Parish Church of St. Margaret

Pages 22-25

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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Parish Church of St. Margaret

(9) Parish Church of St. Margaret (Plate 11; Fig. 21) stands in an irregularly-shaped churchyard between Navigation Road on the N.E. and Walmgate on the S.W. The church has walls and dressings of magnesian limestone and is roofed with slate. The tower is partly of magnesian limestone and partly of brick, with a lead-covered roof. The porch is roofed with stone slates.

The church is first mentioned by name between 1177–81 (YAJ, xxxv (1940–3), 122), when Walter, son of Faganulf the priest, granted to St. Peter's Hospital 'duas ecclesias meas, Sancte Marie et Sancte Margarete ... que in patrimonio meo fundate jure patrimonii ad patronatum meum et donationem meam pertinent'. These are presumably the 'duas ecclesias meas in Eboraco' mentioned in another charter (EYC, 1, 248, No. 326), which had been held by Walter in the time of Henry I (EYC, 1, 247, No. 323). Part of the N. wall survives of this original church, which may have been a single cell comprising Sanctuary and Nave without structural division. St. Mary, Walmgate, was united to St. Margaret's in 1308, and there were joint rectors up to 1361. After the suppression of St. Mary's in the 14th century, St. Margaret's church was probably rebuilt to house the joint congregation, the nave being widened to S. and a narrow North Aisle added. The E. window dates from the second half of the 14th century, and formerly contained glass with an inscription to Richard Erghes, ratified as parson in 1399 (CPR, 1396–99, 521).

A Vestry was built against the S. wall of the chancel in the second half of the 15th century, blocking the S. window to the chancel. The choir door, to the W. of the vestry, mentioned in 1510, has since been blocked. The parish was enlarged when the site of the church of St. Peter-in-the-Willows was sold in 1549, and a joint rector appointed in 1550 or 1551. The church suffered from neglect in the 17th century, and in 1635 Archbishop Neile ordered its thorough cleaning. In 1670, 1672 or 1675 the steeple fell and damaged the roof, and 'it lay almost buried in its owne ruins' when Henry Keep visited it in 1680. In 1684–5 the Tower was rebuilt, largely in brick, and the roof was covered with red tiles.

The 12th-century Porch was brought from the church of St. Nicholas' Hospital, outside Walmgate Bar. This was the largest of four mediaeval leper hospitals outside the walls of York, said to have been founded by King Stephen (Raine, 292) and documented in 1151–61 (EYC, 1, 251). The church was ruined during the siege of York of 1644 and the porch was taken to St. Margaret's between 1644 and 1736, when it was noted by Drake in its new position. Its removal may have been contemporary with the rebuilding of the tower.

Restoration took place in 1839, when a western gallery was erected, at a total cost of 500 guineas. In 1851–2 the church was partly rebuilt, except for the tower, to the design of Thomas Pickersgill at a cost of £1,240. The N. aisle was increased in width by 6 ft. The walls and tracery were restored, the windows glazed, and the church and porch were to be roofed with slate, and the 1839 gallery was enlarged. The gallery was removed and the organ refixed on the N. side of the choir in 1886 by Demaine and Brierley, architects. A door was opened in the W. side of the vestry, replacing a window, in 1894. The porch from St. Nicholas' Hospital has been rebuilt and strengthened. This porch is the most important feature of the church.

Fig. 21. (9) Church of St. Margaret.

Architectural Description. The Chancel and Nave are structurally undivided. The E. wall is of regularly-coursed masonry externally and of random rubble inside, plastered above sill level. It has a chamfered plinth, which is continued around the N. aisle. The buttresses at the junction of chancel and aisle and, diagonally, at the S.E. corner are of three stages. The E. window, of the second half of the 14th century, has three cinque-foiled lights and flowing tracery with a central vesica-shaped light in a two-centred head. Above is a blocked rounded triangular opening. The N. arcade has two-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders, partly rebuilt in the 19th century, springing directly from octagonal piers on 14th-century bases, with matching responds. The masonry of the piers is partly mediaeval, partly later. W. of the arcade, the lower part of the wall has 12th-century masonry exposed. The S. wall has, at the E. end, a large blocked window, probably of c. 1400, with a two-centred head from which the tracery appears to have been removed. The four-centred head of the late 15th-century doorway to the vestry cuts into this window on the W. Further W. is a blocked doorway with a low two-centred rear-arch. The nave windows are each of two ogee-headed lights with tracery in a square head. That to the E. is of the 14th century, restored; the others are 19th-century copies. For the S. doorway, see South Porch below. In the W. wall, the tower arch is placed off-centre, to the N., indicating that there was a tower here before the 14th-century rebuilding and widening of the nave, but the arch appears to have been rebuilt in the late 17th century. It is two-centred, of one chamfered order. The South Vestry, of the second half of the 15th century, has a blocked E. window of three trefoiled lights in a square head with a label. In the S. wall is a 19th-century window and, in the gable above, a 19th-century Maltese cross, replacing one which was formerly in the lower part of the wall.

