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A History of York
from Baine's Gazetteer (1823)

Part 6

The cathedral and its beginnings

York, the archiepiscopal see, like most other ancient cities, is remarkable for the number of its sacred edifices, and in enumerating and describing the churches of York, in which religious services are still performed, the CATHEDRAL, that "Chief of houses, as the rose of flowers," claims the precedency.

It has already been observed, that on the introduction of Christianity into this kingdom, about the year 625, Edwin, King of Northumbria, himself a convert from Paganism, elevated Paulinus, a Roman missionary, to the dignity of first archbishop of York. The residence of this King was York, but at so low an ebb was religion, that there was not found a temple within his metropolis suitable for the performance of the ceremony of baptism. A small oratory of wood, was in consequence erected for the occasion, on the site of the present Cathedral, which was dedicated, as is the present edifice, to St. Peter, and on Easter Day, in the year 627. the King, with his two sons, Osfrid and Edfrid, along with a number of the nobles, were solemnly baptized in this primitive erection. The ceremony over, says Bede, the prelate took care to acquaint the King, that since he had become a Christian, he ought to build a house of prayer, more suitable to the divinity he now adored; and by the bishop's direction, he began to build a magnificent fabric of stone, in the midst of which was inclosed the oratory already erected. Under the influence of that zeal which inspired the Royal convert, the building proceeded with great spirit; but scarcely were the walls ready to receive the roof, when the King was slain in battle, and Paulinus was obliged to quit the country. For some years the church lay neglected, but in 632, Oswald, a successor of Edwin, undertook to complete the building, which he had no sooner finished, than he was killed by Penda, the Pagan king of Mercia, and the newly erected structure was almost destroyed. In this ruinous condition it was found by archbishop Wilfred, the munificent patron of Ripon, who, about the year, 674, repaired the walls, fixed on the roof, and restored it to its former grandeur. "And now, by the hand of providence," says Drake, "the church stood and flourished under the successive beneficence of its spiritual governors, for near 400 years, during which period it received the valuable donation of archbishop Egbert's library; upon which Alcuin, the Gamaliel of his age, who had drank freely at this spring, of erudition has bestowed so high an eulogium.

The cathedral, its fires and rebuildings

In the year 1069, as has been already seen, the native inhabitants, aided by the Danes, in their attempt to throw off the yoke of the conqueror, set fire to the suburbs, which spreading to the city, communicated to the Cathedral, and involved them all in one common ruin. William, on entering the city, seized upon the revenues of the church; but he, soon after elevated Thomas, his chaplain and treasurer, to the Archbishopric, and by him the Cathedral was restored to its former splendour. In 1136, a casual fire again burnt down this edifice, along with St. Mary's Abbey, and thirty-nine parish churches. For four and thirty years the Cathedral lay in ruins; but, in the year, 1171, during the episcopacy of Roger, archbishop of this province, the choir with its vaults were re-built, and the South part of the cross isle of the church, was added in the time of Walter Grey, Roger's successor. In the early part of the reign of Edward I. John le Romain, father of the Archbishop, began and finished the North transepts, with a handsome steeple in the midst; and John, his son, with his own hand, laid the foundation of the nave, from the west and eastward, on the 7th of April, 1291, invoking the grace of the Holy Ghost. The materials for this part of the cathedral were contributed by Robert de Vavasour, from his quarry near Tadcaster; and by Robert de Percy, Lord of Boulton, from his woods at that place. William de Melton was the next founder, in 1320, and with the aid of indulgences of relaxation, sold to "the charitable," he finished the west end with the steeples, as it remains at this day. But the great benefactor of the cathedral was archbishop John Thoresby; this prelate conceiving that the choir, built by Roger, did not correspond with the west end of the church lately erected, and that there was no place in this church of York "where our Lady's mass, the glorious mother of God, could decently be celebrated," himself contributed one thousand eight hundred and ten pounds, towards building a new choir, and consummating this fabric. All the machinery for raising public contributions by the church was also put in motion: indulgences of relaxation were granted to the liberal; letters mandatory were addressed to the clergy, enjoining them, under pain of the greater excommunication, to suffer their collectors to gather the alms of the charitable, and the old hall and chambers of the archbishop's manor of Shireburn were demolished to provide stone and materials for the erection of the new choir, the first stone of which was laid by the archbishop, on the 29th of July, 1361. The wages of workmen about this time were three-pence a day to a master mason or carpenter, and three-half-pence to their "knaves," as their journeymen were then called :(Ref: Fleetwood's Chronicon Pretiosum.) A pound's worth of silver then was a pound weight, which is equal to four pounds of our present money, and one penny then would purchase as much corn as twentypence now, bringing the artizan's wages to the rate of 2s. 6d. a day, or 15s, a week. The contribution of the archbishop was of course most munificent, and amounted to not less a sum in our money than £36,000!

