The Green Howards Museum is a repository of Regimental memorablia that celebrates the courage and fortitude of the thousands of men, who, over the centuries, joined the Regiment and went out into the world to serve their country.
I visited for Dalesman July 2015. It was humbling to see the medals that these brave men had won: a whole room, liined with cases and cases of them.
Other displays feature simple personal items, such as a tin cup, that bring home the reality of being far from home.
The exhibits have always been appreciated by veterans of the Regiment, but in 2014, the Heritage Lottery Fund contributed to a revamp of the museum, and for staff to explore the links between the Regiment and local people.
Community worker Virginia Arrowsmith works with groups including pre school children and the local branch of the University of the Third Age.
The U3A members have looked into the history of the building, the former Trinity Church. The museum moved into the former Trinity Church in Richmond Market place in 1973, but it had ceased being used as a church long before that, and nineteenth century photographs show a parade of shops in the north aisle.
The Group discovered that the Church was originally built as a Garrison church to the Castle, which was founded in 1071. At that time, the Castle Bailey extended across the area that is now Richmond Market Place.
U3A researcher Jenny Cathcart says, “Then when the Great Keep was built in the 12th century, they didn’t need the Bailey any more, and they ceeded it to the Corporation. Then when the Monasteries were dissolved, the corporation said, we’ll have that.”
Thus, the church stood in the centre of the market place became a market and shops.
And, adds Anthea, “Every century, there was a battle between the Corporation and the Church, as to who’s going to provide, and pay maintenance.”
Anthea says, “The big discovery for me was that the tower was owned by the Corporation from quite early on. The time for the town came from that clock, and the bells.”
The group is inspired when they discover personal stories: the glimmers of information that bring characters of the past to life. Jenny says, “I’ve been using the record office at Northallerton, they’ve been very supportive. I remember finding a letter written in 1797 to the Vicar, about ownership rights over the church. What stuck in my mind was that he wasn’t able to wait on the Reverend beause he had such a cut and bruise on his leg from a thorn as to lay it bare and lie down almost constantly. With no antibiotics or tetanus injections, that could have been a serious injury.”
To this end, Marcia Howard has been studying census returns, available from 1841 to 1911. she says, “There are lots of shops and buildings that have now disappeared, and I’m trying to track the families that were there.”
Some of the families still live in town, and have traced their ancestors. Marcia says, “We have websites, and often, if I ask a question, there’s someone online with an answer. I discovered a member, a New Zealander living in Northallerton, who’s a descendant of Sandersons, shop owners over several generations.”
Marcia adds, “I’m hoping to find some stories from the names that disappeared from the census. If you think, Swaledale was once the most heavily populated dale, with wealth based on wool and lead. At some time, there must have been a mass exodus, and it must have had a major impact on Richmond.
Marcia is hoping that people with connections to Richmond will get in touch, through the Richmond University of the Third age website
Read more in Dalesman Magazine, June 2015 issue