An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 4, Outside the City Walls East of the Ouse. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
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(4) St. Mary's Abbey (Plates 2–23) lies between Bootham and the river Ouse immediately outside the City wall. The existing remains include the foundations of a church begun in 1089, ruins of the nave and N. transept of a church begun in 1270 (Plate 4), some fragments of the E. arm of the church and of the entrance to the Chapter House, part of the enclosing wall with its towers and gatehouse, and a building known as the Hospitium.
The later history of the abbey is largely recorded in three documentary sources. The Chronicle of St. Mary's Abbey (Surtees Society, vol. CXLVIII (1934)) is a detailed record running from 1258 to 1325 compiled probably by one of the monks in the dependent cell of St. Bees. The latter part is contemporary. There is a lacuna covering the years 1284–92 inclusive together with a part of 1293. The Chronicle contains details of the great rebuilding under Abbot Simon de Warwick and his successors. The Anonimalle Chronicle, running from 1333 to 1381 (ed. V. H. Galbraith, Manchester, 1927), was compiled at St. Mary's Abbey. It includes four entries concerning the abbey, only one of which—the fire of 1377—is pertinent to the building history. It is a legitimate deduction that no major new works were undertaken during the period. The Ordinale of St. Mary's Abbey (Henry Bradshaw Society, vols. LXXIII (1936), LXXV (1937) and LXXXIV (1951)) records the usage for the celebration of Divine Office throughout the year. It was drawn up by a commission appointed in 1390 (Ord. i) and contains no material later than 1398. The extant MS. is a copy belonging to the Abbot's Chapel. The Ordinale contains many incidental references to the church and other buildings of the abbey, from which it has been possible to deduce something of the liturgical arrangement of the church, outlined below after the architectural description, and the uses of the various claustral buildings. (fn. 1)
St. Mary's Abbey was founded in 1088 by William II. Earl Siward of Northumbria, who died in 1055, was buried in the Minster of St. Olaf which he had founded at Galmanho outside the City of York on the site later occupied by part of St. Mary's Abbey. The minster with its possessions was given by Alan, Earl of Richmond (EYC, 1, 265), to monks who had fled first from Whitby and then from Lastingham because of a quarrel with William de Percy who had refounded Whitby Abbey, and with his brother Serlo who had become Prior of Whitby. King William found Alan's provision for the monks inadequate and granted them additional land, and in 1089 laid a foundation stone for a new abbey church of St. Mary. Of this church the plan (p. xl) has been recovered by excavations of 1827, 1912 and later; it was a cruciform building with an aisled nave, central tower and a short apsidal presbytery flanked by aisles apsidal internally but square-ended externally; two apsidal chapels set in echelon projected from each transept. That this church was nearing completion in the period 1120–35 is suggested by a gift to the abbey for the roofing of the church (EYC, XI, 100–1). It is stated that in 1137 extensive damage was done to the City and the abbey by a great fire (Trinity College, Dublin, MS. E 64 (503), f. 130; J. Stowe, Annales (ed. 1631), 144; quoted by J. H. Harvey in YAJ, XLI (1966), 365) and decorative details of mid and late 12th-century date found on the site show that building work was going on during the second half of the 12th century; there are late 12th-century fragments built into the foundations of the W. wall of the church (YAYAS, Report 1953–4, 13) but only in the vestibule of the Chapter House is any work of this period preserved in situ. Artistically the most important remains from this period are the great series of sculptures of c. 1200 which were connected with the Chapter House.
In 1270 the rebuilding of the church was begun under Abbot Simon de Warwick, a new E. arm being the first work to be undertaken; the Chronicle records that the foundations reached in places to a depth of 26 ft. The first stone of the walling was laid in that year and of the columns of the choir in 1277 (Chron. 15) and the eastern arm must have been structurally complete by 1283 when Archbishop William Wickwane consecrated six altars in the new choir on 2 February and on the following day the altar of St. Catherine in the vestry (Chron. 22). Demolition of the central tower, which had been endangered by the carelessness of the masons, began in 1278 (Chron. 19) and the whole church took twenty-four years to build (Chron. 65). There is however no record of its completion or dedication in the Chronicle, which starts again in September 1294 after a gap of ten years. The monk Hugh de Compton, whose death is recorded in 1314, apparently acted as master of the works (Chron. 65). Except for the wall of the S. aisle against the cloisters, building seems to have proceeded according to one consistent, uniform design until the W. end was reached. Breaks in the coursing of the masonry of the nave suggest that the nave was built in two stages, and there are some small variations in detail between the E. and W. parts. Nevertheless the nave arcades and the N. aisle wall were evidently completed before the rebuilding of the W. wall was undertaken and this then followed, to a stylistically more advanced design. The buttresses to the S. aisle of the nave, with canted sides, do not match the main part of the church but appear to have been similar in style to the W. front, and the greater thickness of this S. wall against the cloister suggests that the Norman wall may have been retained and refaced. A new bell was installed in the tower in 1306 (Chron. 41).
In 1377 the abbey church was struck by lightning and the central tower and the transept were damaged; fire spread to the S. choir aisle, the nave and the cloister, but the choir, the nave of the church and the monastic buildings were saved (Anonimalle Chronicle, 95).
The cloister lay to the S. of the church and fragments preserved in the Yorkshire Museum show that the cloister arcade was built in stone as early as the 12th century. In the E. range an early chapter house was converted at the end of the 12th century to form the vestibule to a new chapter house built wholly to the E. of the range. This was probably done after the election to the abbacy of Robert Longchamp, brother of the Chancellor, in 1198 (Radulfus de Diceto, II, 151, RS, LXVIII). It is certainly unlikely that the work would have been started under Abbot Clement (1161–84) who was described as 'lupus rapax' wasting everything that others had accumulated. In 1297 Prior William of Derby had built, partly at his own expense, a hall for 'Wlays' (fn. 2) (strangers), in which Abbot John died in 1313 (Chron. 29, 58). This probably occupied the upper storey of the W. range. In the following year he began work on the N. end of the Dormitory in the E. range but complete rebuilding of the Dormitory followed under Abbot John de Gilling, 1303–13 (Chron. 36). The provision of a 'long room for the recreation of the brothers' is recorded in 1314 (Chron. 66) but its position is not indicated. The illustrations to Wellbeloved's account of the excavations in 1827–8, combined with the few surviving remains, make it clear that later rebuilding took place, probably after the fire of 1377, affecting at least the Inner Parlour and the Chapter House Vestibule in the E. range, and the E. part of the S. range. In 1455 an altar was dedicated in a newly constructed chapel in the Infirmary (Yark Fabric Rolls, SS XXXV (1859), 239–40).
Of the building known as the Hospitium (Plate 15), between the abbey church and the river, the lower storey was built in the 14th century and may have formed the sartrina or tailors' shop of the abbey (Ord. 87; Chron. 67). The upper storey was built in the 15th century, when it probably served some other purpose, and the whole was restored and partly reconstructed in modern times.
The Abbey Gatehouse (Plates 18, 19) was built in the late 12th century and remained fairly complete until the early 18th century. It stands directly over the line of a Roman road (York, 1, 2, no. 5). Doorways in the side walls indicate that there were flanking buildings of the 12th century but these have entirely disappeared and the buildings now flanking the gatehouse are of c. 1470–80. A chapel at the gate was built by Hugh de Compton, who died in 1314, presumably before his appointment as Prior of St. Bees in 1296 (Chron. 65). Restoration of the chapel was planned or in progress in 1376 when indulgences were offered to those contributing to the work (Papal Letters, IV, 511; Raine, 266–7). The chapel is described as 'supra portam' (Chron. 65) and 'juxta portam' (Ord. 319); it probably occupied the upper floor of the building between the gatehouse itself and St. Olave's Church (Plate 14).
The earliest mention of the building of a stone wall around the precinct was during the abbacy of Simon de Warwick, in October 1260, when an enquiry concluded that 'to build a stone wall below the abbey of St. Mary as far as the infirmary of St. Leonard would strengthen and improve rather than damage the city of York' (CIM, 1219–1307, 20, no. 255). On 9 December of the same year the king granted permission to the abbot and convent to 'construct the said stone wall within their abbey up to the aforesaid infirmary according as shall seem most advantageous to them' (Close Rolls 1259–61, 315). The phrase 'up to the ... infirmary' of St. Leonard's Hospital must mean up to a point outside the city defences opposite the infirmary, which lay within the city wall but was probably visible above it. Work did not, however, start immediately, and in the meantime a dispute between the citizens and the abbey erupted into violence in August 1262, resulting in the killing and plundering of some of the abbey's tenants and the burning of houses in Bootham (Chron. 6).
The stone wall was started in 1266: 'Pridie Kal. Junii eiusdem anni inceptus est (murus) petrinus circuiens Abbatiam Sancte Marie Eboracensis, incipiens ab ecclesia Sancti Olaui et tendens versus portam civitatis eiusdem loci que vocatur GALMANLITH' (Chron. 8). The city gate called Galmanlith has been identified as Bootham Bar. The wall probably started from the gatehouse near St. Olave's church, since at that time the church, before the widening of the N. aisle, lay entirely within the precinct. The new wall faced towards Marygate and Bootham. The end of the length of wall parallel to Bootham has been demolished, but maps of the King's Manor estate made in 1770 and 1798 (PRO, MPE, 344, 575) show that it was about 36 ft. S.E. of the Postern Tower.
The wall begun in 1266 was simply a boundary to the precinct and served no defensive function in a military sense but on 12 July 1318 a licence was granted to the abbot and convent to crenellate the abbey 'which is without the city of York, but is contiguous thereto, provided that the wall to be constructed between the abbey and the wall of the city shall not exceed 16 feet in height and shall not be crenellated' (CPR, 1317–21, 190). Crenellation involved the raising of the wall facing Marygate and Bootham by an additional 5 ft. to 6 ft.
On 24 June 1354 an agreement was concluded between the abbey and the city which was intended to settle their perennial dispute over Bootham. This provided 'that it shall be lawful for the abbot and convent to scour a dyke extending from the said Ronde Tour at the end of Seintemariegate towards the gate of the city called 'Boothumbarre', which dyke is within the said suburb whenever they please, for the safety of their wall enclosing their abbey towards the great street of Bouthum and when the walls of the abbey need repair they shall have easement in the High Street there by the dykes and walls which extend from Seintemariegate to Bouthumbarre, to repair these at their will, and easement also in the place extending from Bouthumbarre to the Ouse, between the abbey walls and the city dyke, for such repairs'. The city would not build upon the abbey ditch along Bootham, and if the abbey did so 'with houses opening on the said street of Bouthum', the built-up area was to pass into the city's jurisdiction. Another provision was 'that it shall be lawful for the abbot and convent to make their wall on the said water (of Ouse) in the manner in which it has been commenced' (CPR, 1354–8, 84–6).