In addition to the means already mentioned for raising the supplies, a bull apostolical was issued, by Pope Urban VI. and a kind of income tax of five per cent. was imposed, on ecclesiastical benefices, for three years, for the necessary repairs and re-edification. By these means a vast sum was collected; which being augmented by a munificent donation from Archdeacon Skirlaw, the choir was finished, and the structure completed by the taking down of the old lantern steeple, and the erection of a new one in its stead, A. D. 1370. Thus within the space of less than 200 years, reckoning from the period in which the south transept was begun by Walter de Grey, the superb cathedral of York was completed in the forms and dimensions in which it appears at this day, exhibiting a splendid monument of the piety of former times, and an interesting combination of Gothic architecture through five successive ages. Of all the different parts of this magnificent structure the chapter house is the only one of which the date is totally unknown. No records, now extant, give any account of the time of its erection; but from the style of architecture, Drake conjectures that it is to be ascribed to Walter de Grey. The pavement of the cathedral is of recent date; anciently it consisted of the gravestones of bishops and other ecclesiastics, but in the year 1736, the old pavement was removed, under the direction of the Earl of Burlington, when several curious rings of ruby and saphire, set in gold, belonging to those whose mortal remains had mixed with their parent dust, were discovered, and are now shown in the vestry. The stone for the new pavement was given by Sir Edward Gascoigne, of Parlington, from his quarry at Huddlestone, and the marble was obtained by sawing the old grave-stones into dies suitable for the purpose of this mosaic work. The expence of the workmanship, which amounted to £2500, was defrayed by a subscription raised for the purpose, among the nobility, clergy, and gentry of the city and county of York. The Archbishops of York, since the introduction of christianity, in the time of the Heptarchy, to the present period, amount to eighty three in number, and their names in numerical order, with the dates when each of them entered upon the see, is subjoined

FROM 625 TO 1822.
1 Paulinus 625
2 Cedda 664
3 Wilfred 666
4 Bosa 677
5 St John of Beverley 692
6 Wilfred II 718
7 Egber 731
8 Adelbert 767
9 Eanbald 780
10 Eanbald II 797
11 Wulsius 812
12 Wymondus 831
13 Wilferus 854
14 Adelbald 900
15 Rewardus 921
16 Wulstan 930
17 Oskitell 955
18 Athelwold 971
19 Oswald 971
20 Adulf 992
21 Wulstan II 1002
22 Afric Pullock 1023
23 Kinsius 1050
24 Aldred 1060
25 Thomas 1070
26 Gerard 1100
27 Thomas II 1109
28 Thurstan 1114
29 Henry Murdac 1140
30 St William 1153
31 Roger 1154
32 Geoffry Plantagenet 1190
33 Walter de Grey 1216
34 Sewal 1256
35 Godfrey de Ludham 1258
36 Walter Giffard 1265
37 W. Wickwane 1279
38 John le Romaine 1285
39 Henry de Newark 1298
40 Thomas Corbridge 1299
41 Wm. de Grenfield 1305
42 Wm. de Melton 1315
43 Wm. de la Zouch 1340
44 John Thoresby 1352
45 Alex. Neville 1374
46 Thos. Arundel 1388
47 Rbt. Waldby 1396
48 Rhd. Scroope 1398
49 Henry Bowet 1407
50 John Kempe 1426
51 Wm. Bothe 1452
52 Geo. Neville 1464
53 Lawren. Bothe 1476
54 Thos. de Rotherham 1480
55 Thos. Savage 1501
56 Chpr. Bainbridge 1508
57 Thos. Wolsey 1514
58 Edward Lee 1531
59 Rbt. Holgate 1544
60 Nich. Heath 1555
61 Thos. Young 1561
62 Edm. Grindal 1570
63 Edwin Sandys 1576
64 John Piers 1588
65 Mthw. Hutton 1594
66 Tob. Matthew 1606
67 Geo. Montaign 1628
68 Saml. Harsnet 1629
69 Rich. Neile 1631
70 John Williams 1641
71 Accep Frewen 1660
72 Rhd. Sterne 1664
73 John Dolben1683
74 Thos. Lamplugh 1688
75 John Sharp 1691
76 Sir. W. Davies 1713
77 Lancelot Blackburne 1724
78 Thos. Herring 1742
79 Mth. Hutton 1747
80 John Gilbert 1757
81 R. Drummond 1761
82 W. Markham 1777
83 Edw. Venables Vernon 1808

