An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 5, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1981.
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This Inventory completes the Commission's survey of the City of York except for the Minster, but it does not exhaust the examination of the physical remains of York's past, for the York Archaeological Trust will continue to explore its buried features by excavation.
The City of York retains as much of its mediaeval form as any town in England. In the Inventory the history of each street is summarised but no detailed history of the development of the city has been attempted since this is now being studied by the British Committee of Historic Towns and will be published by them in due course. We hope to see the stained glass, in which York churches are so rich, published in greater detail by the Corpus Vitrearum. For this and future surveys we have adopted their system of numbering windows and panels in the description of the stained glass. This system is explained in the relevant sectional preface (pp. liii, liv).
When the Commission's staff first came to York much of the city was in a very run-down condition, but while our investigations have been in progress repairs, rebuilding and conservation have gone forward rapidly. It has been our policy to take every opportunity to investigate buildings before and during repair or demolition. Much of the information now published in this Inventory has been used in furthering the conservation programme, and much of the detail described, which was recorded when buildings were stripped down to their bare structures, is no longer visible. The extent of the mediaeval remains discovered has exceeded expectations, but alterations and adaptations over the centuries have left disappointingly little evidence of the purpose and method of use of the older domestic and commercial buildings. Much of the property in the historic centre of the city has been owned by the Dean and Chapter and the Vicars Choral, and though the documentation for their property is extensive it throws little light upon the dating and interpretation of the buildings. It is unfortunate that the houses which are most clearly identified in these sources and most thoroughly documented there are those which were demolished in the course of road improvements in the 19th century.
Other sources of documentation are extensive, and I should like to endorse the appreciation expressed by the Commissioners in their Report of the help that has been afforded to our staff by the custodians of documents of all kinds. Especially remarkable among those records is the collection of drawings in the possession of Messrs. Brierley, Leckenby, Keighley and Groom, who carry on the architectural practice established by John Carr in the 18th century; these have been made freely available for study by our staff. Special thanks are due to Mr. C. B. L. Barr, York Minster Sub-Librarian, for making available the results of his researches into the early history of St. William's College, as yet unpublished.
In spite of all the help that has been given to our staff and the care with which my fellow Commissioners have checked this Inventory there will doubtless be errors in it; corrections sent to the Secretary of the Commission will be welcomed.
I would draw attention to the fact that the record cards may be consulted by accredited persons who give written notice of their intention to the Secretary of the Commission. Copies of photographs may be bought on application to the National Monuments Record.