A History of the County of York: the City of York. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1961.
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THE CASTEL AND THE OLD BAILE
In 1068 William the Conqueror built a castle in York and in 1069 a second one on the opposite side of the Ouse. Both were destroyed in September 1069 by the English and Danish armies and both were rebuilt before the end of the year. (fn. 1) The more westerly of these constructions came to be called the 'Old Baile', the more easterly is the core of the present York castle.
That castle consisted originally of a motte, on the site of the present Clifford's Tower, (fn. 2) a keep upon the motte, apparently of wood, (fn. 3) and a wooden palisade bounding the castle yard. (fn. 4) The keep was burned in the anti-Jewish riots of 1190, (fn. 5) but was rebuilt, again apparently in wood, upon an enlarged motte in 1190-1. (fn. 6) It seems to have been blown down in a gale in 1228 (fn. 7) and not to have been rebuilt for some time. In 1245, after Henry III had viewed the site in the preceding year, (fn. 8) orders were given for its reconstruction in wood and stone. The work proceeded slowly, with several hitches, but seems to have been complete by 1270. (fn. 9)
After this time, the castle does not seem to have been added to in any significant way until the 1660's. (fn. 10) In the 14th century its area was roughly oblong, the longer side pointing north-east, and was enclosed within a wall, with at least five angletowers. (fn. 11) These towers seem to date from at least 1250. (fn. 12) On the side of the yard facing Clifford's Tower the old wooden palisade was retained and not replaced by a wall of stone. (fn. 13) The great gate, with a building above it, stood on the south and was approached by a drawbridge. (fn. 14) The keep, called since 1596 Clifford's Tower, (fn. 15) stood to the west of the castle yard. It was surrounded by a wooden palisade, and was connected with the rest of the castle by a stone bridge. (fn. 16) A second gate, with a bridge, stood at the north angle of the walls at the end of Castlegate, and formed the approach to the castle from the city. (fn. 17) There were 'great' and 'little' halls (fn. 18) and a kitchen. (fn. 19) Clifford's Tower contained a chapel, built between 1245-6 and 1257-8, and, from the earlier year, (fn. 20) served by a chaplain. By 1361-2 it was being put to secular uses. (fn. 21) Another chapel, called on one occasion the great chapel, adjoined the little hall. (fn. 22) The whole castle area, i.e. the yard and Clifford's Tower, was surrounded by a moat and wet ditch.
The buildings seem to have been kept in repair until their partial destruction, or at least radical alteration, by Richard III. (fn. 23) Before 1316 and in that year an excess of flood water from the Ouse and Foss entered the moat and caused the curtain wall to collapse. Orders were given to repair the foundations, provided that the work could be done without taking down the wall. (fn. 24) In 1360 Clifford's Tower, cracked from top to bottom, was repaired, (fn. 25) but not so thoroughly as to close the fissure, for that fissure is still plainly visible.
Like many other castles, York castle was put to a variety of uses during the Middle Ages. Primarily, of course, it was a fortress, though it never stood a siege or came otherwise into the battleline. In early times its defence had depended, in part at least, upon a group of tenants-in-serjeanty, who held lands in Yorkshire inter alia by finding crossbowmen to serve 40 days a year at their own cost when there was war. It is possible to distinguish four such tenants, all holding lands in the East Riding: two in Givendale; one in Yapham, Waplington (both in Pocklington), and Barmby on the Moor; and one in Octon (in Thwing) and North Dalton. The first three make their first appearance in 121012, (fn. 26) the fourth in 1231. (fn. 27) In the latter year and in 1256 (fn. 28) the crossbowmen were said to owe their wartime service throughout the whole year, but any service beyond the initial 40 days was to be at the king's cost. This qualification is not afterwards mentioned, though references to the 40 days' unpaid service occur in inquisitions and writs of livery until 1404. (fn. 29) The extent to which the service was (if at all) actually performed is unknown. From 1210-12 the custody of the castle gate was also a serjeanty exercised in return for lands in Low Hutton (N.R.) and York. (fn. 30) The gate was destroyed in or after 1228 (fn. 31) and in 1237 one Doget or John Doget, then porterin-fee, was given the 'king's hall' in compensation. (fn. 32) The serjeanty was revived in 1263 (fn. 33) and finally suppressed in 1269. (fn. 34) It is hard to say whether at this early date the duties were primarily military or administrative.
For the defence of the castle in later times the evidence is sketchy. Soldiers were stationed there in 1257-8. (fn. 35) A keeper of the king's arms was in residence in 1317, (fn. 36) and a keeper of his tents in 1317 (fn. 37) and 1318. (fn. 38) In the former year a garrison of 40 foot soldiers was introduced, (fn. 39) and orders to victual or garrison the castle were issued in 1318, (fn. 40) 1319, (fn. 41) 1322, (fn. 42) and 1326. (fn. 43) By 1360 the castle entirely lacked both victuals and munitions. (fn. 44) After that time there are no further notices of victualling or munitioning until 1487 when there was talk of bringing artillery into the castle from Scarborough. (fn. 45) Probably in the later 14th century the castle was too full of the king's civilian ministers to make it a fitting place for a garrison.
