Clements Hall
Queen Victoria St  with tram

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

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The Richmond Cell Block Project

Richmond aFor our next talk Friday 16 March we're very pleased to welcome the project team from the Richmond Castle Conscientious Objector Cells (English Heritage). It takes place in Clements Hall, at 7.30 pm.

Written on the walls within the 19th century cell block at Richmond Castle are several thousand inscriptions dating from between 1913 and the 1970s. A mixture of religious and political statements, personal and playful sentiments, the inscriptions record the voices of those held in the cells across two world wars, those who watched over them and those who otherwise gained access to the building. The record is a highly significant primary document and an internationally important epigraphic and artistic record.

In May 1916 a group of sixteen ‘absolutist’ conscientious objectors were imprisoned at Richmond for refusing, on moral grounds, to make any contribution to the war effort. Their story ended in court martial and commuted death sentences on the fields of France but during their short stay the men recorded details of their treatment, their beliefs and their loved ones on the cell walls leaving behind one of the most poignant and thought-provoking documents from the whole conflict. Theirs is just a tiny fraction of the total graffiti record.

Across the summer of 1916 dozens of other conscientious objectors were held in the cells, and in WWII the prison again detained those disobeying military orders. Their record and that of prison warders, of other service personnel and opportunist artists, has yet to be recorded.

We will also be showing the film that our Group made about conscientious objectors in our area.

The talk is open to all. You can become a member of the History Group for a small sum of £5 for 2018, which gives you reduced entry (£1) to talks. Non-members are also welcome, at a cost of £3 on the door.

There are a small number of free parking spaces near Clements Hall. It is also easily accessible by buses stopping in Blossom Street (walk along Moss Street opposite the Reel Cinema). If you have any queries please contact us via Clements Hall on 01904 466086 or email