Building record MYO1763 - Church Of St Mary Castlegate


Parish church, now exhibition centre. 15th century, incorporating remnants of early 11th century nave, north arcades of 12th and 14th century, and south arcade of early 13th century. Restoration of 1867-70 included new east window, re-roofing and renewal of east end parapet. Church redundant in 1958; converted to exhibition centre 1974-75. 19th century restoration by William Butterfield. 20th century conversion by George Pace and Ronald Sims. Chancel and north and south chapels; 3-bay nave with low clerestory, and 4-bay north and south aisles; embraced west tower and spire. Excavations in 1974-5 in the chancel located 11th century footings, two fragments of a 10th century cross, a cross shaft and grave slab, both also of 10th century date.


Grid reference Centred SE 6043 5162 (37m by 24m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (14)

Full Description

Formerly known as: Church of St Mary CASTLEGATE. Parish church, now exhibition centre. C15, incorporating remnants of early C11 nave, north arcades of C12 and C14, and south arcade of early C13. Restoration of 1867-70 included new east window, re-roofing and renewal of east end parapet. Church redundant in 1958; converted to exhibition centre 1974-75. C19 restoration by William Butterfield. C20 conversion by George Pace and Ronald Sims.

MATERIALS: magnesian limestone incorporating re-used gritstone; roofs of slate and lead.

EXTERIOR: chancel and north and south chapels; 3-bay nave with low clerestory, and 4-bay north and south aisles; embraced west tower and spire. Clerestory obscured by parapet, embattled at east end and on south side, plain elsewhere. Church is supported on all sides by buttresses with offsets, most with gabled pinnacles and gargoyles. Chancel and chapels on single chamfered plinth, remainder of church and tower on double chamfered plinth. Windows generally have hoodmoulds on corbel or head stops. Renewed east window is pointed, of 3 stepped cinquefoiled lights beneath panel traceried head. East window of north chapel is pointed, of 3 cinquefoiled lights beneath two tiers of panel tracery with embattled transoms. Sill band below east window stepped down beneath north chapel window.

South chapel is set back and has pointed east window of 3 lights, now altered to doorway. On north side, easternmost bay has inserted pointed arched doorway; towards west end is blocked C14 doorway with 2-centred moulded arch; both doors beneath square-headed windows. Windows generally are square-headed, of 2 or 3 trefoiled or cinquefoiled ogee-arched lights beneath embattled transoms and panel tracery. Towards the east end is reset square-headed C14 window of 4 trefoiled lights with cusped curvilinear tracery.

Western window beneath tower is pointed, of 3 foiled ogee-arched lights beneath two tiers of panel tracery. Moulded string, stepped in places, runs beneath windows. C19 south door in pointed arch of two orders, the inner chamfered, the outer roll-moulded and springing from carved corbels; square-headed window above. To west of door, length of C13 masonry incorporating original lancet survives. Below, and to west of, chancel south window is blocked segment-arched doorway.

Elsewhere windows correspond to those on north side. 3-stage tower has square ground stage, surmounted by embattled parapet and walkway; second and belfry stages are octagonal, with broaches at the base, from which tapering buttresses with gargoyles rise above plain parapet to crocketed pinnacles; recessed spire is octagonal. Pointed west window has 5 cinquefoiled lights beneath double tier of panel tracery with embattled transoms. On each side of window is a carved corbel beneath trefoiled ogee-arched canopy, rib-vaulted on the underside, and surmounted by a crocket. Above the window is a vaulted niche, with trefoiled arch and steep crocketed canopy, housing a defaced figure of the Virgin Mary seated behind a balustrade.

At west end of north aisle is doorway in 4-centred moulded arch, to south of low window of 5 foiled lights, 3 round-headed, 2 lancets. Above is a pointed window of 3 trefoiled round-headed lights beneath panel traceried head broken by encircled quatrefoil. Windows to west end of south aisle and south face of tower are of the same type. Upper stages of tower have tall similar windows, partly louvred and banded with panel tracery at belfry level, to three cardinal faces: the fourth, to east, has intersecting tracery in the head. Tall spire is crowned by gilded weathercock.

INTERIOR: chancel. 3-bay north arcade, with eastern arch of 2 chamfered orders on half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and chamfered bases: narrow centre arch, continuously moulded, beneath crocketed hoodmould on headstops: 4-centred western arch of 2 chamfered orders on chamfered responds, with square capitals, coved on lower side, and later, moulded capitals superimposed.

