Barley Hall is York’s Home of Christmas


Barley Hall is York’s Home of Christmas…

Panto Dame Extraordinaire Berwick Kaler and the cast of York Theatre Royal’s Aladdin and the Twankeys visited Barley Hall to help celebrate Christmas past, present and future.

The medieval hall, tucked away in the centre of York is holding a special exhibition that explores how families across the ages have celebrated Christmas. From the foods families ate to the how they decorated their homes and even the entertainment they enjoyed.

A big part of the modern Christmas celebrations is pantomime and this reflected in the exhibition with two famous dresses from York Theatre Royal’s panto past.

Both dresses have been worn by long-standing pantomime dame, Berwick Kaler in previous performances at York Theatre Royal and all panto costumes are available to hire via their costume services.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at the JORVIK Group commented: “Pantomime is such an integral part of the modern family Christmas so it is only right that we put two of the most famous dresses centre stage in our festive exhibition.”

Barley Hall’s medieval past also has links with the history of pantomime as Sarah continues;

“Pantomime in Britain began in the Middle Ages with the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition, meaning ‘comedy of the artists’. These improvised performances came from Italian streets and marketplaces where actors wore masks to portray recognisable characters, and which allowed them to make topical and risqué jokes without being recognised. Although the artform has evolved over the centuries you can still find a lot of the medieval act in today’s performances.”

Sophie Cann, Communications Manager from York Theatre Royal said: “we’re delighted to be working with Barley Hall who is displaying two of Berwick’s pantomime dresses throughout December and early January for all to see. Our costumes are handmade for each member of the cast, making them original as well as colourful and visually stunning. We also make the costumes accessible to the people of York and beyond. Throughout the year members of the public can hire our costumes for parties and events. Call our costume department on 01904 715444 for more details”

York Theatre Royal’s pantomime, Aladdin and The Twankeys, open on Thursday 12 December 2013 and runs until Saturday 1 February 2014. for more information and to book tickets.

The York Pantomime dresses will be displayed at Barley Hall from Friday 6th December 2013 to Sunday 5th January 2014 at Barley Hall, normal admission prices apply. Please visit for more information and opening times.


Notes to the Editor

Barley Hall is a stunning medieval house, once home to the Priors of Nostell and the Mayor of York. Until the 1980s the house was hidden under the relatively modern facade of a derelict office block. Only when the building was going to be destroyed was the amazing medieval building discovered and its history uncovered.

Barley Hall is part of The JORVIK Group, the attractions and events arm of York Archaeological Trust . Made up of four world-class attractions including JORVIK Viking Centre, DIG – An Archaeological Adventure, Barley Hall and Micklegate Bar Museum as well as two festivals; JORVIK Viking Festival and Yorkshire Medieval Festival.

For more information on Barley Hall at Christmas or The JORVIK Group please contact David Scott or Paul Whiting on (01904) 543400 or email or