From Heaven to Earth: Music and instruments from the time of the medieval angel minstrels in the ceiling of All Saints Church Loughborough. The York Waits take their name from the ancient city band of York, the earliest evidence for which we find in 14th century records.
Before they turned to music full time the waits had been night watchmen and, although their guard duties diminished, they continued to keep the night watches in the weeks leading up to Christmas, playing at various points to mark the hours and wake the citizens. In York as in many towns, they were employed by the Lord Mayor as the city’s own band of musicians, paid and liveried by the corporation to play on public occasions. The band is known to have been in continuous existence for at least five hundred years until abolition in 1836.
Today’s York Waits have revived the band as it was in its heyday in the 16th century, playing a wide repertoire of period European music as well as their own arrangements of popular dance and ballad tunes.