As has already been shown, York was repeatedly used until the later 14th century as a centre of government while the king was campaigning against the Scots; (fn. 46) the central courts moved to York so that they and the king's treasure might be near the king, and the castle was pressed into service as a place for housing them. There were six periods during which the two benches and the Exchequer were in York, though the three courts did not always remain together throughout the whole of them: 1298-1304, 1319-20, 1322-3, 1327-8, 1333-7, and 1392. In addition, the King's Bench, peripatetic throughout England at this time, paid visits in 1318, 1332, 1340, 1343-4, 1348-9, 1362, and 1393. (fn. 47) Rooms in the castle were first set aside for the Exchequer and Common Pleas in 1298. (fn. 48) The Receipt of the Exchequer was housed in Clifford's Tower, and in 1361-2 occupied the chapel there. (fn. 49) Whether the King's Bench also sat in the castle from the beginning has not been established, but it is tolerably certain that it did so from 1319, whenever it was in York. (fn. 50) Judging from the terms used in documents of the later 14th century the Common Pleas sat in the great hall of the castle and the King's Bench and Exchequer in the little hall. (fn. 51)
It was not merely judges, clerks, and suitors whom the king's presence in the north attracted. In 1327 Queen Isabel and her younger children moved to the castle, (fn. 52) and in 1333 Queen Philippa. (fn. 53) The northern wars, too, required the presence of the mint. In 1353 orders were issued to repair and if necessary to refashion the buildings in the castle used by the moneyers, (fn. 54) a phrase that suggests that the royal mint at York had been seated in the castle before. (fn. 55) How long the castle mint remained active after 1363 has not been established; by 1423 at all events the buildings were ruinous; but in that year and the next new buildings, including a treasury and melting-house, were constructed. (fn. 56) In 1546 the mint was moved to the buildings of the dissolved Hospital of St. Leonard and the link between mint and castle was severed. (fn. 57)
The castle was also the place of meeting for circuit and local courts. Presumably the castle gaol was always delivered in the castle yard. The county court of Yorkshire was being held there in 1212 and perhaps some house within the precinct had long been its meeting place. (fn. 58) From the reign of Henry I the custody of this house was a serjeanty held by the Malesoure family, who seem to have been responsible for finding the benches and making other preliminary arrangements for the court. (fn. 59) At first they seem to have been rewarded with a livery of 5d. daily from the farm of the county, but this was perhaps later converted into property in the city. At any rate, early in the 13th century, perhaps under duress during the conflict between King John and his barons, William Malesoure sold his interest to William Fairfax. This transaction led to the confiscation of the serjeanty: the property annexed to it was granted to the Friars Preachers in 1236 and William Malesoure was pensioned off with 3d. daily from the city farm for his life. (fn. 60) By 1360 the halls and chapel that had once been used by the King's Bench (i.e. the little hall) had become the meetingplaces of assize and county courts. (fn. 61) The justices of the peace were sitting in the castle in 1392, (fn. 62) and the county court still sat there in 1449. (fn. 63) By 1446 we begin to hear of 'le Motehall'—a new name for the great hall of the castle. (fn. 64) Thus it seems that the local courts moved from the little hall to the great in the 90 years or so after 1360.
Besides these court rooms the castle also housed the sheriff's offices. In Richard II's time these included an under-sheriff's chamber and an exchequer of receipt, distinct from the receipt of the king's exchequer. (fn. 65) The 'checker', presumably a shrieval establishment, was under repair in 1446. (fn. 66) References in 1274 (fn. 67) and 1332 (fn. 68) to bailiffs, and in obviously acting as the sheriff's bailiffs, and in 1372-3 to the receiver of the king's writs in the castle, (fn. 69) obviously the sheriff's returner of writs, show that it was in or from the castle that those officers exercised their functions.
Of all the local institutions that the castle sheltered the gaol is the one with the longest and most continuous history. A gaol in York is first mentioned in 1165-6, (fn. 70) the year of the Assize of Clarendon, and in 1182-3 the large sum of £17 11s. 4d. was allowed for its repair. (fn. 71) In 1204-5 it was said to be within the castle; (fn. 72) doubtless it had stood there from the outset. Further repairs were not infrequent, in 1248 another large sum (£14 2s.) being devoted to them. (fn. 73) In 1238-9 a wooden building was set up in front of it. (fn. 74) Perhaps this had something to do with a separate gaol for women which in 1237 John Piper, parson or chaplain of Middleham (N.R.), had had leave to build at his own cost beside the existing gaol and infra muros qui circuunt gaolam nostram. (fn. 75) At all events a new gaol of some kind, with a chapel above it, was duly built by Piper at the time, (fn. 76) but it seems to have been destroyed by 1246, in consequence of the king's works proceeding elsewhere in the castle, (fn. 77) and disappears from view. Look throughout England where we may, we cannot elsewhere find so early a reference to a prison for women. (fn. 78)
