SCORES of children are heading to York's Merchant Adventurers' Hall to celebrate its 650th anniversary.

Youngsters from primary schools in the city have joined Riding Lights Theatre and the National Centre for Early Music to create plays and explore music from the Middle Ages up to the 20th century for the event on the Frida at the historic hall.

Over the past three weeks, pupils have been working closely during rehearsals with writer Paul Birch, of Riding Lights, and Cathryn Dew, of the National Centre for Early Music, to create the performances.

The main focus of the plays will be the various charitable and campaigning aspects of the Merchant Adventurers', as well as depicting their 650-year history and the building of the hall itself.

St Georges RC Primary, in Fishergate, has been taking part and teacher Rose Mazza said: "The children have really enjoyed the experience of working with professional people of the arts.

"All 29 pupils have been completely involved by each taking on a role within the group.

"It has had fantastic benefits for their confidence and self esteem.

"The opportunity has been great, but the actual performance is what the kids are waiting for so that they can show everyone what they have learnt."

Park Grove Primary School has also been getting involved, and according to head teacher Andrew Calverly the youngsters are doing a very good job.

The school has 24 pupils taking part, aged between nine and ten.

Mr Calverly said: "The children are really enjoying the experience.

"It is important that they learn about history particularly in their area and the play has allowed them to do this.

"Not only have they been taught about the Merchant Adventurers' Guild, but they have learned Latin songs and medieval English, which all feeds back in to the curriculum."

The event is a first for the Company of Merchant Adventurers and David Thomas, audience development officer, said: "We are glad that we can involve young people in their heritage through art, drama and music."

It is hoped the project will improve the way in which the hall is presented to visitors.

Mr Thomas hopes that by working with local organisations the project can be repeated in the future.