Parish Church of St. Martin

Pages 25-29

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. Martin

(10) Parish Church of St. Martin, Coney Street (Plates 2, 9, 19; Figs. 22, 23), has walls of magnesian limestone, ashlar, some rubble, and a little gritstone. The roof is covered with lead. The church was badly damaged by enemy action in 1942 and was partly reconstructed in 1961–8 to the designs of the late Mr. George Pace. The ruined building was recorded before the reconstruction was put in hand and the accompanying plans show the building before 1942 and as it is now.

The church is first mentioned in a document of c. 1160–80 (EYC, 191), the Domesday St. Martin being the church in Micklegate (YAJ, clix (1961), 496–7). A small aisleless church with no structural chancel was built probably at the end of the 11th century; the lower parts of its N. and W. walls remain in the existing N. and W. walls of the former N. aisle, and the S.W. corner was identified near the N.W. corner of the later nave. A break further S. in the masonry in the W. wall of the nave indicates that a small S. aisle was added to the original church, perhaps c. 1200.

The sequence of development through the 13th and 14th centuries has been obscured by extensive rebuilding in the 15th. The original N. wall of the early nave was extended to the E. in c. 1280 and blocked windows of this date remain in the N. wall. A general enlargement, by which the church was brought to its present size, was carried out before the end of the 14th century: a Nave was added S. of the original building and a South Aisle beyond it, with a Tower at its W. end. The 11th-century nave became a N. aisle.

Chantries were founded in 1334 at an unspecified altar, at the altar of St. Mary in 1335 and 1375 (CPR, passim), at the altar of St. Peter before 1349 and in 1417 (Harrison, St. Martin's Church (1926), 15–16), and at the altar of St. Laurence in 1402 (SS, xcii (1893), 559).

At a visitation in 1411 the tower was said to be unsafe (SS, xxxv (1858), 290), and in 1427 John Rumby left £4 to the tower (Wills, II, f. 513). The church was rebuilt in the first half of the 15th century, in two stages. The work was due to Robert Semer, vicar 1425–43, part of it being done in his lifetime. The tower and W. window of the nave were rebuilt first and, according to the inscription in the W. window, were finished in 1437. The rebuilding of the rest of the church took place between 1443 and 1450 after Semer's death. In his will, proved 7 June 1443, he left the residue of his goods, after various benefactions, to the fabric on condition the parishioners built the church and chancel anew within seven years; later in the same year Thomas Ellerbek, who had succeeded Semer as vicar, contracted with Sir John Langton to buy stone from his quarry at Huddleston, and payments to masons continued until 1449 (Raine, 152). This rebuilding involved the construction of new arcades to the nave, the N. arcade being moved slightly to the N., leaving the W. window in an eccentric position, and a new South Aisle with a low-pitched roof to allow for a clerestorey over the nave. The work is plausibly ascribed to Robert Couper, mason (d. 1459), by J. H. Harvey, English Mediaeval Architects (1954), 76. A bequest of 20 stone of lead for the roof of St. Mary's chapel by Richard Clark in 1495 can be accepted as being for repairs, perhaps to the N. aisle; there was formerly a statue of the Virgin and Child on the outside of the N. aisle (Knowles MS.). Other altars in the church were dedicated to St. Nicholas (Knowles MS.), St. Thomas the Martyr and St. Katherine (Raine, 153). In the 17th century all the openings in the N. wall were blocked for alterations to the houses erected in the churchyard in 1335 by Thomas de Ludham, vicar (see Monument (139)).

Later additions and improvements included a clock placed in the E. wall in 1668 (Knowles MS.), a reredos with Corinthian columns erected in c. 1714, altar rails and a font-cover given in 1717, and five new bells in 1729. Three more bells were added in 1730. In 1722 the glass from the E. window, said to illustrate the history of St. Athanasius, was removed to the Minster (Gent, 173). In 1734 a faculty was granted for the erection of a Porch; this was designed in a classical style, as shown in a drawing by Monkhouse and Bedford. In 1778 the clock in the E. wall was replaced by a new one surmounted by a figure of a naval officer.

Early in the 19th century, pierced panels in the parapets were replaced by plain. Restoration was carried out in 1836, 1844 when windows by Wailes were put in, and in 1853–4 when a new Porch was built and pierced panels were replaced in the parapets, together with new pinnacles and gargoyles, under the supervision of J. B. and W. Atkinson. A new clock was fitted to the E. wall in 1856.

