrichmond.co.uk