Exhibitions

A history of exhibitions lies below. Click on the "More Detail" link for more information about a particular exhibit. To browse all of the objects featured in an exhibition, click on that exhibit's "Search for all items" link.

Derventio (Stamford Bridge) : A Roman settlement by the Derwent

The exhibition took place at the Treasure House, Beverley. The excavations at Stamford Bridge took place in 2003, during the construction of a new watedr main to the west/south west of the town. The fieldwork was carried out by Northern Archaeological Associates, following a desk based assessment and geophysics survey. Evidence was found of activity from Prehistory onwards, including worked flints and a burnt mound with associated (cooking?) pits dating to the Bronze Age.

The Roman settlement was connected to York, Malton and other locations by a series of roads, identified by previous research and partly examined in these excavations. The Road from York probably crossed the Derwent by a bridge, some way to the SW of the current one. The excavations concentrated on areas away from the core of the settlement. Nevertheless, interesting results were obtained. The earliest features (1st-early 3rd century AD) were a number of ditches and a cremation burial. The main period of settlement (late 2nd-4th centuries) saw a series of rectangular ditched enclosures (probably property boundaries) aligned along a road running east-west. Another road apparently ran south east towards Market Weighton. The farmer has found roof tiles and cut stone blocks whilst ploughing the area, indicating that some of the buildings were of substantial construction.

Other discoveries included five inhumation burials (all adults aged about 16-35), a number of wattle lined pits (watering holes for stock?), quantities of iron smelting slag, millstone fragments and possible corn drying kilns. Environmental data suggests the surrounding landscape was mainly grass and scrubland, whilst animal bone analysis confirmed the presence of cattle, sheep, pigs and horses. Pottery finds point to close links with the Roman town of York, perhaps indicating a military presence at Stamford Bridge. Overall, evidence points to a thriving agricultural based settlement, with some industry and good trade links.

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Excavations at Well Lane, Beverley

The exhibition took place at Beverley Guildhall.

The excavations were carried out by Northern Archaeological Associates at Nos. 9-17 Well Lane, in September 1998, in advance of a residential development. Three trenches were dug on the site, revealing features / finds ranging from the early Medieval period to the 19th century.

During the 11th and 12th centuries, the area was apparently marshy and chalk rubble was spread over part of the site to make occupation possible. In the 13th century, a building was constructed near the western edge of the site. As this lay at 45 degrees to the present Well Lane, a change in street alignment has evidently occurred since. In the 14th century, a chalk path ran near the Walker Beck (a nearby former stream that was then used as the town’s main drain and sewer).
In the 15th-17th centuries, the level of the site was raised by some 1.5 metres by extensive dumping of rubbish material. Numerous artefacts and pottery sherds were found in a large pit during the excavations, including a well-preserved leather book cover (which can be seen here), animal bone, brick, tile and coal ash. Also dating to this period was a 1.1m deep brick-lined well, which was filled in during the early 17th century.

The northern part of the site was occupied during the 18th century by a number of square clay-lined pits, probably used for tanning. This industrial process was extremely dirty and smelly and would have made for an unwelcome neighbour in a residential area!

The latest feature on the site was an early 19th century brick culvert (of the Walker Beck), running across the NE part of the site.

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Forrard! The East Riding Yeomanry in World War I

This display at the Treasure House, Beverley, looked at the East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry (ERY), a territorial unit in the British Army which took part in the campaign in Egypt and Palestine in 1915-1917. The campaign saw the British (and their Arab allies) fighting against the Turks and led ultimately to the British marching into Jerusalem. The political consequences of this campaign are with us to this day. It also saw the last successful mounted charge by British troops (at El Mughar on 13th November 1917, during the 3rd Battle of Gaza), in which the ERY took part. Though lacking the horrors of trench warfare, it was a hard campaign against tough opponents, with intense heat, water shortages, sand, flies and disease being amongst the other difficulties. Later the ERY was largely dismounted and served as infantry on the western front.

The ERY has its origins in volunteer cavalry units raised during the Napoleonic wars, but as a standing unit its true history begins with the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902). This conflict had shown the British were lacking in mounted troops and efforts were made to remedy this. Recruitment to the ERY began in April 1902, with public meetings at Hull, Driffield and Beverley organised by Lord Wenlock (the unit became popularly known as “Wenlock’s Horse” as a result). Four squadrons were eventually raised (totalling just under 600 men), with one based in Railway Street, Beverley and another in Bridlington. As a Territorial unit, the Yeomanry were raised (in theory) for home service only and men volunteered on that basis. During World War I though, Yeomanry regiments saw active service just like regular army units and their fighting record was every bit as good. In the years before the war, annual camps at places such as Scarborough and York gave the ERY the chance to train together as a unit and sharpen their skills.