In the modern reconstruction, the S. aisle has been enclosed by a new wall N. of the old S. arcade, and the glass from the W. window of the nave reset in a new window in a N. projection. The W. end of the nave has been adapted to contain new Vestries, etc. The remainder of the church is laid out as a garden.

Architectural Description. The Chancel and Nave were structurally undivided. At the E. end, the buttresses were remodelled in 1854; the E. window, of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head, has been replaced by a modern arch. The N. arcade has been destroyed, leaving only the stumps of the piers. Its alignment is just N. of that of an earlier arcade, which was itself N. of the S. wall of the 11th-century church. The arches were two-centred, of two chamfered orders merging into octagonal piers without capitals. The S. arcade comprises similar two-centred arches of two chamfered orders dying into the piers without capitals. Over the arches is a moulded string-course, above which was a clerestorey with five windows, each of four trefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head; the walling below the windows was recessed. The W. wall of the nave is of various builds: at the bottom, to the N., is part of the W. wall of the original 11th-century church. Further S. is the W. wall of the 13th-century aisle; elsewhere is fine ashlar, contemporary with the great W. window, which had five lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The wall has been largely rebuilt with two modern windows, but the lower corners of the jambs and the sill of the former W. window are preserved in recesses in the wall. The North Aisle had a large E. window with vertical tracery in a four-centred head; it is now blocked. Below is a blocked recess; in the blocking is a late 19th-century doorway, itself blocked. The N. wall of the N. aisle retains the 11th-century masonry of the original nave in its W. part; the rest of the walling is of c. 1280. Before the adjacent property was rebuilt, more of the wall was visible. To the E. is a blocked window of three uncusped lights with simple intersecting arched tracery. Two other blocked windows were probably similar. Two blocked doorways with two-centred heads are probably of the 14th and 13th centuries respectively. At the W. end of the wall is a small doorway with four-centred head, probably late 17th-century. The W. wall has the lower part internally of 11th-century masonry but externally refaced. The W. window has three cinque-foiled lights and restored vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a label finishing on modern head-stops. Below are remains of a small round-headed doorway.

The South Aisle had been drastically restored before the reconstruction of 1961. The E. wall, much restored, has a restored window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The N. wall is modern and contains in a projecting bay a copy of the W. window of the nave. The S. wall was rebuilt in 1854 in magnesian limestone but with some gritstone at the base; the buttresses support pinnacles connected to the wall by grotesque gargoyles, under which are small flying buttresses. The windows are of three lights with vertical tracery in four-centred heads (Plate 25). The doorway has a two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs and a label with foliated stops; the rear-arch is two-centred.

The Tower is built in three stages with buttresses surmounted by pinnacles, as on the S. aisle. The lowest stage opened to the nave and S. aisle through two-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders dying into W. and S. walls and into a pier with no capitals. On the N.E. pier are two carved heads, one a lion and the other human (Plate 29). The S. and W. walls have windows each of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label with stops carved with male and female heads. The second stage, forming the ringing-chamber, has a doorway in the E. wall, leading onto the aisle roof. Above it is the weathering for an earlier steep-pitched roof. Another doorway in the N. wall is blocked; it may have led to a gallery. In the S. and W. walls are windows of three lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The belfry stage has a window in each wall, of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The openwork battlements are original 15th-century work.

Roofs: the roof of the S. aisle is ceiled in timber, with moulded beams and wall-plates forming fourteen compartments, with bosses at the intersections carved with male and grotesque heads, flowers, and foliage, all of the 15th century. Some angel-bosses and corbel-heads, said to have been removed in 1871, are in the Yorkshire Museum.

Fig. 22. (10) Church of St. Martin, Coney Street, plan before 1942.

Fig. 23. (10) Church of St. Martin, Coney Street, as existing.