2-bay south arcade, with eastern arch of continuous rolled and filleted mouldings beneath crocketed ogee hood: wide, double chamfered western arch on half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. Double chamfered chancel arch, inner order only with moulded capitals, outer continuous, beneath coved hoodmould on headstops. Flanking walls retain masonry of original church.

Nave north arcade of three double chamfered arches beneath continuous hoodmould on animal headstops. Eastern arches are tall and pointed on half-cylindrical respond with moulded base and scalloped capital, and cylindrical piers with square abaci, one with scalloped capital, one with incised waterleaf. Western arch dies into octagonal tower pier on chamfered base, broach-stopped on to square plinth.

South arcade of three double chamfered arches, two pointed, one semicircular, beneath continuous hoodmould on headstops. Half cylindrical east respond with moulded base and half-octagonal capital. First pier is octagonal, on moulded base, with octagonal capital; second pier cylindrical with double roll-moulded base on square plinth, and nailhead capital. Tower pier to west corresponds to that opposite. South aisle arch narrow, pointed, double chamfered,on responds with simple moulded capitals.

Clerestory on both sides has 1-light window towards east end, and another of 3 cinquefoiled lights over the second pier. Tower arches of 2 hollow-chamfered orders dying into piers, south arch narrower than north arch. Western responds are half-octagonal with chamfered bases, broach-stopped on to square plinths. To north of west window, pointed chamfered doorway to tower stair. At west end of north aisle, former chapel doorway has 2-centred arch in deep hollow-chamfered surround. In chancel south wall, C19 piscina and restored sedilia of 3 stalls beneath cinquefoiled ogee-arched heads.

In north chapel (now in staff lavatory), piscina in 2-centred arch with defaced cusping: arched tomb recess with filleted roll moulding (in staff room). In south chapel, aumbry in rebated surround, and piscina in trefoiled ogee arch; on east wall, 2 half-octagonal brackets with carved angels, each bearing heraldic shield of arms of the Graa family. In north aisle, three arched tomb recesses and plain round-headed stoup without bowl. Blocked chamfered north doorway with segmental head. In south aisle, rebated aumbry and piscina in 2-centred, hollow-chamfered arch. Beside south door, hollow niche for stoup, without bowl, in arched opening.

Roofs. Chancel: principal rafter trusses with moulded and embattled, cambered ties on corbelheads, with pierced spandrels and panel-traceried tympana. Chancel north chapel and nave: king post trusses with moulded and embattled, cambered tie beams on moulded corbels, with pierced spandrels and cusped braces. Mutilated stone, c1000, discovered during restoration of 1870 and now attached to east respond of north aisle arcade, records the dedication of the church "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and of St Mary and St Martin and of St Cuthbert and of all the saints".

MONUMENTS: south chapel - two wall tablets moved from North Chapel: Lewis West (d.1718) and wife Dorcas (d.1732); Richard Coulton (d.1713), Rector, and wife Elizabeth (d.1731). Also to Elizabeth Tweedy (d.1811), and husband John (d.1842). North aisle - tablet to William Mushet, MD, (d.1792), by Fisher of York; also to Rawlins Gould (d.1873). South aisle - William Mason (d.1708) and wife, Jane.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 30-36).
Listing NGR: SE6043851626

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

Bells: 3 bells dating to 1682, 1730 and 1718 respectively by Samuel I Smith and Samuel II Smith. CARE No. 43/212

(11) Parish Church of St. Mary stands in a churchyard on the N.E. side of Castlegate. It consists of a Chancel with North and South Chapels, Nave with North and South Aisles and West Tower. The walls are of magnesian limestone, with a little gritstone, and the roofs are covered with slate and lead.
The church is mentioned in Domesday Book, when it was held by William de Percy, and evidence of a pre-Conquest church is provided by several Saxon stones, including a mutilated dedication stone discovered in 1870 in a buttress on the E. wall. The date on the stone is missing but the inscription records that a church was built by (Ef)rard, Grim and Aese, and is generally attributed to the 10th or 11th century (see Pre-Conquest Stones (6) below). Surviving remains of this church consist of masonry to each side of the chancel arch, and also in the E. respond of the N. arcade and above the E. arch of the S. arcade of the nave, indicating an aisleless nave about 21 ft. wide and with walls at least 24 ft. high.