This river wall, already started in 1354, appears on maps by Speed (1610), Archer (c. 1682), and Horsley (1694), but not on that by Cussins (1722), or on subsequent maps. Speed shows it as crenellated, so does Place in an engraving of c. 1700 (Drake, 331) in which it is shown as pierced by an archway with a path or ditch leading to the water's edge. No remains of this wall survive, nor is its course marked by any features on the ground. According to Drake 'the foundations of the wall which faced and ran parallel to the river were of late years dug up, which I myself saw run very deep in the ground, and all of Ashlar stone' (ibid., 577). As shown on the old maps it was close to, but clear of, the Hospitium, and joined the wall in Marygate about 18 ft. S.W. of Tower A. Wellbeloved claimed that there were two such walls 'built by Abbot Thomas de Malton in 1534 [sic., 1354 is intended]; the one proceeding from the tower at the end of the Abbey-wall in Marygate, along the margin of the river till the Abbey-wall from near Bootham Bar, and the other parallel to it, near the Water-gate' (YMH (1854), 20). None of the maps show a wall immediately by the river bank, although traces on the Water Tower suggest that a wall may have abutted against it. A 17th-century drawing shows a short stump of wall here and a mid 19th-century photograph reveals that rubble core then exposed has since been replaced by a patch of facing stone; S.E. of the Water Tower the drawing shows a gently sloping bank with no trace of a wall in line with the tower (BM 18126.96.36.1992 and NMR, CC61/12; cf. Drake 331, after Place). The abbey used a landing place at the end of Marygate, N.W. of the Water Tower; there is no record of quays to the S.E.
In 1497 a postern gate (Plate 23) was made in the precinct wall near Bootham Bar. This is commonly called Queen Margaret's Arch, due to an erroneous belief that it was made for the convenience of Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII, who visited York on 13–15 July 1503 on her way to be married to King James IV of Scotland. Details of her visit are preserved in the city records (YCR, II, 184–9). There is, however, no doubt of the real date of the gateway. William Sever, Bishop of Carlisle and Abbot of St. Mary's, in a letter of April 1500 to the Mayor of York during a renewed dispute over building beside the precinct wall in Bootham wrote: 'when we brake our walle thre yeres past to make our postrone... ther was founde at that tyme no contradiccion by any maner of evidence shewed ... by the said Mayre ... and then I, with thadvice of my bredern and our Councell proceded furthe in makieing of our postrone and the toure ther, for the ease of us and our monasterye and honour of the same and for the strenghe and defence of the Citie' (YCR, II, 149–50). The Mayor's reply reveals that the reason given by the Abbot at the time of building was 'that the Kyngs good grace then in his noble viage toward Scotland wuld rest within your monastery and for his pleasure and passage to the mynster ye wuld make ye said posterne' (YCA, B8, f. 84v). The date is further confirmed by the fact that the work occurred during Thomas Gray's mayoralty (Feb. 1497-Feb. 1498). There may already have been a postern on this site, since 'Great Bootham with the curtilages, posterne and all appurtenances' is mentioned in 1350 (Widdrington, 123; CPR, 1348–50, 550). The new work probably supplied a need for better access to the abbot's house, which became the nucleus of the King's Manor. The postern and adjoining tower still remain in a relatively unaltered state. The tower is interesting for the use of brick on the interior faces of the walls.
The Dissolution. The abbey was dissolved in 1539, pensions being found for the abbot and 49 monks (L & P Henry VIII, XIV(2), 603; Dugdale, Mon., III, 569). The bells were taken down in 1541/2 (PRO, SC 6 Henry VIII, 4644). The chapter house and the S.E. part of the church were taken down or blown up (Harvey Brook, YMC, III, 164) to make way for improvements to the Abbot's Lodging which became the palace of the Council in the North (see The King's Manor (11)). Other abbey buildings were used on occasions as royal lodgings. An undated report of c. 1545 on the State of the Palace of York records the walls of the church with the steeple standing wanting roof in length 333 ft.; the King's Hall, alias the Frater, all uncovered; the Queen's Lodging, alias the Dorter, with an upright roof all uncovered. The Gatehouse was in good state. Some apartments were occupied. Some barns and outbuildings were in a fair state. A stable building had been repaired by order of the Lord President (PRO, E 101/501/17).
After the dissolution of the abbey the precinct walls probably remained unaltered for some time. The earliest known plan of the city, made in c. 1545 (PRO, MPB, 49, 51; cf. YCR, iv, 63; RCHM, City of York, iii, fig. i, p. xxviii), describes the former abbey as 'The Kinges Maner of Seynte Marys with oute the Cittie Walle, Inclosed with his owne Walls' and marks the main gateway, the postern, and the two round towers at either end of Marygate. Speed's plan of York of 1610 shows the complete circuit of the wall still standing. From about 1540 until the siege of 1644 St. Mary's Tower, then usually described as 'the round tower at St. Marygate end', was used to hold a large collection of records of Yorkshire monasteries made by officers of the Court of Augmentations and with an official keeper, appointed by the Crown (YAJ, xlii (1968), 198–235; (1969), 358–86; (1970), 465–518).
During the siege this side of the city was invested by the forces of the Earl of Manchester, who 'raised a battery against the mannor wall that lyed to the orchard; he begins to play with his cannon and throws down [a] peice of the Wall. We fall to work and make it up with earth and sods; this happned in the morning' (Slingsby, Diary, 109). The morning was that of Trinity Sunday, 16 June 1644, and the length of wall so damaged was probably near St. Mary's Tower. At noon on the same day the mine under the tower, on which work had started at least ten days before, was exploded with considerable effect. Many civilians were killed and the records were buried or destroyed (S. Ash and W. Goode, A Continuation of True Intelligence ... from the 16th of June, to Wednesday the 10th of July 1644 (1644). For other references to this episode see YAJ, xlii (1968), 198–9, and L. P. Wenham, The Great and Close Siege of York 1644 (1970), 57–74). The tower was subsequently rebuilt on approximately its former lines, using old materials, and with a conical tiled roof.
In the first quarter of the 18th century the abbey was used as a source of stone for the County Gaol, for the Ouse Bridge, for the reconstruction of St. Olave's church, and for repairs to Beverley Minster. In 1822 parts of the abbey grounds were granted to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society who erected their museum on the site of the buildings of the E. cloister range and carried out the first of several excavations to recover the plan of the church and other buildings (Plate 3); further excavations were carried out in 1901, 1912 and 1952. In 1840 St. Mary's Lodge, the building W. of the abbey gate, was thoroughly renovated for occupation by John Phillips, keeper of the newly erected Yorkshire Museum. The precinct walls were restored in 1950–7 and in 1971 the site of the E. part of the abbey church was levelled, the remains of the church consolidated and the plan marked out on the ground with new stonework.
Architectural Description. The buildings are all of white magnesian limestone except for the earliest work, of the late 11th century, which is mostly of brown gritstone. This gritstone is probably all reused material of Roman origin, some of the blocks showing the marks of Roman tooling and of Roman cramps.
The Abbey Church. The plan of the Church of 1089 has largely been recovered by excavation. The short choir terminated in a semicircular apse projecting beyond the choir aisles which had small apses finished square externally; transepts were the same length as those of the later 13th-century church and had two apsidal chapels of varying projection on the E. side of each (Fig. 7, p. xl). Some of this arrangement is displayed on the ground by stonework built up on the original foundations. At the N.E. corner of the N. transept a few courses of the original wall remain, partly embedded within later stonework (Plate 9). The original work at this point is of the dark brown gritstone, contrasting with the white limestone of the 13th-century work. Towards the W. end of the nave excavation has shown that the S. wall of the 13th-century church stood on the foundations of the original church, the arcades were built overlapping the earlier foundations but further N., and the N. wall stands still further to the N. of the earlier wall.
Of the Church of 1270 the Eastern Arm was of nine bays and is now represented by part of the E. respond of the N. arcade, the base of part of the E. and N. walls of the N. aisle and the bases, rebuilt in 1912 and in 1971, of the four western piers of the S. arcade. The positions of the other piers are outlined in modern stone built-up on the sleeper walls which survive below.
The E. respond of the N. arcade consists of five filleted or keeled roll mouldings separated by hollows (cf. Fig. 16, p. 11). These mouldings are typical of the main structural members remaining throughout the church. The N. wall is divided into equal bays externally by buttresses and internally by triple engaged shafts rising from a wall-bench. The re-erected lower courses of the S. arcade piers show an octofoil plan with roll mouldings alternately keeled and filleted, except on the aisle side where the S. member consisted of a triple roll matching the engaged shafts on the wall of the N. aisle opposite.
Of the Crossing, the N.E., S.E. and S.W. piers have been rebuilt to a maximum height of five courses. The N.W. pier stands to the springing of the crossing arches (Plate 4). The piers are of irregular plan with a complex outline of keeled and filleted rolls (Fig. 13, p. 7); the main members have the points of the keels or the flat fillets at a position of maximum projection but in the minor members these are moved round to the side producing, in the case of adjacent fillets, a composite moulding presaging a form common in the 14th century. The bases to the piers are of simple triple-roll form.
The North Transept is in three bays with an aisle on the E. side. Base courses only remain of the E. wall and to the N. a fragment of the respond to the arcade. Of the arcade itself the base of the S. pier remains. In line with this arcade, in the surviving fragment of the N. wall and partly covered by 13th-century masonry, stonework of the transept of 1089 remains to a height of some 4 ft. Enough of the 13th-century work remains to indicate that the N. wall was arcaded to match the W. wall of the transept and the N. wall of the nave aisle to be described below. At the N.W. corner of the transept are the remains of a vice. The W. wall is in three bays, the S. bay containing the archway opening to the N. nave aisle. The two N. bays survive in the lower stage only and were arcaded, each in two bays with labels over the arches, and under each arch a roundel above two subsidiary arches, moulded and without cusping, and springing from the moulded, corbelled capitals of shafts which are now missing but which stood on a stone wall-bench. In the middle bay the S. jamb of the window in the upper stage remains, against the N. wall of the nave aisle, with the springing of the window arch. Externally the arch moulds die into the aisle wall; internally the window jamb has engaged shafts with decayed moulded bases and capitals. The arch to the N. aisle is of three moulded orders, very decayed but comprising filleted rolls and hollows. Over the haunches of the arch decayed cone-shaped corbels carry small double and triple shafts which presumably carried vaulting ribs. Over the arch is a bay of blind triforium arcading, of four trefoiled lights with tracery consisting of three quatre-foiled circles, not now complete. The mullions are treated as shafted piers with foliated capitals, repeated in the jambs under the inner order of the window arch; the outer order was carried on freestanding shafts, now missing, in front of hollows with foliated edges.
The South Transept. Of the E. wall, with its buttresses, only the base courses survive. The base of the S. wall, partly rebuilt, appears in the basement of the museum, forming the N. side of the passage to the cemetery or vestry and continuing E. to terminate in a mass of masonry representing the bottom of the S.E. buttress.
The bottom of the W. wall, partly rebuilt, has the E. face just showing above ground but more is exposed by the lower ground level to the W. The wall is divided into two bays by buttresses with triple shafts on the external angles and twin shafts in the angles with the wall (Plate 9). In each bay is a recess with moulded jambs and originally arcaded; bases for the corner shafts remain and in the S. bay rough projections represent three out of five original intermediate shafts.
The Nave is of eight bays. Of the archway to the crossing the N. pier stands to the springing of the arch and the bottom of the S. pier was reconstructed in 1827. Of the S. arcade only the base of one pier, some rough foundations for a second, and the W. respond remain; the latter stands to a height of some 18 ft.
The N. arcade has all been removed except for the E. and W. responds. Over the E. respond the haunch of the first arch of the arcade remains; it is of three moulded orders with a hood-mould towards the nave. In the angle E. of the hood-mould is a foliated corbel of conical form carrying a double engaged shaft which presumably carried the vaulting ribs. Over the main arcade and below the triforium the spandrel walling is of plain ashlar. The E. respond of the E. triforium arch remains with the springing of its arch. A drawing by W. Lodge of c. 1677 (York Art Gallery) (Plate 2) shows a triforium of semicircular arches each enclosing four arched openings with tracery of three quatrefoils, the mullions between the openings being treated as piers, with capitals. The existing respond has an inner order corresponding to those mullions. The outer order carrying the main arch had a free-standing shaft, now missing, with moulded base and foliated capital in front of a hollow with foliated edges. The spandrel walling above the triforium is of plain ashlar.
