York Sheriff’s Riding

Where: York, Yorkshire beginning at Micklegate Bar
When: 21st December
Time: 6pm


At Bootham Bar

Every 21st December the custom of the Sheriff’s Riding takes place after dusk in York. Nowadays it’s a blend of two ancient traditions : that of the Sheriff’s Ride around the streets on horseback accompanied by musicians, which in earlier days took place during November, and Yulegirthol which has always been on December 21st and originally involved brief proclamations at set locations around the city. Now the two are combined and the Sheriff, on foot, is accompanied by the York Waits in their livery; they process around the city, music playing all the while. The event begins with a proclamation at Micklegate Bar and further proclamations and horn blowing take place at several points on the tour, which ends after about three-quarters of an hour or so with the Sheriff’s speech at the Mansion House. The proclamations welcome to the city “whores, thieves, diceplayers and other unthrifty folk” for the period of twelve days of Yule. Afterwards the participants celebrate with venison pasties and sherry. York’s narrow medieval streets are the perfect setting for this atmospheric perambulation on the darkest day of the turning year, and the flickering torchlight combined with the distinctive drumbeat create an impression of having slipped back in time for a few hundred years. I loved it!

Helpful Hints

Click here for the York Waits’ website : http://www.theyorkwaits.org.uk/index.html

and here for the Mansion House: http://www.mansionhouseyork.com

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