Foundations of N. and S. walls of an unaisled chancel, probably of the 12th century, were discovered in 1975; the W. respond of the N. arcade of the chancel is of the 12th century, probably for an opening into a N. chapel, and there is 12th-century masonry in the S. wall of the chancel. In the later 12th century a N. aisle was built to the nave, of which the E. respond and two piers of the arcade survive; the masonry has fine diagonal tooling comparable with that of Archbishop Roger's work in York Minster (1154–81). In the early 13th century a S. aisle, probably of four bays, was added; the two eastern bays of the arcade survive. The masonry has claw tooling, and the aisle retains the original width; the S. wall was largely rebuilt later but one small lancet window remains to the W. of the S. door.

In the early 14th century, alterations were made to the N. chapel, possibly connected with the Northfolk chantry, licensed in 1319, and from this period an arched tomb recess and a square-headed window with Decorated tracery survive, reset in the 15th-century N. wall. The nave N. aisle was widened to the present extent in the 14th century but only the lower part of the N. wall of this date now exists, including three arched tomb recesses and a restored door; the arches of the arcade were also rebuilt. The S. chapel, housing the Graa chantry, was built in the late 14th century, with an arched opening into the chancel. A tomb-chest against the S. wall until the alterations of 1975 was probably that which Drake mentions as 'a very fair tomb..... still standing in the south choir of the church' with a brass of a man and his wife which Dodsworth had earlier recorded as that of William Graa, mayor in 1367, and to whom a licence for a chantry in the chapel of St. John the Baptist was granted in 1377. In his will of 1405 Thomas Graa asks to be buried before the altar of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist 'in the south part of the church'. The arch of the middle bay on the N. side of the chancel was made about the same time. The exact extent of the chancel at that period is uncertain.

The church was greatly altered in the 15th century. The chancel was virtually rebuilt, though the 14th-century openings on each side remain, and the N. chapel was probably widened and extended to the E. The N. aisle wall of the nave was refaced externally lower down, with a new plinth, and the whole of the upper part, including the windows, rebuilt. A new arch was built across the aisle at the junction with the N. chapel, springing on its S. side from the earlier masonry adjoining the chancel arch, but carried out in a curious manner which left the E. respond of the nave N. arcade isolated; it would appear that there was an intention to rebuild the arcade further S. On the S. side, the wall of the aisle and the S. chapel was reconstructed in similar fashion to the N. wall, with a new exterior facing in the lower part and complete rebuilding at window level and above. E. of the S. chapel was a low vestry. The plinth on the S. wall of the chancel is stopped 8 ft. W. of the S.E. angle buttress, but the S. wall of the vestry extends to the full length of the chancel, indicating a modification during building.

In a later 15th-century phase of building, the W. tower and the W. bays of the aisles were added; this new work brought the end of the church so close to the street that the addition to the S. aisle had to be limited to a half-bay only. The nave arcades were altered to make a single wide bay next to the tower, where there had previously been two smaller bays. In 1421 a chapel 'at the west end of the church' was mentioned; this must have occupied a position to the W. of the N. aisle, where a low building, now demolished, abutted the church and had a doorway and window into it. The reference is earlier than the apparent date of the existing W. bays; the chapel may have been rebuilt at the same time as the tower but, if so, it was probably still on older foundations as the slight remains clearly indicate a different alignment from the main body of the church.

In 1867–70 there was an extensive restoration by William Butterfield; much stonework, especially in the windows, was renewed and there were also new roofs, seating and other fittings. The church became redundant in the 1960s and was converted to an exhibition centre in 1974–5.
St. Mary's is a church of great historical interest. The early dedication stone is especially remarkable.
Architectural Description. The Chancel is of three bays. The E. wall was mostly rebuilt in 1870 and the three-light window with Perpendicular tracery is not an accurate copy of that existing previously (sketch of 1825, YCL, Evelyn Coll., 868); the gable with battlemented parapet was also added at that time. In the N. arcade the E. bay has a 15th-century arch of two chamfered orders on semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The middle bay is much narrower and has a moulded arch of the late 14th century, without capitals, under a moulded label with carved stops and foliage-finial at the apex. The W. bay has an opening with early 12th-century square responds with simple moulded capitals, and immediately above these are 15th-century moulded capitals and a pointed arch of two chamfered orders.