At the W. end nothing remains of the triforium stage and at neither end is there anything left of a clerestory. The W. respond to the N. arcade has foliated caps and part of the springing of the arch remains (Plate 5).
The North Aisle opens into the N. transept by a moulded archway; the plinths of the responds are cut to take a screen. Above the archway plain walling rises to a raking stone weathering, giving the outline of the lean-to roof which covered the aisle. The N. wall is fairly complete except for the window tracery, and is divided into two stages by stringcourses inside and out. Externally (Plate 5) there is a bold plinth and the bays are divided by two-stage buttresses. The lower stage of the walling is plain, interrupted only in the seventh bay by a doorway with moulded two-centred head and a hood-mould with stops, springing from jambs with alternate attached and detached shafts with decayed capitals. To each side of the doorway the walling is recessed under a narrow pointed arch forming, with the outer order of the doorway, an arcade of three arches. In the upper stage the wall-face is set back under a triplet of arches in each bay, the centre arch being wider and open to form a window, and the flanking arches blind; in the E. bay the E. blind arch is omitted. The flanking arches are built tight up against the buttresses so that the labels cannot be carried down to springing level but stop over the haunches of the arches. The arches were carried on free-standing shafts, all now missing, and die out into the buttresses. The capitals to the shafts remain, some moulded and some foliated; of those that are foliated most are derived from the 'stiff leaf' of the earlier part of the century but two are naturalistically treated.
The windows, all of equal size, are alternately of three and two lights with tracery, now largely missing, of one or three circles foliated with pointed soffit cusping. Of the spandrels round the circles, some are pierced, some are blind. The mullions, where they remain, are moulded as multiple piers with capitals, now badly decayed.
Internally the wall is divided into bays by triple shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals (Plate 6). The bases interrupt a wall-bench below which is a quantity of reused gritstone; above the bench the lower stage is arcaded, each bay having three arches each enclosing two subsidiary arches under a roundel, all without cusping. Shafts to carry the arcading are missing. In the seventh bay is a stilted segmental-pointed rear-arch to the doorway flanked by narrow pointed arches which range with the arcading in the other bays. At the W. end is a plain blocked doorway to a vice.
In the upper stage the design of the exterior is repeated, with the wall recessed on each side of each window under a narrow blind arch but where on the outside the arches die into the buttresses, on the inside they spring from detached shafts (now missing) with capitals ranging with those of the vaulting shafts that divide the bays (Plate 9). Shafts are also missing from the window jambs. The springers of the aisle vaults remain above the capitals of the wall-shafts. The capitals provide a seating for the wall-ribs and the transverse ribs but the diagonal ribs emerge from behind the other ribs with which they mitre and in some cases interpenetrate (Plate 7).
The South Aisle is represented by the lower part of the wall of the five eastern bays of which three were reconstructed in 1913 by W. Harvey Brook, 'using new stone only where absolutely necessary'. To the E. the lowest course visible externally is largely of dark gritstone. The bays are divided by buttresses with splayed sides which had engaged trefoil shafts on the angles. In the E. bay is a doorway of which none of the facing stone is original. Further W. are fragments indicating arcading between the buttresses, and internally the wall was also arcaded between the vaulting shafts that mark the bay divisions.
The West Front. The stonework of the W. wall of the nave and N. aisle is separated by straight joints from the N. wall and the responds of the arcades. The wall is divided internally into two stages, of which the lower continues the arcading of the N. wall across the aisles and part way across the nave, but flanking the W. doorway are blind arches similar to those on the outside of the W. front. Reused in the base of the wall are parts of a Norman gritstone cornice. Externally the W. front has buttresses with splayed re-entrant angles presumably designed to support octagonal turrets (Plate 6). The whole of the W. front is treated with blind arcading, the arches being trefoiled under crocketed gablets; the arches rise from engaged trefoil shafts with moulded or foliated capitals and the gablets are carried on small corbels. In the middle of the nave the arcading is interrupted by the W. doorway; the jambs had four free-standing shafts, now missing, and one engaged multiple shaft, with hollows between them carved with undulating vine-trails (Plate 8). The haunches only of the arch to the doorway still remain, for a two-centred arch of five orders, three deeply moulded, one carved, and one now missing. Above the doorway the N. jamb of the W. window survives, pierced by a passageway in the thickness of the wall. The W. window to the N. aisle remains complete except for jamb-shafts and tracery. The window was of three lights, and the jambs, pierced by the wall-passage, are richly moulded with engaged shafts on moulded bases and with capitals carved with naturalistic foliage which also forms a continuous band across the thickness of the wall (Plates 7, 8); the whole design of the window gives a much richer composition than the windows in the N. wall.
Liturgical Arrangement. Some details of the arrangement of the church in the late 14th and the 15th centuries can be deduced from the instructions for the conduct of the daily ritual of the abbey in the Ordinale, and from the Chronicle, interpreted in the light of existing remains. At the E. end of the nave three modern steps represent an original rise of three steps running the full width of the church. E. of these steps and under the W. crossing arch was the pulpitum. The crossing and six bays of the eastern arm were enclosed by screens to form the monks' choir. Within these screens the monks' stalls occupied the space under the tower and extended into the two bays next E. of the crossing, providing room for the 48 monks recorded in 1284 (Chron. 23–4) or the 49 to whom pensions were granted in 1539 (Dugdale, Mon., iii, 569). E. of the stalls was the first of three steps leading up to the high altar and beyond this step were buried Abbot Simon (ob. 1296) and Abbot John de Gilling (ob 1313), as builders of the church (Ord. 71). Abbot Simon's tomb was marked by a slab level with or only slightly above the floor, since trestles were placed across the tomb to form a temporary platform for the relics of St. William which were brought to the abbey in solemn procession annually on Whit Monday. The second step must have been in the fourth bay from the W., beyond the choir altar named in honour of the Holy Trinity (Ord. 70) where the morning mass was usually celebrated. Between the two lower steps doorways in the screens led to the N. and S. aisles. The third step also lay in the fourth bay. The high altar stood against a screen between the fifth pair of piers, and above it was a great cross (Ord. 102). To each side of the high altar was a doorway leading into the chapel of the Holy Trinity behind the high altar, occupying the sixth bay (Ord. 68). There were thus two altars dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The seventh bay formed the ambulatory used by processions around the choir, with the chapel of Our Lady to the E., occupying the eighth and ninth bays. Here was celebrated the Mass of Our Lady, the monks being accompanied with a choir of boys from the Almonry. Flanking the Lady Chapel in the eastern bays of the two aisles were the altars of St. Peter and St. Stephen; at the latter was said daily the mass for the dead, for the souls of the founders and all the faithful departed. In the sacristy which projected southwards was the altar of St. Catherine which served as an Easter Sepulchre, being dressed on Maundy Thursday like a tomb to receive the Lord's Body.
The altars of Holy Trinity behind the high altar, St. Catherine, St. Peter and St. Stephen were the four upper altars of the church; there were four lower altars in the chapels in the eastern aisles of the transepts, dedicated to St. Nicholas, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Mary Magdalene and, probably, St. Benedict. Relics of St. Thomas were exposed for veneration before his altar on 29 December. Abbot Benedict of Malton was buried in front of the altar of St. Benedict, a departure from the normal rule that abbots should be buried in the Chapter House.
In the nave the eastern bay formed the retrochoir in which weak or convalescent monks heard the services. On the W. it was closed by the Rood screen over which stood or hung the great Crucifix or Rood. Such a screen was usually pierced by two doors flanking an altar placed against its western face. The St. Mary's Ordinal does not specifically mention an altar in this position but the Chronicle speaks of the lighting of a lamp by the altar of St. Mary in the nave of the church. Westward a chapel seems to have extended two and a half bays down the nave to a step which ran the full width of the church, corresponding with the step down in the wall-bench and in the plinth of the N. wall. As well as the central W. door, there were doors in the nave aisles, in the seventh bay on the N. side and in the first and sixth bays on the S.
Claustral Buildings. Of the buildings around the cloister most are known only from excavation; some stood on the site now occupied by the Yorkshire Museum where fragments are preserved in the basements. The uses to which the various buildings were put can be deduced with some certainty from the Ordinal.
On the E. side of the cloister the Dormitory range ran S. from the end of the transept, extending well beyond the line of the S. range. Next to the transept is a narrow room with doorways to E. and W., its N. wall formed by the surviving base of the wall of the transept, divided into three bays by attached shafts of c. 1280–90 (Plate 13). The burial of monks in the abbey cemetery is recorded in the Chronicle (Chron. 54) and the Ordinal makes it clear that the way to the cemetery must have been through this room (Ord. 386), the cemetery lying E. of the cloister. It may also have served as a vestry and be the room where refreshment was prepared on Whit Monday for the bearers of the relics of St. William (Ord. 334).
Next southward is the Vestibule to the Chapter House, which was known as the Galilee (Ord. 22). Before the end of the 12th century it had probably formed the Chapter House itself, and it was probably after the election of Robert Longchamp as abbot in 1198 that a new Chapter House was built, entirely E. of the range. The foundations of the new Chapter House were exposed in the excavations of 1827; Wellbeloved records that only the lowest courses of these foundations were still in position. The Chapter House measured 61 ft. by 26 ft. and the buttresses indicate that it was designed in five bays. The vault to it would thus have twelve springing points which would accommodate twelve figures of the apostles, with Old Testament figures and St. John the Baptist in the vestibule (see pp. xlii–xliv), forming a sequence leading to a great Christ in Majesty at the E. end (Ord. 75), comparable perhaps to the Majesty at Worcester in the Refectory, now the School Hall. Abbots were buried within the Chapter House (Ord. 275), the floor of which was at two levels separated by a step (Ord. 22–3). The vestibule was separated from the cloister walk to the W. by an arcade of three arches, for which the lower parts of two piers and two responds of c. 1200 remain; they have water-holding bases and free-standing shafts (Plate 16, Fig. 5, p. xxxiii). At the E. end the entrance to the Chapter House remains in part, with some reconstruction (Plate 13); it comprised a central arched doorway between flanking arches above dwarf walls. The piers between the doorway and the flanking arches are cruciform and enriched with chevron mouldings and formal leaf ornament behind free-standing shafts with water-holding bases with angle spurs, all of white limestone. The responds to the flanking arches, less complete, match the piers. A composite capital, wrongly reset but belonging to this composition, shows leaf decoration of a heavy fleshy type and also of swirling 'stiff-leaf' type. None of the arches are in situ but one has been reconstructed (incorrectly) on the ground. The arches were visually of three orders and very heavily enriched. A number of voussoirs from vaulting shafts preserved in the museum are thought to have belonged to the original vault of c. 1200 covering the vestibule; they are of trefoil section with rolls crossed by a trellis of sunk bands. The dormitory on the first floor above was rebuilt during the abbacy of John de Gilling, 1303– 1313 (Chron. 36), but the vestibule was remodelled later in the 14th century when it was vaulted in nine compartments, the lower parts of the E. and W. vaulting shafts and of the four free-standing piers remaining (Plate 16). The mouldings of this work may be compared with work being executed in the second quarter of the 14th century at Exeter and Lichfield where the work is advanced for its date; they are not so advanced as work in York Minster of the last quarter of the century. These comparisons could point to a mid 14th-century date but had there been any major construction work at that time it might be expected to be recorded in the Anonimalle Chronicle which was written at St. Mary's and covers the years 1333 to 1381. It seems probable that the vaulting of the vestibule was part of a restoration programme carried out after the fire of 1377.
