York Mystery Plays

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Programmes/Posters : York Streets - images

Item type: Programmes/Posters
Archive reference: YMP/B/4
Date/year: 1954 to 2018
Description: Pictures taken in streets of the city of York:
The Herald leads a wagon play team along Petergate on its way to Colliergate, 1954
1954 Approaching Colliergate

The Herald announces the wagon play Noah, in 1954 and reminds spectators about the main performance in Museum Gardens.
Herald 1954
Noah is performed in Colliergate, 1954. Cast members are carrying drawings of the animals going into the Ark.
1954 Noah's Ark

In 1957 the Exodus from Egypt was performed.
1957 Wagon Exodus

In 1960 the wagon Play Christ and the Elders was performed; our only picture is in the Minster yard.
In 1963 the wagon is in Duncombe Place on its way to perform Abraham and Isaak.
1963 wagon

This is a well-Stonegate wagonknown photograph of a wagon (another Noah's Ark) manoeuvring in Stonegate, in 1966:

In 1992 star actor Robson Green was photographed at the end of Petergate with St Michael le Belfrey in the background. He had just been named to play Christ in the Theatre Royal's production that year.
Robson Green 1992

But some images of wagon plays in Stonegate that year have just come to light, below right. 1992 Stonegate hoisting cross


In 1998 we see the Cordwainers (Betrayal of Christ) progressing from Newgate Market towards St Sampson Square, followed by Howdenshire Arts (Crucifixion), who are carrying the three crosses.
In 2000 the plays were not on wagons in the streets, but in York Minster. Also in that year the National Centre for Early Music was opened, in St Margaret's church, Walmgate. This page has information about the church's history.

Below is an image taken by Patrick Olsen 2006 in Church Street, of a wagon and Guild members having performed in St Sampson's Square. In that year there was a Waits Festival too and Leeds Waits are in the background.
Church Street 2006

In 2012 there were two wagon plays as well as a fabulous Museum Gardens production.
The York Guild of Building are here walking along Goodramgate: Monk Bar is visible behind.
2012 walk Monk Bar
Here the Creation and Noah's Ark  wagons and actors process past St Michael le Belfry, having performed outside St Williams College.
Waits with wagons 2012

Below is one of York's most famous streets, The Shambles, but it has always been too narrow for the wagons. They used to go along the parallel Colliergate.
Shambles 2013
This photo was taken in St Sampson Square (former Thursday Market) in July 2014: The Last Judgement, with angels and demons dancing.
Last Judgement 2014

Here the Taborers Society with pipe and drums walk along towards St Sampson Square.
Tabors and Drums
Below is a 2014 photo by Nick Ansell, of a wagon being pulled into College Green, at the corner of Deangate and Goodramgate; the black and white building is the Cross keys pub, named after the symbol of the Minster.
goodramgate and college green
There was a new venue in 2018, the Shambles market, where the audience moved between five scenes.  Here is Satan (James Swanton) with some Bad Souls dressed misleadingly in white.  There are more images from 2018 on this page and this page.
shambles-souls And here is St Helen's Square in 2018.
Cain and Abel

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