Ivy Wightman, Lord Mayor and Viking Congress Host

Ivy Wightman (1910 – 1982) was Lord Mayor of York from May 1961 – May 1962 and the second woman to be Lord Mayor after Edna Annie Crichton.  Her appointments diary for May – December 1961 is in the archives of York Explore and reveals her packed itinerary of engagements.  Included among these are sittings for the portrait opposite by Phyllis May Reynette James – which now hangs in the Mansion House.

Noteworthy among the engagements in the seven month period of the diary is the marriage of HRH the Duke of Kent and Miss Katharine Worsley at York Minster on 8 June, followed by reception at Hovingham.  Then with the promotion of York’s Archbishop to Canterbury, there were two enthronements of Archbishops to attend – Michael Ramsey as Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral on 27 June and Donald Coggan as Archbishop of York at York Minster on 13 September.  

In amongst garden parties (including one at Buckingham Palace on 20 July), dinners and bowls matches there are many meetings of committees  and sub-committees in the realms of education, children and health as well as church services and political meetings of the conservative party. 

Interestingly on 10 July at 11.15 Ivy took a call at the Mansion House from the Mayor of Westminster who by so doing inaugurated Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) – i.e. long distance calls dialled direct, without the need for an Operator.   

In August 1961, York was the host city for the 4th Viking Congress – Viking Congresses are multi-national, interdisciplinary conferences within Viking Age studies which take place on a three to four-year basis in Scandinavia and the British Isles.  An integral part of the conferences is introducing the participants to the host country and its culture. On 14 August Ivy Wightman held a civic reception at the Mansion House for the Congress which reported, ‘the charm of the Lord Mayor and her councillors delighted the Congress, which was received again at the Mansion House, later in the week, to examine the city plate.’ On 17 August at a dinner held at Merchant Taylors Hall, the City of York was again represented by the Lord Mayor. 


Diary – The Lord Mayor’s Secretary, Guildhall, York 1961 – 2.  Ald. Wightman.  York Explore Archives. 

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