S. of the vestibule lay the Inner Parlour where speech was allowed (Ord. 74), a vaulted room of three bays, of which the base for a N. vaulting shaft of c. 1310 remains in situ in the museum (Plate 16). Similar bases to the piers are shown by Wellbeloved (Plate 3) but the E. wall can be seen from the plinth to have been refaced, probably after 1377. The W. wall of the Parlour was of sufficient thickness to include within it the day stairs to the Dormitory above; the narrowness of the stair is brought out by the rule that monks descending must give way to those coming up (Ord. 31). S. of the Inner Parlour a passage led from the cloisters towards the Abbot's Lodging, and further S. lay the School (Chron. 85–6) which retained the traditional name Scola Infantum although after the early 13th century oblate children were no longer taken; it was of six bays, and projected beyond the S. range. The plinth to this part, seen in 1813 (Plate 3), was conformable to a date of c. 1310 and was presumably part of Abbot Gilling's rebuilding.
The S. range, as rebuilt in the late 14th century, contained at the E. end a passage leading from the cloisters to the courtyard beyond. Against the wall of this passage was built the fireplace of the Warming House which occupied the first three bays of the range. Here a fire burnt and conversation was permitted (Ord. 158). The fireplace is preserved in the museum basement (Plate 13). Flanking the fireplace are vaulting shafts, now carried up well beyond their original height, with late 14th-century mouldings matching those of the Vestibule. The lower part of the N.E. buttress to the Warming House and part of the adjacent wall are preserved in the Hospitium (Plate 13). They are finely moulded, of late 14th-century date.
A doorway in the W. wall of the Warming House, not shown on Wellbeloved's plan but clearly indicated by Ridsdale Tate, led to a large room of six bays vaulted in three aisles; at the end of the room the W. door was recessed between flanking projections, the N. one forming a lobby from which a circular stair led to the upper floor. This large room may have been the Common Hall in which the abbot entertained strangers (Ord. 151), perhaps occupying the site of part of the 'long room for the recreation of the monks' built in 1313 (Chron. 66). A hall in this position would be convenient for the regulation that those eating not in the refectory but in the hall or the prior's chamber should await the abbot or the prior in the Warming House.
On the upper floor of the S. range was the Refectory. It was reached by a flight of stairs of which the foundations were uncovered, rising from the S.W. corner of the cloister across the width of the W. range. At the foot of the stairs and set against the wall of the S. range opposite the W. walk of the cloister was the foundation of the lavatory where the monks washed their hands and combed their hair (Ord. 142). The Kitchen and Servery were built against the four W. bays of the S. range, with fireplaces to N. and E.
The W. range comprised a vaulted undercroft forming the Cellarer's Store, entered from the cloister by a doorway in the S.E. corner, and the guest house on the first floor, which included, perhaps, the Hall of the Wlays (fn. 3) built in 1297 by Prior William de Derby (Chron. 28–9).
The rectangular projection to W. may have contained the latrine of the guest house or alternatively the Cellarer's Chequer. The projection into the cloister walk, apparently for a stair, is unprecedented in monastic planning and must be a post-Reformation accretion. The N. bay of the lower storey, against the church, was the Outer Parlour and formed the entrance through which all visitors to the abbey passed. Here was the Gate of Tobias, named in allusion to the stranger who revealed himself as the angel Raphael (Tobit, xii, 15) and here three poor men were fed each day and other alms and hospitality dispensed (Ord. 136–7).
S. of the Refectory range was an irregular court bounded on the E. by the Dormitory range and on the W. by the Kitchen. To the S. it was closed by a long room running E.-W. and the end of a vaulted room at right angles, with a fireplace in the E. wall. This was the Prior's Room to which he might invite senior monks for a drink and for warmth in winter (Ord. 151); the longer room to the W. would then, by analogy with other abbeys such as Ely, be the Prior's Hall, but it is not specifically mentioned in the York texts.
The Infirmary, in which a chapel was referred to as 'newly built' in 1455 (SS, xxxv, 239–40), lay S. of the monastic kitchen; part at least was in two storeys with a vaulted undercroft. The chapel was probably on the first floor at the S. end where there is a small projection to E.
The Hospitium (Plate 15), some 90 yds. W. of the cloister, is a two-storey building of six bays; a sketch of 1840 shows most of the two S. bays missing but the lower part of these had been rebuilt before 1930 when the upper storey was completed and the roof of the whole building reconstructed to a steeper pitch than the original. The lower storey is of the 14th century and has walls of ashlar; the upper part is of the 15th century and timber-framed. In the E. wall, in the fifth bay from the N., is a rebuilt stone arched doorway. Further N. are windows of two square-headed lights with chamfered jambs and mullions. The floor of the upper storey is carried on two rows of octagonal stone columns with moulded bases and shaped corbels projecting N. and S. under the main beams.
The timber-framed upper storey has a modern N. wall, and the two S. bays are of 1930–1. The original timber-work is exposed; the main wall-posts are strutted off sill-plates and from them curved braces rise to the eaves plates and to the tiebeams. A vertical stud in the middle of each bay is narrowed in the middle to form the mullion of a two-light window, but the windows have all been restored. In the E. wall, in the fourth bay, is a doorway with timber two-centred head. The main timbers between the third and fourth bays from the N. show mortices for the rails of a partition.
Adjoining the Hospitium to the S. is a length of walling containing a Gateway, a smaller doorway, and windows, all of c. 1500 (Plate 15). The wall stands to a height of one and a half storeys and is of ashlar with brick backing to the W. above first-floor level. The gateway and the doorway are both four-centred, of two chamfered orders with a label; the windows are of one and two arched and trefoiled lights in square heads.
Chapel of St. Mary at the Gate. Between the gatehouse and the W. end of St. Olave's church is a space, now roofless, which must have contained the chapel on the first floor (Plate 14). On the E. side a lofty recess in the W. wall of the tower of St. Olave's may have been at the back of the chapel altar. On the S. side is a thick wall continuous with the S. wall of the tower and containing a straight staircase in its thickness, with doorways at the foot of the stairs opening to the undercroft and to the churchyard. Further W. is a ground-floor window of two cinque-foiled lights. The W. end is enclosed by the gatehouse, and the N. side by the precinct wall built up at the E. end to the height of the aisle wall of St. Olave's church and stepped down westwards, where only the lowest courses of the wall are mediaeval.
Precinct Wall and Towers. In the following account the wall is described in a clockwise direction starting at the W. angle of the precinct beside the river Ouse at Marygate Landing. Unless otherwise stated, all the masonry is of magnesian limestone.
Water Tower (Plate 17, Fig. 18, p. 15) was built after the licence to crenellate of 1318, while Stephen de Austewyk was sacrist. It is circular outside but hexagonal inside and built of ashlar stone in courses about 1 ft. 4 ins. high. The upper part of the wall is set back slightly, the change being marked by a small chamfered weathering. A battered base towards the river has been concealed by the modern embankment. On the S.E. in the lower half of the wall are four stones in alternate courses cut so that they project as if to provide bonding for a wall running along the bank to the S.E. A patch of renewed facing stone with very narrow mortar joints has replaced a former area of rubble core. This wall which abutted on the tower was about 7 ft. thick, probably with a narrow parapet, and was possibly the revetment for a quay.
There are six openings in the tower wall, one corresponding to each side of the interior. Four of these are cruciform arrow slits with a round oillet to each arm, all in a damaged state; this form of loop occurs frequently in the early 14th-century work on the precinct wall. Facing S., directly over the patch of renewed facing where the river wall abutted the tower, is a rectangular opening, set a little higher than the arrow slits; this has a small chamfer all round and square sockets for iron bars in the jambs and lintel. To the N.E. where the precinct wall begins is a shoulder-headed doorway with a plain chamfer all round; this must originally have led to a wallwalk, now destroyed.
Drawings made in the 17th century show that the tower was then crenellated, but the parapet is now broken down to below the level of the embrasures and is of irregular height. On the N.E., directly over the doorway just described, are the remains of a second doorway with chamfered jambs and also formerly shoulder-headed (Cave, pl. 28); this can only have been accessible by a staircase from the wall-walk. Two stone spouts draining the tower roof remain on the S. and E., and there is a hole for the same purpose on the W.
The inside (Plate 17) had a floor supported on an offset. In the sides are deep recesses, some not centrally placed, leading to the six openings. The one leading to the doorway has splayed sides, but all the others have parallel walls sharply splayed at the ends. All these recesses have flat lintels carried on quadrant corbels. The tower was roofed behind the narrow parapet, leaving space for a walk on top of the wall.
The precinct wall from the Water Tower to St. Mary's Lodge is about 420 ft. long with three small changes in alignment. In origin this stretch is wholly early 14th-century work but has been much restored and partly reconstructed. Part of the wall immediately adjoining the Water Tower was removed in the early 19th century and replaced with a stone archway to provide access from Marygate to the riverside walk. This opening has a four-centred arch with a double splay to each side.
The wall as far as Tower A and for about 50 ft. beyond has been reduced in height and is now only about 7 ft., without crenellation. The lower part, of ashlar in large courses, including a few gritstone blocks, is original, but the upper two or three courses, of much smaller stones, are probably a replacement. On the inside the ground level within the Museum Gardens has been raised and only the upper 3 ft. of the wall is visible, all rebuilt in coarse rubble. There is an original postern doorway, now blocked, 4 ft. S.W. of Tower A. This is 2 ft. 8 ins. wide and 5 ft. 10 ins. high with a shouldered head and a small chamfer all round.
Tower A (NG 59775208), 120 ft. from the Water Tower, is semicircular, 10 ft. in diameter and projecting 5 ft. Outside the masonry is largely original. The inside is mostly filled with earth, but where the wall is visible it has been stripped of facing stone and repaired with rubble.
Tower B (NG 59815214), 215 ft. from Tower A and similar to it in size and plan, is entirely of new stone of the 19th century. It appears on Archer's map of c. 1682, but not on subsequent maps, and there is little doubt that it was wholly or partly demolished in about 1700 and rebuilt in the late 19th century, after the houses built up against the outside of the wall here had been removed.
The rest of the wall up to St. Mary's Lodge stands to the original height of about 13 ft. It is 1 ft. 8 ins. thick, but 121 ft. N.E. of Tower A a wall-walk 2 ft. 10 ins. wide begins, supported upon a thickening of the wall beneath. The walk gradually narrows to 1 ft. 7 ins. at a point 30 ft. S.W. of St. Mary's Lodge where it ends. Thence the wall has been rebuilt. The parapet has embrasures, which are mostly restored except for a few immediately S.W. of Tower B; these have L-shaped slots on the reveals, intended for housing wooden shutters, a feature which occurs elsewhere on the wall where the original embrasures have survived unrestored. (Fig. 19, below.)
The length of wall immediately S.W. of St. Mary's Lodge was rebuilt when the Lodge was erected, and the moulded plinth of that building continues for 20 ft. along the outer face of the wall. There is an inserted 19th-century doorway in this length.
The Gatehouse (NG 59835216. Plates 18, 19; Figs. 20, 28, pp. 16, 26). The group of buildings forming the gatehouse range consists of parts of the side walls of the late 12th-century gate-hall, joined at the Marygate end by a large contemporary archway, and of additions on each side of those built in c. 1470, at the time of the rebuilding of the N. aisle of St. Olave's church. The addition to the S.W., known as St. Mary's Lodge, is complete, but that on the N.E., between the original gatehouse and the church, is ruined, only the outer walls of the ground floor surviving.