On the S. side the wall of the E. bay was also much rebuilt in 1870. A blocked door to the destroyed vestry has a two-centred arch with segmental rear-arch, now external; above it is one jamb and part of the arch of a blocked window, apparently of the 12th century. The middle bay has a narrow late 14th-century arch, elaborately moulded, without capitals and with an ogee-shaped label rising to a foliage-finial. The 15th-century W. arch, of two chamfered orders, has semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with capitals to the inner order only; in the wall over it is the indication of a former low-pitched roof. Beneath the E. end of the chancel is a charnel vault with a barrel-vault of stone rubble, probably a later insertion and now inaccessible.

The North Chapel has a restored window in the E. wall, with three cinque-foiled lights, embattled transoms and vertical tracery. The N. wall, of three bays marked by buttresses with three weathered offsets, has a double-chamfered plinth, moulded string just below window level, and plain parapet; the buttresses rise up to gabled pinnacles. In the E. bay is a doorway of 1870, made for the use of a new vestry at this end, and this bay and the next one have square-headed windows of a type occurring frequently in the church, the main lights having cinque-foiled slightly ogee-shaped arches and, above an embattled transom, tracery of trefoil-headed lights. In the W. bay is a reset early 14th-century window with curvilinear tracery.

The South Chapel corresponds to the two western bays of the chancel. The E. wall has a three-light window with arched head and simple vertical tracery; the lower part was converted in 1975 to form a wide doorway. Below it is a doorway with a flat arch of large voussoirs, probably of the 17th or 18th century, which must have been approached by steps down from the original floor level; previously blocked, it was reopened in 1975. The S. wall has a double-chamfered plinth, moulded strings below and above the windows and an embattled parapet; the deep buttresses each have four weathered offsets and a carved gargoyle, and rise to gabled pinnacles. The square-headed windows are similar to those in the N. chapel, but have labels with restored head-stops. The W. wall has an opening to the nave S. aisle with arch and responds of two chamfered orders and simple moulded capitals; beside the N. jamb of the arch, large blocks of gritstone represent the S.E. quoin of the original nave.

The Nave is of three irregular bays. In the E. wall, fabric of the original aisleless nave, incorporating very large gritstone blocks, can be seen to each side of the chancel arch. The 12th-century E. respond of the N. arcade is semicircular, with moulded base and scalloped capital, and is built against a short length of 11th-century wall which has been detached from the neighbouring E. wall by 15th-century alterations. The two piers of the N. arcade are circular, with moulded bases, but the capitals, though contemporary, have been altered, each consisting of two different halves; all have square abaci, with quirked chamfers on the E. respond and first pier. The tall pointed arches, of two plain-chamfered orders, are probably of the 14th century, but the W. arch, which was altered when the tower was built, is wider and of irregular shape; over the arches are moulded labels with carved head-stops.
The piers of the S. arcade do not align exactly with those of the N. The half-round E. respond has a moulded base similar to those of the N. arcade, but claw-tooled masonry indicates a 13th-century date. The first pier is octagonal and has a roll-and-chamfered base with a round sub-base on a square plinth; both this pier and the E. respond have moulded octagonal capitals of the 14th century. The second pier is round and has a base with double roll on a square plinth and a round moulded capital with nail-head ornament. Both piers and the respond have several courses of brown sandstone which may indicate a later heightening. The pointed arches are of two chamfered orders, with moulded labels with head-stops. Above the E. arch is 11th-century masonry. The altered W. arch is of irregular shape but incorporates the springing of the earlier one. The low clerestorey has, in each wall, a single-light window near the E. end and, above the second pier, one of three cinque-foiled lights. The alterations of 1975 involved the lowering of the floor, thus exposing parts of the foundations.

The North Aisle has a N. wall which retains some 14th-century masonry below the windows but is otherwise of the 15th century, with a double-chamfered plinth and moulded string below the window-sills, stepping down at intervals towards the E. The four-stage buttresses rise to gabled pinnacles above a plain parapet. In the second bay from the W. is a restored 14th-century doorway with two-centred moulded arch and chamfered segmental pointed rear-arch; about 5 ft. to the W. of it a buttress was removed in 1870 and the scar faced with new stone. Except in the W. bay, the windows are square-headed, with embattled transoms and vertical tracery similar to the windows of the N. chapel, but of only two lights. In the W. bay, the later 15th-century window has generally similar tracery but under a pointed arch.