The gaol, much decayed, was mended again in 1323. (fn. 79) Its defective state was reinvestigated in 1348 (fn. 80) and 1360. (fn. 81) On the second of these occasions it was stated that the Foss and Ouse had weakened the foundations, and flooded the underground prison (puteus) so that it was useless for the custody of felons. The rebuilding of the prison on a new site was recommended in the interests of economy. The sheriff does not seem to have adopted this suggestion, but to have compromised, for in 1377 he caused one part, the magna domus gaole, to be pulled down and rebuilt, and the rest, containing the gaoler's quarters, merely to be mended. The reconstructed portion was in so precarious a state that the lives of the prisoners were endangered. (fn. 82) The building was again under repair between 1404 and 1407 (fn. 83) after an unfavourable report in 1400. (fn. 84)
Apart from felons and misdemeanants the building was used for prisoners of greater distinction and for prisoners of war. Such were the Irishmen taken as hostages after King John's Irish wars, (fn. 85) and the ten Welshmen similarly held in 1295 after the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn, (fn. 86) the Templars from the northern preceptories, after the dissolution of the order in 1309-10, (fn. 87) rebels taken after the 'discomfiture' of Burton-upon-Trent and Boroughbridge in 1322, (fn. 88) and hostages from Scotland in 1351. (fn. 89) Among distinguished individual prisoners in the 14th century may be mentioned Malise, Earl of Strathearn, who was moved from Rochester to York castle in 1307, (fn. 90) where he remained with his wife and retinue until 1308. Bishop Walter Langton was there imprisoned in 1311, (fn. 91) and John Randolph, Earl of Moray, in 1340. (fn. 92) The total gaol population is said to have been about 80 in 1289 and 310 in 1293. (fn. 93)
The administration of the castle normally rested with the sheriff. In very early times, however, there are references to constables distinct from him. William FitzOsbern was put in charge of one castle or the other in 1069; (fn. 94) Robert FitzRichard, described as custos, was killed in the same year; (fn. 95) and William de Badlesmere, constable, appears as witness to a deed executed between 1187 and 1207. (fn. 96) Efforts made by William de Mowbray in 1215 to establish an hereditary claim to the custody were of no permanent avail. (fn. 97) Robert de Kirkeby, never sheriff, was constable in 1249 (fn. 98) and by March 1264 John d'Eyvill, a supporter of de Montfort, had wrested the castle from Robert de Nevill (fn. 99) to whom as sheriff the king had twice committed it in the previous year. (fn. 100) It was formally restored to Nevill in April, (fn. 101) but was in the effective custody of the mayor and citizens who were ordered at the same time to hand it over. (fn. 102) In June there was again a constable distinct from the sheriff, (fn. 103) but by August a 'baronial' sheriff had been appointed and Nevill, once again in charge de facto, was repeatedly ordered to hand it over to him. (fn. 104) These were exceptional arrangements dictated by civil war or disturbance. After this time there are no more separate constables (fn. 105) until in 1447 Henry VI granted Sir Robert Ughtred, then sheriff, the constableship for life. (fn. 106) Ughtred was succeeded in 1478 by Sir Robert Ryther, who, like Ughtred, was already sheriff, and who received, like him, a life grant. (fn. 107) Both Richard III and Henry VII reissued these grants in Ryther's favour. (fn. 108) This separation of the constableship of the chief castle in a county from the shrievalty was not peculiar to York. It had, for example, occurred at Salisbury half a century earlier. (fn. 109) But, in York at least, the practice ended in Henry VII's reign. Indeed from the 16th century until the Civil War there was little beyond the gaol of which custody could be taken.
In early times the gaol was presumably in the effective, as it was in the nominal, custody of the sheriff. From 1225-6, however, until at least 1260-1 two paid gaolers were commonly maintained at rates varying from 1d. to ½d. a day. (fn. 110) When Henry le Esqueler was granted the portership in 1280 it was stipulated that he should have the gaolership as well, if it belonged to that bailiwick. (fn. 111) It seems that it was not held to do so. At any rate the gaolership was still in the sheriff's gift, in or before 1304. (fn. 112) In 1339 the practice began of appointing royal servants to the gaolership by patent, normally for life. (fn. 113) This lasted until 1488. (fn. 114) In 1391 the portership or custody of the castle gate began to be linked with the gaolership. (fn. 115) As has been shown, the serjeanty of being porter had been suppressed in 1269, (fn. 116) but a porter is recorded in 1274, (fn. 117) and in the earlier 14th century the sheriff had commonly craved allowance for his wages. (fn. 118) From 1391 until 1468 (fn. 119) the office was with but one exception held for life by the same man either under the same or two separate patents. Of the seven gaolers appointed between 1468 and 1488 three, including the last, were porters as well, and there was one porter who was not a gaoler. After that the portership disappears. In 1377 (fn. 120) and on four subsequent occasions the power of deputation, sometimes irregularly exercised before, was expressly attached to the gaolership. Gaolers were as fully responsible for the safety of their prisoners as any sheriff. Accusations brought against one of them in 1388 (fn. 121) for negligence and oppression recall those so often laid against the sheriff. Moreover the gaoler appointed in 1431 (fn. 122) had by 1439 (fn. 123) repaired the gaol at his own cost. He was still held responsible for doing so in 1446, (fn. 124) when he secured a new patent inhibiting the sheriff from bailing prisoners and so depriving the gaoler of his fees.
Apart from clerks of the works, the only other castle official deserving mention is a watchman, who was maintained by the sheriff between 1333 (fn. 125) and 1337. (fn. 126) It was no doubt his duty to guard the property of the central courts of law.
