YORK HISTORY CONTENTS:
A History of York
from Baine's Gazetteer (1823)
YORK'S CHURCHES, DISSENTING CHAPELS, THE NUNNERY AND RUINS
Churches of York
In addition to the Cathedral, there are in York twenty-three other churches, in which divine service is statedly performed.
(Note: In the churches
marked thus *
there is only divine service on the Sunday morning,
which commences at ½ past 10 o'clock;
in the afternoon, at ½ past 2 o'clock;
both morning and afternoon, at ½ past 10 and ½ past 2.)
They are The Church of ALL HALLOWS,* commonly called ALL SAINTS, a discharged rectory, in the gift of the crown, valued in the king's books at £5. 16s. l0d. (Note: These books were made by commissioners appointed by the crown for that purpose, in the reign of Henry VIII. on the eve of the reformation.) and stated in Bacon's Liber Regis to be of the clear yearly value of £65. 3s. 9d (Note: Published in 1786.) The Rev. Wm. Flower is the present incumbent. The church stands partly in High Ousegate, but principally in the Pavement. It is a very ancient structure, and, according to Drake, is built on the ruins of Eboracum. The body of the church and part of the steeple exhibit a very antique appearance, but the edifice is chiefly remarkable for a more modern erection of exquisite Gothic workmanship on the old steeple. This tower is finished lantern-wise, and tradition says, that anciently a large lamp hung in it, which was lighted in the night time, as a mark for travellers to aim at, in their way to York, over the immense forest of Galtres. There is still the hook or pully on which the lamp hung in the steeple, and iron bars cross the windows, in which the glass might be fixed. This lantern, it is conjectured, was built in the fifteenth century, and there are here several old monuments cotemporary with the supposed erection of the tower. Part of the present burial ground was formerly used as a Herb and Fish market, but in 1782-3 the church yard was enlarged, and the chancel being then taken down, the ground on which it stood was applied to enlarge the market place. At the same time the whole fabric underwent a thorough repair. ALL-SAINTS, North-street; an ancient rectory, valued in the king's books at £4. 7s. 11d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £44. 17s. 2d. The present rector is the Rev. Wm. Leo. Pickard, M.A. and the king is the patron. The service is on alternate Sundays, both morning and afternoon. In early times this rectory belonged to the priory of St. Trinity, in Micklegate, to which it was granted by the Conqueror and confirmed by the bull of Pope Alexander II. The principal object in this church worthy of the stranger's attention, is the ancient painted glass in the windows, and a mutilated piece of Roman monumental sculpture in the south wall. ST. CRUX or Holy Cross,~ in the Shambles, is a rectory in the gift of the king, valued in the king's books at £6. 16s. 8d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis £78. 6s. 9d. The Rev. John Overton, M.A. is the present incumbent. The year 1424 is the supposed date of this church, which was given by Nigell Fossard, lord of Doncaster, to St. Mary's Abbey. The steeple is of brick, ornamented with a small dome, and, like the steeple at Chesterfield, seems to have lost its perpendicular line. ST. CUTHBERT's Church~ is a rectory, and stands near the postern at the end of Peaseholm-green; the living is valued in the king's books at £5. 10s. 10d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £88. 2s. 6d.; the king is the patron, and the Rev. Tho. Henry Yorke, M.A. is the rector. There is an annual distribution of £2. 10s, to the poor made at this church on Martinmas day, in virtue of a bequest made by Sir Martin Bowes, a native of York, but Lord Mayor of London, in 1545. Many ancient remains have been found in digging here, and amongst others a sepulchral tile inscribed LEG. IX. HISP. St. DENNIS, in Walmgate; this church is a rectory, of which the Rev. James Serjeantson, M. A. is the incumbent, and the king the patron. In the king's books it is valued at £4. 0s. 10d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £31. 17s. Divine service is performed once a fortnight, at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon. Tradition represents this church to have been originally a Jewish Synagogue or Tabernacle, but the tradition seems to rest on no sufficient authority. In the year 1798, in consequence of an injury suffered by the foundations, the west end of this edifice was taken down, and the size of the church thereby considerably reduced. At the same time, the neat and lofty spire which was perforated by a shot during the last siege of York was taken down, and a square tower, not in good taste, substituted. The ancient porch was then also removed, but the carved door-way remains, and would grace a more entire and handsome edifice. ST. HELEN's Church,* in the Square bearing that name, was formerly a rectory, appropriated to the nunnery of Molseby, but in the reign of Henry V. it was ordained a vicarage; the value of this living in the king's books is £4. 