The Archbishop of York is Primate of England, and to him attaches the honour of crowning the Queen. According to Dr. Heylin, the archbishopric of York is the most ancient metropolitan See in England, having been so constituted in the reign of King Lucius, in the year 180. As has been already seen, this See was, on the conversion of the Saxon Edwin, elevated to its former honour, when Paulinus was made archbishop, and then each metropolitan had twelve suffragan bishops; at present York only retains Durham, Carlisle, Chester, and Sodor and Man, though formerly its archbishop was metropolitan of Scotland. Warm and repeated contentions have existed for ecclesiastical supremacy between this See and Canterbury, which all terminated in this, that the Archbishop of York stiles himself, "Primate of England;" and He of Canterbury, "Primate of all England" and the former has still precedency of all Dukes, who are not of the royal blood, and of all great officers of state, the Lord Chancellor alone excepted. (Note: Dugdale, Vol. 1. fol. p.290.) The yearly tenths of the Archbishop of York, as returned in the survey made by the commissioners appointed by the Crown, in the reign of Henry VIII. on the eve of the reformation, were valued at £161, and the value of the living, as stated in the King's books, of the same date, at £1610. In Northumberland, the Archbishop of York has the power of a Palatine. The Right Reverend Father in God, the Hon. Edward Venables Vernon, L.L.D. is the present archbishop, and was translated to the archiepiscopal See from the bishoprick of Carlisle, in 1808. The Cathedral of York is one of the largest sacred structures in England, as the following comparative table, copied from Hargrove's History of York, will serve to demonstrate, and its magnificence corresponds with its magnitude:-

Comparative Table
(dimensions in feet)
YorkSt. PaulsWinchesterCanterburyElyLincolnWestminsterSalisbury
Length from E to W524500554514517498489452
Length from west door to the choir264306247214--130246
Length of the choir162165138-101-152140
Length of the space behind the altar69-93-----
Length of the cross aisles from N. to S.222248208low. 124
up. 154
Breadth of the body and side aisles109107867473839676
Height of the two western
towers or steeples
Height of the lantern tower235--235113288-400

In surveying the exterior of the Cathedral, one of the first feelings that forces itself upon the mind of the visitor is, regret that so stately an edifice should be inclosed within so circumscribed an area. Advancing from the South by the usual approach, the best situation for a general view of this structure is between the foot road, or passage into the Minster yard, and the Deanery, nearly opposite to the South transept. Over the clock, which is above the spacious flight of stone steps, is a large Gothic window of painted glass, and still higher, a circular window of exquisite masonry and richly variegated glass, in imitation of the Marygold flower, sometimes called St. Catharine's wheel. The summit is crowned with neat and elegant turrets. In this transept are seen a number of narrow and acutely pointed arches, with slender pillars, crowned with plain or slightly ornamented capitals. The windows are comparatively small, and their ornaments exhibit a marked difference from those which are seen in other parts of the building. Between this part and the western towers arise six small pinnacles, originally intended for buttresses to the tower part of the nave. In the niches are ancient statues, supposed to represent Christ, the four Evangelists, and Archbishop St. William. The South side of the choir presents an appearance peculiarly striking: the massy columns finely decorated with a variety of figures, and terminating in richly ornamented pinnacles, the windows large and displaying a beautiful tracery, a small transept of the tower with its superb light, and the screen work before the three farthest windows of the upper tier, all concur to render this part of the structure strikingly beautiful and magnificent.

The Western or principal front, with its two towers or steeples, excels those parts already described: human skill could scarcely have produced any thing more complete in this style of architecture. This front has been cloistered for statuary, but many of the niches are divested of the valuable productions with which they were formerly adorned. The top of each of the towers is surmounted with eight pinnacles, and in the south tower is a peal of ten bells, unequalled, it is said, by any in the kingdom. At this front there are three entrances, the centre of which is by massy folding doors. Over the principal door-way is the figure of William de Melton, and on each side the figures of Vavasour and Percy, the benefactors of the church. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise is pourtrayed upon the arch in fine tracery, and the liberality and taste of the present Archbishop, and the Dean and Chapter, are contributing to repair the depredations which time and fanatical zeal have inflicted upon the statuary and the other ornaments.

The Eastern or choir end, begun by archbishop Thoresby, is more modern than those parts already described, and displays a more florid style of architecture, crowned with niches and airy pinnacles. Over one of the finest windows in the world is seen the statue of the venerable founder of the choir, mitred and robed, sitting in his archiepiscopal chair, and holding in his left hand a representation of the church, while his right seems to point at the window. At the basis of the window are the heads of Christ and his apostles, with that of a King, supposed to be Edward III. In the niches of the buttresses again appear the statues of Vavasour and Percy. The great tower, or lantern steeple, is supported in the inside by four large and massy columns, forming four arches, and is finished in a style very much superior, though not inappropriate to that of the towers in the western front.

