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York Minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York.
The first church on this site was a wooden structure believed built to baptise Edwin King of Northumbria in 627; this was replaced in 637 by a stone church dedicated to St Peter. By 670 the church was dilapidated, and new building began in 741, the resulting structure was damaged by fire in 1069. The first Norman Archbishop of York organised repairs, but the whole was destroyed by Danes in 1075. Rebuilding the Minster began in 1080, was damaged by fire in 1137, and repaired and remodelled by 1154. Rebuilding began in 1220 and was completed in 1472, when the Minster was finally consecrated.
The Minster escaped looting in the English Civil War, principally through the intervention of General Sir Thomas Fairfax. Preservation at the Minster has continued to the present day. Fire badly damaged the east transept in 1984, and rebuilding completed in 1988. In 2007 renovation began on the Great East Window and was completed in 2018.It is widely held that Richard III planned to build a chantry in the Minster as the burial place of Richard himself, his wife Anne Neville and their son Edward of Middleham. This never came to fruition, but the Minster has a window light dedicated to Richard bearing his arms. The Minster is the burial place of Edward III’s second son William of Hatfield. His effigy shows an adolescent boy when in fact William died as a baby.
Burials in the Wars of the Roses period include George Neville, Archbishop of York (1476), and his successor Thomas Rotherham; both were political churchmen, as well as that of Miles Metcalfe, recorder of York and steadfast supporter of Richard III.
All Saints’ was built in the 11th century, supposedly by Ralph de Pagnell, Lord of Hooton Pagnell village.
The church has a magnificent, if small hammer-beam roof with painted golden- winged angels, but the main glory is the medieval glass, widely regarded to be the best in York. The Nine Orders of Angels window, restored in 1965 is particularly fine. At the east end of the north aisle is the Pricke of Conscience window, dated 1425. This window portrays the end of the world, which at that time was expected in 1500, and next to it is the Corporal Acts of Mercy window. The windows are said to be the work of John Thornton, who designed the Great East Window in York Minster.
All Saints’ was built in the 11th century, supposedly by Ralph de Pagnell, Lord of Hooton Pagnell village.
All Saints’, Pavement could be said to be the Lord Mayor’s church. No fewer than thirty nine of them are buried here, and it is the Guild Church of York. Tradition has it that there was a church on the site in 685, built for St Cuthbert. The Domesday Book, 1086, records a church as being held by the Bishop of Durham, given by the King; the present church was built in the 14th century. In the Middles Ages the Lantern Tower was used to hang a lamp guiding travellers to safety from the Forest of Galtres.
The church was completely rebuilt in the late 14th century and considerably larger than it is today. In c.1400, the west tower was added, and the distinctive blue panelled nave ceiling was installed later in the 15th century. By the end of the 18th century, the chancel was in need of repair and, since the city wished to expand the thriving grain market in Pavement, the chancel and its aisles were demolished in 1782, reducing the size of the church substantially.
Notable features inside the church include the 14th century west window, 15th century lectern, and the crests of some of the York guilds, including the Butchers, Merchant Taylors, Scriveners, Freemen and Merchant Adventurers, as well as two particular oddities: a 12th century brass door knocker depicting the mouth of Hell, and an Anglo-Danish grave cover.
The Austin Friars were believed to have come to York from Tickhill. By 1122 they were established in the city, and granted a writ of protection by Henry III. Only a section of wall overlooking the River Ouse, and the catalogues of their library remain.
The Friary was the preferred residence of Richard, duke of Gloucester and Anne Neville on their frequent visits to York. The House was surrendered and dissolved in November 1538.
Burials of significance within the chapel included those of Sir Humphrey and Charles Neville, executed on September 29th 1469 by order of their cousin Edward IV for joining a rising on behalf of the house of Lancaster.
Founded in early 12th century, Holy Trinity lies in a peaceful area behind the Minster.
The church, like many of its medieval York counterparts, has beautiful glass; the east window was donated by Reverend John Walker in 1470. Among the many memorials are two boards recording York’s Lord Mayors, including George Hudson ‘The Railway King’. The box pews are unique, as the only box pews in the city.
