Building record MYO1630 - St Martin Le Grand, Coney Street


Parish church, and attached gates to garden. Early 15th century tower and west end, incorporating vestiges of 11th century church; south side rebuilt and porch added in restorations of 1853-54; nave, north side and east end remodelled and reconstructed 1961-68 following bomb damage sustained in 1942. 1856 clock and painted and carved figure of 1778. 19th centiury restoration by JB and W Atkinson. 20th century reconstruction, including iron gates and railings, by G Pace. 19th century glass by JW Knowles, 20th century by H Stammers. The original 5-bay south aisle converted to nave, with narrow north aisle and short transept; south porch and south-west tower; vestry and offices at west end: remainder of church converted to a garden.


Grid reference Centred SE 6016 5185 (35m by 37m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (13)

Full Description

Parish church, and attached gates to garden. Early C15 tower and west end, incorporating vestiges of C11 church; south side rebuilt and porch added in restorations of 1853-54; nave, north side and east end remodelled and reconstructed 1961-68 following bomb damage sustained in 1942. 1856 clock and painted and carved figure of 1778. C19 restoration by JB and W Atkinson. C20 reconstruction, including iron gates and railings, by G Pace. C19 glass by JW Knowles, C20 by H Stammers.

MATERIALS: magnesian limestone ashlar, with areas of gritstone and rubble; fragments of coffin lids with incised crosses incorporated in former north aisle wall: coved eaves string beneath parapet, south side traceried, to lead roof.

PLAN: original 5-bay south aisle converted to nave, with narrow north aisle and short transept; south porch and south-west tower; vestry and offices at west end: remainder of church converted to garden.

EXTERIOR: east end of nave rebuilt as tall 2-centred arch of two continuously moulded chamfered orders between gabled buttresses with carved angel gargoyles. Arch closed by set-back iron gates and railings. Clock on scrolled bracket attached to wall supports the figure of the 'Little Admiral'. Former north aisle window blocked: restored south aisle window of three cinquefoiled lights with cusped panel tracery above, in 4-centred head beneath head-stopped hoodmould. South-east angle buttress with offset, upper part re-shaped as flying buttress surmounted by crocketed pinnacle, with gargoyle at eaves level.

North side incorporates C11 masonry towards west end, with inserted 4-centred arched doorway: blocked door with 2-centred head in centre, and blocked window with intersecting tracery towards east end. Buttressed south side, on chamfered plinth, has 4 windows similar to that at east end of aisle. Gabled porch towards west end has crocketed diagonal buttresses, traceried parapet, and moulded doorway in 2-centred arch. West end on double chamfered plinth incorporates C11 masonry to north, with blocked round-headed doorway: window above rebuilt.

West window rebuilt as 3-light mullion window preserving lower moulded corners and sill of original window. 3-stage buttressed tower to south west on double chamfered plinth. All three stages have windows similar to those on south side, those to ground and belfry stages of 3 lights, to second stage of 2 lights. All have coved hoodmoulds. Coved strings beneath belfry stage, and to eaves below original open parapet. Weathervane with scrolled finial.

INTERIOR: remains of north arcade of four truncated octagonal columns retained in garden. South arcade of five 2-centred arches of two chamfered orders dying into octagonal columns, and tower pier at western end. 2-centred hollow chamfered tower arches die into south and west walls and pier to north east: attached to pier are two carved heads, one a lion, one a bearded male. Tower stair in south-west angle, approached through chamfered doorway with 4-centred head. Reconstructed window in north transept of 5 cinquefoiled lights with cusped panel traceried head. South aisle roof coffered with moulded beams and plates, with carved bosses at intersections.

FITTINGS: medieval octagonal font on C20 base, with octagonal cover of open volutes crowned with a dove, the rim inscribed: ANO DOM 1717 RICHARD SPEIGHT RICHARD MANCHLIN CHURCH WARDENS. C20 pews. GLASS: north transept window contains reset glass from former west window, given by Robert Semer, vicar 1425-43; other windows contain C15 glass, reset, or set in C19 glass; C20 glass in east window. MONUMENTS: on Sanctuary north wall, segment-pedimented tablet between fluted Composite pilasters, with gadrooned base and winged skull below, to Robert Horsfield (d.1711), 4 of his 5 wives and 7 children; inscribed brass to Thomas Colthust (d.1588). On north wall, carved monument to Lady Elizabeth Sheffield (d.1633), framed by pilasters with pediment, and incorporating busts and figures. In south aisle, niche on angel corbel, beneath vaulted canopy, to John Kendall (d.1823) and his wife (d.1833); brass plate to Valentine Nalson (d.1722/3), pastor and succentor of York Minster, with shield of arms. (Bartholomew City Guides: Hutchinson J and Palliser DM: York: Edinburgh: 1980-: 179-180; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 25-29).
Listing NGR: SE6016251856

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

The church of ST. MARTIN, Coney Street, has usually been identified as the St. Martin's of Domesday; it then belonged to Erneis de Burun. The church was appropriated at an unknown date to the chapter and was confirmed to them in 1194. A vicarage appears to have been ordained but nothing is known of it; the priest of the church is always spoken of as a vicar after the 12th century. The church remained in the hands of the chapter and was untouched by the 16th-century reorganization of the York churches. The benefice of St. Helen's, Stonegate, was united with St. Martin's in 1910 and it was then arranged that the chapter should have two turns and the archbishop one in every three presentations. (fn. 44) The church was almost wholly destroyed by enemy action on 29 April 1942 and thereafter the vicar exercised his cure in St. Helen's. The parishes—St. Martin's lay round the church and contiguous to St. Helen's—were united in 1954.