The Northern side of the Cathedral is not less superb than its Southern front. The transept and nave present a spectacle highly interesting to the eye of curiosity and taste. Here also may be observed the exterior form and style of architecture of the ChapterHouse, of which the wonderous buttresses and other decorations seem to indicate the age of its completion to have been nearly the same as that of the building of the choir; such is their appearance by day. By moon-light, the effect here, as on all large masses of architecture, is truly sublime; a kind of optical delusion of the most impressive kind takes place, and the towers and pinnacles of the Cathedral "acquire a degree of lightness so superior to that which is shown under the meridian sun, that they no longer appear of human construction" (Ref: Dallaway)

The interior of the Cathedral corresponds in every particular with the magnificence of the exterior. The cross aisle displays a most superb specimen of the style of architecture which prevailed in the latter part of the reign of Henry III. The circular arch, which at that time, was not entirely laid aside, still appears in the upper part, inclosing others of the pointed form. The pillars that support the larger arches are of an angular shape, encompassed by slender columns, a little detached; and the rich leafy capitals of all the columns unite to form a foliated wreath round the head of the pillar. The windows are long, narrow, and pointed, consisting of one light, or divided into several by unramified mullion, and variously decorated on the sides by slender free-stone, or marble shafts. Between the upper arches appear the quatre-feuille and cinque-feuille ornaments, afterwards transferred to the windows, and there forming the first steps towards the beautiful tracery which is displayed in the nave and choir. The windows in the South end are arranged in three tiers; the uppermost, composed of two concentric circles of small arches, is admired as a fine piece of masonry, and has a noble appearance; the first window in the second tier exhibits a representation of Archbishop St. William; the second consists of two lights, one of which is decorated with the portrait of St. Peter, and the other with that of St. Paul, each with his proper insignia. In the next window appears Archbishop Wilfred. The four figures of Abraham, Solomon, Moses, and Peter, that occupy the windows on the lowermost tier, are of modern workmanship, and form an honourable memorial of the skill and liberality of Peckitt, a native artist. In the corner, on the left of the south entrance, is a small door, which leads by 273 winding stone steps to the top of the lantern steeple. Few persons in health and strength visit the Cathedral, without at some time enjoying the prospect which this eminence commands, from which the surrounding country, lying stretched as on a map, presents the eye with a field of observation at once rich, extensive and gratifying.

The North transept displays the same style of architecture as the South. The windows are here disposed in two tiers; the lowest of which consists of five noble lights, each about 50 feet high, and 5 in breadth. These lights are designated by the name of the "Five Sisters," from a tradition, not very well supported, that five maiden sisters were at the expense of their erection. The rich stained glass represents embroidery, and there is a small border of stained glass round the edge. The baptismal font of the Cathedral, formed of dark shell variegated marble, stands in the western aisle.

Architecture perhaps never produced, nor can imagination easily conceive a vista of greater magnificence and beauty, than that which is seen at the western entrance of the Cathedral. The best point of observation is under the central tower, or lantern steeple. Here may at once be seen the statuary screen, the several painted windows, and the lengthened aisles and lofty columns. The screen which separates the nave from the choir, rising only just high enough to form a support for the organ, does not intercept the view of the eastern end of the church with its columns, its arches, and its superb window. Tracery of the richest kind appears in the windows, especially in that which occupies a large portion of the western front, and when illuminated by the rays of the declining sun, exhibits a grandeur surpassing the powers of description. The figures of the first eight archbishops decorate the lowermost compartments, and above are represented eight saints. The escutcheons of Edward II. and the Saxon Prince, Ulphus, are placed under this window; and the upper windows, though less sumptuously decorated, are elegantly adorned with imagery and escutcheons. Under these runs an open gallery, in which, exactly over the pointed arches, formerly stood images of the tutelary saints of the several nations of Christendom; but most of them have been displaced, except the figure of St. George, and his combatant, the grim visaged dragon.

The screen which separates the nave from the service choir is a curious and elaborate piece of workmanship, the history of which is not precisely known. The style of decoration refers it to the age of Henry VI. whose statue, tradition reports, once filled the place next to his predecessor. After his death, it is said, Henry, whose misfortunes the people commisserated, became an object of adoration, and his statue was therefore ordered to be removed; but it is more probable, that it was his successor, Edward IV. who, being then the sun of the political firmament, became the object of adoration, and that to him the homage of courtly devotion was offered, by removing the statue of his rival. For some ages the place remained unoccupied, but on the visit of James I. to York, he was complimented by being placed in the empty cell. Another conjecture is, that this screen originally belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary, at the manor, and that King James I. presented it to the Cathedral, in compliment to whom the Dean and Chapter placed his statue in the niche which was formerly occupied by the unfortunate Henry. In the course of the judicious repairs which this screen has undergone, the statue of James has been transferred to Ripon Minster, and a well executed figure of Henry VI. by Mr. Michael Taylor, a sculptor of considerable eminence in York, is placed in the station originally enjoyed by that monarch.