Holy Trinity was founded prior to the Norman invasion of 1066, and is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as one of five great northern churches.
Around 1089 this church was re-founded by its new Norman lord as a Benedictine priory, served by a community of monks. The structure of the present church incorporates parts of the fabric of a medieval priory church. The priory was dissolved in 1536, after which the church continued as the parish church.
During the Middle Ages it was the starting point of the York Mystery Plays. The nave and tower remain from this period. The present five bay aisled nave dates from early 13th century, the tower is 15th century. The church has undergone several periods or reconstruction and renovation, and houses an exhibition on the monastic life of a priory.
St Andrew’s was certainly in existence in medieval times and is first mentioned in 1194 when it belonged to the Dean and Chapter of York. The chancel was built in 1390 and the nave during the 15th century. The parish was united with St Saviour in 1585 at which point the church was closed and sold by order of York City Council. After its closure the church was used for a variety of purposes. . From 1736 to 1830 it was the St Peters infant school, and in the 1920s was used by the Plymouth Brethren. The church is still used as an Evangelical church today.
St Crux was the largest of York’s medieval churches. The church was rebuilt in 1424 on the site of the previous church of the same name. In 1697 a tower was added and the church remained until 1880, by which time it was considered unsafe, and although there were plans to rebuild it funds proved to be unobtainable. It was demolished in 1887. There are, however, parts still remaining. Much of the fabric was used to build St Crux Parish Hall. Parts of walls can be traced in the Shambles and the snickleway leading into Whip ma Whop ma Gate. Many of the fittings and monuments were removed to nearby All Saints Pavement and the hall is now a café. St Crux was the church which housed the remains of one of Richard’s staunchest York supporters, Lord Mayor in 1478 and 1484, Master of the Guild and York MP Thomas Wrangwysh, and his wife.
Situated near Layerthorpe prison, legend says that a church dedicated to St Cuthbert was erected on the site in 678. True or not, the church is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
The east wall incorporated Roman masonry. The church was rebuilt in 1430 by Sir William de Bowes, Lord Mayor of York in 1417 and 1428, the new building had an undivided chancel and nave with a barrel roof and west tower. In 1547 it was destined for closure but a strong request from Sir Martin Bowes prevented this, as his ancestors Sir William and his son, also William, York’s Sheriff in 1432, were buried in the centre of the nave. The church was badly damaged during the Civil War siege and repaired in 1648. It now serves as the administrative centre for St Michael le Belfry.
Dedicated to St Denys, the patron saint of France, this church is one of the remaining two of the original six in Walmgate. The present church is pre Conquest. Two grave covers from the site, now in the York Museum, are Anglo-Saxon.
The earliest documentary evidence is from 1154; the doorway from 1160, the north and south aisles and central tower with its 116 foot spire added in the 13th century. The fabric was damaged during the York siege of 1644, and the tall spire was prone to a succession of accidents: struck by lightning in 1700 and damaged by winds in 1778, it was finally removed in 1797 when drainage digging caused the collapse of the west end.
A new tower without spire replaced the original, and the Norman doorway was moved to its present position. Much of the 13th century glass, the earliest in the city, has been moved to the Minster, one piece, irretrievably lost, is East window dedicated to the 2nd Earl of Northumberland and his family.
St Helena was the wife of Constantius Chlorus and the church is supposedly built on the site of her private chapel.
A church is first recorded on the site in 1235, although the font is older. In 1548 the church was partially demolished and much of the fabric was sold; in 1553/4 Mary I allowed an Act which enabled the parishioners to rebuild the church.
The exterior underwent a considerable reconstruction in 1805 and 1845. The buttresses were removed and the spire replaced by a belfry and lantern. A further programme of renovation in 1858 saw the chancel extended and a new vestry built on the south side. In the early 1900s St Helen’s went through a period of decay which resulted in its closure in 1921 and following an appeal was fully restored by 1923.
As befits the parish church of the medieval glass painters, the west window contains much 14th and 15th century glass.
