Category Archives: About Us

Living History at Murton Park

In addition to our award winning living history education days (see Services for Schools for further details) the site hosts a number of visiting specialist re-enactment groups throughout the season.

Ranging from the pre-historic era to the second world war via the days of the Vikings and the wild west a number of different groups take over parts of the site to stage their exhibits and events. (See Our Community for details of some of the other groups associated with Murton Park).

Why not time your visit to the museum to coincide with one of these events and get a unique peek into the past? It is always best to check in advance to see what is happening on site and keep an eye on our website for forthcoming events. (See What’s On for details of our events programme).

Please note: The re-enactment groups that use our site operate as independent charities, rely on their volunteer members and appear at several venues throughout the season. As such late changes to schedules and activities can occur.  If you are interested in seeing any particular group or historical period in action it is essential that you check in advance of your visit to avoid disappointment. Murton Park and The Yorkshire Museum of Farming cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular group and can accept no liability on behalf of groups using the site. 

If you represent a re-enactment group that would like to organise an event at Murton Park, please read our general site rules here.

Derwent Valley Light Railway

Please note: Trains will run to the end of September, with October being set aside for maintenance and training.

The Derwent Valley Light Railway officially opened on the 19th of July 1913 and ran for a distance of nearly 16 miles from Layerthorpe Station at York to the village of Cliffe Common near Selby. Although passengers were carried in the early years, this discontinued in 1926 and the railway remained predominantly agricultural throughout the rest of its history.

The DVLR was never nationalised and remained very much a “light” railway until its closure in October 1981. The only section of the railway still in use is the half-mile section within the Museum grounds.

The DVLR currently runs a number of diesel locomotives on the half-mile section of track.  This short video footage features Merlin (a guest steam loco which was here during early 2015) &  one of our resident diesel locomotives ‘03709’.

 

About Us

The Yorkshire Museum of Farming is a charitable trust dedicated to the preservation of the history of farming in Yorkshire and further afield. Our museum is located at Murton Park, near the village of Murton which lies just outside York. Murton Park is also home to the Danelaw Centre for Living History, The Derwent Valley Light Railway, The York and District Beekeepers Association and is also the base for the York and District Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers (Click on the ‘Our Community’ tab for further information on these and many other groups associated with the museum).

We are the only museum in the district specifically dedicated to the agricultural history of the Ridings of Yorkshire which encompass diverse terrain from the Wolds and the coastal North York Moors to the Pennine Dales, and are noted for both livestock and arable farming.

Collections

The machines and implements in our care are a testament to the continual development of farming practices through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From historic vehicles and carts to the hand tools and implements used on the farm throughout the county, the collection tells the story of Yorkshire’s farming past.  A free audio guide is available from reception to help you make the most of your visit.

Much of this collection is on permanent display in two exhibition halls; the Four Seasons Gallery and the Livestock Gallery. Some of the larger objects are displayed in the open spaces around the museum.

The museum is also home to a research library, archive and boasts an impressive photographic collection. Researchers wishing to access the collection or library should contact the museum via email or telephone. Contact details are available here.

The Library and Archive are on an upper floor that is not serviced by a lift; however, alternative arrangements can be made to enable visitors with limited mobility to have access to these collections.

Our History

The Yorkshire Museum of Farming was established by the Yorkshire Farm Machinery Preservation Society. The society began negotiations to build a museum on the Murton Park site in the late 1970s, and the museum opened to the public in 1982.

The Yorkshire Farm Machinery Preservation Society became the Yorkshire Museum of Farming Ltd. which operates as a registered charity and it is the continued mission of the museum to collect, document, display, research and preserve material relating to farming in the historic boundaries of Yorkshire from the earliest development of agriculture up to the mid-twentieth century.

Research Library

The museum library boasts thousands of books, magazines, journals and manuals covering a broad variety of topics on rural life and agricultural practice including animal husbandry, herd books, mechanisation of farming, and crop varieties. Texts range from nineteenth century volumes to more recent publications.

Our archive collection comprises material relating to agriculture and rural life in the region. It includes a substantial Women’s Land Army collection, plans relating to the Derwent Valley Light Railway, administrative documents, rural estate records, legal and probate documents manufacturer’s accounts, advertising and promotional material, and manorial documents as well as personal collections. The material in the collection presently spans the early eighteenth century through to the late twentieth century.

Staff

Dave Thirlwall BA(Hons), FHA.

Dave ThirlwallSite Manager
Living History Manager

Dave left St Johns College in 1983 with an honours degree in history and set up his own business providing In School Living History Education.

He began work on building ‘Houlgate Village’, in Holgate Road, York; a Living History Education Centre, designed as a Dark Age Settlement in 1986. As demand increased ‘Houlgate Village’ moved to the ‘Yorkshire Museum of Farming’ in 1992 as part of a re-development plan and changed its name to ‘Danelaw’.
Dave became Site Manager in 1998 for the Museum as well as the Education Centre.  Developments then began for the Roman Fort (Brigantium), which was followed by the WWII Evacuation Experience and the Tudor Farm Complex.

In 2010 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Historical Association and the following year he travelled to The House of Commons to accept, on behalf of all the education staff,  The Sandford Award for Excellence in Heritage Education.
As well as his role as Site Manager, he continues to lead the Living History Team and is very active in the ‘In School’ Education programme.