The whole history of the castle was transformed after Richard III so dismantled it as to make it indefensible. (fn. 127) In spite of a plea from the city, made to Henry VII in 1487, it was not rebuilt. When Leland visited it, its five towers and 'arx' were all ruinous. (fn. 128) Suggestions made in 1534 that it should be rebuilt to house the Council in the North (fn. 129) were not adopted, though it is known that the council sometimes sat there. But small amounts continued to be spent out of the issues of Yorkshire on the gaol, to which repairs were executed between 1542 and 1546; (fn. 130) and between 1579 and 1584 the county justices collected a substantial sum to be spent on other castle buildings—the gate-house, the bridge, and the Moot Hall. Indeed the last of these seems to have been rebuilt. (fn. 131)
In 1596 Robert Redhead, the gaoler, began to pull down Clifford's Tower, intending to burn most of the masonry for lime. The corporation petitioned Burghley and Fortescue, as Lord Treasurer and Chancellor of the Exchequer, for its preservation. They represented it as an especial ornament for the beautifying of this city', and were so far successful that the spoliation was stayed. By that time, however, the bridge connecting the tower with the castle yard, and an outwork had been demolished. (fn. 132) Their efforts must represent one of the earliest attempts in English history to preserve an ancient monument as an amenity. In 1614 the Crown granted the tower to Edmund Duffield and John Babington who next year conveyed it to Francis Darley, upon whose death it passed to his daughter Edith, wife of Robert Moore, a Hull merchant. (fn. 133)
The Act of 1504 concerning escapes had restored to the sheriffs throughout England the custody of common gaols and voided all patents to the contrary. (fn. 134) Accordingly after the appointment made in 1488 there were no more grants of the gaolership by letters patent for some time to come. But the practice of rewarding old retainers of the Crown in this way was revived in 1541 (fn. 135) and upheld against the Sheriff of Yorkshire despite protests made by him or on his behalf in 1549, (fn. 136) 1578, (fn. 137) and 1624. (fn. 138) Until 1613 (fn. 139) the grants, so far as is known, were always for life, and until the end of the 16th century comprised the herbage of the castle. The keepers appointed in 1559 and c. 1596 were granted the right to take custody of persons committed to prison by the Council in the North. (fn. 140) Redhead, however, alleged in 1596 that the council made a habit of consigning them to an extraordinary pursuivant, so that the gaol was 'pestered almost with none but a company of poor people and persons condemned', and its keeper deprived of a lucrative profit. (fn. 141) The sheriff seems to have regained the right to appoint the gaoler during the Interregnum. (fn. 142) The Crown reversed this in 1661 (fn. 143) but the reversal was not lasting, and thereafter, so far as can be judged, the sheriff appointed until 1805. (fn. 144) From 1805, until the prison was taken over by the Prison Commission, the sheriff and the magistrates each appointed twice. (fn. 145)
The Civil War saw Clifford's Tower brought back again to a defensive purpose. In 1643 Lord Cumberland, Governor of York, ordered it to be repaired and a new square building to be erected against it on the side next the castle yard. (fn. 146) On that side, moreover, the moat was deepened and a drawbridge built across it. Upon a new platform on the summit, cannon were mounted (see plate facing p. 161). (fn. 147) Sir Francis Cobb, governor of the tower, garrisoned it for the king during the siege of York in 1644. (fn. 148) The tower, damaged in the bombardment, (fn. 149) fell into the hands of the Parliamentarians, together with the city itself, (fn. 150) and in 1647 Thomas Dickinson, a York alderman and lord mayor in that year, was made governor and so continued for at least nine years. (fn. 151) A garrison and a military governor seem to have remained in occupation throughout the Interregnum and the reign of Charles II. (fn. 152) In 1684, however, a fire, perhaps started intentionally, set the magazine alight and wrecked the building. (fn. 153) It was never restored, though cannon were still being fired from it in 1688. (fn. 154)
In 1660 Sir Henry Cholmeley, presumably a Parliamentarian, claimed to have acquired the fee simple of the tower from Robert Moore, husband of the Jacobean owner. (fn. 155) The claim, however, does not seem to have been made good and the tower passed in 1672 to Sir Henry Thompson of Escrick (E.R.), whose relict sold it in 1699 to Richard Sowray. From his son Richard and his relict Abigail it passed in 1727 to Samuel Ward, subject apparently to Abigail's life interest. It remained in the Ward family until 1825, when it was purchased from S. W. Ward by the Yorkshire Court of Gaol Sessions. (fn. 156) The Sowrays owned a house nearby and used the tower and its mound as a landscape background. (fn. 157) During their own and the Wards' ownership it was sometimes let. (fn. 158) In 1878 the building was acquired by the Prison Commissioners, who returned it to the Yorkshire County Committee in 1902. (fn. 159) With the aid of a government grant the motte and ruins were then repaired, (fn. 160) and in 1915 were placed under the guardianship of the Office (now Ministry) of Works. (fn. 161)
Turning to the castle yard we find the gaol and Moot Hall continuing. In 1609 the gaol was so full that some prisoners had to be pardoned; (fn. 162) in 1636 it was decayed. (fn. 163) In 1649 efforts were made to ensure that Clifford's Tower should be kept so separate from the rest of the castle that the prisoners in the latter should be secure. (fn. 164) They were not wholly successful, for in 1654 some prisoners escaped, owing, it was alleged, to insufficient co-ordination between the gaoler and the garrison. In the same year the gaol was presented for insufficiency at the assizes. (fn. 165) Next year there were further escapes. (fn. 166) In 1658 the gaol was again presented, together with the jury house, and steps taken to rate the county for the repair of both. (fn. 167) The first outcome of these measures was the reconstruction c. 1667-8 of the grand jury house. (fn. 168) Shortly after this, the Moot Hall, or Common Hall, as it was then being called, which stood on the site now occupied by the Female Prison, was rebuilt, the 'Crown end' c. 1670-3, (fn. 169) and the Nisi Prius court c. 1685. (fn. 170) Finally, availing themselves of the Gaol Act (1700) or perhaps anticipating it, the justices began to levy rates for rebuilding the gaol. (fn. 171) With the proceeds an entirely new building, begun in 1701 and finished in 1705, was erected between the Common Hall and the Jury House, (fn. 172) the Crown granting some stone from the King's Manor (i.e. from the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey) and the castle walls for the purpose. (fn. 173) In 1708 some of the angle towers of the curtain wall were taken down. (fn. 174) About 1735 the foundations and arch of the great gatehouse, which, though walled up, was still standing c. 1660, (fn. 175) were removed. (fn. 176) At the same time Castlegate Postern was rebuilt 'in a handsome manner'. (fn. 177)
