What’s on : Activities

Blue Plaque Walk around York

4 Oct 2023
Start time
2:00 PM
Blue Plaque Walk around York

Event Information

Blue Plaque Walk around York

Wednesday 4 October 2023 from 2pm to 4.30pm

Cost: £8 per person

Have you ever wondered how many members of the YPS have been honoured by a blue plaque? Why not join members of the Society as we take a walk through York identifying some of those blue plaques and learn a little more about the people they celebrate? The tour will start at the footbridge by St Peter’s School (the river side) at 2 pm and will end in the middle of York after a short break for refreshments.

To book, please return the booking form below to the Lodge with your cheque, made out to Yorkshire Philosophical Society (in full) or send the form by email to info@ypsyork.org and pay by Paypal at https://www.ypsyork.org/donate-to-yps/

Download the booking form in Word here: Blue Plaques Walk

YPS terms and conditions apply. See the website https://www.ypsyork.org/groups/social-group/yps-activities-booking-terms-conditions-2/  or ask at the Lodge.

Member’s report

On a beautiful October afternoon seventeen YPS members and friends met outside the former home of George Yeld at St. Peter’s School in Bootham to take part in Dorothy Nott’s expertly led Blue Plaque walk. Many of these plaques have been erected by York Civic Trust to commemorate the homes or workplaces of distinguished former citizens, and they cover a fascinating range of people and achievements. Our route would take us to sites connected with notable Yorkshire Philosophical Society members, along Bootham, down Marygate, across the Museum Gardens and eventually, via St. Leonard’s Place and a welcome tea break at the Theatre Royal to St Helen’s Square, Feasegate and over Ouse Bridge, ending in Micklegate.

George Yeld, 1845-1931, taught at St. Peter’s for fifty years, at the same time becoming an Alpine Explorer alongside his friend Dr. Tempest Anderson and a plant collector and breeder. In 1925 he was awarded the Victoria Medal for his horticultural expertise, particularly in Hemerocallis. Specimens of these that still grow in his former garden are thought to be descendants of the originals he introduced. Our walk took us to other homes and sites associated with eminent botanists of the YPS. In the Museum Gardens, Manor Cottage, built for Henry Baines, original gardener for the newly acquired site on the Manor Shore who turned it into the landscape so familiar to us today, stands as testimony to the regard in which this extraordinary man was held.  We ended our walk at the home of another family of famous plant collectors and nursery gardeners, the Backhouses, on Micklegate.

On our way we paused at houses associated with a wide variety of YPS characters. Physicist, Silvanus Thompson, astronomer and instrument maker Thomas Cooke, geologist and first keeper of the Yorkshire Museum, John Phillips and his sister Anne, photographer Dr. Evelyn, artist William Etty, sculptor and wood carver George Walker Milburn, Dr. George Auden, father of the poet W.H. Auden, businessmen and Quaker Philanthropists Joseph Rowntree II and his son Seebohm Rowntree and founder of York’s other world-famous chocolate business, Joseph Terry. Others we could not pass by without a mention although not themselves associated with the YPS, included York’s first female Lord Mayor, Edna Crichton, and the nineteenth-century watercolourist Mary Ellen Best.

The walk showed us how in a couple of hours on a pleasant afternoon stroll we can get a glimpse into the lives of some of York’s distinguished scientists, explorers and innovators and in imagination see a little of the city as they may have seen it. There are many other Blue Plaque walks waiting to be explored around the city’s remarkable streetscapes, and we hope Dorothy Nott will lead us again next year.

Sarah Sheils