Fittings—Items shown in brackets were recorded in 1958, but are now removed or concealed. (Altar: stone slab marked with consecration crosses, badly broken.) (Bells: eight, by E. Seller of York, 1729 and 1730.) Brasses and Indents. Brasses: (on chancel steps, (1) Capt. Robert Middleton, 1765, plain plate. In N. aisle, (2) Maryanne Campbell, 1806, plain plate.) On new N. wall, (3) Thomas Colthurst, 1588, inscribed plate (see Monument (3)) (Plate 40). In S. aisle, (4) Christopher Harington, goldsmith, 1614, with half-length figure and shield-of-arms of the Goldsmiths' Company (Plate 40); (5) Valentine Nalson, pastor of this church and succentor of York Minster, 1722/3, with shield-of-arms; ((6) Joshua Walker, 1805; (7) John Hardman Lister, solicitor of Scarborough, 1810, signed Barker, York). Indents: in former nave, (1) probably for figure, decayed; (2) for rectangular plate. In S. aisle, (3) for rectangular plate. Coffin Lids: in former nave, in S. wall, (1) fragment with incised cross-shaft; (2) fragment with raised border; (in W. wall, (3) fragment with part of cross). In former N. aisle, in blocking of window, (4) part, with foliated cross, 14th-century; (5) part, with stepped base of cross; (6) fragment as (1); between doorways, (7) part, with foliated cross; 12th and 13th-century. Communion Table: of oak, heavy turned legs and moulded rails, 17th-century; top, of pine, later. Consecration Crosses see Altar. Font: mediaeval octagonal stone bowl tapering to modern octagonal base. Font-cover: of oak, with scrolled openwork top, gilded, inscribed 'RICHARD SPEIGHT RICHARD MANCHLIN CHURCH WARDENS AN° DOM 1717', restored 1968 (Plate 36).

Glass: all of 15th century unless otherwise stated. It was taken out and restored by J. W. Knowles in 1871–3. The W. window was removed for protection 1940 and replaced in a new position 1967. The remaining glass, except that in the S. aisle, was destroyed in the air-raid of 1942. The S. aisle glass was rearranged and restored 1965.

Chancel, E. window, I. The mid 15th-century glass was removed to the Minster in 1722; some panels remain in the S. transept there, in windows sXXVII and sXXVIII. Fragments also remain here in the traceries of sIV and sVI.

In new N. wall, nII, formerly in W. window of nave. Glass painted c. 1442 as the gift of Robert Semer, vicar 1425–43. Tracery contains in the smaller openings motifs of vinewreaths, grapes and Tudor roses, all by Knowles. In the larger openings are the Nine Orders of Angels with an additional angel to fill tenth opening. Some identifications survive— (B3) '[Sera]phyn', (B4) 'Cherubyn' (Plate 54), (B6) 'Dominaciones' (Plate 54), (A7) '[An]gelus' and (A11) 'Potestates'; only the last-named definitely in its correct relative position, being inscribed on the hem of the angel's surcoat. Main lights contain a large figure of St. Martin of Tours surrounded by thirteen scenes from his life. Top row of scenes is set under tall canopies (Plate 56) and each of the lower scenes has its own canopy, of four different designs in all. Below these scenes an inscription runs across the window and under this, set between two rows of quarry-panels, is the figure of the donor, Robert Semer. Each quarry has the monogram 'R S', and in the centre of each quarry-panel is a roundel encircled by a vine-wreath and containing an eagle holding a scroll. All quarries and several centre-pieces by Knowles. Each scene from the saint's life originally had a descriptive metrical text, but four are lost. The scenes are in no particular order; (5a) St. Martin driving out devil; (5b) St. Martin kneeling at altar with cleric and lay-folk, with Holy Spirit as dove descending in rays of glory, inscription 'O meritis digni[s] [? sanctum] p(ro)bat hu(n)c globus [? ignis]'; (5c and 4c) large figure of St. Martin as an archbishop in mass vestments; (5d) Birth of St. Martin, inscription 'Ortus sabarie martinus prodit ad esse R S'; (5e) St. Martin's vision of Christ after clothing the beggar (Plate 61), the saint in bed, dressed as a nobleman, inscription 'Est xpc testis que texit eum sua vestis R S'; (4a) St. Martin at mass, his wrists being clothed by an angel, jumbled inscription; (4b) St. Martin as a boy being brought to a schoolteacher by his parents, schoolteacher now with inserted mitre; (4d) St. Martin on horseback, dressed as noble warrior, dividing his cloak for beggar, inscription 'hic etenim grate nudu(m) texit pietate R S'; (4e) Death of St. Martin in the presence of his disciples and the devil; above, his soul being carried to heaven by two angels; in front of bed kneeling figure with scroll inscribed 'Quid hic stans cruenta [? bes]tea nil'; main inscription 'Qui xpi castra b(e)n(e) rexit ia(m) tenet astra'; (3a) St. Martin restoring to life a catechumen, inscription 'Vite sublatus cathecumen[? e] est revocatus'; (3b) St. Martin as soldier stands unarmed in battle; (3c) St. Martin consecrated archbishop by two bishops, inscription 'hic sublimat(ur) martinus dum [c]athed(ra)t(ur) R S'; (3d) St. Martin compels the devil to carry his missal (Plate 61); around the devil a scroll inscribed 'Semp[er] ego vere tibi nitar ubique nocere R S'; main inscription jumbled and not all belonging to this scene; (3e) St. Martin rescues hare from four hounds. Across the top of row 2 is a black-letter inscription, much damaged, the missing parts mostly supplied from Henry Johnston's reading in 1669 (f. 178): '[Orate pro] a(n)i(m)a d(omi)ni Roberti [Sem]er quon[dam] mini[st]ri istius eccl(es)ie et ca[mer]arii cap(itu)li Ebo(r)u(m) qui vide(n)s sibi fine(m) vite sue cu(m) [si]t senex naturalit[er] appropinq[ua]re p(re)ordi[navit et aedificav(?)]it hoc opus vij die me(n)sis octobr(i)s anno d(omi)ni mill(esi)mo cccc xxxvij [cuius] a(n)i(m)e p(ro)pic(i)et(ur) deus'; (2a) quarry-panel, scroll inscribed 'T[im]or d(omi)ni ap[ponet dies]; Et anni impioru(m) bre[v]iab[un]t(ur)' (Proverbs ch. x, 27), eagle and scroll original; (2b) quarry-panel, scroll inscribed 'fortitudo simplicis via d(omi)ni; [et pavor h]is qui op[er]a[n]t(ur) malu(m)' (Proverbs ch. x, 29), eagle, scroll and vine-wreath original; (2c) donor dressed in clerical robes kneels before a prie-dieu (Plate 54); on it a book open at the text 'Miserere mei deus s(e)c(un)d(u)m magnam mi(sericordi)am tua[m] et s(e)c(un)d(u)m multitudine(m) miserac(i)onu(m) tuarum' (Psalm li, i); above his head scroll with inscription 'Sancte martine repelle a me. ....'; (2d) quarry-panel, scroll inscribed 'Expectatio [justorum laetitia]; Spes [a]ute(m) impioru(m) peribi[t]' (Proverbs ch. x, 28), eagle, scroll and one vine-leaf original; (2e) quarry-panel, scroll inscribed 'b(e)n(e)dic(ti)o d(omi)ni sup[er] caput i[usti]; Os auten imp[?iorum habita]bu(n)t sup[er] t(err)am' (sic) (Proverbs ch. x, 6 and 30 mixed), eagle, scroll and vine-wreath original; (1a–1e) quarrypanels, scrolls with simulated inscriptions, all by Knowles. Borders to rows 1 and 2 of crowned letters R and S, by Knowles.