St John’s was first recorded in 1194 though the base of the tower at the west wall is earlier. North and south aisles were added in the 13th century and in the latter half of the 15th century the upper part of the tower was rebuilt. The steeple was blown down in 1551 and not until 1646 were the bells rehung in a timber belfry.
A chantry was endowed in the 15th century by Sir Richard Yorke containing his altar tomb and a beautiful window depicting Sir Richard and his family kneeling in devotion, with angels holding the family coat of arms aloft above them. The Yorke window has since been removed from the church to the Minster. St John’s closed in 1934.
There were plans by the council to demolish the building in 1951, but York Civic Trust intervened for its preservation in 1955-6. The alterations were carried out sympathetically with the existing fabric, the monuments cleaned and the bells rehung. The church is now an arts centre.
St Lawrence’s was founded in the 12th century, but the present church on the site is Victorian. The sole remains of the previous church are the medieval tower in the churchyard and the dragon-carved Norman doorway. Inside the church only the intricate 14 century font remains. The present church is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
Walmgate’s original six churches have now dwindled to two, of which St Margaret’s is one. The church was built in the 12th century but greatly altered during the 14th century; the tower was added in 1684 after the previous structure collapsed.
The church has a Romanesque tunnel vaulted south porch with signs of the Zodiac and the labours of the months which was originally at St Nicholas Hospital, the largest of the four medieval leper hospitals in York.
St Margaret’s was declared redundant in 1974. It has since been stripped of most of its furnishings and was used as a theatrical store for York’s Theatre Royal. It has been the National Centre for Early Music since 2000.
The original timber church stood on this site before 1080, when it was rebuilt in stone and extended several times during the Middle Ages. In April 1942 a bombing raid destroyed most of the medieval church with only the tower and south aisle surviving the blast. The restoration was re-consecrated in 1968.
The 15th century window depicting the life of St Martin had been removed from the church for safe-keeping and returned during the restoration.
St Martin’s church dates from the 11th century, and was widened and enlarged during the customary medieval improvements, with a nave and aisles added. The local topography necessitated the provision of an undercroft. The chancel was completely rebuild in the later Middle ages, and the tower rebuilt with a steeple.
St Martin’s was scheduled for closure in 1548, but this was halted when the church and churchyard of St Gregory were sold to Alderman John Beane, and the parish merged with St Martin. The church is now a diocesan youth centre.
St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088 by William II Rufus, as a Benedictine house, on the site of St Olave’s Abbey (founded in 1055). In 1132 a party of monks from the Abbey, dissatisfied with the decadent lifestyle in St Mary’s, left to found Fountains Abbey.
Now in ruins, the remains of the St Mary’s Abbey stand in the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum. The abbey hospitium, in excellent condition, is a short distance away. Remains of the Abbey church and the West Gate are visible in the grounds, and the Museum contains remains of the excavated Chapter and warming houses. The 14th century Abbots House is now known as the Kings Manor.
In 1460 the Abbot John Cottingham offered shelter Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and their son in the Abbey before the battle of Towton.
By far the oldest of the York churches, St Mary’s is hidden behind Holy Trinity. There is a tradition that it was the seat of Eborius, Bishop of York in 314. The Anglo-Saxon tower is the oldest example of ecclesiastical architecture in the city, built with much reclaimed Roman stone it is quite unique. Battlements were added in the 15th century when the tower was repaired. Internally, Norman pillars separate the nave and north aisle, the south arcade is later.
The font is Medieval, and there are four small panels of late 15the century glass in a window on the south side of the chancel.
The church may date from as early as 1020. The remains of the original Saxon church is the stonework close to the chancel. The majority of the building is early 13th century, with 14th and 15th century alterations. Its 47-metre steeple is the tallest in York.
The church was de-consecrated in 1958 and between 1975 and 2001 was a heritage centre. It is now a venue for contemporary art.
Now called the Spurriergate Centre, the church is a restaurant and café serving locally sourced and fair trade food.