5s. 5d.; in Bacon's Liber Regis, it is valued at £44. 4s. 6d.; the Rev. John Acaster, clerk, is the vicar. Tradition says, that upon the site of this church there anciently stood an heathen temple dedicated to Diana. In the year 1743, the church yard belonging to this church was appropriated to the public use, and a plot of land in Davygate, appropriated to the interment of the dead instead of it. In 1770, the York Tavern was erected on part of this land. Prior to these alterations, the area bore the opprobrious name of Cuckold's Corner, but after the improvement it became St. Helen's square, by which name it is now called. Near the entrance to the church is a large Saxon Font, in which it is conjectured that adults were formerly baptized by emersion. The Church of ST. JOHN the Evangelist,~ near Ouse-bridge, appertains to the dean and chapter of York, and though mentioned in the Liber Regis, has no value affixed to the living. The Rev. James Richardson, M.A. is the curate. In this church is interred the remains of Sir Richard Yorke, of York, Knight, mayor of the staple at Calais, and Lord Mayor of York, in 1469, and 1482. The steeple was blown down by a high wind in 1551, and has never been rebuilt. In consequence of the recent improvements near Ouse-bridge, the burying ground has been materially contracted, and the street made more spacious in front of the church. The Church of St. LAWRENCE, in Walmgate, was anciently a rectory, but is now a vicarage, of which the dean and chapter of York are the patrons. It is valued in the king's books at £5. 10s. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £13. 4s. 10d. The Rev. Wm. Wright Layng, A.B. is the vicar, and divine service, which is performed once a day on alternate Sundays, commences at half-past ten in the morning. At the siege of York this church was nearly destroyed, and it remained in ruins till 1669, when it was repaired partially, but in the year 1817 it was thoroughly repaired and enlarged. ST. MARGARET'S Church,* on the north side of Walmgate, is a rectory, in the gift of the king, valued in the books at £4. 9s. 9d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £27. 8s. 5d. The living is enjoyed by the Rev. John Overton, A.M. In 1672, the steeple of this church fell down and injured the roof, which, owing to the then poverty of the parish, was not repaired till twelve years afterwards. The porch of St. Margaret's exhibits an extraordinary specimen of Saxon sculpture and architecture, and is said to have been brought from the dissolved hospital of St. Nicholas, without the neighbouring bar. It comprises four united circular arches (ornamented with figures) below and within each other. The arches are supported by a light round column. The top of the porch is crowned with a small stone crucifix, and the effect is altogether antique and interesting. ST. MARTIN'S Church,* Micklegate, is a rectory, vested in trustees, valued in the king's books at £5. 16s. 3d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £46. 4s. 61d. The Rev. Montague John Wynyard is the rector. The painted glass in the windows of this church is very beautiful, and in the wall of the church yard there are several curious pieces of defaced Roman sculpture. The Church of ST. MARTIN, the Bishop,|| in Coney-street, is an ancient edifice, noticed in Domesday book. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £4. and estimated in Bacon's Liber Regis at the clear yearly value of £21. 16s. 8d. The patrons are the dean and chapter of York, and the Rev. William Bulmer, M.A. vicar, is the present incumbent. The appearance of the exterior of the church is improved by a tower steeple, and it is rendered remarkable by a clock which projects into the street, upon which is the figure of a man holding a quadrant that always points to the sun. ST. MARY, Bishop-hill the Elder || this church, situated in Micklegate-ward, is a rectory, of which the dean and chapter of York are the patrons; it is valued in the king's books at £5. 