On Saturday 29th January 2022, the Trust hosted a special event at St Denys Church to celebrate poetry and photography inspired by heritage around the Walmgate area.

Held at the beautiful and historic St Denys Church at the heart of the Walmgate community, Voicing the Hidden: Live Event explored the rich relationship between creativity and heritage.

With short films and live readings, the event showcased the poems, writings, and photographs produced through the Trust’s Heritage Open Days 2021 creative walking tours around the historically rich streets of Walmgate and Fossgate.

Credit: Stuart Duthie, one of the creative contributors

It was fantastic to see people out on the streets of York directly engaging with heritage beyond the big tourist hotspots. Fossgate and Walmgate have a real working class history which the tours and follow-up event helped to unearth and keep alive.

‘Voicing the Hidden: Creative Walking Tours’

In a free-flowing participatory discussion, led by award-winning York-based poet Robert Powell, Prof. Chris Bailey (UNESCO Creative City) and Stephen Lusty (York Civic Trust Chair), the event asked questions about how imaginative responses to the past influence our sense of place and how we understand our city.

Dianne Willcocks interviewed Muriel Daniel who was born in Walmgate and had a wealth of fascinating stories to tell.

As well as readings from tour participants, Robert Powell treated the audience to multiple readings from his repertoire of locally-inspired poetry, including a poem inspired by St George’s Churchyard and the supposed grave of Dick Turpin, a stopping point on the heritage walks.

“Some of York’s history is famous and well-known, but lots of it is hidden and anonymous. Through imagination, writing, photography and art, we can help bring this ‘hidden’ aspect of the past to the surface in exciting ways. I was really impressed by what the Civic Trust ‘Creative Walk’ participants produced!”

Poet Robert Powell

There was a good turn out from YCT Members and the general public, however it was especially encouraging to see so many members of the St Denys congregation and Walmgate community in attendance.

Being a free event, the Trust also used the event as an opportunity to collect donations on behalf of St Denys towards a fundraising project to restore their beautiful Victorian tiled reredos. They were one of the features added when the church was refurbished in 1846-7. A typical early Victorian piece of a type now comparatively rare, it includes the symbols of the four Gospel-writers, the Creed and the Ten Commandments. During the mid-20th century, when such things were unfashionable, it was covered in pasted-on flock wallpaper, which was later removed in 1982.

Along with damp-penetration (now cured) from the wall behind it, this contributed to the present poor state of the reredos, many of whose tiles are loose and some cracked. It is therefore in urgent need of restoration. Those would like to make a donation can still do so via this link, selecting the reredos project from the drop down options.

Thank you again to everyone who contributed and came along to support the event. The Trust hopes to build on our productive relationship with the Walmgate community, and continue to collaborate on future projects that celebrate and redefine York’s heritage.

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