Henceforth the chief adornment of the ancient castle was this new building, now called the Debtors' Prison, which 18th-century travellers looked upon as the finest gaol in Britain if not in Europe. (fn. 178) In it, originally, the gaoler lived and prisoners of all descriptions were confined. (fn. 179) It consists of a central block with two projecting wings, each approached by a staircase that has now been cleared away. The intervening space, which served as an exercise yard for the felons, was once separated from the rest of the castle yard by a double iron palisade. (fn. 180) To the west of this building, John Carr erected between 1773 and 1777 a new building for the assize courts. (fn. 181) To the north-east he added a third building in 1780, (fn. 182) after the grand jury had presented the existing gaol as insufficient. (fn. 183) This third building, enlarged by the Atkinsons in 1803, (fn. 184) eventually comprised offices for the clerk of the assize and his visitors, a record respository, and cells and day rooms for prisoners. (fn. 185) To the same block, called in later times the Female Prison, female felons, misdemeanants, and some debtors were transferred, leaving the central block for male felons and the bulk of the debtors. The old infirmary, erected before 1736, (fn. 186) which at the time of Howard's visit stood near the castle gate, (fn. 187) seems then to have been closed, and wards for sick prisoners, with water closets, provided in the Female Prison. (fn. 188) In 1805-6, shortly after the enlargement of the third building, the towers and sally port, beside the former great gate of the castle, were cleared away, and a new wall built on the south-west side of the Assize Courts. (fn. 189)
The merits of the prison, as it was in the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries, lay in the spaciousness of the castle yard in which debtors could walk and sell to visitors the small objects, such as purses, that they had manufactured. (fn. 190) Howard praised the airy living quarters for debtors, and the segregation of male and female felons, but found the felons' cells close and dark: there was no water in the felons' yard, and there were no baths or beds. (fn. 191) Neild, who paid visits between 1800 and 1809, found water laid on, blankets provided for felons, and special day-rooms for young offenders and misdemeanants, and predicted that the prison, after its latest alterations, would prove the 'decus et tutamen of Yorkshire'. (fn. 192) When Gurney visited the prison in 1818 he found the Female Prison clean, hot and cold baths in the felons' quarters, soap and fuel provided, and misdemeanants at work. While these features pleased him, he noticed, to his regret, that clothing was rarely provided, food was insufficient, beds were shared, and much of the prison was dirty. There was no employment for the felons, all of whom were ironed, and no instruction. There was inadequate supervision and classification and too much contact with the public. (fn. 193) Hargrove, however, who was perhaps better informed, stated that efforts were made by the governor to find work for skilled craftsmen; he also presented a more favourable picture of the state of clothing, (fn. 194) and Gurney himself admitted that improvements had taken place within a year of his visit. (fn. 195) From the time of Howard's first visit, a chaplain was in regular attendance, (fn. 196) and there was a salaried surgeon as early as 1736. (fn. 197)
Gurney's criticisms had been promptly answered by the magistrates, (fn. 198) but this did not prevent the grand jury from once again presenting the prison as insufficient in classification, employment and accommodation. This was done at the assizes in 1821 and the magistrates thereupon set up a committee which, reporting just after the passage of the Gaol Act (1823), praised that measure unreservedly and pointed out further defects in the prison. (fn. 199) Accordingly more land, adjacent to the castle, was acquired, and plans for an extra prison for 80 male and 10 female felons and 200 debtors began to be prepared. (fn. 200) Eventually an entirely new building, designed by Peter Frederick Robinson, (fn. 201) was started in 1826 (fn. 202) and completed in 1835. (fn. 203) It comprised a gatehouse, flanked by two towers containing lodgings for a turnkey and porter, a reception room for prisoners, offices for the clerk of the assize, and a record office. On the north side of the castle yard there was also a prison for men and a house for the governor (see plate facing p. 521). (fn. 204)
While building was in progress other steps were taken to put the new Act into effect. By 1824 bedding, coals, and soap were being provided by the county and chaining had been almost completely abandoned. (fn. 205) Books, both devotional and instructional, were then being provided, (fn. 206) and writing materials for would-be learners by 1832. (fn. 207) The staff in 1824 con sisted of a gaoler, his deputy, a chaplain, and 3 turnkeys. (fn. 208) A surgeon was in daily attendance by 1825, (fn. 209) and a matron had been appointed by 1827. (fn. 210) In 1833 the total staff numbered twelve. (fn. 211)
When the enlargement of the prison was resolved upon, and for some time before, the West Riding magistrates, against the wishes of their colleagues from the rest of Yorkshire, were sending to the prison convicts upon whom prison sentences, with or without hard labour, had been inflicted. (fn. 212) The practice seems to have ceased by 1824 when there was a marked fall in the number of prisoners. (fn. 213) After this, for some time to come, the prison became mainly a place for suspects, 'transports', and debtors. (fn. 214) The absence of a penal element dispensed the magistrates from providing the means of hard labour or even regular work for all the felons, though some voluntary work proceeded. (fn. 215) At the same time it eased the disciplinary problem. (fn. 216) The actual number of prisoners rose from 89 at Michaelmas 1824 to 162 at Michaelmas 1833. (fn. 217)
When the reconstruction was complete the offices were moved from the Female Prison to the gatehouse, and the governor and most of the male felons from the Debtors' Prison to the new block. (fn. 218) That block, however, did not meet with the approval of the prison inspector at his first inspection in 1837. Its cost, over £203,000 (with the land) by 1837, was out of all proportion to its convenience, for, though the building afforded good security, it did not provide for separate confinement. A building with a plainer exterior, 'less cumbrous solidity' and better designed cells could, it was thought, have been much more useful. In some other respects, however, it was possible to commend the prison: it was clean and amply provided with infirmaries, the debtors were well accommodated, and there was a daily service. (fn. 219) Further improvements were noted in 1838: a schoolmaster had been appointed and cooking in the day rooms had ceased, for the prisoners had begun to feed communally. (fn. 220) Tolerably good reports continued until 1845, the main criticisms being the supply of free bread to prosperous debtors (fn. 221) and the presence of lunatics. (fn. 222) Classification of debtors had been introduced by 1843. (fn. 223) On inspection day in that year the actual number of prisoners was 198 and of staff 15. (fn. 224)
When the prison was next inspected, in 1848, a less favourable picture was presented. In particular there was still no work for male prisoners, whether convicted or not, not enough instruction, 'unrestrained' intercourse between prisoners, no special cells for solitary confinement, and too many debtors living in comfort and treating the prison as 'a luxurious kind of poorhouse'. (fn. 225) Some minor improvements were reported in 1850 and 1851 but inadequate supervision and lack of work remained. (fn. 226)