In S. aisle, S. wall, 1st window, sIII, contains panel with early 14th-century fragments, including a canopy with fleur-de-lys crockets, grisaille with naturalistic foliage and birdborders.

S. wall, 2nd window, sIV. Tracery: (B1) The Trinity, God the Father, with inserted head, enthroned; in front, the Son on the Cross, attended by the Holy Spirit as dove; on each side, censing angel; (A1) St. Mark holding pen and accompanied by winged lion; (A2 and A5) Coronation of the Virgin; (A3) St. Luke sharpening quill pen, by his side a winged ox holding inkwell and sand-pouch; (A4) St. Matthew with open book; (A6) St. John with eagle, his dexter hand and the eagle original, remainder by Knowles. Main lights: (2a) elaborate architectural canopy containing God enthroned, attended on each side by two angels; (1a) the Holy Family (Plate 51): SS. Joachim and Anne with Virgin Mary and infant Jesus; (1b and 2b) under an elaborate canopy, of different design from that in (2a), with a late 14th-century angel inserted centrally, a square-quarry panel, each quarry containing letter 'B'; in it female figure kneeling before an open book and with scroll having faded inscription '... myghty god...'; above, roundel with mythical beast and, below, fragments of black-letter inscriptions; (1c and 2c) under canopy (Plate 56) as in (2a), but with only one angel each side, the Corpus Christi scene depicting God the Father, with recently-inserted Victorian head, holding the body of the Son with crown of thorns and Dove, the five wounds prominently marked (Plate 46).