0s. 10d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £44. The Rev. John Graham is the incumbent. The church is small, but its appearance is rural and interesting. The north choir was the pew and burial-place of the Fairfax's while they resided in this city, and there are some monumental remains of the family, as well as of the Pawson's, with whom they were united in marriage. St. MARY'S Bishop-hill the Younger, at the junction of Trinity-lane, Bishop-hill and Fetter-lane, is also a rectory, of which the dean and chapter of York are the patrons. The living is valued in the king's books at £5. 0s. 10d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £39. 2s. 5d. The Rev. Richard Forrest is the incumbent; divine service is performed here once a fortnight, at half-past two in the afternoon. The villages of Copmanthorpe and Over Poppleton belong to this church and parish. The patrons have the tythe of corn and hay, and the rector the oblation of his parishioners, mortuaries and personal tythes, also the tythe of orchards and nursery, and increase of cattle, subject to a small annual stipend to the farmer of the chapter. St. MARY'S Church, Castlegate,* is a rectory, in the gift of the crown, valued in the king's books at £2. 8s. 6d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £65. The Rev. Isaac Grayson, is the rector. There are here several old monumental inscriptions as remote as the 14th and 15th centuries. St. MAURICE, in Monkgate, is united to the church of St. Trinity, in Gotherham-gate, but divine service is performed here every alternate Sunday, at half-past ten in the morning, and at half-past two in the afternoon. The Rev. James Dallin, M.A. is the vicar. The structure is very ancient, but the interior has been lately modernized. St. MICHAEL-LE-BELFREY,~ in the Minster-yard, is a curacy, in the gift of the dean and chapter, of which the Rev. H. A. Beckwith, M.A. is the incumbent curate. In the king's books the living is valued at £2. 0s. 10d, and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £11. 17s. 9d. In addition to the Sunday service, there is a sermon every Wednesday evening at seven o'clock. This church, which is the largest and most elegant sacred edifice in York, except the cathedral, was rebuilt in 1535. The altar piece was erected in 1714, by the parish. It is composed of four oaken pillars of the Corinthian order, which, with the entablature and arms of England, have a fine effect. Sr. MICHAEL'S, Spurriergate,~ an ancient rectory, in the gift of the king, valued in the books at £8. 12s. 1d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £19. 3s. 8d. The rector is the Rev. Robert Sutton, B.A. This church has lately been re-edified; the east and south walls, with a part of the western wall have been re-built, and the interior newly decorated, to which improvements a new organ is about to be added. In making these alterations, seven feet of the site of the former church were yielded to Spurriergate, to widen the street. The Church of ST. OLAVE,~ in the suburbs, adjoins the ancient ruins of the Abbey of St. Mary, and was originally a chapel dependent upon that monastery; it is probably on this account that no valuation is put upon the living in the king's books. The Rev. Ralph Worsley is the present incumbent. During the siege of York the roof of this church was used as a platform for cannon, and the edifice was so much injured that it was found necessary to re-build it in 1722-3. It exhibits a mixture of ancient materials and modern workmanship, so combined as to be worthy the attention of visitors. The Church of ST. SAMPSON,* at the junction of Patrick's Pool, Swinegate and Girdlergate, whether from St. Sampson's name not being found in the calendar, or from what other cause it is not known, but this living is not mentioned in the king's books: it is in the gift of the vicars choral. The incumbent curate is the Rev. William Bulmer, M. A. The steeple of this church, like others in York, suffered from the cannon balls of the enemy at the last siege, and the perforations are still visible. St. SAVIOUR Church,* St.Saviourgate, is an ancient building with a handsome tower steeple, on which is a wooden cross. It is a rectory, in the gift of the king, valued in the books at £5. 6s. 8d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £90. 17s. 11d. The Rev. John Graham is the incumbent. In addition to the morning service, there is a lecture here on Sunday evening at half-past six o'clock. The windows are enriched with much ancient stained glass, and among the modern inscriptions are a few of more remote date. St. TRINITY, in Micklegate,|| though an ancient erection, is not mentioned in the king's books. The living is of small value, though the parish of St. Nicholas was united to this in 1585. It is a vicarage; the Rev. George Graham, B.A. being vicar. St. TRINITY, in Goodramgate, of which the Archbishop of York is the patron. In the king's books it is valued at £12. 