The North Aisle is of 1851–2. The West Tower, of two stages with an embattled parapet, was built in 1684–5, after the collapse some years before. The E. wall is of ashlar, the other walls of brick with stone dressings. In the lower stage, rectangular windows of one and two lights are irregularly-disposed in the N. and W. sides. In the upper stage, there is a single pointed arched opening to E. and two arched openings in each of the other walls. The parapet finishes with a finial at each corner.

The South Porch (Plate 26), dating from the second half of the 12th century, was rebuilt on the present site in the second half of the 17th century, and has since been restored. Above its roof-line, diagonal scars to left and right of the ridge on the S. wall of the nave may belong to a former porch. The form of the flanking buttresses dates from the late 19th century. There is a chamfered plinth on the E., S. and W. external faces of the porch and a moulded string under the eaves to E. and W. The S. wall has a low gable surmounted by a stone crucifix, probably of the 12th century. The figure of Christ has the two feet nailed separately, resting on a projecting bracket; both arms have been lost. The outer semicircular archway is of four orders with a label; the outer order and the label spring from common double capitals. Orders two, three and four are consecutively recessed, with corresponding capitals. A short length of barrel vault separates the fourth order from the door head, which forms a fifth order. Individual carvings have been badly damaged, but the overall decorative scheme is still clear (Plates 26, 28). The label is carved with representations of the Labours of the Months, the Signs of the Zodiac, and with two intrusive pieces of foliage. The first order is carved with a vine scroll; the second is composed of grotesque heads, and the third contains mythological beasts in roundels. Apart from one voussoir with a pelican and another with doves, the fourth order is mainly composed of humans or semi-humans fighting beasts. The door head is carved with a series of semicircles on both the vertical face and soffit, revealing a roll moulding. The vertical face is decorated with floral motifs and the soffit is beaded, with stars, circles and rosettes. The capitals are carved with mythological beasts and scenes of conflict, continuing the scheme of the fourth order, and episodes from Æsop's Fables. All the orders spring from a continuous chamfered impost decorated with foliage ornament. The capitals are all of cushion form, with neckings. Apart from the outer and inner doublecapitals, all the original capitals have been replaced by free copies. The outer double-capitals rest on zig-zag pilasters, which start above plinth level, and support the label and the outer order. The single-capitals beneath orders two, three and four rest on nook-shafts with elongated moulded bases. Between these shafts and the responds of the doorway, a section of blank wall contains, on each side, a 17th-century semicircular niche. The responds to the doorway are coupled three-quarter round columns separated by a quirk, with an elongated moulded base.

The Roofs, of arched-brace collar-beam construction with raking struts to the purlins, supported on stone corbels, are of 1851–2. The compartment under the tower has a flat plaster ceiling.

Fittings—Bells: three; (1) 'Gloria in altissimis Deo, Dalton of York, fecit 1788'; (2) 'Gloria in altissimis Deo. 1700 [, SS, Ebor]'; (3) 'Venite Exvltemvs Domino. 1700, SS, Ebor'; a fourth bell, recorded by Benson as small, plain and with a flat top, has since gone. Bell-frame: timber (Fig. 1h), 18th-century. Benefactors' Table: in nave, recording benefactions from 1598 to 1865, dated 1852. Brasses and Indents. Indents: (1) dark grey stone slab, reused for Floor-slab (3), with indents for two shields and an inscription plate, mediaeval; (2) large slab with rectangular indent with rivet holes and circular indent, probably post-mediaeval. Coffin Lid: in S. porch, coped slab, no lettering, probably mediaeval. Inscriptions and Scratchings: on first pier from E., three different masons' marks, one repeated thrice.

Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: in chancel and nave, on N. wall, (1) Joseph Bilton-Wilson, 1842, white marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet with moulded cornice, base missing, against black slate background; (2) Thomas Wilson, 1832, his wife Dorothy, 1833, buff marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet against black slate background with triangular head, signed M. Taylor; on S. wall, (3) Agnes Manars, 149., worn black-letter inscription, missing portions reconstructed from Johnston and Dodsworth MSS., '[Ora]te p(ro) a(n)i(m)a Agnetis Ma[nars] que obiit septimo [die] Januarii an(n)o d(omi)ni [milessimo nonagessimo ... cujus animae propicietur deus amen]'; (4) Thomas Wilson, 1780, his wife Dorothy, 1786, Dinah Richardson, 1788, white marble tablet with dark grey ogee-shaped base and broken pediment with urn; (5) Dorothy, widow of Robert Hotham, 1799, buff-coloured oblong marble tablet (see also Floor-slab (9)); (6) Joseph Boyes, Joseph his son, rector of St. Margaret's, 1762, white marble tablet with shaped head. In N. aisle, on N. wall, (7) Samuel Wormald, 1814, Ann his wife, 1812, Samuel their son, 1788, white marble tablet with foliated bracket feet, cornice missing, against black slate background, signed Plows & Son; (8) Ellen, wife of Charles Woollons, 1850, white marble sarcophagusshaped tablet with shaped feet, volutes at sides decorated with foliage, and moulded cornice surmounted by a winged cherub's head surrounded by a floral garland, dark grey marble background, signed Waudby; (9) John Mosey, 1833, Frances Taylor his cousin, 1836, white marble sarcophagus against black slate background, signed Skelton. In tower, (10) top of large monument, inscription lost, white marble urn with drapery against black slate background, probably of the second half of the 18th century. In churchyard, several head-stones, including: to E. of church, (11) Richard Johnson, 1789, Mary his wife, 1810, Isabella, 1795, and William Sharwood, date illegible, children of John and Isabella Sharwood, Isabella ...., 1834, John Waters, 1815; to S. of church, (12) Thomas Silburn, 1780, Ann Theresa Silburn, 1771, Margaret Silburn, 1814; (13) Emmanuel Barker, 1783; (14) Ann Standish, 1783; to S. of W. tower, (15) John Wrather, 1768, his widow Dorothy, 1788; to W. of church, (16) three sons of Leonard Newcombe, William, 1779, William, 1791, John, 1796, and Dorothy Horrobine, 1789, shaped top with roundel depicting upturned torch crossed by broken arrow; (17) Susannah Scott, 1740/1; (18) David Lewis, 1773, Margaret his wife, 1787, their son James, 1804. Floor-slabs: in chancel and nave, to N. of altar, (1) Thomas Wilson, 1780, Dorothy his wife, 1786 (see Monument (4)); between first and second arcade piers, (2) .... Hutchin[son], 1765, worn; (3) see under Brasses, Indent (1), name covered, 1788; (4) Samuel Wormald, 1811; (5) Susannah Redford, 1843. In N. aisle, partly under pulpit, (6) [Ric]hard Mosey, 1803, Ann his wife, ... 4, Charles their son, [Jose]ph, son of Richard Mosey, 1804, Richard, 1814, and John, 1833, sons of Richard and Ann Mosey; (7) George .... and his wife ...., 1773, John Beverley, 1778, worn; (8) Mary Bev[erley], .... of John Beverley, ....; (9) Christopher Bell, Ann his wife, Ellen his sister, Francis Bell, son of Christopher and Ann, 1784, Dorothy, wife of Robert Hot[ham], daughter of Christopher Bell, 1799 (see Monument (5)); (10) Mary, wife of Edward Hunt Featherston, 1835.

Piscina: in chancel, against E. wall, seven-lobed bowl carved in a block partly projecting and partly set in arched recess, c. 1400. Plate: includes silver cup and paten cover, both with marks of Marmaduke Best, active 1657–84; pewter flagon with cover, no marks; plain pewter salver without stem, marked 'James Dixon & Sons', possibly 19th-century; see Fallow and McCall. Miscellanea: in S. vestry, in glass case, two parchment rolls of receipts and expenses, including church repairs, possibly 15th-century.