In fact the prison in no way met with the approval of the stricter penologists of the day. The Surveyor General of Prisons and an inspector declared in 1850 that it could be fitted for use, by which they meant adapted to the 'separate' system, only by complete rebuilding. (fn. 227) As was said in 1848, it was still 'primarily intended for untried prisoners', like a medieval county gaol. (fn. 228) But the magistrates did not rebuild. Instead, and rather surprisingly, they began to adapt the prison to the execution of penal sentences. By 1853 this new policy had been instituted. It forced the authorities to provide some hard labour in the form of sawing and polishing marble, (fn. 229) and by 1858 workshops, long contemplated, had been completed. (fn. 230) But the evils, as they seemed to the inspectors, of continuous association and inadequate supervision do not seem to have been corrected until the Prisons Act of 1865 had been passed (fn. 231) and indeed in 1864 prisoners sentenced to long terms had to be removed in the interests of good order. (fn. 232) A constant object of criticism in the fifties and sixties was the lax discipline of the debtors and their propensity to heavy smoking. (fn. 233) The number of prisoners in this period varied a good deal. The daily average was as high as 246 in 1858 (fn. 234) and, after the removal of the long-term convicts, as low as 34 in 1864. (fn. 235) There seem to have been enough cells in the prison to enable the magistrates to obey the Act of 1865 with its requirement of separate cells for all. Many cells, however, were fit only to sleep in, so that, to the dismay of the inspectors, prisoners continued to work in association though under ever stricter supervision. (fn. 236) A Roman Catholic chapel was provided in 1869-70 (fn. 237) and various additions to the administrative and sanitary buildings in 1870-1 (fn. 238) and 1874-5. (fn. 239)
Under the Prisons Act (1877) the prison buildings were transferred to the Prison Commissioners who promptly set about adapting them to the complete enforcement of the policy of continuous separate confinement. (fn. 240) In pursuance of this, 60 new cells for men, 'in accordance with the latest improvements in prison construction', had been completed by 1883. (fn. 241) A boundary wall to separate the gaol from the courts was under construction in 1881 (fn. 242) and in the ensuing decade other works were done and the governor moved out of the precincts. (fn. 243) In 1880-1 the practice began of distributing debtors among all the Yorkshire prisons, (fn. 244) and, as an apparent consequence, the daily average of prisoners at York fell from 217 in the preceding year (fn. 245) to 161 in that one. (fn. 246) The prison population continued to decline steadily until it reached 61 in 1900-1. (fn. 247) The staff remained fairly constant at 20, but for ten years from 1885-6 its chief officer was graded only as a deputygovernor. (fn. 248)
In 1900, against the wishes of the Yorkshire County Committee, (fn. 249) the male prison was made available to the War Office as a military detention barracks. The female one was retained for the temporary confinement of suspects awaiting trial at the assizes. (fn. 250) The detention barracks, the buildings of which had been improved by 1905, (fn. 251) was closed in 1929. (fn. 252) The buildings ceased to be a prison at all in 1932 (fn. 253) and were sold to the Corporation in 1934. (fn. 254) The prison block of 1826-35, the gatehouse, and the boundary wall of c. 1881 were thereupon pulled down, the castle yard opened to the public, and the Debtors' and Female Prisons later filled with the Kirk collection of bygones. (fn. 255)
From at least 1597, and probably from much earlier times, the castle yard, as the seat of the county court, (fn. 256) was also the place where the knights of the shire for Yorkshire were chosen. (fn. 257) It continued to be so used until 1832 and thenceforth until 1882 was the place where the results of North Riding elections were declared. (fn. 258) On four occasions between 1779 and 1823 it was a place of meeting for the county freeholders bent on the redress of political grievances. (fn. 259)
York castle did not lie in any Riding, (fn. 260) and, like many another castle bearing the name of a county town, stood outside the boundaries of the adjacent city. (fn. 261) This separation from the city was made more formal in 1396 when the city and the county were severed (fn. 262) and was afterwards commemorated by an achievement of the civic arms set up in Castlegate, at the point where the city sheriffs waited upon the justices of assize. (fn. 263) The castle, however, was rated in the early 18th century in St. Mary, Castlegate, parish. (fn. 264) It was brought within the city by the Municipal Corporations Act (1835), (fn. 265) but its population, that of the gaol, continued to be separately shown in the Census Reports, (fn. 266) and in 1951 it was still 'not locally considered' to form part of the city. (fn. 267)
The Old Baile
The Old Baile, standing on the right bank of the Ouse, is the name given to one of the two castles in York built by the Conqueror in 1068-9 and rebuilt by him in 1069. (fn. 268) Originally it comprised a circular mound, surrounded by a ditch, and a quadrangular yard of 3 acres abutting upon the mound on its south-west side. Within the ditch, on the southwest and south-east sides of the yard, ran the city wall, which continued in a north-easterly direction over the shoulder of the mound and down to the Ouse. (fn. 269) The mound is now the only conspicuous evidence of the castle. The epithet 'old' had been bestowed by 1268 but the grounds for bestowal have not been ascertained. (fn. 270)
By 1308 the castle had passed from the Crown to the archbishops of York. (fn. 271) When it first became theirs is unknown, but it has been suggested that it was between 1194 and 1198 when Archbishop Geoffrey was sheriff of Yorkshire. (fn. 272) In 1423 the city was still claiming that the Old Baile was archiepiscopal property. (fn. 273) By 1487, however, it seems to have been transferred to the city, for the mayor then mustered the wardens of the wards within it. (fn. 274) Thereafter the city retained it. The archbishop, indeed, challenged the city's title in 1581 but apparently did not pursue his claim. (fn. 275)
During the Scottish wars of the early 14th century, the city and archbishop disputed with one another the responsibility for defending the Old Baile in time of war. The city claimed that the archbishop was bound, and had been wont, to keep it at his own cost, the archbishop that the citizens were bound to guard the whole area of the city without any limitation. As an act of grace, however, the archbishop undertook to garrison the Baile in 1322, provided that the citizens would come to his aid if a determined assault should be made upon the city. He stipulated that this arrangement should not be drawn into a precedent. (fn. 276) Despite this stipulation the citizens renewed their claim in 1327 and a similar agreement, likewise pro illa vice, was concluded. (fn. 277) In 1309 Archbishop Greenfield cut a ditch within the Baile (fn. 278) and Archbishop Melton (131740) strengthened the fortifications first with wood and then with stone. (fn. 279) In 1423 the city sued the archbishop for failure to repair the city wall that ran beside the Baile (fn. 280) but the outcome is not known.