4s. 9d. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £19. 6s. The Rev. James Dallin, M.A. is the present vicar. Divine service is performed here every Sunday alternately, in the morning at half-past ten, and in the afternoon at half-past two o'clock. There are in this church some monumental inscriptions of an early date, one of them as remote as 1367, the window over the altar table is also very ancient, and contains much curious stained glass. St. TRINITY, in King's Court,~ commonly called Christ's Church, is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £8. and in Bacon's Liber Regis at £17. 18s. 9d. The master of Well Hospital is the patron, and the present vicar is the Rev. Richard Inman. The old courts of the imperial palace at York reached to this place, and there is a house in the neighbourhood which was formerly called Duke-gild-hall. "The Roman imperial palace," says Drake, was made the residence of the Saxon and Danish kings of Northumberland; and subsequently of the earls till the conquest. The ditch on one side of the church is yet visible, and still retains the name of the King's ditch. By the extension of the area of the Haymarket, the limits of this church were considerably curtailed, and the public safety, at the entrance to St. Andrewgate, seems to require a still further diminution of this ancient projection. Dissenting chapels of York
In manufacturing and commercial towns and districts, dissenters from the established church are generally numerous and influential; but in ancient cities, and particularly in the seats of episcopal sees, the members of the established church have a decided preponderance, both in numbers and in station. This observation applies to the city of York, but there are here several chapels and meeting houses, and the dissenters, as a body, hold a respectable station. The most venerable amongst these places of worship is a small chapel, in St. Saviourgate, called the Presbyterian Chapel, of which the Rev. Charles Wellbeloved, of the Unitarian persuasion, is the officiating minister; and divine service is performed here twice every Sabbath, namely, at 11 o'clock in the morning, and at 3 o'clock. in the afternoon. Mr. Wellbeloved is also the Theological Tutor in a collegiate establishment, in Monkgate, York, called, "the Manchester College," (Note: An academy for similar purposes was established about the year 1750, at at Warrington, which was discontinued in 1784; two years afterwards the patrons of it established the present institution at Manchester, which was removed to York in 1803.) which institution is designed principally for the education of young men for the ministry, but lay-students are admitted at a charge of one hundred guineas a year. The divinity students have every expense of board and education defrayed from a fund raised by donations and annual subscriptions, amongst the protestant dissenters of the Presbyterian denomination.
The Unitarian Baptists are a smaller community, who assemble for worship in a chapel formerly occupied by the Independents, in High Jubbergate. They have no stated minister, but, as in the Society of Friends, any of the congregation are permitted to address their brethren. The hours of service on the Sabbath are, 11 o'clock in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 6 in the evening; they have also service at 7 o'clock on Tuesday evening, in every week.
In York, as in most other towns and cities in England, the Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, forms a respectable religious community. Their meeting-house, which is situated at the entrance to Far Water-lane, with an entrance by a passage from Castlegate, consists of two buildings, the first erected in the year 1673, end the latter in 1817. The original building has been subsequently enlarged, and rendered capable of accommodating between three and four hundred people. The new structure is a neat and substantial brick building, used principally at the quarterly meetings; it will seat 1200 persons, and is so constructed as to be both warmed and ventilated, or ventilated only, according to the season of the year. The method of effecting this simple operation, so conducive to the health and comfort of a congregation, is explained in a small useful quarto work, recently published at York. The hours of meeting, on the Sabbath, are 10 o'clock in the morning, and 5 in the afternoon in summer, and 10 in morning, and 3 in the afternoon, in winter; there is also a week day meeting, at 10 o'clock in the morning every Wednesday. The Friends have a small inclosure, in Kirk-lane, ornamented with trees of venerable appearance, for the interment of their dead.