The organ is now placed over the entrance into the choir, which was its original situation. At the instance of Charles I. who contributed £1000 for the erection of an organ, and for other purposes, it was placed opposite the bishop's throne, to afford a more complete view of the east window from the body of the nave; but in the year of the revolution it was removed back to its ancient situation, which it now occupies, and by its solemn peals, swelling through the lofty arches, gives to the devout mind some faint conception of the celestial choir.

In the architecture of the choir a variation from that of the nave is perceptible. The roof displays more tracery; an elegant kind of festoon work descends from the capitals of the pillars from which the vaulting springs; through every part is seen a great profusion of ornaments; and the whole exhibits a near approach to the highly florid style which prevailed before the end of the 15th century. The ancient wood work of the choir yet remains. It is carved with pinnacles of different heights, and pedestals, whereon, probably, once were images of wood for greater decoration; if so, they have disappeared. Behind these are galleries, and regular pews; and under the front of them are the stalls for the canons and other ecclesiastical officers, beginning with the Dean's stall to the right, and the Precentor's to the left. The Cathedra, or throne of the archbishop, is situated at the end of the prebendal stalls, on the south side, and the pulpit is placed opposite. On the left of the throne the Lord Mayor and Aldermen have their seats, and the Judges of assize sit opposite them, near the pulpit. In the middle of the area there is a small pillar of brass, supported by four lions, on the top of which is an eagle of the same metal, standing upon a globe, and which, with expanded wings, receives the service Bible for the lessons.

The ascent from the nave through the choir to the high altar is by a flight of fifteen steps. Here a stone screen of excellent Gothic architecture, about forty-nine feet long by twenty-eight feet high, presents itself. This screen was formerly obscured by a wooden screen and gallery, which were swept away in the year 1726, by order of Dean Finch, by whose direction the screen, which had before been covered with tapestry, was glazed with plate glass protected by copper bars. Under the altar is a vault, commonly called the Crypt, with an entrance from the north and south aisles by iron grated doors. While exploring this ancient subterraneous chantry we survey part of the old minster, and are carried back to the time of King Edwin, the first royal Northumbrian convert to Christianity. The windows of the choir shed their richly varied light through the numerous figures of kings, prelates and saints. Those of the small transepts are remarkable for their height and elegance, reaching almost to the roof and divided into one hundred and eight compartments, each of which depicts a portion of scripture history. But the eastern window is the masterpiece, and perhaps stands unrivalled for magnitude, beauty and magnificence. This window is nearly the full breadth and height of the middle choir, and is seventy-five feet high and thirty-five wide. The upper part exhibits a piece of ample and beautiful tracery. Below are one hundred and seventeen compartments occupied with representations of the Supreme Being, of monarchs, priests and saints, and of most of the principal events in the scripture records. The glazing of this window was commenced in the year 1405, at the cost of the dean and chapter, by John Thornton, of Coventry, who, in consideration of his superior skill and application, was to receive the weekly sum of four shillings, with the further payment of one hundred shillings a year, for his labour, which was completed in less than three years! To the south of this magnificent window is exhibited in painted glass the annunciation; or, the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, from the design of Sebastian del Piombo, in figures as large as life. This window was originally brought from the church of St. Rouen, in Normandy, and was presented to the dean and chapter of York, in the year 1804, by the Earl of Carlisle, whose arms, garter, coronet and crest, fill up the compartments, above and below, and perpetuate the remembrance of the noble donor's munificence.

Periods of public services

The present religious services performed in the Cathedral, are the morning prayers daily at seven o'clock, in the vestry, in which the ecclesiastical courts are held. The cathedral service is performed in the choir at ten o'clock in the forenoon, when an anthem is sung, unless there be a sermon or litany. The evening prayers are performed every day in the week, at three o'clock in the afternoon in winter, and four o'clock in summer, in which an anthem is performed. On Sunday the service commences at ten o'clock in the morning, when a sermon is preached, and at four in the afternoon, when an anthem is sung. On Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent and Lent, and during the whole of Passion week, the choral service and singing are intermitted both morning and evening.

Curiosities in the cathedral

The chapter-house is a magnificent structure. Its form is an octagon of sixty-three feet in diameter, and, reckoning to the centre knot in the roof, sixty-seven feet ten inches in height. This vast space is not interrupted by a single pillar, the roof being wholly supported by a single pin geometrically placed in the centre. The stalls for the canons, forty-four in number, ranged along the sides, are highly finished in stone, and curiously wrought canopies are supported by small and elegant columns of Petworth marble. Over these runs a narrow gallery which extends quite round the building. The capitals of the columns have a great variety of carved fancies upon them, with ludicrous, and not always chaste conceits, of the witty artists of the thirteenth century. The entrance from the north transept is in the form of a mason's square. Every other side of the octagon is adorned with a window rich in tracery and figured glass, rising from the part first above the stalls, and reaching to the roof. Of this edifice, particularly of the chapter-house, AEneus Sylvius, afterwards Pius II. said- "It is famous all over the world for its magnificence and workmanship, but especially for a fine lightsome chapel, with shining walls and small thin-waisted pillars quite round;" and an old monkish verse, with a free translation of which this history of the Cathedral is introduced, bestows upon it this encomium:-

" Ut Rosa flos forum
" Sic est domus ista domorum."