The church had a late medieval undivided nave and chancel, north and south aisles and a tower. Most of the building is 14th and 15th century, but the east end was rebuilt in 1821 when this part of the church was demolished to accommodate widening of the road. There are remaining fragments of medieval glass.
The church standing nearest to the Minster, St Michael le Belfry takes its name from the belfry which stood at the north end of the Minster. During the medieval period it was the parish church of one of the wealthiest areas of the city.
During the mid-14th century the church had an aisled nave, chancel, tower, and two chantries were established. Despite its wealth, by the 15th century the church was experiencing problems, not the least of which was the close proximity of the market held in the churchyard. Deterioration caused the church to be taken down and rebuilt.
The interior has an east window of 14th century glass, re-installed in 1587, with a panel depicting the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket. The remainder, provided by several donors, dates from 1525-40. That in the north aisle shows part of the life of St Thomas Becket and was originally in St Wilfred’s. The baptismal register records the baptism of Guy Fawkes in 1570.
St Olave’s was founded before the Conquest between 1030 and 1055 by Siward Earl of Northumbria and is where he was buried in 1055. The church is dedicated to St Olaf of Norway.
Following the Norman Conquest the church was given to Benedictine monks who built St Mary’s Abbey beside it.
By the time William II visited York the Abbey community had grown so much that it was apparent St Olav was no longer large enough as an Abbey church. William duly endowed the Abbey with more land for a new church and the Abbey enclosed behind new walls. St Olave’s now stood just outside the Abbey wall and reverted to its former status of Parish Church.
The church suffered extensive damage during the Civil War siege and the tower was badly damaged. St Olave’s suffered further in the early 18th century when it was “restored”. It was given a new chancel in 1887-9, which incorporates the five light 15th century window.
The earliest mention of St Sampson’s is 1154 when the church belonged to Pontefract Priory. It passed to the Crown in the 14th century. The church was rebuilt in the 15th century with an undivided nave and chancel, north and south aisles and a tower. The church had three chantries founded in 1268, 1337 and 1405. An attempt to unite the church with St Helen’s in 1549 was rescinded by Parliament.
The church and tower have been rebuilt and restored many times during its history, suffering severe damage during the Civil War, and dilapidation in the Victorian era, and was forced to close.
In 1974 St Sampson’s Centre for the Over 60s was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Rapidly becoming popular, the Centre now provides social activities, events and refreshments as St Sampson’s Centre for Old People.
St Saviour’s church was an 11th century foundation, and rebuilt in the 15th century with an undivided nave and chancel, and west tower. The tower was replaced in 1831. The church suffered the usual Victorian renovation and in 1954, when the parish was united with All Saints’, Pavement, the glass from the east window was transferred to the latter church. Other furnishings were removed to All Saints’ and Holy Trinity Micklegate.
In 1986 the Victorian floor was removed, revealing two medieval altar slabs, inscribed grave covers and ‘other artefacts’. In 1990 the church was re-opened as the Archaeological Resource Centre of the York Archaeological Trust.
St William’s College is named for William of York, twice Archbishop of York.
The College was founded for chantry priests in 1461, at which time Edward IV granted a licence to his cousins George Neville, Bishop of Exeter and his elder brother the Earl of Warwick to found a college of twenty three fellows. Building commenced in 1465 and a chapel and other buildings were completed by 1467.
Built around a courtyard, today St William’s is used for banquets, weddings and meetings, and as a tea room.
York’s lost churches are listed here.
Little documentary evidence exists for the church, the earliest being between 1091 and 1095, recording that the church was given to Whitby Abbey as a chantry for the souls of William II and his successors. All Saints’ did not survive long after the surrender of Whitby Abbey in 1539. Subsequently, the parish was combined with St Lawrence’s in 1586 and the exact location of All Saints’ church was lost.
Having re-established the location, the excavations of 2007 and 2008 show that the western part comprised a rectangular nave, 10m long, and to the east a smaller, rectangular chancel, with a semi-circular apse. An in situ burial within the apse disclosed a female buried in a tightly crouched position, giving rise to the speculation that this was the historically recorded anchoress Lady Isabel German.
