“He had a vision of York becoming in the future a great centre of art and culture of the North”.
After his death a number of leading citizens launched an appeal to perpetuate his memory. So successful was this appeal that a permanent Trust was established – now the Sheldon Memorial Trust – whose principal objective is the promotion and encouragement of education in history or the arts, primarily but not exclusively insofar as such subjects are associated with the City of York.
Oliver Sheldon died on 7 August 1951 at the age of 57. An Oxford graduate, he was for some years personal assistant to Mr B Seebohm Rowntree and in 1931 was appointed to the general Board of Directors of Rowntree and Co Limited (now Nestle). He was not only a very able executive: he was also a scholar and a man of wide culture who made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the City of York. He was a founder member and first Chairman of the York Georgian Society and co-founder and Secretary of the York Civic Trust.
He was a prime mover in the 1951 restoration of the Assembly Rooms. He worked unceasingly through the Civic Trust for the establishment of a University in York and was a prime mover in the establishment of the Institute of Historical Research in St Anthony’s Hall (now the Borthwick Institute of Archives) and of the Summer Schools which were to become the foundations of the University. In the words of the Archbishop of York at his Memorial Service in York Minster:
The Sheldon Memorial Trust carries on that work today by applying funds in the following areas: