Monument record MYO2393 - Augustinian Friary


THE AUGUSTINIAN FRIARY stood on a restricted site of about 2 acres lying between the Ouse and Old Coney Street (now Lendal), and stretching from St. Leonard's Landing to 'Common Hall Lane' near the Guildhall. According to an unverified tradition, the Austin Friars came to York from Tickhill (W.R.) and bought seven houses to found the friary. They were certainly in the city in 1272 when Henry III gave them a writ of protection. A messuage was granted to them in 1289, and in 1292 the king made a gift of timber. Several additions were made to the site in the later 14th century: 5 messuages were added between 1353 and 1370; and in 1382 the friars were given a narrow plot of land by Old Coney Street, lying near their church and extending from a corner of their old wall to their old gate, on condition that they kept the pavement in repair and did not hinder the course of the river. Another plot in Old Coney Street was granted to the friary in 1391, possibly for inclusion within the site. The precinct was certainly walled, with a gateway opening into Old Coney Street; the church stood near the street, but the exact positions of the friary buildings are not known. The friary was surrendered in 1538. The site had been declared unsuitable for occupation by the Council in the North on account of sewers running under it to the river, but it was recommended that its stone and glass might be used to renovate the Dominican Friary for the Council. This was not approved; some tiles were later used at either St. Thomas's or St. Anthony's Hospitals. In 1538 Sir George Lawson held the lease of the site and asked Cromwell for a free gift of it; it was, he said, of 'small extent, with no ground but a little kitchen garden adjoining the walls of my house'; he repeated this request in 1539, and the site was, in fact, leased to Lawson in 1539 for 21 years. In 1558 it was granted to Thomas Lawson who held it at his death in 1568. Nothing is known of the subsequent history of the buildings and there are no remains of the friary. From: 'The sites and remains of the religious houses', A History of the County of York: the City of York (1961), pp. 357-365. URL: Date accessed: 13 July 2011.


Grid reference Centred SE 6009 5194 (110m by 99m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

According to the tradition current later in the order some Austin Friars came from Tickhill to York and with the aid of some good people bought seven houses, where they founded their friary. These houses owed rents to the Lord Scrope of Upsall, who allowed them to keep them rent free; wherefore he was reckoned the founder. It is impossible to verify this tradition or to identify the Lord Scrope. It is certain that the Austin Friars were in York in July 1272 when Henry III granted them a writ of protection. John de Cransewick had licence in 1289 to grant these friars a messuage in York worth 32s. a year, and in 1292 they had six oaks for timber from the king. Their houses were probably from the first in Lendal or Old Conyng Street.

In 1299 and 1300 alms for thirty-three and thirty-five brethren of this house were given by the king to Friars Gervase of Ludlow and William of Finingham. There were thirty friars in 1311-12, and twenty-six in 1319-20; thirty-six to forty in 1334, 1335, and 1337. The fall in the numbers during the reign of Edward II is perhaps due to the fact that the Austin Friars of York were engaged in founding a friary at Hull, or to the famine, owing to which Archbishop Greenfield gave them alms. Friar Richard de Wetwang, D.D., was one of those summoned to the Provincial Council at York to take measures against the Templars in 1311. The friars seem to have got into debt, and Ranulph of Newminster proposed in 1333 to release the friars from a debt which they owed to William, parson of the church of St. Mildred (? Wilfred), York, by giving him a rent in Littlegate above Bishophill in exchange. (fn. 251) Robert Clarell gave them a messuage in 1344; Thomas Twenge, clerk, in 1347 endowed them with 20s. rent in Rotsea, Yorkshire, towards finding bread and wine for the celebration of divine service. Their area was increased by grants of five messuages in York from William de Hakthorpe and William de Hedon, clerks, in 1353, and Richard de Thorneton and John Wraweby, Richard Knight, Ralph de Hemylsay, Robert Brechby, and William de Crofts, chaplains, in 1370. The provincial chapter was held here in 1361, towards the expenses of which Archbishop Thoresby, on 21 July, contributed 5 marks. In 1382 the mayor and citizens granted them a narrow plot by Old Conyng Street near their church, extending from a corner of their old wall to their old gate; this plot they were empowered 'to inclose and build upon, on condition that they repair the pavement there at their own expense and without causing any hindrance to the course of the river.'

The most interesting relic of the Austin Friars remaining is the catalogue of their library, drawn up on 8 September 1372 when William de Staynton was prior, in the presence of Friars John de Ergum or Erghome, John Ketilwell, Richard de Thorpe, and John of Appleby. The manuscripts are arranged under headings—Biblie (including Psalter and Canticles in Greek), Historie Scholastice, Originalia (Augustine, Anselm, Jerome, Gregory, &c.), Historie gentium (Polychronica, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Caesar, Bede, Sallust, &c.), Logicalia et philosophia, &c. Each volume is identified by the words with which its second leaf begins, and letters of the alphabet are added, indicating its place in the library. Of the 646 entries in the catalogue, about half are marked as having belonged to Master John Erghome. hese include works on theology and philosophy, indexes, prophecies (Merlin, John of Bridlington, and others), alchemy, astrology, astronomy, with a collection of astrological instruments, service books, sermons, works on rhetoric, medicine, arithmetic, music, geometry, and perspective. A few only of these volumes can be identified; one in the British Museum contains the Archithrenius of John de Hanville and other works; another in St. John's College, Oxford, contains a number of treatises on music; two in the Bodleian contain the prophecies of John of Bridlington and some musical treatises, and a fifth in the College of Arms contains the universal history of Treculphus, the Chronicle of John Tayster to 1287, and a history of England to 1357.