This display draws on material from the Sewerby Hall and Treasure House collections. In particular we are fortunate to have photographs and notes compiled by Sergeant Harold W. Lyon of Market Weighton (see below, centre) who served in the ERY and the Machine Gun Corps during WWI and who lectured on the subject himself during later life. Uniforms and other items of kit mainly relate to a Major Gerald Herbert Woodhouse (born in Hull in 1889).
The ERY became The Queen’s Own Yeomanry as a result of mergers after the Second World War.

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Heavy Metal in the Iron Age: The South Cave Weapons Cache & other treasures

An exhibition focused on the discovery (in 2002) of five swords in their decorated scabbards and 33 spearheads on agricultural land near South Cave. Dating to around the time of the Roman conquest of the area (70AD), the finds are remarkably well-preserved and an important resource for our understanding of the period. The display also looked at the landscape of the Foulness valley, from where most of the materials probably came and the evidence for iron working in the Iron Age / Roman periods. Other items from the collections, loans from Hull Museums Service and other metal detecting finds from the area were also included in the exhibition, which attracted around 5000 visitors.

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John Taylor Allerston, 1828-1914, marine painter

Biographical exhibition of the Bridlington based maritime artist, featuring approximately 65 works. These were drawn from both the Sewerby Hall collection and from loans. The venues were Sewerby Hall (6th Sept. - 2nd Nov. 2003), Beverley Art Gallery (7th Dec. 2003 - 25th January 2004), Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool and Baysgarth House Museum, Barton-on-Humber.

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Something about Mary

A small exhibition at Beverley Art Gallery in 2009 devoted to the works of the artist Mary Elwell (1874-1952), wife of the well-known Beverley painter Frederick William Elwell. As well works from East Riding Museums own collections, the display featured an interior scene on loan from the Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool and poems written by Richard Dillon (lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University) in response to the paintings. A painter of interiors and landscapes, Mary Dawson Bishop was born in 1874. Following the premature death of her father, the family moved to Manchester where Mary was educated at Ellerslie College. Described as a ‘fairly exclusive school’, the college would undoubtedly have provided instruction in painting and drawing, which were still considered desirable ‘accomplishments’ for young ladies at this time.

Although it remained difficult for women to obtain a rigorous training in fine art, by the closing decades of the nineteenth century – when Mary was embarking on her artistic career – the situation had improved. The Slade School of Fine Art opened in 1871 offering far greater opportunities for women than those presented by the Royal Academy Schools at the time. Self-help manuals remained an option, providing rudimentary instruction in painting and drawing. Alternatively, women could take lessons with a private tutor or travel to Europe in the hope of securing a position in an artist’s studio. Both options necessitated private funds and were only available to wives and daughters of the well-to-do. Nevertheless, despite improvements the artistic training available to women remained significantly inferior to that on offer to men.

Little is known of Mary’s early life or her initial artistic training. As her family was comfortably off, she may well have had a private tutor. Following her marriage to the affluent oil broker George Alfred Holmes in 1896, there were ample funds available for private instruction and foreign travel. The couple settled in Beverley and by 1904 Mary was sufficiently accomplished to exhibit her work at the Royal Academy of Arts. That same year Mary sat for her portrait to Fred Elwell.

George Alfred Holmes died in August 1913, leaving Mary a wealthy widow. The following summer, just weeks after the outbreak of the Great War, Mary married Fred Elwell. Although she was undoubtedly influenced by Fred’s work and in all probability received instruction from him, Mary maintained her own distinctive style. She is at her best when painting interiors (both inhabited or uninhabited) when her work reflects the comfortable yet confined and restricted lives generally experienced by women of her class at this time.

In 1947 Mary suffered the first of a series of debilitating strokes. Having made her final appearance at the Royal Academy in 1949, she died on the 28th August 1952.

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Tanks and Trumpets

A display about Alfred William Dobson in the East Riding Yeomanry in World War II, initiated by a donation of material from his son. The display was on at the Treasure House, Beverley, from 28/8/2012 to 1/3/2013.

Known to friends and family as “Alf”, Alfred William Dobson was born in Hull in 1917. He joined the Territorial Army as a band boy (playing trumpet) when he was 16. After school, he went to work for Unilever in Hull.

In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war, Dobson married Hilda Ellerton and they moved to Beverley Road. Called up with the East Riding Yeomanry, “Alf” was destined to stay with the regiment right through the war. The 1940 campaign in France was a traumatic one for the Yeomanry. Fighting an heroic rearguard action at Cassel, they were virtually surrounded by the Germans and many of the regiment were captured. Alf was amongst the fortunate few who returned to England – only about 235 did so.

