Plans to celebrate Richmond’s 950th anniversary take shape despite lockdown

Richmond market place. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

Plans for the celebration of Richmond and its castle’s 950 anniversary are continuing despite the lockdown.

Following news from the National Lottery Heritage Fund that they have suspended their normal grant programme in favour of supporting the heritage sector, members of the CelebrateRichmond950 team consider the way forward without the possibility of Lottery funding.

The group said that while the loss of possible grant support from the Lottery was a disappointment that would mean some of the larger events would now not be able to go ahead, members of the group said they were determined that Richmond would still celebrate the anniversary.

Carol Watson, a member of the CelebrateRichmond950 committee, said: “Richmond is full of character and tradition and we are all proud of its crown as the first of many Richmonds around the world.

“From the outset, it has been an honour and privilege to be involved with helping the town celebrate its birthday, its heritage and its future as well as to work with so many enthusiastic members of the community – and this feels even more the case with current events.”

She added: “While we are very aware of the challenges people are, or will be, facing, these events are as much a part of our town’s on-going history as all events in our history and, so, with this in mind, we hope that next year will be a real celebration of all that is wonderful in Richmond.”

Organisers say many of the planned activities are the ideas of local groups, who will bring these ideas to fruition and work is well advanced on projects such as the People’s Wood – a plan to plant 950 trees on land made available by Zetland Estates up near the racecourse and to be managed by local charity, Just the Job Environmental Services.

Funding has already been applied for through the Woodland Trust and it is hoped that the additional funds required will be available from other sources.

The opening procession on January 2 from the castle, banquets organised by the Kings Head Hotel, themselves celebrating their 300th anniversary, Civic Society talks, oral history projects, swimming events and Original Richmond in Bloom themed for the year are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.

The Georgian Theatre Royal will be producing a community play, enlisting local residents to work alongside a professional creative team to put together a production.

To celebrate the history of Richmond, the theme will be on the lines of The Complete History of Richmond (Abridged) and it will be performed in sketch-form, like Horrible Histories.

Work on the production will begin in January and the show will be performed on the Georgian stage during the first week of September.

Other plans include a Good Old Days music hall event, a Victorian cricket match, a visit and activities from residents of St Aubin du Cormier – Richmond’s French town twin, work with our local schools, including visits and a writing project, which will also involve local residents, Yorkshire Day and Christmas markets and exhibitions.

Individuals and groups are invited to contact the organisers of CelebrateRichmond950 with any other ideas for events that they can run during the course of the year.

Marcia McLuckie, another member of the organising team, said: “The Normans, who built Richmond Castle, would be amazed to know that we are planning to celebrate their achievement by moving our plans forward through visual discussions held between three different homes.

“It would be an idea for the celebrations if  a local group would consider how they can explore and demonstrate the development of communications over the last 950 years.”

She added: “Henry VIII would also have been impressed that we didn’t need the beacon to pass on important messages at speed.

“News of the Spanish Armada would today reach our ears pretty well before the invaders left Spain.”

Champion of the year as Patron of CelebrateRichmond950 is Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond.

She said: “During this difficult time, when we are all locked into our homes because of the virus, what more uplifting and hopeful prospect than looking to the future and the celebration of 950 years of our own Richmond next year.

“Planning continues apace, as you can see, and we now want you all to think of ways you can help make this fantastic event take off.

“Whilst we are all in lockdown we have plenty of time to make our imaginations soar, so I charge you all with helping us in whatever ways you can, to make this very special anniversary be one that will go down in our town’s history as the best – ever.”

During this time of lockdown people are invited to get in touch with the organisers about joining the January 2 procession and what period of costume they can make during this period of isolation that they could wear for the occasion.

For further information and/or to register interest email

Those interested, including community groups and schools, in finding out how they can participate in organising and being involved in the events should also use these contact details.

1 Comment

  1. If you need a loan to help with this project ask North Yorkshire County Council, they seem to dish them out like confetti !!!!!

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