York Mystery Plays

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Programmes/Posters : York Streets - images

Item type: Programmes/Posters
Archive reference: YMP/B/4
Date/year: 1950 to 2022
The archivist loves pictures taken in streets of the city of York, as below.  Erly photos are black and white. Page 216 of this website lists all the webpages to help you navigate to a particular theme.   
1950 Bootham Bar (the north gate through York's famous walls) under repair, prior to the 1951 Festival, when the Plays were revived.
1950 Bootham Bar

As part of the York Festival there was a Georgian Ball on 15 June 1951, with satin-costumed dancers. This aroused great interest.Georgian Ball 1951

The Herald leads a wagon play team along Petergate on its way to Colliergate, 1954
1954 Approaching Colliergate

The mounted 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; below is a cutting showing King's Square.
King's Square 1960

In 1963 the wagon is pulled by a horse, here in Duncombe Place on its way to perform Abraham and Isaak.
1963 wagon

This is a well-Stonegate wagonknown press photograph of a wagon (another Noah's Ark) manoeuvring in Stonegate, in 1966.  It  indicates why in the 18th century the long gentry carriages meant many medieval streets had to be widened.

A rare colour image of the 1966 wagon, built by Mike Rogers:
Noahs Ark Colliergate

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 in 1992.
Robson Green 1992

But some images of wagon plays in Stonegate that year have also come to light, below right.  The shopkeepers protested at the congestion damaging their business! 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. Here is a photograph of the dressing room tents beside the Minster.  2000 dressing tent

Also in 2000, the National Centre for Early Music was opened, in St Margaret's church, Walmgate.  It was used for rehearsals of the Millennium production.

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 (another gate through York's famous city walls) is visible behind.
2012 walk Monk Bar
Here the Creation and Noah's Ark wagons and actors process past St Michael le Belfry (left) 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. Medieval wagons were pulled along the parallel, slightly wider,  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
The Mansion House in York is where the Lord Mayor of York lives during the year of office, and was built in the 1730s.  Here we see Remorse of Judas in 2018 in front of the Mansion House.
Mansion House 2018

There was a new venue in 2018, the Shambles market, where the audience moved between five scenes.  Here Satan (James Swanton) poses with some Bad Souls dressed misleadingly in white.  There are more images from 2018 on this page and this page. A DVD of 2018 wagons is available and shows many street scenes. Here is a link to the taster.
shambles-soulsAlthough the street Shambles is too narrow for wagons, the market place behind has been used for scenes in 2018 and 2022. Below are Cain and Abel in St Helen's Square, 2018.
Cain and Abel

Below is an image (by Lewis Outing) of the Last Judgement set being manoeuvred through Bootham Bar, in 2022.  The top picture on this page shows the Bar from the outside, fifty years earlier.
Bootham Bar 2022

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