S. wall, 3rd window, sV. Tracery: (B1) centrally, roundel with eagle and scroll, remainder modern; (A1 and A2) saints, by Knowles; (A3) copy, by Knowles, of (A4); (A4) fragment with crouching pine-marten holding end of scroll inscribed 'mart'; remainder modern; (A5 and A6) saints, by Knowles. Main lights: (1a) modern except damaged shield-of-arms with field azure impaling gules a chevron argent between three (?)buckles or, above it, a 14th-century foliate roundel; (2a) modern except shield-of-arms of St. Peter; (1b and 2b) under a composite architectural canopy, St. George in early 15th-century armour killing the dragon; below, modern cross of St. George; (1c) modern except for shield-of-arms, azure with an inescutcheon quarterly (1) azure fretty argent, (2 & 3) argent on a fesse gules three (?)cushions (or lozenges) argent in chief a fleur-de-lys gules, (4) argent a bend chequy or and gules; (2c) modern except for shield-of-arms of England (pre-1340), possibly early 14th-century.

S. wall, 4th window, sVI. Tracery: (B1) God the Father flanked by two angels in clouds, one with scroll 'Nobis rex celi patrem', the other with upper half original, remainder by Knowles; (A1) angel with faded inscription; (A2) feathered and belted angel standing in niche; (A3) made-up panel with female head, bird-quarry and fragments of inscriptions including 'Venerandu(m)' from window I; (A4) made-up panel with tonsured head and fragments of inscriptions; (A5) reversed cartoon of (A2); (A6) censing angel. Main lights: (1a and 2a) kneeling king holding covered cup and scroll lettered 'magnifi[camus] te'; shields-of-arms, at top, damaged, argent a chevron between three keys sable, possibly for Osbaldwyke, at bottom, England (pre-1340), 19th-century; (1b and 2b) St. Barbara, holding palm and tower, at her feet fragmentary inscription '[Bar]bara'; above, roundel with scroll inscribed 'virginum', below, shield-of-arms, argent a saltire gules, modern; (1c and 2c) kneeling king holding covered cup and scroll inscribed 'Magnificamus te'; at top, defaced shield-of-arms under canopy fragment, below, shield-of-arms of England (pre-1340), 19th-century.

S. wall, 5th window, sVII, newly-glazed with made-up panels of fragments attached internally, (a) and (c) from St. Crux church, (b) from Wakefield Cathedral: (a) panel, seated figure with canopy fragments; (b) two panels, figure and canopy fragments; (c) panel, figure seated in chair before open book, below, inscription 'Sce Ambros' doc...', above, canopy fragments.

S. wall, 6th window, sVIII, newly-glazed with made-up panels of fragments from Wakefield Cathedral attached to inside: (a) composite figure of female saint with short sword; above, canopy fragments; (b) two panels with figure and canopy fragments; (c) composite figure of female saint kneeling before a desk with open book; above, canopy fragments.

Images: in S. aisle, Virgin and Child crowned, of carved wood, foreign, 16th-century. Inscriptions and Scratchings: on S. arcade and tower, numerous masons' marks, 15th-century. Monuments: (in chancel, (1) Charles, 1708, broken;) reset on new N. wall, (2) Robert Horsfield, 1711, Elizabeth, 1666, Mary, 1668, Elizabeth, 1673, Hannah, 1719, wives, and seven children, black tablet between fluted composite pilasters supporting segmental pediment, and winged skull below gadrooned base; (3) Thomas Colthurst, 1588, with inscribed brass plate (see Brass (3)), between four shields-of-arms of Colthurst, incised presumably for enamel, and with studs to simulate brass; (4) Lady Elizabeth Sheffield, 1633, erected by her husband, Sir William; in a recess framed by pilasters and pediment, busts of Lady Elizabeth and Sir William (Plate 41); flanking figures of Charity and Mercy; shields-of-arms of Sheffield, Darnley and Sheffield impaling Darnley. In S. aisle, on S. wall, (5) John Kendall, 1823, Honor his wife, 1833, niche with Gothic canopy. Plate: includes two cups and two patens by Ayme Vedeau, London 1757/8; stand-paten by William Busfield of York, 1684/5; flagon by Vedeau, 1757/8; flagon by FG, 1764/5; alms-dish by RI, 1757/8; spoon by WI, London 1725/6; pewter alms-dish given in 1675. Miscellanea: stones, in old N. wall, (1) moulding, 13th-century; (2) moulded voussoir, 12th-century. In S. aisle, (3) two enriched moulded voussoirs (Plate 28), 12th-century. On E. wall, on clock of 1856, (4) carved and painted figure of naval officer, 1778.