The vestries, which are situated on the south side of the choir, contain several curiosities, which are shown and explained by the vergers; but the most important of these relies is a large ancient horn, presented by Prince Ulphus, and bearing the following inscription in capital letters


By this horn, which is made of an elephant's tooth curiously carved, and was originally mounted with gold, the church of York holds several lands of great value, a little to the eastward of the city, which are called "Terrae Ulphi." About the time of the reformation this antique vessel disappeared, till soon after the restoration. A large and elegant bowl, originally presented by Archbishop Scroope, in 1398, to the company of Cordwainers of this city is preserved here. In the middle of the bowl is the Cordwainers' arms, richly embossed--it is edged with silver double gilt, and stands upon three silver feet; round the rim, in the old English character, is the following inscription:-

Richarde Arche beschope Scrope
grant unto all those that drinkis of
this cope I Lti dayis to pardon.
Robert Hobson beschope mesm
grant in same forme aforesaide I
Lti dayis to pardon. Robert

On the dissolution of the Cordwainers Company, In the year 1808, this cup was presented by the fraternity to Mr. Sheriff Hornby, of York, as a mark of their esteem, and he soon afterwards generously presented it to the Cathedral to swell the number of the curiosities. There is also shown here a state canopy of gold tissue, given by the city in honour of James I. on his first visit to York. Three silver chalices and several ancient rings found in the graves of the archbishops are exhibited; together with a wooden head found near the grave of Archbishop Rotherham, who, having died of the plague, was interred here in effigy. There is also a superb pastoral staff of silver, about seven feet long, with the figure of the Virgin and the infant placed under the crook. This staff was given by Catharine, of Portugal, queen dowager of England, to her confessor when he was nominated to be catholic archbishop of York, by James II. in 1689; and it is said, that when he marched in procession to the minster, the Earl of Darnley wrested it from him, and deposited it in the hands of the dean or chapter, in whose possession it has ever since remained. An antique chair, as old as the cathedral, and in which several of the kings of England have been crowned, is still preserved here, and placed within the altar rails, when the archbishop officiates, for his use. These, with some less important relics, form the curiosities at present exhibited in the vestries. Adjoining to the council room is the ancient treasury, which, before the reformation, contained wealth of inestimable value. At that period all its wealth was seized and converted to secular uses. The library was formerly in a room adjoining the western side of the south transept, but it is now removed to a building which was anciently a chapel belonging to the archiepiscopal palace, situated at a small distance from the north west corner of the cathedral, and having undergone a complete repair, under the judicious direction of the very reverend the Dean, exhibits a fine specimen of the early age of Anglo-Normanic architecture. The destruction of the ancient library by repeated fires left this cathedral without so important an appendage, till the early part of the seventeenth century, when Mrs. Matthews, relict of the right reverend the archbishop of that name, presented her husband's valuable collection of books, consisting of upwards of three thousand volumes. To these has since been added a small, but select collection, bequeathed by the will of Mrs. Fothergill, relict of the Reverend Marmaduke Fothergill, which, with several late purchases, gifts, and bequests, form together a valuable library. Persons of distinction interred here

The number of persons of rank and distinction, whose mortal remains are deposited in this ancient temple, is very considerable. The head of Edwin, the first christian king of Northumberland, was interred in the cathedral at York, and his body in the monastery at Whitby. History also records, amongst the persons interred here, the names of Eadbert and Eanbald, kings of Northumberland; Swein, king of Denmark; Tosti, brother of king Harold; William de Hatfield, second son of Edward III. Thomas Mowbray; Duke of Norfolk, and Sir J. Lamplugh, both beheaded for their loyalty to the house of York; and a very large proportion of the archbishops, who have presided over this See, from the introduction of Christianity into this province to the present day. Amongst the monuments still in existence to the memory of illustrious laymen, is chiefly to be noticed that of Charles Howard, Earl of Carlisle, privy councillor to Charles II. The sepulchral monument of the Earl of Stafford, who died in 1695, and that of the honourable Thomas Watson Wentworth, third son of Edward Lord Rockingham. Amongst those of modern days, that which public esteem and affection have erected to the memory of that distinguished friend of his country and of mankind, Sir George Saville, claims the regard of all those who can appreciate extensive benevolence and distinguished patriotism.