The Methodists are so numerous a body in York as to render two regular places of worship in the city necessary for their accommodation. Their principal chapel is in New street, and was built in the year, 1805. This stately edifice is of brick, with stone mouldings, and is capable of accommodating a congregation of 2000 persons. The services commence on Sunday at eight o'clock in the morning, half past 2 in the afternoon, and 6 in the evening; there is also a prayer meeting at 6 o'clock on Sunday morning, and at 5 in summer, and 6 in winter on the Tuesday and Friday mornings. The other chapel is of still more recent date; it was built in the year 1816, in Albion-street, and is, from its situation, called Albion Chapel, and the services are at half past 10 in the morning, 6 in the evening on Sundays, at 7 o'clock on Thursday evenings. This building is about half the size of the other Methodist chapel. They are both supplied with preachers from the conference in connexion with the late Reverend John Wesley.
The Calvinistic Chapel, in Grape-lane, is now occupied by the Primitive Methodists, their Sunday service is at half past 10 in the morning; prayers at 6 in the morning and 8 in the evening; Monday and Friday service at half past 7 in the evening; Saturday evening prayers at 8 in the evening.
The Independents, though formerly scarcely known in York, have of late become a numerous body, and will, probably, under the ministry of the zealous and eloquent young preacher, lately called to preside over them, still further increase. Their chapel, which is eligibly situated in Lendal, and thence called "Lendal Chapel" was built in the year, 1814, at a cost of £3000. and will accommodate a congregation of 1000 persons. The Rev. James Parsons is the minister; and the Sabbath services, of which there are three, commence at half past ten in the morning, half past two in the afternoon, and half past 6 o'clock in the evening. There is also a lecture on Thursday, and a prayer meeting on Monday, each of which services commences at 7 o'clock in the evening.
The Sandemanians, a sect of seceders from the Scotch church, founded by the Rev. John Glass, have a chapel in Grape lane; with a small burial ground annexed. Owing to the smallness of their numbers, they have no stated pastor, but this congregation assembles for divine service every sabbath morning at half past 10, and again in the afternoon at 2 o'clock.
The religious community, so long the lords of the ascendant, both in this city and in this country, but now ranked as dissenters, occupy, in place of the stately Cathedral, a neat brick-built chapel, of modern erection, in Little Blake street. The Rev. Benedict Rayment is the pastor of this congregation. The morning service commences in the chapel on Sundays and Holidays, at 10 o'clock in the morning, and the evening service at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, except in the two mid-winter months of December and January, when the evening service begins an hour earlier. Every Sunday morning a musical high mass, accompanied by a sweet and full toned organ, (recently built at an expense of £500.) is celebrated here; and in Lent and Advent public lectures are given in the evening, every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, which commence at 7 o'clock.
In the suburbs of the city, without Micklegate bar, is a large and handsome brick building, called "The Nunnery," which has been used since the year 1686 as a boarding school for ladies of the Roman Catholic persuasion. The assistants in this seminary having quitted the world, and devoted themselves entirely to the instruction of youth, are popularly denominated nuns; each of them constantly wears a large black veil, and exhibit other tokens of monastic peculiarity. At present the establishment consists of sixty young ladies, some of them sent from a considerable distance, for the purpose of education, more than twenty nuns, and about twelve lay-sisters, with an officiating clergyman, the Rev. James Newsham, and four domestic servants. Mrs. Eliz. Coyney is the Rev. Mother Superior of the convent. On the premises is a small neat chapel, in which the prayers are read every morning at eight o'clock, and on the sabbath day also, at two o'clock in the afternoon. These services are open to the public. Over the general entrance is a gallery, in which several of the nuns take their station to accompany the organ during divine service, and the effect of the music may not be inaptly styled seraphic.