The W. wall formerly had a low chapel built against it, now demolished, though stubs of walling show that it was on a different alignment from the church generally. It was entered from the N. aisle through a doorway with four-centred moulded arch, wholly restored and the opening blocked with brick and stone; immediately adjoining, in the W. wall of the aisle, is a long window, also restored, with five trefoiled lights, the two at the N. end grouped together under a round arch. The window above has three trefoiled lights, without transoms, and vertical tracery with an encircled quatrefoil at the top, all under a moulded pointed arch.

The South Aisle preserves the 13th-century width, and the S. wall has, except at the W. end, masonry of that date below the windows, but this was refaced externally and the upper part rebuilt in the 15th century; the appearance is uniform with the S. chapel, though on a slightly different alignment, and there are similar buttresses, plinth, windows ( 24) and embattled parapet. The doorway in the second bay from the W. is 13th-century in style but wholly of 1870 and it is not known whether it reproduces an original one. The wider W. bay has some 13th-century masonry with a narrow and unrestored pointed lancet window, set low down in the wall; otherwise it is of the later 15th-century phase of building, and has a plain parapet and pointed arched window with tracery like the corresponding window in the N. aisle. In the W. wall is a three-light arched window uniform with that in the W. wall of the N. aisle.

The Tower has a squat lower stage above which is an octagonal stage, and a spire which rises to a height of 154 ft. above the ground. On the E. it stands on large octagonal piers with chamfered bases and square plinths, the opening to the nave being spanned by a pointed arch of two hollow-chamfered orders. The opening to the N. aisle has a similar but lower arch, springing on the W. from a semi-octagonal respond. On the S. side is a narrower arch to the half-bay of the S. aisle, and a three-light window. In the W. wall a five-light arched window has vertical tracery with two embattled transoms. In the N.W. corner is a stone newel stair. The tower has a double-chamfered plinth continuous with that of the S. aisle, and thin buttresses on the W. face only. To each side of the W. window is a carved corbel, above each of which is a three-sided canopy with trefoiled ogee arches rising to crockets, the underside carved with miniature ribbed vaulting. Centrally over the window is a framed niche with ribbed vault, trefoiled arch and steep crocketed canopy, housing an original but now headless statue of the Virgin Mary. The lower stage of the tower finishes with an embattled parapet with wall-walk behind.

The second stage, set back a little, is of square plan at the bottom but is immediately changed to an octagon by broaches out of which rise thin buttresses which extend upwards to crocketed pinnacles. On the cardinal faces are tall three-light windows, each with a band of vertical tracery at mid-level, masking the bell-chamber floor, and further vertical tracery in the arched head, except for intersecting tracery in the E. window. This stage finishes with a low, plain parapet behind which is a narrow wall-walk. The stone spire is octagonal, with roll mouldings on the angles; on the E. face is a door to the wall-walk and a slit-opening much higher up.

Pre-Conquest Stones, mostly found during the restoration of 1870 and in excavations in 1975. The stones form two distinct groups. The first group consists of reused Roman material; none bears any carving which could give a clear indication of the date of re-use. The second group, mainly of coarse sand-stone or gritstone but including some limestone, consists of carvings of the 10th or 11th century, possibly re-using available Roman masonry. On the evidence of the surviving carvings a 10th to 11th-century date would seem indicated for the original church, but other finds (see Miscellanea), which could be connected with burials, are all earlier.

In Yorkshire Museum, (1) fragment of arched lintel or window head, of radius c. 18 in., cut from a Roman commemoration tablet, found in Clifford Street but probably from this church; probably pre-Conquest.

In undercroft, (2–5) Roman stones from columns, probably reused in early Saxon period, and found in late Saxon foundations under the chancel arch. (2–4) are roughly moulded as bases or capitals. (2) 125/8 in. high, 40½ in. diam. tapering to 33½ in. at the top with circular central depression 15¼ in. diam. by 6 in. deep; (3) 16 in. high, divided into four distinct bands, 33 in. diam. at base wherein are four lewis holes for lifting tackle, 30½ in. at top wherein is an almost square central depression 17½ in. by 17¼ in. by 6¾ in. deep; (4) 20 in. high, divided into four bands, 16 in. diam. at base with depression 5½ in. square reducing to 3 in. square in 4 in. depth, and 28¾ in. diam. at top with depression 6 in. square reducing to 3 in. square in 4½ in. depth; (5) 17½ in. high, approx. 25¾ in. diam. at base tapering to 23½ in. at top with circular depression 14¾ in. diam. by 7½ in. deep.