The clergy of the cathedral

Of the Clergy of the Cathedral of St. Peter, at York, at present, the following forms a complete list:-

The Right Hon. and most Rev. Edward Venables Vernon, D.C.L.
Archbishop of York, Primate of England, &c. &c.
palace at Bishopthorpe.
The very Rev. George Markham, D.D. Dean of York.

Archdeacon Markham, M.A. Wetwang.
Archdeacon Eyre, M.A. Apesthorpe.
Rev. Robert Croft, M.A. Stillington.
Rev. G. Desmeth Kelly, M.A. Ampleford.

PRECENTOR- The Hon, and Rev. E. Rice, D.D. Driffield.
CHANCELLOR OF THE CHURCH- Rev. H. F. Mills, M.A. Laughton.
SUBDEAN- Rev, Geo. Cuthbert, M.A.

York- Rev. Robert Markham, M.A.
Nottingham- Rev. John Eyre, M.A.
East Riding- Rev. R. D. Waddilove, D.D.
Cleveland- Rev. F. Wrangham, M.A. F.R.S,

Wm. Abott, B.D. Fridaythorpe.
Robert Affleck, M.A. Tockerington.
Richard Carey, M.A. Knaresbrough.
Hon. A. H. Cathcart, M. A. Langtoft.
J. J. Coneybeare, M.A. Warthill.
E. A. H. Drummond, D.D. Husthwaite,
John Dolphin, M.A. Riccall.
John Ellis, B.A. Barnby Moor.
R. P. Goodenough, M.A. Fenton.
W. R. Hay, M. A. Dunnington.
Hon. T. A. Harris, M.A. Osbaldwick.
Lamplugh Hird, M.A. Botevant.
Henry Kitchingman, M.A. Bole.
Edward Otter, M.A. Ulleskelfe.
W. Preston, M. A. Bilton.
Hon. John Lumley Savile, M.A. South Newbald,
Samuel Smith, D.D. Grindall.
William V. Vernon, M.A. North Newbald.
Robert Darley Waddilove, D.D. Dean of Ripon, Wistow.
Henry Watkins, M. A. Givendale,
James Webber, B.D. Strensall.
W. S. Willes, M.A. Holme.
John Wingfield, D.D. Weighton.
T. B. Woodman, M.A. Bugthorpe.

Rev. Richard Forrest, Sub-Chanter.
Rev. James Richardson, M.A.
Rev. William Bulmer. M.A.
Rev. James Dallin, M.A.
Rev. Henry A. Beckwith, M.A.
ORGANIST- Mr. Matthew Camidge.
ASSISTANT-ORGANIST- John Camidge, Musical Doctor

1 Clerk of the Vestry, 8 singing men and
8 boys, 3 Vergers.
REGISTRAR- William Mills, Esq.

Officers of the Ecclesiastical Court.
Venables Vernon, Esq. M.A.
DEPUTY REGISTRAR- Joseph Buckle, Esq.

Mr. Wm. Mills. Mr. F. W. Storry.
Mr. Wm. Askwith. Mr. J. R. Mills.
Mr. Geo. Lawton. Mr. Thos. Dewse,
Mr. Thos. Wilson. Mr. J. R. Fryer,

APPARITORS- Messrs. Wm. & John Jackson.
The court is held in the cathedral. Office,
Minster yard, open from nine in the
morning to five in the evening.

Places of interest

Formerly the Archbishop had a palace close to the cathedral, on the north side of that edifice, erected by archbishop Thomas I. but it was dismantled by Archbishop Young, whose cupidity was tempted to make this spoliation by the lead which covered its roof.

The chapel of St. Sepulchre formerly stood not far from the site of the archiepiscopal palace. This chapel was built and amply endowed by Roger, Archbishop of York, and had, at the reformation, a revenue amounting to £192. 16s. 6d. After the edifice had ceased to answer the purpose originally intended part of it was converted into a public house, and from an opening at the end of a dungeon, with which the chapel was provided, the publican named his house "The Hole in the Wall" In the year 1816 the public house became ruinous, and was taken down, when, on removing the materials, the workmen came to a subterraneous prison, some feet below the surface of the earth, which had no doubt been used, in the dark ages of cruelty and superstition, as a dungeon, for the purpose of immuring ecclesiastical delinquents. In the following year a rude piece of Saxon sculpture, cut upon a stone, which, it is conjectured, formed the base of the arch over the doorway leading into this dungeon was found, which pourtrays a man in the agonies of death, surrounded by demons, who are tormenting his body, and seizing his departing spirit. This singular relic is deposited in the Minster library.