Decayed religious houses, churches and chapels
There are in York 30 churches and chapels, and ten monasteries and religious houses which have gone to decay. Three of the decayed churches have been already mentioned in the history of the cathedral and its appendages; the others are St. Bridget and St. Nicholas, in Micklegate; St. Clement's, without Skeldergate Postern; St. Gregory, near Micklegate; St. Peter the Little, in Peter lane; St. Clement's, nearly opposite Merchants' Hall; St. George, near Newgate lane; St. Andrew, in Fishergate; St. Peter in the Willows, at the upper part of Long Close: these ancient edifices were all in the ward of Walmgate. In Monk-ward the decayed churches are St. Mary's, Layerthorpe; and St. Maurice, Monkgate. In Bootham ward, St. Andrew, St. Stephen, and St. John the Baptist, in Hungate; St. Wilfred, near Blake street. In the suburbs there were St. George's chapel, St. George's close; St. Helen's and the church of All Saints, near Fishergate postern; St. Edward and St. Michael, Watlingate; St. Giles, in Gilly-gate; and the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, near the boundary stone of the city.
The monasteries and religious houses, were the Abbey of St. Mary, situated behind the Manor-house; the monastery of the Begging Friars, anciently a Roman temple sacred to the heathen god Serapis, situated in Friar's gardens; the convent of black or Dominican Friars, near Micklegate bar; the monastery of the Friars Minor, on the banks of the Ouse, formerly the occasional residence of the kings of England: the monastery of the Friars Carmelites, which in the days of its glory, occupied a principal part of the ground from Whipmawhapmagate to the river Foss; and the monastery of the Crouched Friars, at the corner of Barker-hill. In Beggergate-lane stood the nunnery of St. Clement, founded by Henry I., in 1145, for the nuns of the Benedictine order; in Stone-wall-close, the priory of St. Andrews, founded in 1202, by Hugh Murdac, for twelve canons of the order of Sempringham; the priory of St. Nicholas, Watlingate, a royal foundation, established under the patronage of the kings of England, for a select number of both sexes; and the priory of St. Trinity, in Trinity gardens, Micklegate.
The greater part of these edifices have totally disappeared; but the ruin of St. Mary's Abbey, formerly one of the glories of York, and still,
"Great in ruin, noble in decay,"
remains a monument of departed splendour. This once noble and magnificent monastery, is situated on the North side of the city, and the land gently slopes from without Bootham bar to the Ouse. The site is a fine spot of ground, nearly square, and comprehends a circuit of 1280 yards. In the Abbey wall were two principal gates, one to the East, opening into Bootham, near the gate of the city, and the other into Marygate. A spacious piece of rich ground to the North of this street, running down to the river, was used by the monks for their fat cattle, and called Almry-garth. According to Ingulphus, there was a monastery here before the conquest, in which Siward, the valiant Earl of Northumberland was interred. And tradition has placed upon this site, the temple of Bellona, from which the emperor Severus received the presage of his death. The monastery was then dedicated to St. Olave, and its name was not changed to that of St. Mary, till the time of William Rufus, who was one of its distinguished patrons. In the year, 1270, this Abbey was totally destroyed by fire, but under the direction of Simon de Warwick, the then Abbot, who laid the first stone of the new erection, it again raised its head, and in two and twenty years the identical fabric, of which we this day see the venerable remains was completed. From this time the munificence and piety of princes and nobles, enriched the Abbey of St. Mary, and on the dissolution of the religious houses, in the reign of Henry VIII. its annual revenue, according to Speed, amounted to £2085. 1s. 5d. The privileges of this monastery were as remarkable as its opulence. The abbot had the honour to be mitred, and enjoyed a seat in parliament, with the title of Lord Abbot. Our eighth Henry, whose cupidity was a great deal less equivocal than his love of reformation, seized upon the revenues of the dismantled monastery, and ordered a palace to be built out of its ruins, which was called the King's Manor. This palace, however, sunk into decay, and though James I. gave orders to have it repaired, and rendered fit for a royal residence, it has, in some degree, shared the fate of the Abbey, and the whole is now in the possession of the Grantham family. Time and depredation have reduced even the walls of this venerable fabric within narrow limits; at present, the greatest part of the inclosure is a pasture; the rest is leased for