The gate hall is 18⅓ ft. wide and was probably a little over 40 ft. long; the wall on the S.W. side, which is the more complete, survives to this length, though rebuilt at the S.E. end. At the N.W. end of the passage is a round-headed archway, of three chamfered orders on the front and two on the rear; the mouldings of the impost caps continue as a string course along each side of the gate hall. Drawings made before demolition show that there was a similar archway at the S.E. end. There was also an intermediate archway, of which part of the N.E. jamb survives, which could be closed by doors.
The N.W. end of the gate hall beyond the intermediate archway was vaulted in one bay; springers of the vault survive in three angles of the bay, from which it appears to have had diagonal ribs only, and the two in the N.W. angles rose from vaulting shafts. The rest of the gate hall was vaulted in two bays, with heavy chamfered springers, probably of the 14th century, cutting across the moulded strings. Above the string course on the S.W. side enough of the original wall-facing survives to show that the transverse vaults were pointed. This same wall, which continues upwards to form one side of St. Mary's Lodge, was largely refaced in the 19th century, but the core is probably that of the original side wall of the late 12th-century gatehouse. At each end of the wall the thickness is represented by pilaster buttresses at the corners of the Lodge. The N.E. wall of the gate-hall survives only to a height of 13 ft. and above the string is entirely refaced.
Both side walls are decorated with original blind arcading, of two round arches in each bay, standing on paired shafts with moulded caps and bases of attic form. In the inner part of the gatehouse are two round-arched doorways to the S.W. and one to the N.E., each of these taking the place of one arched recess. All three doorways are now blocked with ashlar masonry, but one recess of the S.W. arcade has been opened up to make a doorway into the Lodge. An offset in the wall over the archway at the N.W. end of the gate-hall probably marks the level of the original upper floor.
St. Mary's Lodge (Plate 18; Fig. 28, p. 26) is a two-storey building with basement. The walls, except on the N.E. side, are of ashlar with narrow joints, and the low-pitched roof is covered with lead and slates. The principal elevations are to the N.W. and S.E. and have moulded plinths and moulded strings at the upper floor level. The plinths have a moulding similar to that on the N. aisle of St. Olave's church. The N.E. elevation, originally built up against the 12th-century gatehouse, was refaced in the 19th century. The other three elevations are each divided into two bays by narrow buttresses of deep projection. At the W. angle is a large square buttress, only the top part of which conforms to the proportions of the others. The windows, one or two in each bay, are generally stone-mullioned and of two pointed cinque-foiled lights contained within a splayed rectangular reveal. They are considerably restored and some on the N.W. side have had the sills lowered in the 19th century. On the S.E. there are also three narrow round-headed openings at different levels which light a staircase in the thickness of the wall. All the basement windows and all the windows on the S.W. elevation are of 1840. There has been some restoration of the external masonry, and an inserted chimney, later removed, accounts for a narrow strip of brickwork up most of the N.W. wall. A low stone parapet around the whole building was added in 1840. In the early 19th century there was a hipped tiled roof (Halfpenny, pl. 30).
The interior was modernised in 1840, and all the internal walls on the ground and first floors are probably of that date. The only original features visible are a chamfered ceiling beam in a basement room and the staircase to the first floor contained in the thickness of the S.E. wall: the latter has stone treads and an arched stone roof rising with the stair. A short flight of stairs from the entrance lobby to the inner hall has bulbous balusters of the late 17th century. The fittings of 1840 are in the Tudor style. There is a variety of fireplaces, but the doors are more uniform, and have tall, narrow panels. The ground-floor rooms have ceilings divided into square panels by moulded wooden ribs with carved bosses.
The building to the N.E. of the original gatehouse stands between it and St. Olave's church and is joined to both. It was built at the same time as St. Mary's Lodge, c. 1470, and was also of two storeys. It still stood intact in the early 18th century but is now ruined, lacking the walls of the upper storey, and the interior is partly occupied by modern structures.
The outer walls to the N.W. and S.E. have moulded plinths like those of St. Mary's Lodge, and on the S.E. side a short length of matching moulded string course survives. In the N.W. wall is a tall doorway 4 ft. wide and 9 ft. high with a two-centred arched head and chamfered jambs. The S.E. elevation, like that of St. Mary's Lodge, was divided into two bays by a narrow buttress, now mostly gone. There is one badly preserved two-light window and a small arched doorway with wave-moulded jambs, perhaps reset 14th-century work. From just inside the doorway a staircase ascends within the thickness of the wall; this stair has an arched stone roof like that in St. Mary's Lodge. No indications remain of the internal arrangements, but two stone corbels on the S.E. side mark the original first-floor level.
The N. aisle wall of St. Olave's church probably incorporates masonry of the precinct wall of 1266. This is visible internally below the window sills, but the exterior was refaced in c. 1470. The piece of wall so incorporated is about 30 ft. long.
To the N.E. of the church the circuit of the wall was interrupted by a building 74 ft. long and about 21 ft. wide which lay entirely on the N.W. side of the general line of the precinct wall. This building, which has been identified as the Almonry, probably dates from 1318, and the ground-floor walls of ashlar masonry survive on the S.W., N.W., and N.E., partly built over by a late 18th-century house (No. 29 Marygate). The maximum height of the wall above the pavement of Marygate is 11¼ ft. at the W. corner. It has a high chamfered plinth, interrupted on the S.W. by a doorway 3 ft. wide and 6¾ ft. high with a corbelled head. This doorway was defended by a portcullis, for which the wide slot remains, with rebates for a door behind; it is now blocked. The N.E. wall has a similar door, not so well preserved, visible in a cupboard opening off a ground-floor room in No. 29 Marygate. The N.W. wall has four tall narrow openings, each 6 ins. wide and now blocked with brick. In the corner of the S.W. wall against the church is a blocked window of two lights with cinque-foiled heads; though 14th-century, it is a later insertion into the wall of 1318 but antedates the aisle wall of the church, which is splayed back to clear it. The interior of this building has been largely filled with earth to form a raised garden for No. 29 Marygate, but in the S.W. corner is a chamber where the springers for vaulting ribs are visible, indicating a vault of at least two bays.
The precinct wall of 1266 forms the core of the S.E. ground-floor wall of No. 29 Marygate. From this house it then runs N.E. for a distance of about 250 ft. to Tower C and, after a small change of alignment, continues for a further 200 ft. to St. Mary's Tower.
The part of the wall up to Tower C has been much restored and only the last 45 ft. remain largely unaltered, with the wall of 1266 standing to a height of 11½ ft. and a crenellated parapet of 1318 superimposed upon it. The rest was extensively restored with new facing stone on the side towards Marygate, especially at the S.W. end, after the demolition of the houses built against it. Parts of the brick walls of these houses still stand on top of the mediaeval wall. The side towards St. Mary's Abbey is divided into three sections by straight joints, signifying rebuilding at various times. The N.E. half, basically the wall of 1266, has buttresses of two stages with weathered offsets and unusually placed here both inside and outside.
Tower C (NG 59945228. Plate 20; Fig. 21, p. 18) is rectangular and open at the back. It was originally higher than the adjacent precinct wall but has now been reduced to a height of 18¾ ft. It had a floor 11 ft. from the ground, supported on an offset, and a roof supported by a second offset 7 ft. 8 ins. higher. The walls are of ashlar masonry in courses generally over 1 ft. high. The four cruciform arrow slits, one each in the N.E. and S.W. walls and two in the N.W. wall, are of the type found elsewhere in the work of 1318; internally they have very widely splayed openings at first-floor level with joggled lintels. Survey drawings of 1952 show that before the restoration of that year the tower was a little higher and that the lowest parts of an upper tier of arrow slits then existed, one in each wall; these must have opened off the roof platform. In the S.W. wall of the tower is a blocked doorway, now visible only from the inside where the opening was 2¾ ft. wide. The outside at this point has been rebuilt in rubble masonry, but there is a tall slit, one side of which is possibly a jamb of the doorway. The precinct wall immediately to the S.W. has been removed for a modern gateway, but at the S. angle of the tower are bonding stones for the crenellated parapet of the wall.
The wall between Tower C and St. Mary's Tower is one of the best preserved parts of the enceinte; in places it has been carefully restored in recent years. It consists of the original 13th-century wall up to a height of 11 ft. with the crenellated parapet added in 1318, although the latter has been destroyed towards the N.E. end. The outer face originally had nine buttresses, not quite regularly spaced but averaging 22 ft. apart; they are now mostly robbed, leaving scars on the wall. Tooling marks are especially well preserved on the masonry of this stretch of wall. On the inner side are five large buttresses, irregularly spaced and not bonded into the wall, which were probably added for stability in the later Middle Ages. One of the wooden shutters has been restored in the fifth embrasure N.N.E. of Tower C.
St. Mary's Tower (Plate 21; Fig. 22, p. 19), at the N. angle of the precinct, was built in c. 1324 as a tall circular tower about 34 ft. in diameter, with thick walls and an octagonal interior of two storeys; the original height was over 30 ft. It is no doubt the new tower which the sacrist Stephen de Austewyk caused to be built. After part destruction in 1644 it was rebuilt, preserving the octagonal interior, but with thinner walls on the outer side, with the result that the reconstructed portion follows an irregular curve. When sketched by Place in c. 1715, the tower had a conical tiled roof resembling the present roof, but with a central finial. Lean-to brick and timber buildings which concealed much of the base of the tower were removed in 1896 and 1920.
The original part consists of the whole S. quadrant facing into the precinct and extends some distance outside the precinct wall towards Bootham. This original quadrant has a chamfered plinth and a doorway on the ground floor 4 ft. 8 ins. wide with a two-centred pointed arch. On the upper floor are two doorways which originally provided access to the wallwalks along the Bootham and Marygate walls. The one opening on the Bootham side has a corbelled head and is placed a little above the level of the wall-walk whence it must have been reached by a short wooden staircase. The other doorway appears to have been at about the same level as the Marygate wall-walk; it has below it an area of rubble masonry which probably replaces a former corbelled support for the timber wall-walk. The latter doorway has been altered at the top, probably from a corbelled head similar to the others which occur in the 14th-century work on the wall, to a straight lintel. The part of the wall facing Bootham has a cruciform arrow slit on the first floor.
The walling of the rebuilt quadrant was clumsily joined to the original work; on the W. the joint is marked by a strip several feet wide of exposed rubble core, and on the E. there is a setback. The masonry, generally of large squared stone, is of varying quality, a difference being most marked on the N.E. side where the lower half of the wall is well built, comparable to the work of 1318, but above is poorly laid; this may perhaps indicate rebuilding in two stages. The new wall is built of reused masonry, some being from the original tower, and incorporates on the ground floor a 15th-century window of two lights with pointed trefoiled heads; the latter probably comes from elsewhere in the abbey. On the first floor are three windows facing N.; each one has a single mullion and transom with ovolo mouldings; these are reused dressings from a large bay window in the outer S.W. range of the King's Manor built in c. 1610–20 by the Lord President, Lord Sheffield, which was also ruined during the siege of 1644. A short length of fluted frieze and some of the masonry too is from the same source, all, including the windows, being cut to a sharper curve than that of the wall of the tower. Facing N. is a partly restored 17th-century doorway with a four-centred arch with key-block also perhaps from the King's Manor.