On 20 February 1410-11 Pope John XXIII exhorted the faithful to give alms to the chapel of St. Catherine Virgin and Martyr recently founded in this church by a confraternity the members of which had mass said daily in the chapel and did other works of piety, both in mending roads and distributing alms to the poor. The 'Mass of Our Lady' was endowed by 'Lord de Neville,'.

The friars borrowed £8 from William Duffield, canon of York, which was still owing at his death in 1453.

The most distinguished persons whose burials are recorded in this church are Sir Humphrey Neville and his brother Charles, who were executed at York in 1469. Henry de Blythe, painter and citizen of York, in 1346 desired, if he could not be buried in the cathedral, to be buried in the Austin Friars Church. Richard Johnson, 'labourer,' of York in 1448 left 20s. to the Austin Friars, 2d. each to twenty friars of the house and 6s. 8d. to Friar William Egremond. John Holme of Huntington, gent., left to Sir John Aske of Aughton, kt., in 1490, a garth in the parish of St. Wilfred to found an obit in the church. (fn. 271) Bequests to the house are as numerous as those to the other friaries in York.

Richard III stayed at this friary when Duke of Gloucester, and in 1484 appointed Friar William Bewick 'surveyor of the King's works and buildings, within his place of the Austin Friars of York.' In 1493 a meeting between the Abbot of St. Mary's and the mayor to settle disputes between the weavers and cordwainers took place in this friary. William Wetherall, afterwards provincial prior, was ordained deacon in this church in 1500.

On 6 April 1511 Thomas, Lord Darcy, before he sailed to Spain to fight against the Moors, was, on account of his benefactions, admitted to all the privileges of confraternity within this priory; the friars binding themselves to forfeit 20s. to the Abbot of St. Mary's, York, and 10s. to the scholars of the Austin Friars at Oxford if they failed to observe the agreement; the deed was confirmed by John Stokes, provincial prior.The Earl of Northumberland paid the prior £4 6s. 8d. for his lodging there in the year 1522-3.

The prior, John Aske, seems to have given some support to the rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace; he supped with his namesake, the leader of the rebels, in York, but was not punished. The house was surrendered to the king's commissioners on 28 November 1538 by the prior, nine priests, and four novices. The goods were sold in gross to Sir George Lawson for £13 14s. 8d. Out of this the prior received 20s., Edward Banks sub-prior 6s. 8d., and the rest of the brethren, numbering fourteen, sums varying from 6s. 8d. to 3s. 4d.; total £5 7s. 4d. The two bells and 40 fother of lead on the roof of the church were reserved; the plate, consisting of two chalices and seven spoons, and weighing 38 oz., was sent to the king's jewel house. The site itself was valued at only 16d., the rents from houses in Coney Street, Stonegate, Davy Gate, Black Street, Lop Lane, Walmgate, and a cottage in Micklegate of the gift of Lord Scrope, brought in £5 6s. 8d.; the friars also possessed lands in Oswaldkirk and Huntington near York to the value of £2 4s. a year.

Before the surrender took place the question was being discussed to what use the Austin Friars should be put. The council of the north declared (6 November 1538) that it was unsuitable as a habitation for the council, 'standing very cold on the water of the Ouse without open air, saving on the same water, which always is very contagious as well in winter as in summer, by means of sundry corrupt and common channels, sinkers, and gutters of the said city conveyed under the same.' They suggested however that the stone and glass might be used in making the Black Friars into a house for the council fit to receive the king when he came to York. Sir George Lawson repeatedly wrote to Cromwell begging for a free gift of the site which ' is of small extent, with no ground but a kitchen garden adjoining the walls of my house.' Sir George held the site to farm, but all the possessions of the Austin Friars in York (consisting of a tenement and twelve messuages) were granted in June 1545 to Sir Richard Gresham, kt.

A History of the County of York: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.

NMR Information

1 Medieval religious houses in England and Wales 1971 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock p245

BF060252 AUGUSTINIAN FRIARY, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

Victoria County History ed. William Page, 1974, A History of the County of York Volume 3 (Bibliographic reference). SYO2397.

AOC, 2016, Guildhall Lendal (Unpublished document). SYO1856.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: AOC. 2016. Guildhall Lendal.
  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History ed. William Page. 1974. A History of the County of York Volume 3. 3.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Aug 1 2020 3:21PM


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