Not far from the dungeon is the prison and the "Hall of Pleas" for the Liberty of St. Peter. The prison, kept by Thomas Harrison, is used for offenders within the liberty, and there is a small court room in the upper story, where causes in common law arising within this jurisdiction are tried. The Liberty of St. Peter comprehends all those parts of the city and county of York which belong to the church of St. Peter, and an enumeration of which will be found in the population returns prefixed to this volume. Henry John Dickens, Esq. barrister at law, is the steward, and Christopher Newstead, gentleman. of York, is the Clerk of the Peace and Under-Steward for this liberty, of which Mr. John Brook is the Chief Bailiff, and Thomas Harrison the constable. The jurisdiction is separate and exclusive, and it has its own Magistrates, Steward, Bailiff, Coroners and Constables. Amongst its privileges the inhabitants men, and tenants of this liberty are exempt from the payment of all manner of tolls throughout England, Ireland and Wales, on the production of a certificate, which the under-steward is always ready to supply. Four general quarter sessions are held for this liberty, at the sessions house, in the Minster yard, on the Saturday in each week appointed by statute for holding the general quarter sessions, to inquire into "all manner of felonies, poisonings, inchantments, sorceries, arts magic, trespasses, &c."

(Note:- The time appointed by statute for
holding the General Quarter Sessions in
England is-
Christmas-- in the 1st Week after Epiphany,
Easter- in the 1st week after the close of
Midsummer- in the 1st whole week after St.
Thomas a Beckett.
Michaelmas- in the 1st whole week after the
11th of October.)

And a court is held in the hall every three weeks, where pleas in actions of debt, trespass, replevin, &c. to any amount whatever, arising within the liberty, are heard. There is also a court leet and view of frank-pledge for the whole liberty, held twice a year, namely, on Wednesday in Easter week, and the first Wednesday after new Michaelmas day. The Register Office, or the archbishop's Prerogative court, as it is sometimes called, is held in an old building at the east end of the cathedral, in which the registration of wills and the granting of licenses for the general diocese of York take place. The Dean and chapter have also a distinct office, in which secular business is transacted for the inhabitants of the Liberty of St. Peter's. The Deanery house of this cathedral is situated in the Minster yard, and was erected in the year 1090. At the reformation the yearly tenths were valued at £30. 17s. 0d. and the living, which is in the gift of the king, at £307. 10s. 4d. The present dean is the Right Reverend George Markham, D.D. who was created dean in 1802. The deanery has the rectories of Pocklington, Pickering, and Kilham, of which the dean is patron and ordinary; he likewise presents to Thornton, Ebberston, Ellerburne, Barnby Moor, Givendale, and Hayton vicarages. He appoints also the residentiaries, but must choose them out of the prebendaries, and the first prebendary he sees after a vacancy, has a right to claim the residentiaryship. The dean and the four residentiaries constitute the chapter; and the value of a residendentiaryship is estimated, in Bacon's Liber Regis, at £200. per annum. There are yet considerable remains of an ancient building erected here to the honour of St. William, Archbishop of York, called "St. William's college," for the parsons and chantry priest of the college to reside in, it being deemed contrary to the honour and decency of the church for them to live in houses of laymen and women, as heretofore. Belfrey's church is situated in the Minster yard, but as it will be enumerated amongst the churches where service is still performed, it is unnecessary to dwell upon it here. Besides this church there were formerly two other parish churches within the Cathedral close, namely, "St. Mary ad Valvas," and "St. John del Pike." The first of these edifices was removed in the year 1365, and the latter in 1585. The Beddern was a college of vicars choral, belonging to the cathedral and the choral was first ordained in 1252. Though standing in Goodramgate, and consequently not within the close of St. Peter's, it is always classed with that district, on account of its original connexion. The vicars choral were formerly 36, agreeing in number with the prebendal stalls in the cathedral, and besides attending to their duty in the choir, one officiated for each canon, receiving for their services the annual sum of forty shillings each. The chantries and obits, from which the vicars choral derived their chief support, being dissolved, their number is greatly diminished, and in the vicissitude of human events, the Beddern, once the seat of imperial grandeur, and subsequently of ecclesiastical pride, is now the abode of poverty, and a scene of dilapidation. The Beddern chapel, which was founded in 1348, is no longer used for the general services of the sanctuary, but is confined to the christening of children and the churching of women. These several appendages formerly surrounded the cathedral, and were detached from the city by walls, closed in by four large pair of gates, which were shut every night. These gates, of which there are still some remains, were placed, the first to open into Petergate, opposite Little Blake street; the second into Petergate, opposite Stonegate; the third at the end of College street, opposite the Beddern; and the fourth into Uggleford.- The circumference of the Cathedral close, with its district, is nearly three quarters of a mile, and when in its meridian glory, it formed a little ecclesiastical world of its own.
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Data transcribed from:
Baines Gazetteer 1823
Scan, OCR and html software by Colin Hinson.
Checking and correction by Richard Tetley.