Inside, the octagonal room on the ground floor has in the S. wall the original doorway with a two-centred pointed rear arch. The wall in which the doorway is set and the two adjoining walls are of ashlar stone and original. Two other sides are partly of stone faced with 17th-century brickwork, and the rest, wholly rebuilt in the 17th century, are entirely faced with brick. Access to the first floor is by a 19th-century cast-iron newel stair.
The first floor, like the ground floor, has three original walls of stone on the S. and three 17th-century walls faced internally with brickwork on the N., the other sides being partly of each period. In each of the original walls is a wide recess, and the junctions with the rebuilt work show in straight joints which are the reveals of two other recesses. Each of the eight sides in the original tower probably had such a recess. Of the three which survive, two lead to the doorways giving access to the wall-walks: the one to the Marygate side has a depressed pointed arch; the other to Bootham was higher, but the arch is now destroyed and only the springing survives. Leading from the second recess is a stone staircase rising within the wall thickness, originally to the parapet walk of the tower. The third recess has an arrow slit opening from it and contains a garderobe in one corner; the chute downwards is blocked, but there is an upward continuation in the wall thickness which must have been for another garderobe on the parapet walk. This third recess also lacks its original arch. The three 17th-century windows in the N. side of the tower have stone frames, but the reveals and sills are of brick. The roof construction is of the 19th century.
The precinct wall continues parallel to Bootham from St. Mary's Tower to the Postern Tower, a distance of about 435 ft., with a slight change of alignment about 98 ft. S.E. of St. Mary's Tower and with intermediate Towers D and E at distances of 147 ft. and 296 ft. respectively. The whole of this length consists of the wall of 1266 heightened in 1318; Towers D and E are entirely of the later date. Much of the outer side is obscured by 18th- and 19th-century houses and shops, facing Bootham, which have been built up against the wall. One length of 100 ft. including Tower D was exposed in 1914, but otherwise only small parts are visible adjoining St. Mary's Tower and Tower E, uncovered in 1896; the latter tower is still half obscured. In the parts which are exposed the facing is poorly preserved and most of the buttresses have been robbed. The inner face of the wall is visible along the whole of this length. At a point about 120 ft. S.E. of St. Mary's Tower the courses in the 1266 work break bond, indicating perhaps a pause in the building of the wall.
The parapet between St. Mary's Tower and Tower E is unrestored, though damaged; some merlons have gone completely. In four of the merlons there are cruciform arrow slits with widely splayed reveals internally. Several embrasures immediately to the S.E. of Tower E are completely restored; nearer to the Postern Tower they are original but filled in by the rear walls of buildings facing Bootham.
Towers D and E were equal in size and identical on plan, being half-round to the front facing Bootham, semi-octagonal inside and open at the rear and with two short projecting stub walls. They were of two storeys, roofed, with an open crenellated parapet walk. Tower D (NG 60025230. Plate 22) is the less well preserved, although the curved front has been cleared of accretions. There are three cruciform arrow slits at first-floor level, all much damaged, and the parapet and side walls are greatly broken down. Tower E (NG 60065227. Plate 22; Fig. 23, below) stands to its full original height, but the front is partly obscured and only one arrow slit is visible. The interior walls on the ground floor are plain, although each of the stub walls is splayed on the inner angle to a height of 5¼ ft. from the base. At first-floor level is an offset to provide seating for joists. There are three rectangular openings each for an arrow slit with splayed reveals and set in a shallow recess with a double-corbelled head. In the other two sides are doorways; these clearly indicate the former presence of timber wall-walks; they have corbelled heads inside and joggled lintels externally, and the doors opened outwards from the tower. On the outside, just below the doorways, are small patches of brick infilling, probably representing the original sockets for the timbers of the wall-walk. A second offset supported the roof. The parapet wall is much thinner than the walls below and is semicircular on plan internally as well as externally; in it are three plain embrasures, and on one merlon a very eroded pinnacle survives. This last is an unusual feature also occurring at Conway Castle, built in 1283–9.
Postern Tower (Plate 23; Fig. 24, below), built in 1497 together with the adjoining archway, is rectangular, projecting outside the line of the precinct wall. The walls are of brick faced with ashlar. Originally two storeys high, the tower was converted to three storeys, probably in the 17th century, by the insertion of a floor in the upper part. It stands 26¾ ft. high, excluding the hipped tiled roof which is probably of 17th-century origin. The N.W. wall is partly masked by a later building.
The N.E. wall has a moulded plinth, mostly modern restoration, which is continued on the S.E. wall, and a moulded eaves cornice, which is carried all round the tower. On the ground floor is a modern N.E. window of three lights, which replaces an 18th-century bay window shown in views by Price and Cattle of 1805 and by C. Dillon of c. 1840. Above, on the first floor, there was formerly a rectangular window of which no trace remains outside. In the S.E. wall is a doorway, partly restored since at one time it was partly blocked to form a window; it has boldly moulded jambs and a four-centred arched head with sunk spandrels under a moulded label and a four-centred brick rear arch. In the same wall on the first floor is a window with a four-centred head, sunk spandrels, and label, and just below the eaves is a small square window inserted in the 17th century. In the S.W. wall a doorway similar to that on the S.E. but with simpler mouldings has been partly filled in to form a window. Above it are two small rectangular windows, probably original.
The inside has one room on each floor. Access between them is by a narrow newel stair in the W. angle, brick-built, vaulted in brick, and reached through doorways with four-centred brick arches. In the N.W. wall and now only visible from inside the tower are blocked cruciform slits with large oillets at the ends of the arms (Fig. 2, p. xii); they are different in proportion from the loops in the 14th-century wall. They have widely splayed reveals and four-centred rear arches. There is a rear arch, probably for a similar opening, in the N.E. wall at first-floor level. The inserted second floor is reached by a modern timber staircase, and here in the S. corner are signs of an inserted chimney, subsequently removed. Padstones at the head of the walls no doubt supported beams of the original roof.
The Postern of 1497, popularly known as Queen Margaret's Arch, consists of a stone archway 10 ft. 7 ins. high with a segmental head; it is rebated for doors which opened inwards and is flanked internally by buttresses. Between it and the tower is a pedestrian way 7 ft. high with a corbelled head, which was cut through the wall in 1836. The wall above these openings has a parapet with plain embrasures; one merlon is pierced by a slit. To the S.E. of the postern is a short length of the wall of 1266 with later heightening and including the remains of an external buttress. A bronze plaque set up on this wall in 1899 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society perpetuates the misconception that the archway was made in 1503 for the use of Margaret Tudor.
A length of about 60 ft. of the precinct wall, aligned towards the S.W., now forming the boundary to a car park beside No. 6 St. Leonard's Place, begins about 200 ft. S.W. of the Postern. This wall, originally facing the city defences, retains a triangular coping 1¾ ft. high and three characteristic 13th-century buttresses on the outer side. It stands to a height of 7¾ ft. The continuation, deflected S., though also in magnesian limestone, is of 19th-century date. The original line crossed the lane leading to the Museum Gardens beside the King's Manor, and two short fragments of the wall, only one course high, adjoin and are partly overbuilt by the S.E. wall of a wing of the King's Manor built by Lord Sheffield in c. 1610.
The only other fragment of the abbey wall on this side of the precinct is in the Museum Gardens, N. of Lendal Tower. It is about 15 ft. long, 2 ft. 8 ins. thick, and 6 ft. high, although largely obscured by the raised ground surface around it. There are no visible remains of the wall on the river side of the abbey grounds.
Architectural Fragments and Fittings in The Yorkshire Museum. There is a large collection of carved and moulded stonework much of which is the product of the excavations in the Abbey but much of the material has been brought from elsewhere. A MS. catalogue prepared in 1921– 1933 does not give the provenance of all the exhibits and many of the numbers by which they were then identified have been lost. Fragments of the claustral buildings preserved in situ have already been described above. In the descriptions that follow only those stones which are believed to be connected with the Abbey have been included; other sculptures are listed in the Sectional Preface, p. xliv.
(4) Capitals for shafts and responds including (Plates 27a, c, d, 29): two primitive capitals with corner volute treated as faces, 11th-century; scalloped capitals, early 12th-century; water-leaf and sophisticated acanthus capitals, late 12th-century; capital elaborately carved with struggles between men and monsters including an eagle and a fish (Gardner, 93, fig. 158).
(5) Wall arcading of two-centred arches enclosing trefoil tracery under cusped gablets enriched with crockets and finials, and two enriched with naturalistic flowers and foliage (Plate 12). These last are said to have come from the E. cloister walk and may be dated to the last years of the 13th century. Those of more formalised design are probably slightly later.
Coffin Lids: (1) coped, broken, inscribed Alanus d.., 13th-century; (2) coped, broken, inscribed Helis persona, 13th-century; (3) coped, broken, inscribed Thomas, 13th-century; (4) flat, broken, with foliated cross inscribed Ema de Ben ... perhaps for the widow of Adam de Benfield of Morton in Cleveland, a benefactress of the abbey, 13th-century; (5) flat, tapered, inscribed ... dulfus filius Joh.., 13th or 14th-century; (6) flat, shaped, with moulded under-edge, and indents for marginal inscriptions, crocketed canopy and figure with helmet and shield, found in the choir of the abbey over a brick tomb containing the skeleton of a boy, 15th-century.
Floor-slabs: (1) fragments inscribed H... iac..de..., 13th-century; (2) probably of Thomas Spofford, abbot 1405–22, bishop of Hereford 1422–48, died at St. Mary's Abbey 1456; broken and incomplete, retaining parts of marginal inscription '... [Her]eford sacre p(a)gini p(ro)fessor et quonda(m) Abba[s] hui[us] ... cuiu(s) a(n)i(m)e p(ro)pic[ietur] ...' with corner medallion of Lion of St. Mark; within the border representation of bishop in mass vestments, holding crozier and book, the head flanked by two doctor's caps; partly incised, partly in very low relief (Fig. 26. Cp. YPSR for 1902, 75; Antiquaries Journal xviii (1938), 290); (3) large slab to two brothers, William Hewick, magister, and dominus John Hewick, capellanus, with incised cross on octagonal base drawn in perspective; traces of a kneeling figure each side of cross; 15th-century; (4) fragment with black-letter inscription to Frater Thomas, 15th-century; (5–7) three fragments of slabs with incised crosses, mediaeval.
Mortar (Plate 44), of bronze, with two handles of twisted form; body decorated with pattern of quatrefoils containing beasts, between bands at top and bottom; inscribed Mortaria sci Johis Evangell de Infirmaria be Marie Ebor, Fr Wills de Towthorp me fecit AD MCCCVIII.
(1) A series of 13 stone statues (Plates 1, 30–37), about life size, of c. 1200, of which seven were dug up in the S. aisle of the abbey church from under a layer of broken 13th-century window tracery, two were recovered from St. Lawrence's church, one from Clifton Bridge, and two from Cawood (see p. xlii). The post-mediaeval history of the 13th figure is not known. The figures from the S. aisle, when first uncovered, showed considerable remains of colour. Exposure to damp and flood water in the museum has obliterated almost all traces of it. These figures are discussed in the Sectional Preface, p. xlii. Figures:
At the back of each head, where complete, there is a 7 in. shaft to which the head is attached. The backs of nine figures are flat, two are angled as for setting in a re-entrant corner, and one is rounded.
(2) Virgin and Child (Plate 41d). Draped figure of the Virgin, seated, holding the infant Jesus on her lap. Both figures headless; present height 3 ft. 4 in. The back of the group is rough and slightly rounded, presumably to be set into a wall. Similar in style to the thirteen life-size figures described above; recovered from Cawood with two of the figures; c. 1200.
