An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 2, the Defences. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS OF ENGLAND
Report to The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
May It Please Your Majesty
We, the undersigned Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of England, excluding Monmouthshire, from the earliest times to the year 1714, and such further Monuments and Constructions subsequent to that year as may seem in our discretion to be worthy of mention therein, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, do humbly submit to Your Majesty the following Report, being the twenty-seventh Report on the work of the Commission since its first appointment.
2. We have pleasure in reporting the completion of our recording of the Defences of the City of York, consisting of the Castle, the Old Baile, the City walls and the walls of St. Mary's Abbey, and of the public buildings within the Castle.
3. Following our usual practice we have prepared an illustrated Inventory of these constructions, which will be issued as a non-Parliamentary publication. This is the second in a series of Inventories devoted to the City of York, succeeding Roman York (1962).
4. The descriptive methods adopted in previous Inventories have been adhered to in general. Since, however, the City walls form a unified whole, individual gates and lengths of wall and rampart are not numbered as separate monuments. The use of numbers is restricted to the intermediate towers, being solely for the purpose of distinguishing buildings not identifiable by a commonly accepted name. Similarly with the defences of St. Mary's Abbey, the towers are identified, but by letters in order to avoid confusion with the towers of the City walls. As in Roman York, it has been found necessary for the better understanding of the defences as a whole to include accounts of some buildings known only from excavation, from drawings or from written descriptions.
5. Our task of describing the Defences of York has been greatly eased by the two books which Thomas Parsons Cooper (1863–1937) wrote on the City walls etc. and the Castle published in 1904 and 1911 respectively. The civic records of the City of York contain essential evidence for the history of the mediaeval fortifications, and the Commission is indebted to the Rev. Angelo Raine (1877–1962) for his work in publishing these documents and making known their relevance to the topography of the City.
6. Our special thanks are due to the Corporation of York, the Department of the Environment, the York Waterworks Company and the Yorkshire County Committee, their representatives and tenants, severally the owners or custodians of the castles, walls and ramparts of York, for allowing our staff to inspect and survey these structures. The former City Engineer and Planning Officer, the late Mr. R. S. Bellhouse, and Messrs. J. R. Nursey and W. Slater of his staff have co-operated at every stage and given access to the office archives which include important 19th-century plans and elevations of much of the walls. Without the assistance of Mrs. R. Green, City Archivist, and Miss J. Tanner and Mrs. J. W. Percy her predecessors, the essential labour of research in the rich records of the Corporation could not have been accomplished. We are also indebted for help to Mr. C. B. L. Barr, Librarian to the Dean and Chapter of York Minster, Mr. J. A. S. Ingamells, Curator of York City Art Gallery, Mr. R. Patterson, Curator of the Castle Museum, Mr. M. Smith, City Reference Librarian, Mr. G. F. Willmot, formerly Curator of the Yorkshire Museum, and their respective staffs. The Rev. E. Hudson, Vicar of St. Hilda's, Tang Hall, gave access to the Castle communion plate in his care, and we have been assisted by Dr. D. M. Palliser and Mr. L. P. Wenham with information on their researches into the Elizabethan building in the city and the Civil War siege. The reproduction of early plans and drawings in the Inventory has been made possible through the co-operation of York City Art Gallery, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society, the Staffordshire County Record Office, and Messrs. Brierley, Leckenby and Keighley.
7. We humbly recommend to Your Majesty's notice the following constructions integrally part of the Defences of York and allied buildings as 'most worthy of preservation':
Clifford's Tower, of 1245–62 with 17th-century additions, set on an 11th-century motte, and the remains of the surrounding Walls, of the 13th century, including two towers and parts of the S. gate.
The Debtors' Prison, of 1701–5, an early example of the English baroque style.
The Assize Courts, of 1773–7, by John Carr, with 19th-century additions.
The Female Prison, of 1780–3, extended in 1802.
THE OLD BAILE, an 11th-century motte.
The City Walls:
The 13th to 14th-century walls on 11th to 12th-century earth ramparts with their Gatehouses and Towers forming a single monument. The named Gates and Towers are: Bootham, Fishergate, Micklegate, Monk and Walmgate Bars, Fishergate Postern Tower, Lendal Tower, the Multangular Tower, North Street Postern Tower, Red Tower, and Sadler Tower (7), of which Monk Bar, vaulted on three floors, is the most distinguished structure, though the others are of no less interest.
ST. MARY'S ABBEY WALLS, of the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, including 'Queen Margaret's Arch' and tower, St. Mary's Lodge, St. Mary's Tower, and lesser towers, likewise forming a single monument.
8. All these monuments are listed as Grade I by the Department of the Environment and are also scheduled Ancient Monuments. Appreciation of their interest and importance has increased since the early 19th century when the City of York adopted a policy of demolition and neglect towards the walls. This attitude has fortunately been abandoned, and acknowledgement should be made of the skilled work of preservation now carried out by the Corporation through its Engineer's Department. The chief threat to the defences in the past has arisen because of the needs of traffic circulation. The Bars and major buildings of the defences are now probably adequately protected from demolition, but stretches of the walls and ramparts may still be endangered. We urge that on no account should the unique character of the defences of York be allowed to be impaired by piercing further roads through the walls, by encroachment of adjacent roads upon the ramparts or by extended use of the moats as car parks. The defences form an essential part of the attraction of York to both the scholar and the ordinary visitor, making it one of England's most distinguished cities.
9. We desire to express our acknowledgement of the good work accomplished by our executive staff in the preparation and production of this Inventory, in particular by Dr. R. M. Butler, M.A., F.S.A., who edited it, and the late Mr. J. Radley, M.A., F.S.A., and Mr. I. R. Pattison, B.A., who investigated most of the monuments; by Dr. E. A. Gee, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S., and Messrs. D. W. Black, B.A., H. G. Ramm, M.A., F.S.A., and J. E. Williams, E.R.D., F.S.A., A.R.C.A.; by Mr. C.J. Bassham, who was responsible for the photography, and by Mr. W. Masiewicz and Mr. R. F. Meads, who prepared the drawings illustrating the text. We are also grateful for the valuable assistance given by Mr. J. H. Harvey, F.S.A., F.R.S.L., in research, by Mr. W. C. Light in photography, and by Mr. W. Masiewicz, F.S.I.A., in editorial work and book design.
10. It is a grief to us to have to record that Mr. Jeffrey Radley, F.S.A., of the Commission staff was accidentally killed in the course of directing excavations on our behalf upon the defences.
11. We are again indebted to our Secretary, Mr. A. R. Dufty, C.B.E., F.S.A., A.R.I.B.A., for organising the preparation and conduct of the survey and for seeing this Inventory through the press on our behalf.
H. C. Darby
C. A. Ralegh Radford
H. M. Colvin
D. B. Harden
W. A. Pantin
A. J. Taylor
W. F. Grimes
M. W. Barley
S. S. Frere
R. J. C. Atkinson
J. N. L. Myres
1971 A. R. Dufty (Secretary)