After the city authorities acquired or occupied the castle, they leased it for the herbage. (fn. 281) They also used it as a place both for musters (fn. 282) and for recreation. The second of these uses continued into the 19th century. (fn. 283) In 1642 cannon were placed upon the mound. (fn. 284) In 1726 Henry Pawson, a city merchant, while leasing part of the area, planted the mound with trees. (fn. 285) In 1802 part of the area was taken as the site for the new city House of Correction. (fn. 286) After the demolition of that building, the land on which it had stood was sold in 1882 and covered with houses. (fn. 287)
THE KING'S MANOR
The buildings known since the Dissolution as the King's Manor are the result of successive alterations and additions to the abbot's house of St. Mary's Abbey. After the surrender of the abbey in 1539 the house became the home of the Council in the North, and the first lord president of the Council took up residence there. (fn. 288)
The changes wrought by subsequent lord presidents have left few traces of the original abbot's house. At three points in the existing buildings, however, are the remains of walling and a moulded stone base-course which have been assigned to the period of Abbot Simon de Warwick's extensive work on the abbey which he began about 1270. (fn. 289) There is also some evidence of early 15th-century work, but Abbot William Sever (1485-1502) is thought to have pulled down most of Simon's building, leaving only the lower portions of the north-west and south-east wings and a structure in the northern corner of the courtyard which may have contained a staircase. There is clear evidence of Sever's own work in the brick-work of the north-east wing, some ceilings with moulded oak ribs, (fn. 290) an open timber roof, some 15th-century mullioned windows, and brick arches over other, no longer extant, windows. Sever may also have been responsible for part of the southwest wing. (fn. 291)
Henry VIII visited York in 1541, and for his accommodation a long, narrow building was erected at the south-west side of the abbot's house. A vaulted cellar is all that remains of this 'royal palace'; the cellar contains a doorway which was perhaps removed from another building of the abbey. (fn. 292)
Although some repairs may have been carried out in 1542, (fn. 293) there is no reason to suppose that significant alterations were made to the abbot's house during its occupation by the first four lord presidents. The lord presidents were, indeed, not continuously resident and it was perhaps for this reason that Johr Harbert was appointed keeper of the manor in 1543. (fn. 294) Much work was, however, done by Thomas Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex (lord president 1568-72). Between November 1568 and April 1570 he spent over £400 on the house. (fn. 295) Sussex had also been authorized to take 100 oaks from the Forest of Galtres. (fn. 296) The wing at the western end of the northeast front has been suggested as the work of Sussex. (fn. 297)
Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon (lord president 1572-95) reconstructed the north-west wing of Abbot Sever's house and projected two new wings from it towards the abbey ruins. Within this part of the building is the Huntingdon Room, containing a stone chimney-piece and a plaster frieze with heraldic decorations: the inclusion among the decorations of the Garter, conferred on Huntingdon in 1578, suggests a date for the completion of this work. Part of Sever's ceiling with moulded oak ribs is still visible above part of the room. (fn. 298)
The following two lord presidents appear to have done little to the building, and the next important additions were those made by Edmund, Lord Sheffield (1603-19). It is said that James I, on his first visit to York in 1603, ordered the house to be embellished, (fn. 299) but it was not until 1609 that Sheffield applied to the Exchequer for 500 marks a year for the repair of the King's Manor and Sheriff Hutton Castle; (fn. 300) the Lord Treasurer asked for an estimate of the cost of restoring the house to its condition at the time of Huntingdon's lord presidency, and the estimate was made in December 1609. (fn. 301) A list of the items gives a good impression of the complexity of the building: work was recommended in 'the great chamber, the dining and drawing chamber'; the seven chambers above them; the passage to the chambers and 'half paces'; the north galleries with four chambers at the east end and vaults and parlours under them; the galleries next to the cloister with four chambers at the east end and five parlours beneath; the passages and stairs between the two galleries; 'the old hall, kitchen and paistry, &c. 6 rooms'; seven chambers under the east end of the hall; the larders with three chambers over them; the granary, bakehouse, brewhouse, and stables; the new kitchen; a new hall; the parlours and chambers at the north end of the tennis court; the parlour and chambers next the garden; and the gatehouse roofs and eight parlours and chambers. The total estimate for materials and labour was £758 19s. 4d.
