Yorkshire Museum celebrates 800 years since Royal Charter with The Making of the City

By Ruth Hazard | 10 April 2012
A picture a gold diamond shaped engarved pendant with a blue jewell encrusted at the top
© York Museums Trust
Exhibition: 1212: The Making of the City, Yorkshire Museum, York, until February 2013

When King John granted York the Royal Charter in 1212, it marked a pivotal moment for the city.

York could now collect its own taxes, regulate its own affairs and even appoint a Mayor - the independence it needed to start creating a history of its own.

As Natalie McCaul, curator of a new exhibition celebrating the 800th anniversary of York gaining the Royal Charter, says: “This was the making of the city.”

A picture of the eye and nose section from a medieval helmet made from metal and engraved
The York Helmet© York Museums Trust
The show delves into the story since the city’s independence by bringing together some of York’s most significant medieval objects to explore the people, places and events that have contributed to its heritage.

Highlights include the York Helmet, one of the most important objects of the Anglo-Saxon period to survive in Europe, and the remains of two shrines dedicated to St William, the city’s own patron saint.

Gothic jewellery piece the Middleham Jewel also features alongisde an original Scrivener manuscript from the medieval York cycle of Mystery Plays and art work by E Risdale Tate depicting the city in the 15th century.

A film, York the Medieval City, has been specially commissioned for the exhibition and compares the experiences of the rich with those of the poor who lived during the period.

It also uncovers surviving medieval aspects of the city that can still be seen today and looks at the local community play in conserving York’s rich heritage.

  • Open 10am-5pm (closed December 25-26, January 1). Admission £7.50/£6.50 (free for under-16s).
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