Think guided tours are a drag? They are now…

Looking at theatre and costumes through new eyes is the theme of a new tour taking place on the evening of Friday 31 May 2024 – the eve of York Pride – when local drag queen Robynne Ryske hosts three tours of Barley Hall, the medieval townhouse hidden in a snickleway between Stonegate and Swinegate.

The Pride-themed event explores costume and performance as Robynne leads a tour of the Bard of Barley Hall exhibition, followed by drinks in the Great Hall.

“There is an urban legend that the term ‘drag’ originates in Shakespeare’s time, when it was used as a direction to actors. Women were not permitted to perform on stage in Elizabethan England, so male and female characters were portrayed by men, with the latter being ‘DRessed As Girl’,” comments event manager, Abigail Judge.  “Whether this is true or not, drag is often pure theatre with make-up and costumes transforming one person into another – which makes it a perfect complement to our Bard At Barley Hall exhibition in this series of special tours, and a fabulous way to start the Pride weekend celebrations.”

Robynne is well-known to fans of York’s drag scene, with a weekly show on Jorvik Radio with her sister, Ginger Slice.  She also performs as part of the Family Shambles at venues around the city.

Tours take place at 7.00pm, 8.00pm and 9.00pm, including a 30 minute tour of Barley Hall and then a performance afterwards.  Participants will also have time to explore the hall independently after each session.  Prebooking is essential.  Tickets cost £35 per person, available from

Meanwhile, at Barley Hall Coffee Shop, the huge screen on the first floor is showing a special presentation about the LGBTQ+ community over the last 500 years, including the creation of Molly Houses – meeting places for homosexual men and gender-nonconforming people, common in the 18th and 19th century, when male homosexuality was illegal.