From at least 1331 until 1443 six other capitular churches were annexed to St. Martin's: these were St. Michael-le-Belfrey, St. John's, Ouse Bridge End, St. Mary's, Layerthorpe, St. Andrew's, St. Andrewgate, St. John's, Hungate, and one moiety of St. Helen-on-the-Walls.
The value of the rectory in the Middle Ages is not known; the church was probably farmed to the vicars and it is doubtful whether great tithes were ever due to it. In 1294 the vicar took all the profits of the church and paid a pension of 10 marks. In 1331 he received an annual stipend of 20 marks in lieu of the profits which at that time were farmed elsewhere. In the 14th and 15th centuries the profits of the annexed churches fell to the vicars of St. Martin's: in return he supplied chaplains to serve in them and kept the fabrics in order.

In 1371 a vicar appointed under these arrangements was paying a pension of £45 to the chapter but was presumably taking the profits of all the annexed churches as well as his own. In 1535 the vicarage was valued at £4 clear, comprising Easter offerings and oblations; no pension was paid to the chapter. (fn. 52) In 1649 the only asset of the vicarage was a parsonage house worth about £6 a year; there was no incumbent. In 1664 the common reputed value was £15. An augmentation of the benefice was obtained from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1761 to meet a benefaction of £200 to which a further £100 was added: (fn. 54) the money was laid out in land at Nun Monkton (W.R.) which produced a rent of £15. (fn. 55) At that time the vicar also received rents from various endowments together with fees and quarterly contributions. The value of the rents and endowments had increased by 1825; the Nun Monkton lands then produced £30 a year. The vicarage was valued at £100 in 1863. In 1864 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners gave £800 for work on the parsonage house and the living was endowed out of the Common Fund with £35 a year in 1884.

There were at least five chantries in the church. Thomas de Ludham, vicar of the church, prebendary of Wetwang, and later sub-treasurer of the minster, founded one at the altar of the Virgin in 1335. Another chantry was founded at the same altar, or an augmentation made to Ludham's, in 1374 by the executors of Richard Candeler and his wife Juliana. (fn. 61) Licence was granted in 1334 for the alienation of lands to a chantry by Elena, the relict of Nicholas de Seizevaux (Sexdecim Vallibus). (fn. 62) This chantry may also have been at the altar of the Virgin. (fn. 63) Inquisition was made in 1402 to find whether lands might be alienated for the foundation of a chantry at the altar of St. Lawrence for the soul of Richard Talkan. (fn. 64) It is not known if this was eventually founded. Licence was granted in 1417 for the alienation of rents in support of a chantry at the altar of St. Peter. (fn. 65) This appears to have been for the soul of Thomas Smyth and his wife Katharine and perhaps included a foundation for John Braithwaite. (fn. 66) In 1478 it was joined with the chantry of St. Michael in St. Helen's, Stonegate, because the rents had decayed. (fn. 67) All the chantries appear to have decayed by 1546. (fn. 68)

The church, of which only the shell survived bombing in 1942, was a fine example of 15th-century work, probably constructed between 1437 and 1449, and was perhaps externally the handsomest parish church in the city (see plate facing p. 387). It comprised clerestoried nave with north and south aisles, western tower, and south porch. The church was wholly restored in 1862 by C. T. Newstead of York. A clock was fitted to the east end in 1668; it was later fitted with a large bracket which protruded over Coney Street.

The west window was filled with mid-15thcentury glass and was considered the finest single window in the city parish churches. (fn. 70) It depicted St. Martin of Tours with thirteen scenes from his life; below knelt the figure of Robert Semur, the vicar, out of whose bequest the church was rebuilt about 1443. Three windows in the south aisle and, particularly, four in the north clerestory, contained some fine 15th-century glass.

There were 8 bells. (fn. 71) The plate comprised, in silver, a paten, 2 cups with patens, 2 flagons, an alms-dish, and a spoon. A pewter plate is in the Yorkshire Museum; it was still in the church in 1825 together with a fellow. (fn. 72) The registers begin in 1557 and have been printed. (fn. 73) In 1926 there were churchwardens' accounts from 1553 to 1635 and from 1725 onwards; extracts from these accounts have been printed but they no longer appear to be extant. (fn. 74) Church accounts from 1851 to 1938, minutes of the church council from 1863 to 1940, and rate-books and overseers' accounts from 1765 to 1801 are now, like the registers and the plate, preserved in St. Helen's Church.

'The parish churches', A History of the County of York: the City of York (1961), pp. 365-404.

4 bells date to 1937 and 4 date to 1978 all by John Taylor and Co. CARE No. 43/1022

NMR information

Related Events
613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey
1050679 Architectural Survey SURVEY BY SYDNEY DECIMUS KITSON

BF060217 ST MARTIN LE GRAND'S CHURCH, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

OP08140 The south porch of St Martin's Church, York, with a traceried parapet and moulded doorway

People and Organisations

Architect SYDNEY DECIMUS KITSON 1921 Yorkshire architect, partner of Francis Bedford and later in the firm of Kitson Parish Legard

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

RCHME, 1981, City of York Volume V: The Central Area (Monograph). SYO65.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jun 23 2020 4:06PM


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