In N. chancel aisle, (6) dedication stone ( 21), incomplete sandstone slab 20½ in. by 15½ in. by 6 in. thick, with part of plain raised frame forming top and dexter margin and traces of similar margin at base. The letters are Roman capitals with AE ligatured shown by AE, abbreviations indicated by a superscript dash, Thorn shown by P and Et by a reversed L represented above by 7. The letters underlined are uncertain. 10th or 11th-century. Minster need mean no more than church. The name Efrard is recorded rarely as that of Anglo-Saxon moneyers, but none can be connected with York. Grim was a common name. Aese is probably an abbreviation possibly for Aeseman or Aescalf, both mid 10th-century moneyers. For a comparable mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Latin see the 11th-century inscription from St. Mary le Wigford, Lincoln (G. Baldwin Browne, The Arts in Early England, Anglo-Saxon Architecture (1925), 466–8). See also E. Okasha, Hand List of Anglo-Saxon Non-Runic Inscriptions (1971), 131.

(7) Cross-head fragment, of light-coloured gritstone, 11½ in. by 7 in. by 4in., part of wheel-head cross with wheel radius 6 in.; wheel plain and no waist to the cross-arms; panels on both sides and the end of the cross-arm contain angular interlaced knots, of single strands on the end panel, double strand on one side panel and with bifurcating knots on the other, probably 10th-century (YAJ, xx Part 78 (1908), 203, No. 23).

In Yorkshire Museum, (8) four fragments, parts of one wheel-head cross ( 22). (a), discovered in 1870, comprises most of the central boss and a side arm, 16 in. high with wheel radius 12 in.; (b), (c) and (d), all with traces of paint, are major portions of two further arms and an unidentified fragment. At the centre of the cross there is a boss on each side carved with interlace. The arms of the cross each have on one side a boss within a square panel bordered with pellet and cable ornament and on the other side a beast within a continuous border with pellet and cable ornament. The sides of the arms are plain but on the ends are further carved bosses. (See Collingwood, Northumbrian Crosses (1927), 132, Fig. 148; it now appears that the cross is nearer to that from North Frodingham (op. cit., Fig. 151) than to Collingwood's suggested reconstruction. YAJ, xx Part 78 (1908), 177; YMH (1891), 76, No. 10; Interim, III, No. 1 (1975), 21–3; YPSR for 1975, 34, 36.)

(9) Grave-slab, see York IV, xliv (iv), 25e, and Arch., CIV (1973), 209–34; late 10th or 11th-century. (10) Crossfragment of red sandstone, probably a lateral arm with worn interlaced knots on main face, probably of similar type to (8), probably 10th-century (York IV, xliv (iii)). (11) Cross-fragment ( 23) of gritstone with double borders and a cable moulding on the arrises, the most complete wide face carved with an S-shaped bird or winged beast crossed by two double-strand ribbons, the opposite face, less distinct, with perhaps a large disc and a barbed leaf, possibly either a debased vine scroll or a spear and shield, the narrower side faces with figure-of-eight knots (Interim, III, No. 1 (1975), 26–7; YPSR for 1975, 36), 10th or 11th-century.

12) Crucifix fragments, two, of sandstone, constituting the centre and one lateral arm of a free-standing rood with carving on the two main faces ( 22). Found below the Roman stones (2–5). The cross is curved in at the junctions of the arms and has a plain border on each side. On one side the mutilated remains of the crucified Christ, with the head of a beast, an entwined serpent and three discs filling the vacant spaces. On the back a damaged carving, possibly Christ in Majesty, with two-strand interlace on the surviving cross-arm. (Interim, III, No. 1 (1975), 22, 24, 26; YPSR for 1975, 34, 36.) The cross is of a late type, 10th or 11th-century.

(13) Grave-slab fragment, 25¼ in. high by 27¾ in. wide, thickness 9½ in. at centre, 4¾ in. at edge, top right-hand corner missing. Upper half of coped cross-slab with double-cable border; the cross, with single-strand outline and semicircular indentations at junctions of arms, decorated with double-strand chain pattern encircling small central boss; surviving panels with symmetrical pattern of two rings entwined with double-strand interlace (Interim, III, No. 1 (1975), 27; YPSR for 1975, 34, 36), 10th or 11th-century. (14) Grave-slab coped corner fragment, 7½ in. by 5 in. by 4¾ in., cable-mould on two arrises, and fragmentary interlace. (15) Grave-slab corner fragment, 5½ in. by 5¼ in. by 5½ in., of gritstone, with plait decoration. (16) Hog-back fragment (?), 10¼ in. by 8¼ in. by 8¼ in., with plait decoration. (17) Hog-back fragment (?), 9¼ in. by 6½ in. by 5¾ in.