The earliest documentary record to All Saints’, Peasholme, or All Saints’ in the Marsh, dates to the early 13th century, although archaeological evidence suggest that it was built as early as the 11th century. The Holy Priests’ House, a residence of chantry priests, was built in the late 14th century on the south-west side the church yard. The church was in use until 1586, when it was closed by an act of Parliament and united with the parish church of St Cuthbert on Peasholme Green. The ruins of All Saints’, Peasholme are thought to have survived into the early 18th century.
Traditionally on the site of an Anglo Scandinavian palace, possibly this was the site of a royal chapel. The earliest credible reference is 1268; the church housed the chantries of the Langton family. Mainly of 14/15th century construction, the church had a 60ft spire.
In 1829 part of the church, including the spire was removed to accommodate the widening of Colliergate. The whole was demolished in 1861 and rebuilt. In 1886 the church was united with St Sampson and having fallen into disuse was home to a flock of sheep, appropriately for the church of the Butchers Guild. It was demolished in 1937.
St Andrew’s was part of the Gilbertine priory in Fishergate, the buildings of which immediately adjoined the small Benedictine nunnery of St Clement. At the Dissolution there were a prior and three canons, all of them priests. They surrendered in 1538.
The site was excavated by the York Archaeological Society in 1985.
There is no evidence of the date of foundation; however, recent excavations have established that burials began by the early 890s and continued into the late 11th century. St Benet’s is recorded as having been demolished before 1316; in 1359 the King granted a vacant plot called Benetplace in Patrick Pool “where a church of St Benet once stood”.
St Clement’s existed as an integral part of the Benedictine Nunnery of St. Clement founded by Archbishop Thurstan in 1130, serving both as the Priory church and as the parish church for the residents outside its boundary. The Nunnery surrendered under the Suppression Act of 1536 and the Priory church, spared destruction, reverted to a purely parochial role. It later fell into ruin due to the depleted population when the parish was united in 1585 with that of St. Mary, Bishophill Senior. Not until 1745 was the stone from all the buildings removed and used for repairing the City walls.
This church was built before 1213 and was situated on the north side of Lawrence Street, near what is now Lansdowne Terrace. In 1306 the rector was member of a commission “to seek out and receive criminous clerks tried and delivered to prison in York by secular authorities, until tried by ecclesiastical authorities.”
The church fell into decay in the 16th century.
The earliest mention of St George’s is 1291. There appears to have been a tower, as a bequest for its building was made in 1435. A chapel at Naburn, which lay in the parish of St George, was first mentioned in 1353. Some of the pewter plate recorded as in the chapel at Naburn in 1764 may have belonged to St George’s. Nothing is known about the bells of the church or its registers.
The church was united with St Denys in 1586, but was still in use in 1639. It was badly damaged during the Civil War and never repaired.
St Giles is first mentioned in 1145-61, possibly in the possession of St Mary’s Abbey. St Giles was the parish church of the Skinners. It was united with St Olav in 1586. The churchyard was used for victims of the plague epidemic of 1605 and as a burial place for criminals until 1693.
St Gregory’s is first mentioned in 1166/79 in a confirmation of Holy Trinity Priory. The advowson remained with the priory until the Dissolution, and the benefice was united with St Martins, Micklegate in 1586.
The church appears to have been associated with Holy Trinity Priory, Micklegate to which it was granted by Ralph Paynell in 1086. The Church of St Helen has been associated with the hospital, also situated on Fishergate, and referred to as a 'spittle house in Fishergate, beside St Helen's'. This house is considered to have been in existence in 1399, and is documented into the 15th century.
The churchyard fell out of use in the mid-16th century. In 1585 or 1586, the parish was united with St Lawrence and the church was demolished.
The first church was a single-cell structure, possibly late 10th century, built over a Roman mosaic floor. It was extended in the 12th century by a chancel, and completely reconstructed on a different alignment in the late 14th century. In all there were five periods of building or reconstruction. Testamentary burials are recorded as late as 1549.
The church site was excavated extensively by the York Archaeological Society in the 1970s.