The estimate was not approved by the Exchequer until 1611: this was the year after Burhley's death, and it has been suggested that it was his parsimonious views—informed by his own tenure of the lord presidency in the years 1599-1603—that delayed the approval. (fn. 302) Even then it was only in 1616 that Sheffield received a grant of £1,000 towards the expenses he had then incurred. (fn. 303) In 1624, after the end of his lord presidency, he rendered to the Exchequer an account by which it appears that he had spent about £3,300 on the work. (fn. 304) In 1625 Sheffield was himself charged with £1,500 for the repair of the house, while £3,500 was contributed by the Crown. (fn. 305)
Sheffield partially reconstructed the block at the eastern end of the north-east front. His work included two fine doorways: one bears the initials of Charles I (as well as those of James I) and the upper part cannot therefore have been finished until 1625; the second was originally in line with the first and faced the inner court, but was moved to its present position on the north-east front during alterations in the entrance hall of the School for the Blind. (fn. 306)
A survey of the state of the 'Palace of York' was made during the reign of James I, but it is not apparent at what stage in Sheffield's work. It appears that abbey buildings other than the abbot's house were still in use: mention is made of the gatehouse, courthouse, frater (or the king's hall), dorter (or the queen's lodging), conventual kitchen, abbot's kitchen, 'privy dorter', and infirmary; the walls and 'steeple' of the church were also still standing. The modified abbot's house is probably represented by the hall, chapel, kitchen, and six chambers which were said to be all under one roof. In addition there were garners and storehouses; brew-, bake-, copper-, and mill-houses; a barn and stables; and a new building 'wherein lie the indentures'. (fn. 307)
Sheffield's successor apparently made no alteration to the manor, but Wentworth, who was appointed lord president in 1628, made his contribution to the building. His intentions are revealed in a letter that he wrote from London to the Earl of Carlisle who was staying at the King's Manor: 'The house you will find much amended since my coming to it, and £1,000 more to build a gallery and chapel in that place where you may perceive I intend it, will make it very commodious.' (fn. 308) Wentworth is thought to have built the wing on the south-west side of the courtyard and the adjoining section which unites it with the Huntingdon block. His work was faced with stone. (fn. 309)
The Council in the North was abolished in 1641, (fn. 310) and later occupants made few changes to the structure: its neglected condition after the demise of the Council is perhaps indicated by the king's preference for Sir Arthur Ingram's house in the minster yard on his visits to York between 1641 and 1642. (fn. 311) The house was placed under the charge of keepers. (fn. 312) It was damaged during the siege of 1644; (fn. 313) and in the following year the Committee for His Majesty's Revenue ordered three aldermen to make an inventory of hangings, furniture, and other goods there. (fn. 314)
In 1653 an inquiry into 'the great waste and spoil' at the manor was ordered, (fn. 315) and in 1656 the then keeper Col. Robert Lilburne (Major General for Yorkshire) was granted £400 for its repair. (fn. 316) Between 1660 and 1665 the keepership was in dispute. (fn. 317) It has been suggested that during this period of unsettled tenancy, a wing was added next to Huntingdon's block, (fn. 318) and it is to be noted that in 1656 money for work on the manor was ordered to be paid to Humphrey Howard, appointed keeper in 1660. (fn. 319)
By 1667 John, Lord Frescheville, had been appointed commander-in-chief of all forces in York; (fn. 320) the manor became his residence (fn. 321) and he appears to have repaired some outbuildings. (fn. 322) He was succeeded in 1682 by Sir John Reresby (fn. 323) who spent £3,000-£4,000 on work at the manor; it is thought that the oak staircase may have been fitted at this time. (fn. 324) A 30-year lease of the King's Manor was in 1687 granted, despite protests by Reresby, to a Father Lawson for use as a Roman Catholic seminary at a rent of 10s. a year. (fn. 325) A chapel was established in a large room in the manor, but the Roman Catholics were ejected in 1688. (fn. 326)
In 1692 Robert Waller (fn. 327) received a 31-year lease, at a rent of 10s. a year, of the whole abbey site and manor buildings. (fn. 328) He converted part of the King's Manor into dwelling houses and let them to tenants; other parts were let as workshops and warehouses. The artist Francis Place (1647-1728) lived there before the end of the century; part of the building was occupied by a girls' boarding school in the early 18th century; and the hall which had been used for Roman Catholic worship was converted into an assembly room for people attending the York races, and was also used by the high sheriffs at the assizes as an entertaining room. (fn. 329)
At the expiration of Waller's lease in 1723, a fresh one was granted to Sir Tancred Robinson, who still held it in Drake's time. (fn. 330) It was possibly Robinson who inserted Georgian furnishings together with sliding sashes in some of the windows. (fn. 331) In 1818 the house was held by Robinson's descendant, Lord Grantham (d. 1859); it was said at that time that the greater part of the house had been sublet for several successive generations as a girls' boarding-school. (fn. 332)
The Yorkshire School for the Blind moved into the King's Manor in 1835, (fn. 333) and it was for the principal of the school that the last addition to the Manor was made: the building on the north-west side of the forecourt was designed for him as a residence by Walter Brierley of York in 1900. (fn. 334) One section of the building was used as the Manor School from 1813 until 1922 (fn. 335) when it became part of the School for the Blind which subsequently occupied the whole building. In 1958 the corporation bought the Manor for £30,000. (fn. 336).