York Civic Trust events

2023 Events

The events season for 2023 is now over. We may have occasional member events before our next programme starts in February 2024 – keep an eye on the newsletter and this page for updates.


Joint TownMouse Christmas Evening View – by candlelight

Tuesday 23rd November at 5:30pm

Are you a member of York Civic Trust or the Friends of Fairfax House?

Enjoy the latest exhibition of Fairfax House with a Christmas Drink and candlelight!

This is a great chance for Friends of Fairfax House and York Civic Trust members to get together and see this amazing exhibition, all whilst enjoying a Christmas drink!

Click here to book your tickets.

Past Events

Have a look at some of the events we have done in the past to get a taste for what our members get up to.

York, a World Heritage City? – Talk

Tuesday 10th October 2023

In 2023 York was placed on the UK Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. What are the contentious issues, and what will this mean for York? John Oxley, former City Archeologist, let us know his view.

190 Years of Railway History – Talk

Tuesday 31st October 2023

An illustrated talk by Frank Peterson, former General Manager of British Rail, of the development of railway activities in York since 1833.

The Cries of York – Talk

Wednesday 1st November 2023

Traders on the streets of York advertised their goods and services through the singing of ballads and verse. A guide to these ‘Cries of York’ was published in 1810 ‘for the amusement of children’.

Visit to the Community Stadium

Wednesday 1st Feb 2023

York Civic Trust’s 2023 event season kicked off at York City Football Club’s new home. The Club’s Historian Paul Bowser told us all about the Club’s highs and lows, both on and off the pitch … when York beat Manchester United, why the fans bought the club and the story of the trophies in the Board Room. We finished up with a cup of tea in the Media (Community) Room!

Pevsner’s North Riding Revised: Author Talk

Wednesday 15th March 2023

This talk by Dr Jane Grenville re-capped on the history of Pevsner’s series as a whole and Pevsner’s methods. Dr Grenville offered a reflection on the work of compiling the North Riding revision, highlighting the major changes, the pleasures of the work and some of the more remarkable discoveries.

The North Riding did not receive a thorough desk-top edit in the ’70s or ’80s as many volumes did; this was the first hard look since its publication in 1966.

On Location: Gentleman Jack at Fairfax House

Thursday 16th March 2023

Fairfax House, our very own Georgian townhouse, has been used as a filming location for two seasons of the major BBC and HBO drama, Fairfax House.

Rachel Wallis, Collections Manager and Assistant Curator at Fairfax House, gave an exciting evening talk in the Saloon, allowing our members to go behind the scenes of what filming a major period drama in a historic house is like.

We had a drinks reception, including an 18th century punch!

Uganda 50

Wednesday 22nd March 2023

In 1972, more than 60,000 Ugandan Asians were expelled from Uganda by the country’s dictator, President Idi Amin.

They left their homes with little more than the clothes they stood up in. Thousands of families were resettled in the UK – and some came to York.

Ugandan Asians living in the city have put together an exhibition documenting their stories – detailing the terrifying persecution they faced in Uganda, the trauma of being driven from their homes – and their experiences on arriving in the UK and in York.

For this moving event, our Trustee Stephen Lewis, who is a journalist, interviewed members of York’s Ugandan Asian community who told us about their experiences both before and after coming to York. We also saw the exhibition they have put together.

Tour of the Aviva Building

Monday 3rd April 2023

How many times have you walked through York and wondered what happens inside some of the very large office blocks that have arrived relatively recently on York’s skyline?

Our members were able to find out. This vast office space has been the headquarters of several successors of General Accident Life Insurance, now Aviva, since its completion in 1993. Designed by Scottish practice Hurd Rolland Partnership, led by architect Brian Paul, the most notable feature of this building must be how it attempts to integrate with the character of the city. We were given the privilege to take a group of members round the Aviva building so that they could see for themselves.

Ghost Cinemas of York

Wednesday 5th April 2023

Local author, Tim Murgatroyd, gave a fascinating exploration of the lost cinemas of York and their legacy. Tim also explained how he wrote his latest novel, The Electric, set in a fictional York cinema in 1919. We heard surprising facts and stories about the characters and picture palaces that brought Hollywood glamour to a city recovering from war. Tim then showed us through images and movie clips how the ghost cinemas of York haunt us still, and how silent cinema was never really silent at all . . .