This church is first mentioned in a document dated between 1108 and 1114.
The church lay on the north-east side of Ogleforth. Church, adjacent parsonage house and churchyard, and parsonage house came into the hands of the corporation in 1549 and in 1553 were sold to Archbishop Holgate as premises for his grammar school. Chantry priests are mentioned in connexion with the church in 1388 but nothing is known of chantries in the church. There are no remains.
Also known as St John the Baptist or St John's-in-the-Marsh, this church was demolished c.1550s. Much of the area was excavated by York Archaeological Trust in its Hungate dig, 2006–2013. The foundations were partly uncovered and its location established as part of that project in 2013.
The avowdson of St Mary al Valvas was with York Minster, and the earliest documentary evidence of this church is 1329. The church was demolished in 1365 during the construction of the Lady Chapel of York Minster, and the benefice united with St John Delpike. There are no remains.
St Mary’s Bishophill Senior was built on a Roman site. Of early Saxon date, St Mary’s was enlarged in the 12th century. In 1659 the bell-house was removed, and replaced with a new steeple.
Despite a substantial restoration in 1859 the church became disused, and was united with St Mary’s Bishophill Junior in 1876. Resisting a 1950s faculty for closure, St Mary’s Bishophill Senior was finally demolished in 1963, when some of the fittings were moved to St Clement’s on Scarcroft Road, and the arcade incorporated into the Church of the Holy Redeemer on Boroughbridge Road.
While a charter dated 1148-9 suggests a priest at ‘Leirthrop’ the earliest certain date is 1331 when it was annexed to St Martin’s, Coney Street. The structure is believed to have been 14th century.
The last recorded burial on the site was recorded in 1510. In 1586 St Mary’s Layerthorpe was united with the benefice of St Cuthbert’s; little record of the church survives and it seems probable that it was in decay before the 16th century. There are no remains.
Very little is known about St Mary’s Walmgate, but it was probably granted, together with St Margaret’s, to St Peter’s Hospital, (later St Leonards). Its rector in 1228 is known to be Galfred Brito. There is recorded evidence that the church was still in existence in 1282 and 1315 and it is thought to have been taken down by 1390 together with St Stephen Fishergate. There are no remains.
Situated on the corner of Monkgate and Lord Mayor’s Walk, St Maurice’s was in existence in the late 12th century and restored in the 14th/15th century. It was united with Holy Trinity Goodramgate in 1586. The church was seriously damaged during the Civil War, demolished and replaced in 1875, and finally demolished in 1967
The church was is mentioned in 1279, at the time in which it was appropriated to Kirkham Priory. St Michael’s and St Peter-le-Willows were united in 1279, and in 1365 with St Lawrence. There are no remains.
The church of St Nicholas Hospital, St Lawrence stood outside the walls on Lawrence Street.
Believed to have been a 12th century structure, it was severely damaged during the Civil War. Most of the church’s fabric was reused to repair Dunnington St Nicholas in 1717, and the stunning late 12th century doorway was reassembled at St Margaret’s.
The church of St Peter-le-Willows is first mentioned in 1279 when Kirkham Priory, holders of the advowsons of this church and St. Michael-without-Walmgate Bar, wished to unite the two. A claim to a third part of the church by the hospital of St. Nicholas was eventually settled and in 1548 it was proposed to unite the benefice with St Margaret’s; evidently the church had been disused for some time. St Peter’s was demolished in 1549.
The earliest record of St. Peter-the-Little appeared in a 12th century document which granted the advowson to Durham Cathedral Priory. In 1548, there was a proposal to unite the church with All Saints' Pavement, and the union was effected in 1583. The church was officially suppressed in 1586; there are no remains.
St Stephen’s was granted to the Archbishop of York by William II in 1093 .It is referenced in records until it was annexed to St Martin le Grand in 1331. The church was closed within the following century.
Recorded first in 1145 St Wilfred’s was under the patronage of St Marys Abbey, who held it until the Dissolution. The last rector is mentioned in 1546. The church was united with St Michael le Belfrey c. 1586 and was likely to have been demolished in the 16th century.