Burial Grounds

Pages 49-50

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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Burial Grounds

(16) Former Burial Ground, early mediaeval, extending across the parish boundary between All Saints, Pavement, St. Crux and St. Sampson's, probably belonged to a lost church; a reference to a vanished St. Swithin's Lane, off the Shambles, may provide the dedication (Raine, 188). Finds during the 19th century and in 1929 under premises in Parliament Street and Pavement, now part of stores belonging to Marks and Spencer and Curry's Ltd., indicate a large graveyard with coffined burials extending back from Parliament Street to the Newgate Market. Carved stones (listed below), a monoxylic coffin, and a papal bulla of Honorius III imply that the graveyard was in use from the late Saxon period until at least 1217 (election of Honorius III) (YG, 9 July 1825, 9 Nov. 1929; YC, 9 Feb. 1837, 2 March 1837, 4 May 1837, 15 June 1837; Yorkshireman, 26 March 1836, 6 May 1837, 1 and 8 July 1837; YMH (1891), 74–5, Nos. 4, 5).

Pre-Conquest Stones: in Yorkshire Museum. (1) Grave-slab, 36 in. by 12 in., and (2) grave-slab, 33½ in. by 14 in., were previously published as items v and vi in the list of mediaeval sculpture in the museum (York IV, xlv). (3) Headstone fragment (Plate 21), of coarse gritstone, 29 in. by 13½ in. by 9½ in. tapering to 9 in., found in conjunction with (2) and of similar width; front carved with pellet-bordered single panel containing double-strand plait; left side badly worn but appearing similar to right side, with row of pellets and double cable beneath similar double-strand plait; back without carving. The bare base would have been sunk into the earth; the original arrangement is best illustrated in the pre-Conquest cemetery discovered under the S. transept of York Minster (Arch., civ (1973), Burials 1 and 4, Plates XXXIX and LII).

(17) Former Holy Trinity Churchyard, King's Square. Holy Trinity church was demolished in 1937. On the site there are nineteen memorial stones, mostly 18th and 19th-century. Many inscriptions are illegible. Others include: Martin Croft, 1797; Martin Croft, 1800; Richard Chambers, 18th-century; Robert Ward, 1773; Francis Elcock, 1686, with small rectangular indent; Ann Beeston, 1798; the Rev. Thomas Gylby, rector of West Retford and West Drayton, vicar of East Markham, 1761.

(18) St. Crux Burial Ground, S.E. of St. Saviour's church, contains headstones, one with legible inscription to Mirabella, wife of George Metcalfe, 1843. Set into the boundary wall is a stone inscribed ST. CRUX PARISH. At the S. corner of the burial ground, a 19th-century brick vault was seen in 1968, built into an earlier wall of magnesian limestone.

(19) Former St. George's Churchyard, on the W. side of George Street, was converted into a public garden in 1924. The parish of St. George was united with St. Denys in 1586 and the mediaeval church allowed to decay, though substantial remains survived as late as the early 18th century and the churchyard continued to be used for burials. The notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, was buried here in 1739 (New Guide, 14). Thirty-one former headstones, all of the 19th century, now lie flat on the ground.

(20) St. Helen's Burial Ground, Davygate, occupies part of the site of Davy Hall, on the S. W. side of the street, bought by York Corporation in January 1729. In October 1729 the vicar and churchwardens of St. Helen's church proposed to York Corporation 'to cutt of[f] part of their churchyard so far as to answer to the opening of Blake Street and to lay it to the street so as a coach may drive with greater ease and conveniency', but it was not until 1745, with the demolition of Davy Hall, that an alternative burial ground became available. This, about 30 ft. by 40 ft, and walled about, with gates to Davygate, was ready in September 1745, by which time the old churchyard had been levelled and paved and formed part of St. Helen's Square.

The burial ground is slightly raised above street level and is roughly square, having been truncated in road widening. It has been paved, and all surviving monuments except one are lined upright against two enclosing walls. There are eleven monuments, all of sandstone, four of which are incomplete or illegible. Two are of 19th-century date. The 18th-century monuments are: (1) William Peckitt, 1776, and Anna his wife, 1787, the parents of William Peckitt the glass-painter; (2) Jane Coulson, 1785; (3) Edward Greggs, 1795; (4) William Grunwell, 1793, Ann his mother, 1794; (5) Margaret, daughter of Martin and Joanna Burnell, 1787, panel with pediment decorated with half-urns and palmette frieze.