Stained Glass of York Minster

Wednesday 19th April 2023

This talk explored the narrative panels of the Chapter House of York Minster, which contain evidence of an integrated design scheme dating from around 1290. As such it is the earliest scheme that exists from the medieval Minster.

Visit to Hornington Manor Farm

Thursday 20th April 2023

Hornington Manor Farm is a working farm owned by Harrison Spinks, a Leeds-based bed maker that produces hemp, flax and wool which are used as natural fillings in their mattresses. We were shown the current hemp processing plant and heard fascinating facts about these natural and sustainable products, followed by a sociable lunch and tour of All Saints Church.

Visit to York Racecourse Stables

Tuesday 2nd May 2023

York Racecourse hosts 18 racedays each year but many racegoers are unaware that racehorses are stabled in boxes situated just off Tadcaster Road, opposite the Fox & Roman public house.

York Civic Trust members had the opportunity to have a behind the scenes tour of the stables and Stableside.

Holgate Windmill Illustrated Talk and (Optional) Visit

Friday 12th May 2023

The Chair of Holgate Windmill Preservation Society, Mr Richard Green, gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the 1770 windmill and its rich history.

After the talk, the mill was open for an optional visit. Volunteers in the mill showed us around and explained how the mill functions.

Visit to Bishopthorpe Palace

Tuesday 23rd May 2023

York Civic Trust members enjoyed a specially-arranged tour of the spectacualr state rooms at Bishopthorpe Palace.

When Archbishop Walter de Grey bought the village of Thorpe St. Andrew in 1226, (this was later to become Bishopthorpe), he demolished the old manor house of St Andrews’s to build the new Bishopthorpe Palace.

Now Bishopthorpe Palace is as a multi-functional premises, hosting working offices, meeting rooms, worship areas and living quarters. The palace and its grounds are also used for charity open days, retreats, evening receptions, village fetes, and more.

After viewing the State rooms, we had a cream tea in the Great Hall.

History of Darlington and the Railway Quarter

Wednesday 24th May 2023

This walk took in the Darlington section of the Heritage Action Zone and links it to wider urban regeneration plans. We saw the Stockton & Darlington passenger station, goods sheds and carriage works at North Road and the oldest railway bridge in the world still in use. We then walked back to the town centre along Northgate, past the first railway pub, to see other elements of Quaker and railway heritage including early buildings by Alfred Waterhouse (architect of London’s Natural History Museum.)

Festival of Ideas: Who are York’s Trailblazers?

Tuesday 6th June

Fed up with hearing about the same historical characters from York’s past? Need more diversity? Then the York Trailblazer’s team want to hear from you!

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and managed by York Civic Trust and Make it York. York Trailblazers aims to unearth people in York who have made a difference, but have been forgotten, ignored or overlooked.

Working together with local community and heritage groups, the York Trailblazers team not only aims to discover a more diverse set of people from York’s past, but also to co-create a sustainable, city-wide sculpture trail in 2024, alongside other engagement opportunities.

York Minster’s Organ: A Talk and Demonstration

Tuesday 6th June

York Minster is renowned, nationally and beyond, for its music, especially its choral and its organ music. In March 2021 the 5,400 pipes of the organ had completed a ‘once -in -a-century’ restoration and over 2 years pipes had been cleaned, restored or replaced and ‘re-voiced.’ Director of Music, Robert Sharpe said the organ’s “unique sound” had been protected.

Robert’s playing of the organ has been called, “dramatic, clear with appropriate rhapsody, ornamentation and a marvellous sense of timing.” We were extremely privileged to offer an opportunity to hear Robert talk about the organ restoration and also to hear him give us a demonstration of his moving playing and the organ’s excellent sound.

70 Years of the Borthwick Institute

Thursday 22nd June 2023 at 14:00

Established in 1953, the Borthwick Institute for Archives is one of the UK’s largest archive repositories. We had afternoon of exploration, finding out some of the surprising things in the collections…