gardens; and such parts of the palace as are habitable, are let in humble tenements; at which, the mitred lord abbots, in the plenitude of their power, would have cast a glance of disdain. The Manor-house is occupied as a boarding school for young ladies', for which purpose it is well adapted. Sufficient yet remains of the ruins of the Abbey, to carry the mind back to other times, and to indicate the labours and the resting place of Stephen de Whitby, whose supposed tomb-stone, thus inscribed, is seen in a small court, now a stable yard, at the East end of the cloisters: HIC: JACET: STEPANO : AB. B: ISPN. It has long been a matter of surprise and regret, that a ruin, so picturesque, and in a situation so inviting, should be disfigured with the unsightly nuisances which incumber this ancient Abbey; and it is much to be wished, that either the noble proprietor of the venerable domain, or the corporation of York, with his Lordship's permission, would so far act the part of public benefactors, as to render this an attractive scene, as it is so capable of being made, both to the inhabitants themselves, and to every man of taste and lover of antiquity that visits this ancient city. Other old buildings of York
The Red Tower, another of the ancient buildings of York, is so called from being built of brick; it is situated not far from Walmgate bar, on the South bank of the Foss, and when York was a commercial city, commanded the Foss island. This ancient edifice, the antiquity of which cannot be precisely fixed, is supposed to be nearly coeval with the period of the residence of the Romans in this country. The manufacture of brimstone in the interior of this building has aggravated the dilapidations of time, and its present appearance conveys but a very imperfect idea of the stately square structure, through the loop holes of which the engines of war were pointed to protect the navy of the port of York from hostile attack.
Behind Trinity Gardens, in the South East corner of the city, is an ancient mound, the origin of which is not known. In ancient deeds and histories it is called, vetus ballium, or Old Bayle, signifying a place of security, and probably forms the platform, as Leland and Camden suppose, of an ancient ruined castle. The mound is ornamented with a small plantation of trees, and exactly corresponds with that on which Clifford's tower is erected, on the opposite side, of the river. This point commands a fine view of York, and of the rich country by which it is surrounded.
Adjoining to the wall of the Castle yard, at the South West extremity of Castle-gate, stands a round tower, built by William the Conqueror, as a keep to the Castle, and called Clifford's Tower, a name derived from the Lords, who were anciently its wardens, and which family probably from that circumstance, claims the right of carrying the sword before the king in York. In Leland's time it was "al in ruine," and in that state it continued till the contests between Charles I. and his parliament, when it was repaired and strengthened with fortifications and a draw-bridge, a deep moat being supplied from the waters of the Foss. After the surrender of the city to the parliamentary generals, Thomas Dickinson, the Lord Mayor, a zealous supporter of the popular cause, was made governor of this tower. But in the year 1683, Sir John Reresby was appointed governor by Charles II, and in the following year, on the festival of St. George, about ten o'clock at night, the magazine took fire, and reduced the tower to a ruin, in which state it remains to this day. The cause of the fire was never correctly ascertained, but the destruction is supposed to have been intentional, and to have proceeded from that jealousy of military control, which English citizens so justly entertain, and which the presence of a fortress, commanding the city, was so well calculated to excite. At that time a popular toast in York was, "the demolition of the mince-pie," and the garrison, apparently aware of the approaching catastrophe, all escaped unhurt. At the entrance into the keep is a square tower, the wall of which is ten feet thick; and near to it is a draw-well of excellent water, nearly twenty yards deep. The sides of the gigantic mount on which the building stands are planted with trees and shrubs, and the moat which formerly surrounded it is now so completely filled up, that the entire space, comprizing about three acres, forms a beautiful garden and pleasure grounds. The property is held, with other lands near the city, by grant from James I. to Babington and Duffield: the present owner is Samuel Wilks Waud, Esq. of Camblesford, near Selby, and it is occupied by Lady Grant.
Data transcribed from:
Baines Gazetteer 1823
Scan, OCR and html software by Colin Hinson.
Checking and correction by Richard Tetley.