Fittings—Aumbries: in S. chapel, in S. wall, (1) with rebate for door and small chamfer. In S. aisle, in S. wall, (2) with rebate for door. Bells: (1) 'Gloria in altissimis Deo 1682', by Samuel Smith; (2) 'Johannes Burne Rector, Jacques Priestley, Ricardus Corney, Guardians 1730'; (3) 'Olim Campana Beatae Mariae Virginis Refusa, AD 1718', by E. Seller senior (AASRP, xxvii Pt. 2 (1904), 638); (4) small plain bell. Bell-frame: three pits, with posts with enlarged heads and crossed-braces and supported on tall sub-frame, of four corner-posts, curved braces and crossed-braces (Fig. 1a), 15th-century with later additional bracing. Brackets: in S. chapel, on E. wall, two, semi-octagonal, of stone, each with carving of angel bearing shield-of-arms of Graa ( 29), late 14th-century. Brasses and Indents. Brasses: all now exhibited on new wall in lower exhibition area on site of chancel, (1) the Rev. Isaac Grayson, headmaster of the Free Grammar School, rector of the church and vicar of Warthill, 1831, his wife Mary, 1831, inscription ; (2) Ann Curtoys, 1805, inscription , formerly in N. chapel; (3) Sarah, wife of Tim Wilkinson, 1724, their daughter Margaret, wife of George Blanshard, 1731, George, son of George and Margaret Blanshard, 1709, inscription in Latin; (4) John Tweedy, 1842, shield, also commemorated on Monument (11) and Floor-slab (13). Indents: in nave, (1) in black marble slab, for rectangular and two shields, see Floor-slab (3); (2) in black marble slab, for rectangular , three figures and two shields, see Floor-slab (9).

Coffin Lids: externally, in N. chapel, in E. wall, (1) small fragment with simple foliated cross, 13th-century; in W. face of second buttress to N., (2) small fragment with incised stepped base, possibly part of same slab as (1). Internally, in S. chapel, in E. wall, (3) small but elaborate lid with foliated cross and stepped base in high relief, 13th-century. Font: octagonal, cup-shaped, with locking staples, 17th-century, with cover of 1870. Glass: in S. chapel, in E. window, sIII, but temporarily removed (1974). In tracery, mostly fragments including in (1A) and (1D) some fleurs-de-lys and leopards, (1B) shield with merchant's mark, (1C) arms of Percy; in heads of main lights, fragments around heads of (4a) the Virgin Mary, (4b) Christ, (4c) a king; in upper row, three roundels containing in (3a) and (3c) a cross, (3b) a lozenge with IHS; in middle row, figures under arched canopies, (2a) St. John the Baptist with camel skin and Agnus Dei, head missing, (2b) figure with hand raised in blessing, head missing, (2c) St. James holding staff and wearing hat with scallop shell; in bottom row, three roundels containing in (1a) MR crowned, (1b) IHS crowned, (1c) a sun; more fragments in borders; mostly 14th-century but some 15th-century. Image: externally, on tower, on W. wall above window, within niche, seated figure of Virgin Mary, now headless, 15th-century.

Piscinae: in chancel, in S. wall, (1) almost entirely of 1870. In N. chapel, in E. wall, (2) with two-centred arch, cusping broken off, 15th-century. In S. chapel, in S. wall, (3) with moulded and trefoiled ogee arch, late 14th-century. In S. aisle, in S. wall, (4) with simple two-centred hollow-chamfered arch, 13th-century. Plate: now at St. Michael, Spurriergate, includes two flagons of 1724, altered to look like mediaeval flagons, inscribed (1) 'The Gift of John Hutton Esq. to ye Church of St. Maryes Castlegate York, in memory of Barbara his wife daughter to Thomas Barker Esq. objit December ye 14th 1723', and (2) 'Given to ye church of St. Maries Castlegate York in memory of Eliz. Daughter of Thomas Barker Esq. objit February ye 4th 1717' (Fallow and McCall, 1, 19–20). Pulpit: existing pulpit of 1870; previous pulpit, from which John Wesley preached in 1768, removed to New Connexion Chapel, Peckitt Street, York, thence to Lidgett Grove Chapel, Acomb, and now at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Bailiffe Bridge, Brighouse; hexagonal, with single fielded panel on each face and pedimented sounding-board, early 18th-century.

