Unique exhibition of churchyard secrets

10 January 2017

A new exhibition at Washburn Heritage Centre, which is attached to Fewston Church, reveals a hidden history.

The Fewston Assemblage: Churchyard Secrets Revealed, focuses on the remains and artefacts which were found when the site for the heritage centre was excavated in 2009.

In this exhibition, scientific research combines with social history to tell a unique and fascinating story. It explores some of the family histories and social conditions that have been discovered by the researchers delving into the background of the skeletal remains.

A key feature of the exhibition is the pair of reconstructed heads from the Assemblage, namely George Lister and Elizabeth Dibb. They were created by the Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University, which also produced the famous models of Richard III and Robert the Bruce.


CHURCHYARD SECRETS REVEALED Mervyn Lister, seated, and his sons Graham, left, and Martin, right, in front of the recreated head of George Lister
Churchyard secrets revealed Mervyn Lister, seated, and his sons Graham, left, and Martin, right, in front of the recreated head of George Lister


The research and the exhibition have been funded principally by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and the heritage centre’s own resources.

The Right Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds, officially opened the exhibition saying it was “an excellent exhibition established with great imagination by great people.”

The event was attended by living descendants of the Assemblage individuals. Mervyn Lister, of Otley, who is the great great great grandson of George Lister, said: “We had previously done much family history research, but this project revealed many new facts about my family. I never expected to meet my great great great grandfather.”

Other guests included the archaeologists from York and Durham who undertook the osteoarchaeological research, and the centre’s volunteer social history researchers.

The event ended with The Fewston Musick performing The Fifteenth of September, originally sung at the service of commemoration for the reburial of the remains. The music and lyrics were written by Ken Fackrell, one of the volunteers.

The exhibition can be viewed on Sundays from 11am-4pm when the tea-room is open. There is an accompanying programme of events, details of which can be found on the heritage centre website, http://www.washburnvalley.org/


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