(3) Scenes from the New Testament (Plates 38, 39). Seven voussoirs from an arch of several orders carved with figures representing scenes from the New Testament. The figures, which average 13 in. in height, are carved in a deep hollow moulding; c. 1200.
i. Figure of Christ, broken into three pieces. The middle part of the figure was found c. 1952 built into the base of one of the 13th-century buttresses to the S. nave aisle where it had been used for repairs perhaps after the fire of 1377. The figure has wavy hair and curly beard, and wears a robe held by a belt. The head is inclined forward, facing the front; the right arm is missing. The left hand holds a book.
(5) Priory of St. Andrew, Fishergate, is now represented only by some fragments of stone precinct walling on the N. side of Blue Bridge Lane. The church of St. Andrew is mentioned in Domesday Book; in 1202 it was given by Hugh Murdac, Archdeacon of Cleveland, to the Gilbertine Canons who built a house there (Raine, 299).
(6) Church of St. Hilda, Tang Hall, is modern but contains the following fittings brought from elsewhere: Chairs, 17th-century, two, from church of St. Mary Bishophill Senior, York III (9). Font, c. 1850, and fontcover, 1638, from church of St. John the Evangelist, Micklegate, York III (6). Plate, cup, stand-paten and alms-dish, all 1839, from Archbishop's Palace, Bishopthorpe; cup, cover-paten and salver, made by John Langwith in 1703, from 'the chappel in the Castle in the County of York' and dated 1706. (York II, 81, Pl. 15)
(7) Parish Church of St. Lawrence. The greater part of the mediaeval church (Plate 48) has been demolished, leaving only the W. tower standing. It consisted of a 12th-century aisleless nave with a chancel probably of later date and lit by 14th-century windows. The W. tower (Plate 45) was added in the late 12th century, the two lower storeys being of this date, but the second storey was partly rebuilt and new windows were put in in the 13th century. The top storey was added in the 15th century. The rest of the church was pulled down after the building of a new church in 1881–3 and the old 12th-century N. doorway (Plate 46) was re-erected against the tower.
The lower stages are of coursed rubble, the lower part of the E. wall being part of the W. wall of the earlier nave. A 16th-century window has been inserted in the W. wall cutting across a small 13th-century light. The top storey is of good ashlar with two-light 15th-century windows and a parapet that rises at the corners with open panels surmounted by stone finials. The doorway has a semicircular arch of four orders: the inner order has plain voussoirs springing from moulded imposts over scalloped capitals; the second order has an interlace above two monsters springing from capitals also carved with monsters (Plate 47); the two outer orders are carved with formalised foliage. Behind, a semicircular rear arch springing from chamfered imposts is probably the original tower arch of the late 12th century.
Fittings. Bell in belfry of new church, not hung, inscribed Deo Gloria 1739. Bell-frame in situ, in the old tower, not accessible but partly visible from the ground, of uncertain date. Font, moulded octagonal bowl with brattishing on rim, small foliage and grotesque carvings between mouldings, on octagonal stem with moulded foot, c. 1500. Monuments in churchyard include: (1) to four sons and two daughters of John and Ann Rigg who died in a boating accident, 1830, inscribed tablet framed by pilasters and entablature set against a brick wall and overlooking stone-covered grave surrounded by iron railings, by William A. Plows; (2) to ... Allen, upright stone cylinder, probably early 19th-century; (3) to Elizabeth White, 1783, headstone. Plate: in new church, cup and cover by William Busfield, York 1681; cup and cover by Thomas Mangey, York 1682, with inscription of 1684; paten by Robert Abercromby, London 1738, with inscription recording the gift of Ann Yarburgh 1740; brass alms-dish, with temptation of Adam and Eve, German, 16th-century (Fallow and McCall, 1, 13, 14).
(8) Parish Church of St. Maurice stood at the junction of Monkgate and Lord Mayor's Walk. A mediaeval church dating at least from the late 12th century was taken down in 1875 and a larger structure erected which was in turn demolished in 1967. The following architectural fragments and fittings have been preserved.
Arch (Plate 49) reconstructed probably from S. doorway, now of two orders but incorporating voussoirs of three types, as well as jamb stones reused as voussoirs. Decoration in form of roll mouldings, rosettes and beak-head ornament. Arch springs from capitals carved with foliage and (?) interlace. Third quarter of 12th century. Built into fabric of church of St. James the Deacon, Acomb Moor.
Window (Plate 48), of two round-headed lights, roll-moulded heads and parts of jambs. Lights divided by round shaft attached to rectangular pier. Head pierced by circular hole forming embryonic plate tracery (J. H. Parker, Introduction to Gothic Architecture (1861), 52). Late 12th-century. In Yorkshire Museum.
Fittings. Bells: (1) inscribed Gloria in Altissimis Deus SS 1665; (2) venite exultemus Domino SS Ebor. Now at church of St. Hilda, Grangetown, Teesside. Coffin Lid, carved with raised cross, the head foliated against a plain circular background, 13th-century. At church of St. James the Deacon. Monuments, in churchyard, headstones of 1781 and later. Panelling, reset in 19th-century door, four panels carved with four Evangelists and their symbols, 16th-century. At church of St. James the Deacon. Plate: cup of 1568, cover-paten by John Oliver, York 1684, now in the care of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, York; cup and two patens by Barber and North, York 1842, now at church of St. Thomas, Lowther Street, York (Fallow and McCall, 1, 20, 21; cup of 1568 pl. vi). The present whereabouts of a flagon by Robert and David Hennel, London 1797, is not known.
(9) Parish Church of St. Olave, Marygate (Plates 45, 50), has walls of magnesian limestone ashlar, and roofs covered with tiles and lead. The present church comprises a N. aisle partly of the 15th century, W. tower also of the 15th century, nave and S. aisle of the 18th century, and chancel, vestries etc. added after 1850.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicle records that Siward Earl of Northumbria died in 1055 and was buried 'in the minster at Galmanho which he himself had built and consecrated in the name of God and St. Olaf' (ASC, Text D); St. Olave was Olaf, king of Norway, who was killed in 1030 (see Bruce Dickens, Cult of St. Olaf in the British Isles, Viking Soc. Saga Bk. xii, pt. 2 (1940), 53– 80). The original church must therefore have been built between 1030 and 1055 but of this building nothing remains identifiable today. Symeon of Durham speaks of it as a 'little church' (ecclesiola) which became a noble monastery (SS, li (1868), 94). After the Conquest Alan, Count of Brittany, gave the church to Benedictine monks who came from Whitby and Lastingham. Gifts from William I and William II (EYC, 1, 265) enabled these monks to build themselves a new church which became the great St. Mary's Abbey, the church of St. Olave remaining within the abbey precinct, appropriated to the monastery and serving the people of Bootham and Marygate. The abbey, which had acquired a valuable rectory, maintained that the status of St. Olave was that of a chapel. In 1313 the sacrist, to whose office the revenues of the church were allotted, was ordered to supply fitting furniture for the church and to provide for its other needs (Raine, 264). Further disputes arose in the course of the later 14th century, leading to a decision by the archbishop and confirmed by the pope (Papal Letters 1396–1404, 8) that the parishioners should repair the church. There is however no evidence that any work on the fabric was actually carried out at this time.
The original church was no doubt a rectangular building without aisles but by the end of the 12th century an aisle had been added to the full length of the church on the S. side, corresponding in width to the present S. aisle, and an aisle on the N. side of which the length is uncertain but it was probably also the full length of the church. The outer wall of this N. aisle stood in the position of the present N. arcade. Some of the stonework in the exposed footings of the E. part of the S. wall probably belongs to a late 12th-century wall with shallow pilaster buttresses over which later buttresses of greater projection were built.
In 1458 Roger Stanes left 6s. 8d. for glazing the window over the door (Raine, 266); this probably marks the completion of a new S. aisle. In 1463 Thomas Hornby, rector of Stokesley, left 5 marks towards the fabric of the nave provided that the parishioners would begin it within two years (Testamenta Eboracensia, SS, xxx (1855), cci, 257) but it appears that nothing was done, for in 1466 Archbishop George Neville gave orders for extensive rebuilding of the church (Reg. Geo. Neville, 86b quoted by Raine, 264); parochial status, which had been a subject for dispute with the abbey, was finally granted and the parishioners were ordered to rebuild and repair much of the church but the monks were to rebuild the N. side of the nave after the pattern of the outer wall on the S. side. This instruction reflects the fact that the church was to be widened northwards and the new N. wall was to be an adaptation of the existing precinct wall of the monastery. The N. arcade was moved to the line of the outer wall of the former N. aisle, leaving the tower eccentrically placed. Of the rebuilding that followed, the W. half of the present N. wall represents the precinct wall reconstructed with openings to the aisle; a change of direction in the wall probably indicates the position of a former interval tower in St. Mary's precinct wall. The lower courses of the E. part of the wall show original 13th-century masonry on the inside. The new N. windows were to copy those on the S. side, two of which are now reset to form the two eastern windows in the N. side. The footings of the mediaeval S. wall are now exposed below the present S. wall and extend the whole length of the present nave; the spacing of the former buttresses differs slightly from the present arrangement. The rebuilding of the body of the church including the clerestory was probably complete by 1471 when John Hartyng left 6s. 8d. towards making a Rood (Raine, 266). The rebuilding of the tower followed: in 1478 Robert Plumpton left 40s. towards the tower then being built; further donations for the tower followed in 1483, 1485 and 1487 (Raine, 265). In 1498 Francis Foster left 6s. 8d. for bells, and in 1501 Christopher Johnson left 6s. 8d. for bells recently bought. The S. wall of the tower is of one build with the S. wall of the ruined building immediately W., of which the upper floor probably formed the chapel of St. Mary at the Gate and which must have been rebuilt at the same time.
During the Civil War the church suffered damage when the roof was used as a gun platform (Ward, ii, 218; Hargrove, 11, pt. ii, 598; Benson, iii, 39) and the church was repaired in the reign of Charles ii (Sheahan and Whellan, i, 514). Nevertheless by the opening of the 18th century it became necessary to rebuild most of the church (YML, Hornby MSS., ii, 231) and stone for the work was granted from the ruins of the adjacent abbey (Treasury Papers 1702–7, pt. 1, 134, 297, 358). A drawing of 1705 by James Poole (Bodleian, MS. Tanner 311, f. 170) shows that at this time the nave had a clerestory which was removed in the course of reconstruction. The main work was carried out 1721–2: the S. wall was completely rebuilt; both N. and S. arcades were rebuilt with some re-use of mediaeval stone; and the N. wall was partly reconstructed, with two 15th-century windows reused from the S. aisle in the two E. bays and other 15th-century material reused to give a uniform appearance to the N. side of the church; towards the W. a new doorway was made, and a new square-headed window further W. still. Differences between the two E. columns in each arcade and those to the W. possibly perpetuate a mediaeval feature, and a discontinuity in the roof suggests that the present nave represents a mediaeval nave and chancel, the latter occupying the two E. bays. A W. gallery was inserted in 1832.
The present chancel was added in 1887–9 to the designs of G. Fowler Jones of Stonegate, York. A vestry was added in 1898. In 1907 an organ motor chamber was built to the designs of G. F. Walker over the remains of a vaulted chamber in the almonry to N.E., and in 1908 the vestry was converted to a S. chapel, a new N. vestry was added and the chancel was enlarged, all to the designs of Francis Doyle of Liverpool. At the same time the W. gallery was removed and the W. pier of each arcade was rebuilt.