Recesses: in N. chapel, below window of third bay, (1) arched tomb recess with filleted roll moulding, early 14th-century, reset. In N. aisle, (2–4) three arched tomb recesses, 14th-century. Scratchings: on N.E. tower pier, IHS and also 1655; on S.E. pier, 1647. Seating: in chancel, misericordes, two (Plate 39); on N. side, (1) carved with bearded and hooded man, arms raised, flanked by lion-masks; on S. side, (2) carved with lion-mask, oak leaves and acorns; both 15th-century, incorporated into stalls of 1870. Sedilia: in chancel, in S. wall, three stalls each with cinque-foiled ogee arch, 15th-century but heavily restored 1870. Stoups: in N. aisle, (1) plain, round-headed, bowl destroyed. In S. aisle, (2) arched opening with hollow chamfer, bowl destroyed. Table: not a communion table, with four fairly slender turned legs, plain framing, 17th-century. Weather-vane: on spire, date unknown.

Miscellanea: objects found in the neighbourhood of the church at different times, and now in the Yorkshire Museum, may come from a burial ground or from the church itself, although all are earlier than any of the pre-Conquest stones discussed on pp. 33, 34. From the Quaker Meeting House, Clifford Street, (1) lead cross impressed with obverse and reverse of styca of Osberht (847–67) on one face and pierced for suspension, 2 in. by 1½ in. (Waterman, Arch., xcvii (1959), 77, Fig. 6, 80), late 9th-century; (2) bronze bowl with two moulded drop handles, foot ring and three small legs, incised concentric circles on inside of base, 13½ in. diameter, 4½ in. high (Waterman, Arch., xcvii (1959), 60, Fig. 1; YMH (1891), 218), identical to bowls from a 7th-century grave at Kingston Down (No. 205) (Antiquity, vi (1932), Fig. 8) and grave 31 at Uncleby (Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, xxiv (1911–12), 151), 7th-century. From Castle Yard, (3) bronze hanging bowl, embossed silver point on inside and outside of base, wide flattened rim, three elongated pear-shaped escutcheons with snout-shaped hooks clasping the rim and holding a ring (Romilly Allen, Reliquary, 12 (1906), 60; VCH, Yorks. II, 104; YMH (1891), 214), dated to 6th century (Kendrick, Antiquity, VI (1932)) but much later date also suggested (Haseloff, Med. Arch., II (1938), 83), and compared with 7th-8th-century manuscripts (R. Cramp, Anglian and Viking York, 6), 7th-century.

City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 30-36

NMR Information

Full description(s) ?
(SE 60445163) St. Mary's Church (NAT) (C of E)

(north-east side)

The Heritage Centre
(formerly listed as the
Church of St Mary)

SE 6051 NW 16/43 14.6.54


Mainly C15 but with portions of C13 and C14 work. Norman nave; perpendicular choir and west tower with octagonal spire, which is the tallest in York. Restored by Butterfield in 1870. The interior has several good mural monuments, mainly C18 and C19, and a dedication stone of circa 1020. After several years of disuse the building was reopened (1978) as the York Heritage Centre with a permanent exhibition devoted to the city's building. (RCHM Vol V, Monument 11.) (2)

Description of the late 9th-10th century Anglian stonework found during restoration work or in the 1975 excavations at the church. These include a dedication stone of 10th-11th century date which refers to the church as a minster. (3)

1 Ordnance Survey Map. OS 1:2500 1963.
2 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. DOE(HHR) City of York, Yorks, June 1983, p39.
3 St Mary Bishophill Junior and St Mary Castlegate.Published for the York Archaeological Trust 1987 by L P Wenham, R A Hall, C M Briden and D A Stocker p147-174
4 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume V: the central area
Includes index. 2 copies. 1981 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England 30-34
5 Anglo-Saxon architecture : volume 3 1978 by H M Taylor p958
6 Corpus of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture, volume 3 : York and eastern Yorkshire 1991 by James Lang p96-101

Related Events
613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey

Related Archives
NMR06 NMR Measured Drawings This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

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 (4)

Record last edited

Jul 6 2020 8:26PM


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