A long period of re-equipping and training followed. The Yeomanry were the first regiment to be trained in the new “DD” amphibious tanks, which were to be used in the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944 – as well as practicing with underwater breathing apparatus, which must have been an unnerving experience.

On D-Day, the Yeomanry landed on the left of the invasion force near Ouistreham. Alf was a radio operator in the regiment (equipped at this point with Sherman tanks), at one time serving in the Colonel’s tank when his previous radio man had been killed in action. The Yeomanry were involved in heavy fighting to break out of the Normandy bridgehead, as well as the campaign to free Holland and the crossing of the Rhine in January 1945.

After the war, having played his part in the liberation of Europe and been promoted to Sergeant, Alf went back to work for Unilever. He remained active in the regimental band (eventually becoming Bandmaster with the rank of Warrant Officer 1st class) until his retirement in 1970.

We would like to express our thanks to Alf’s son, Michael Dobson, for information and artefacts generously provided for this display.

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The Archaeology of the Tesco site, Morton Lane, Beverley, 1999-2002

The exhibition took place at Beverley Guildhall. West Yorkshire Archaeological Services carried out the archaeological investigation in connection with the construction of a new Tesco superstore. An initial evaluation indicated the presence of Medieval remains. This was followed up by 2 large open trenches in the western part of the site. There was also monitoring of the foundation pads for the store.

Most of the features/finds identified were of domestic character, though there was some evidence for industrial/craft activity in the later phases. Pottery ranged from the 12th to the 18th century. There seems to have been a gap in occupation in the 14th century.

Both stone and timber buildings were identified, along with cobbled yard surfaces, postholes and pits. There was some evidence for cloth production - hemp retting and wool cleaning/dyeing in the late Medieval period.

In summary, evidence was found for a suburb of Medieval Beverley on the eastern side of Walkergate/Morton Lane from the 12th century (no earlier occupation was traced). Finds included large quantities of Medieval/Post-Medieval pottery, high quality roof tiles, iron smithing slag, cattle/sheep bones (including horn cores) - probably evidence for on-site butchery, marine shells (probably from the Humber estuary) and complete clay tobacco pipes. A selection from the finds is on display here.

Due to the significance of the archaeological features found in Morton Lane, measures were put in place to preserve some of them in situ, modifying the design of the Tesco store where necessary.
Summary of major excavation discoveries (see plan for trench/area numbers)
Trench 1 - Evidence for a possible boundary ditch and two buildings (one stone, the other timber), of uncertain use. Date probably late 12th or early 13th century.

Trench 2 - Base of a stone wall, forming the corner of a building. An external cobbled surface and a yard, both possibly dating to the 13th century.

Trench 3 - A ditch or large pit, 5m across by 1.7m deep. Environmental analysis suggests it contained stagnant fresh water. Trench 4 - The corner of a substantial stone building, with a clay floor and a hearth. From the materials used, probably a high status building. Pottery found suggests a date in the 13th century. Trench 5 - Several phases of occupation, with clay floors, pits and postholes. Material of the 13th-mid 18th century was found.

Areas A & B: Phase I (mid-late 12th century)
A number of pits cut into the natural clay. The largest of these, containing wood and animal bone, was probably a rubbish pit. Possible evidence for a wooden fence boundary within a gully in Area B.

Phase II (late 12th century)
Evidence for flooding, perhaps connected with rising sea levels. The site may have briefly been abandoned at this time.

Phase III (late 12th-early 13th century)
Parts of Area A covered with crushed chalk to form hard standing (probably to deal with the flooding problems). Numerous household refuse pits. Division of the site into tenement plots facing Walkgergate probably occurred now.

Phase IV (early-mid 13th century)
A substantial track way with cambered surface was built through Area A, along with a boundary wall. A ditch parallel to the track may have helped drain the area. In Area B, evidence for building foundations and floor surfaces, along with a drain, lined with chalk blocks running towards Walkergate.

Phase IVa (early-mid 13th century)
A stone wall divided Area A, running back from Walkergate.

Phase V (early-mid 13th century)
Slow decline in activity, with some use and repair of yard surfaces. A few rubbish pits.

Phase VI (15th-17th centuries)
Two large pits, initially used for hemp retting (for cloth production) in the 12th/13th centuries, but later as domestic rubbish dumps. A copper alloy strap end and an iron sickle blade were found in one pit. In the other, the remains of three timber posts were perhaps the remains of a platform over the pit.

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The People's Park. 75 Years of Sewerby Hall and Gardens.

This exhibition took place at Sewerby Hall between 27.06.09 and 27.10.09. It explored the history of the estate since the Corporation bought it from the Greame family in 1934 up to the present date. Interviews with employees and visitors past and present charted the changes during those 75 years, and photographs, guide books and personal objects were displayed to bring the history to life.

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