Architectural Description. The Nave (80 ft. by 21 ft.) is of 5½ bays. The chancel arch is modern. The N. and S. arcades have two-centred arches of two chamfered orders. The two E. piers in each arcade are octagonal with octagonal bases and capitals, and there are semi-octagonal responds to match; to the W. three columns in each arcade are circular with circular capitals under abaci alternately square and octagonal. The two W. piers have been rebuilt with modern stonework. Some of the other piers include reused mediaeval masonry, but the capitals and bases are all of the early 18th century with quasiclassical mouldings. The tower arch, in the S. part of the W. wall, is two-centred, with three chamfered orders to the E. and two to the W., springing from hollow-moulded imposts above simple splayed jambs. N. of the tower arch is a vertical straight joint marking the N. corner of the tower structure.
The North Aisle (8 ft.-9 ft. wide) has an E. wall which is modern above a 15th-century base and contains a modern opening to the organ chamber. The lower part of the N. wall is part of the 13th-century precinct wall of the abbey and is built in two lengths meeting at a slight angle between the second and third windows; this junction may perhaps represent the position of a mural tower, removed in the 15th century, since it comes at a distance from Tower B equal to the distance between Towers A and B on St. Mary's precinct wall. On the outside a moulded plinth of the 15th century has been added and between the bays are 15th-century buttresses rising to gargoyles and crocketed pinnacles. In the two E. bays are mid 15th-century windows each of three lights with hollow-chamfered jambs and vertical tracery in a four-centred head; in the third and fourth bays are windows of slightly later date which are generally similar to the first two but show slight variations in detail, having three-centred heads and larger foils in the tracery. In the fifth bay is an 18th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head. Further W. is a window of two lights with a square head. The sixth buttress is further W. than the W. end of the aisle, opposite the middle of the tower. The W. wall of the aisle is of plain masonry aligning with the W. wall of the nave but not of the same build.
The South Aisle (9½ ft.–7¾ ft. wide) was rebuilt in the 18th century with re-use of mediaeval masonry and a decorative fragment of early 17th-century work from the King's Manor. In the E. wall is a modern opening to the N.E. chapel. The S. wall stands above the footings of an earlier and thicker wall with buttresses laid out at a spacing different from the present arrangement. In the first three bays from the E. are 18th-century windows each of three lights with hollow-chamfered jambs and vertical tracery in a three-centred head. The tracery and mullions in the second and third windows are entirely modern. The fourth window has three cinque-foiled lights and a four-centred head with no tracery. The doorway has chamfered jambs and a two-centred head. The westernmost window has two cinque-foiled lights and a square head. The W. end includes the tower staircase.
The West Tower (10½ ft. by 8½ ft.) has a projection for a staircase on the S. side and another projection, further W., of irregular rubble masonry, which may represent a buttress of a 12th-century tower. The lower part of the tower, which is open to the nave, was originally divided into two storeys by a floor which has been removed. The upper room so formed must have served as a vestry for the chapel of St. Mary at the Gate which adjoined to W. It was reached by an external stair leading to a doorway, now blocked, in the S. wall and from it another doorway in the W. wall, also blocked, led into the chapel. In the W. wall of the tower, in the W. face, is a tall arched recess (Plate 14) which may have accommodated the altar of the chapel, with the doorway to the vestry beside it. On the inside of the S. wall of the tower is a recess, rebuilt in the lower part, which was probably a cupboard to contain the banners and the dragon (representing the devil) which were carried by the monks in the Rogationtide processions; these processions started after a mass in the chapel (Ord. 319). In the N. wall, above the modern vestry, two projecting stone corbels suggest that there may once have been a higher roof built up against the tower on this side. In the W. wall, above the arched recess, is a window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head, and above again a small rectangular light. At a corresponding level in the E. wall is a small doorway which formerly gave access to the nave roof, before the removal of the clerestorey. The top stage of the tower, above a weathered string-course, was rebuilt in the 18th century with an original 15th-century window reused in each face; these windows have four-centred heads and labels but no mullions or tracery. The West Vestry is a modern structure; its E. wall is formed by the W. wall of the nave and N. aisle and has a 15th-century string-course. The N. wall retains 13th-century masonry of the precinct wall in the lower part and some 15th-century walling with a moulded string-course above, but much of the upper part of the wall is modern.
Fittings—Bells: six, all bearing the maker's name 'Dalton maker York' and dated 1789, inscribed (1) With cheerful voice O Lord I'll sing to thee, (2) Have faith in Christ and live eternally, (3) We call, Come ye watch and pray, (4) In praise to God loudly we unite Halleluiah, (5) In concert I'll Jehovah's name resound, (6) To Father Son and Holy G'st eternal glory raise. William Dade, vicar. William Bayldon Christopher Bearpark William Cuthbert Richard Wood, churchwardens.
Benefactors' Tables: in N. aisle (1) framed by clustered columns at the sides and moulded arched head, recording benefactions from 1766 to 1871, early 19th-century, repainted; in S. aisle (2) in moulded frame with arched head recording benefactions from 1607 to 1740, 18th-century. Coffin Lid, in Yorkshire Museum, two fragments with cross bar of cross and top of panels below carved with interlace finishing in beasts' heads; found in excavations in front of the Museum and almost certainly from St. Olave's church; c. 1060 (Plate 25d; see Preface, p. xlvi). Communion Table, with turned legs, rails enriched with arabesques, superimposed modern top, 17th-century. Doors: in N. doorway (1) with arched head, plain panels externally, with original furniture, 18th-century; in S. doorway (2) with arched head, panelled both sides, with original furniture, 18th-century. Font, disused in churchyard, moulded octagonal bowl on octagonal stem with narrow waist, 15th-century very weather-worn. Glass in E. window, main lights contain fragments assembled to form five figures with heads representing a king (St. Olaf?) and saints. In tracery, in centre lights, the Annunciation, incomplete, and above, two kneeling figures, one with scroll inscribed Ave Maria, 15th-century. Images: in S. aisle at E. end, (1) Crucifixion in low relief; Christ crucified between two small figures holding scrolls, stone, badly worn, 15th-century; (2) Madonna and Child, marble, 18th-century Spanish.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. aisle (1) to David Russell, 1840; (2) to Sarah Eyre, 1825, wall monument with sarcophagus and urn, shield-of-arms below; (3) to Rev. Thomas Cripps, 1794, with sarcophagus, cross, and shield-of-arms; (4) to William Cattell, 1830, Sarah Cattell his wife, 1842; (5) to David Poole, 1830, and two daughters, with sarcophagus, by M. Taylor, York. In S. aisle (6) to Charles Christopher Richard Hacket, 1849; (7) to George Hutchinson of Reeth, 1775, and Elizabeth his mother, 1774, erected by Walter Gray, with Adamesque urn (Plate 51), probably from the same workshop as (8) below; (8) to Alathea Jordan, 1741, Col. John Jordan her husband, 1756, and Anne Maria Alathea, their daughter, widow of James Maude, 1778, by whose will the monument was erected, with Adamesque urn, by Fishers (Plate 51); (9) to Frances Worsley, 1837; (10) to Michael Loftus, 1762, with shield-of-arms; (11) to John Roper, 1826, and Sarah his widow, 1835, with sarcophagus; (12) to George Stephenson, 1800, with draped urn; (13) to William Thornton, joyner and architect, 1721, and Robert his son, 1724 (Plate 51). In churchyard, S. of church, headstones include (14) to Sarah wife of John Wolstenholme, carver, 1834; (15) to Thomas Wolstenholme, sculptor, 1812; (16) to Francis Wolstenholme, carver, 1833; (17) to George Wolstenholme, 1822; by N. door of abbey church (18) table tomb to William Etty, R.A., 1849.
Floor-slabs: In nave (1) to Mrs. Anna Burgess, 1792, and John her husband, 1795; (2) to Robert son of William Thornton (architect), 1724; (3) to the Rev. Thomas Mosley, early 19th-century; (4) to Elizabeth Mosley, 1787; (5) to Capt. Isaac Moorsom, 1779; (6) to Rebecca widow of James Legard, 1783; (7) to Anne Mosley, 1782; (8) to Anthony Thorpe, 1830; (9) to Frances wife of the Rev. Lamplugh Hird, prebendary of York cathedral. In N. aisle (10) to Lt. David Naylor (1831). In Yorkshire Museum (11) two fragments found reused in St. Mary's Abbey but almost certainly from Earl Siward's church of St. Olaf and perhaps from Siward's own grave, carved with a monster with barbed tongue and spiral wing, mid 11th-century.
Niche, externally over N. doorway, with vaulted head, pinnacles and crockets, 15th-century reset, probably from Abbey gateway and now containing modern statue. Plate includes cup with 17th-century bowl mounted on earlier stem and flat sexfoil foot, 15th- or early 16th-century, cup of 1633 by Thomas Harrington, flagon of 1703 and stand-paten of 1715, both by Seth Lofthouse, paten of 1767 by Butty and Dumée, and a brass alms-dish embossed with St. George and the Dragon and, on the rim, remains of inscription recording gift to church in 1707, almost completely obliterated. Royal Arms, in N. aisle, of Henry Prince of Wales, died 1612, stone shield held by a lion, repainted (Plate 51). Stoup, in N. jamb of N. doorway, round bowl reached from doorway and from aisle, mediaeval reset.
Miscellanea: under chancel arch, part of base of stone screen (Plate 52) having, above a base mould and between miniature buttresses, quatrefoil panels carved in relief with figures of angels playing musical instruments; 14th-century, found in excavating for the organ chamber.
(10) Cemetery, with chapel 280 yds. S. of Walmgate Bar, and lodge to W., was opened in 1837 by the York Public Cemetery Company. The chapel (Plate 83) is built of Roche Abbey stone and was designed by J. P. Pritchett; the lodge was presumably by the same architect (New Guide (1838), 149; York Courant, 4 Jan. 1838). The cemetery originally comprised some 8 acres but was subsequently increased to 30 acres. The chapel is a pleasant example of the Greek Revival style, but in 1972 was standing derelict.
The Chapel is aligned on an E.-W. axis with a tetrastyle Ionic portico on the N. side. The entablature is continued all round the building. The E. and W. ends are each divided into three bays by Ionic half columns between pilasters under a pediment. On the S. is a small entrance porch over a flight of steps down to the basement. Windows on E., S. and W. sides have battered sides, and are enclosed by eared architraves.
The inside of the chapel is divided into seven bays in length and three in width by wooden pilasters, painted to simulate marble, above a boarded dado. Above an entablature with cornice, the ceiling is divided into 21 square compartments; two cast-iron ceiling roses served as ventilators and points of suspension for the former gas lights. The chapel was at one time divided into two parts, one for the Church of England and one for Nonconformists, but no trace of this division survives. Below the chapel is a brick-vaulted basement with compartments for burials.
The Lodge is a simple two-storeyed structure, faced with ashlar, and T-shaped on plan. The two ends of the main range are each divided into three bays by simple pilasters, and the entablature above is continued all round the building; the gable ends are treated as pediments. A single-storey addition on the N. side replaces an original tetrastyle portico (New Guide, 151) and the S. wing has been lengthened.
Gates and Railings. The entrance, on the W. from Cemetery Road, has iron gates hung to stone piers with honeysuckle and Greek fret ornament; it is flanked by lengths of railing terminated by large stone piers, that at the N. end surmounted by a stone sarcophagus (Plate 81), that at the S. end by a sphinx.