FESTIVE events with a historic twist are being staged at one of York's popular hidden gems.

Barley Hall, the restored townhouse which was once home to priors and nobles, is staging three special occasions in the build-up to Christmas, themed around gingerbread, mead and medieval merriment.

Food historian Sam Bilton is the guest of honour for the History of Gingerbread event which is being held at the attraction, tucked away between Grape Lane and Stonegate, on Friday, December 3.

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Exploring the origins of this sweet treat, from its mysterious honey ‘cake’ roots in the ancient world to the sticky treacle-laden confections of today, the intimate event will touch on savoury applications as well as sweet and include a selection of historic gingerbreads to taste over a glass or two of spiced ale. Tickets are £30.

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From sweet food to drink, and the historic tipple that is experiencing a revival at the moment, experts from the Lancashire Mead Company will join the Barley Hall team for an evening of festive mead tasting.

Participants will hear how today's brewing techniques compare to those of yesterday, and taste a variety of meads in the company of the team that make them. Festive Mead Tasting takes place on Saturday, December 4 from 7pm, with tickets £35.

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Events co-ordinator, Emily Readman, said: “We are so pleased to be welcoming Sam and the Lancashire Mead Company into our Great Hall for these events, which adds a wonderful historical resonance to the evening – knowing that you are in the place where Lords and Ladies would have been welcomed to receptions hundreds of years ago.

“Sam’s latest book, First Catch Your Gingerbread, has proved incredibly popular, and her presentation is sure to inspire anyone planning to make gingerbread treats this Christmas.

"After our live-streamed mead tasting session sold out twice earlier this year, it will be great for mead fans to be able to join the team in person in such a grand setting for this extra special tasting event, to listen and ask questions.”

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Finally, a medieval feast will explore the origins of some of today’s Christmas traditions with a special master of ceremonies.

The themed evening will welcome diners with a glass of mead, before a two-course feast in the Great Hall with wine and entertainment. Tickets are £68, with limited places available.

As is tradition, Barley Hall itself will be decorated with festive foliage until Christmas for event attendees as well as visitors to the restored medieval townhouse during the day. Barley Hall is open daily from 10am to 3pm throughout the winter.

For more details on all of the events visit barleyhall.co.uk or call 01904 615505.