Lesley Wilkinson BA(Hons)

Living History Interpreter and Duty Manager.

Lesley Wilkinson

Lesley read Dance and Psychology at the University College of Ripon and York St John. She is an experienced performer and choreographer and in a diverse career has held a variety of positions in the entertainment and hospitality industry. In 2010 she co-directed the famous York Mystery Plays.
Lesley joined the Danelaw team in 2004.

Mike Tyler BA(Hons), MA, MCIPS, TFHA, PhD.

Curator, Yorkshire Museum of Farming and Living History Interpreter.

After working in the finance industry, Mike pursued an academic career and worked as a lecturer at the Universities of York and Huddersfield. A published historian, he is currently an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Dept. of History at the University of York and a Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies. In 2016 Mike was awarded an inaugural Teacher Fellowship by the Historical Association. He was Artistic Director of the York Mystery Plays in 2002 and 2006. Mike joined the Danelaw team in 2004.

Shona Griffiths

Shona Griffiths

Living History Interpreter

Shona left college in Aberdeen and then spent several years as Public Affairs Officer for Shell Expro. Shona has worked as a historical interpreter for York Archaeological Trust and Barley Hall. For seven years she worked on behalf of English Heritage and established living history projects at Clifford’s Tower in York.  Her main interests are in the areas of early medieval history and specifically medieval medicine. She is also a trained and qualified chef, which has proved useful in her career as a historical interpreter.

Keith Fells BA(Hons), PGCE.

Keith Fells

Living History Interpreter

Keith graduated with honours with a degree in Business Computing in the late eighties and spent the next 25 years working developing and managing computer systems eventually ending up in a large East Anglian based insurance company in a middle management position.

In 2009, following several years of frustration due to the inertia that is oft seen in large companies, Keith opted to take voluntary redundancy and a whole new career path. He went back to University and took a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and qualified as a primary school teacher in 2010. During this time Keith also volunteered at a York primary school which his children attended.

He then took up a position in a York primary school covering a maternity leave absence and following this is when he first encountered Murton Park. Keith was asked by his Son’s school to attend a couple of Roman days as a parent helper and “had such a great time” he has been here ever since. Initially as a volunteer and soon after as a member of staff on the Living History team.

Keith’s motto in life is “Growing older is compulsory, growing up is optional”.

Daniel Kirk BA(Hons), MA.

Deputy Site Manager, Events coordinator and Living History Interpreter

Dan joined the Danelaw team in 2010 having graduated in Modern and Contemporary History from Bangor University, specialising in 20th Century British History.

Dan has previously worked for a variety of cultural organisations including York Archaeological Trust running a variety of themed events, and  York Museums Trust as a learning facilitator delivering the schools formal education programme as well as activities and events for a family audience.

Dan returned to Murton Park on a full time basis in September 2017, taking up the roles of Deputy Site Manager and Events Coordinator. He has recently completed an MA in Learning and Visitor Studies in Museums and Galleries with the University of Leicester. Dan’s dissertation focused on family activities during the school holidays and he plans to use this up to date knowledge to create an exciting, entertaining and educational events programme at Murton Park for all ages.

David Hunt

Living History Interpreter

Dave has been involved with historical re-enactment since the 1970’s – the infancy of living history. Over the years he has worked at a number of museums, particularly in the Birmingham area, as an interpreter and educational officer covering periods from the iron age to modern times. He is a qualified Teaching Assistant with a particular interest in working with children with special needs.

Tabbetha Atyeo BA(Hons)

TabbethAtyeo

Living History Interpreter

Tabbetha was born in Sedalia, Missouri. After serving in the army for six years, she studied history at the University of Maryland before moving to the UK with her family in 2007. Her interests are many and varied, but she has a particular specialism in the history of costume and of domestic interiors. She first visited the site with her son when his school came on a Viking day.  After a period of volunteering, Tabbetha joined the  Danelaw team in 2015.

 

 

Vic Hughes.

Living History Interpreter.VHughes

Vic served in the army for a number of years and developed a taste for travel having served in many areas of the world. He has a lifelong passion for the study of history, particularly military history, and is developing a keen interest in the Roman conquest of Britain. Vic joined the Danelaw team initially as a volunteer in 2015.

 

 

Amanda Clarke.

Bookings Officer.

AmandaClarke

Amanda is the first point of contact for most people contacting the museum and looks after school bookings from the first enquiry through to the final invoice. She has a wealth of experience in office management and secretarial practice and runs the very busy diary Danelaw diary.  She has been with the team since 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shelley Rogerson BA(Hons).

Livestock Manager.Shelleyrogerson

Shelley studied product design at Leeds Polytechnic, then chose to follow her true passion for farming and livestock by becoming livestock keeper, then farm development officer at Home Farm, Temple Newsam, the largest rare breeds centre in the country, where she worked for 29 years. With a wealth of knowledge of rare breeds, she is a committee member of the RBST York group and helps to run the RBST stand at the Great Yorkshire show and other displays around the country. Shelley joined the team in 2015.

Click here for further information about the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

 

 

 

Contact Us

Yorkshire Museum of Farming
(& Danelaw Centre for Living History)
Murton Lane
Murton, York
YO19 5UF

Tel: 01904 489966

Fax: 01904 489159

Email: 

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