Monument record MYO4843 - Site of St James' Chapel, The Mount


Supposed site of medieval chantry chapel dedicated to St James


Grid reference SE 5943 5105 (point)
Map sheet SE55SE
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Documentary sources record a medieval chantry chapel located on The Mount. It's exact location is unknown. Antiquarian accounts may equally relate to a Roman tomb and the location therfore remains uncertain. 1852 Ordnance Survey marks the supposed location at the junction of Mill Hill and the Mount.

History and Description of the Ancient City of York: History by William Hargrove, pages 243-245

As some labourers were digging for gravel on the Mount, near the south entrance to the city, in October, 1769, they discovered the foundaiton of an ancient building; and on close investigation, part of a vault was also found, in which had been deposited a large leaden coffin. In Drake's Eboracum, is the following observation, which may be considered as having reference to the structure just mentioned 'On the east side of the Mount, stood formerly the chapel of St James, remarkable for being the place from which archbishops of York begun their walk on foot, to the cathedral, at their enthonization… This being a chantry chapel it fell at the suppression. Torre also observes 'The dean and chapter met the archbishop here, in their formalities; who after being sprinkled with holy water, then put off his shoes, and so proceeded thence barefoot, (on the cloth prepared for the purpose' to the minster; being atteneded by the clergy and people. The ground where the foundations of the chapel of St James, and the remains of the vault were found in the the property of V. Beilby esq, who resides within a few hundred yards of the spot. It is close by the road side elevated above the surrounding country, and though at present occupied by the owner as an orchard, is generally known by the name of Mill Hill.

St. James's Chapel on The Mount is probably that granted by Stephen to the Priory in a charter which cannot be more closely dated than to his reign. In a document of 1150-4 (which probably precedes the charter) Stephen notified the citizens of York of his gift of the land on which the gallows had stood (being of his demesne) to St. James's Chapel and its clerks. The chapel occurs eo nomine in the papal confirmation of the priory possessions of 1166-79.

The chapel seems to have served as a place of burial for executed felons. One such was pardoned in 1280 because on being carried to the chapel for burial he was found to be alive. Executed criminals were still being buried in the vicinity of the chapel in the 16th century.

The chapel was granted to Leonard Beckwith at the Dissolution, with other Holy Trinity property, and appears to have fallen into disuse and ruin. (fn. 222) The chapel probably lay on the east side of the Tadcaster road at the highest point of The Mount; the last traces were removed during road widening at the time when Drake was writing his history of the city in 1735-6. In such a position the chapel was a natural landmark in the Middle Ages: processions for the installation of a new archbishop began from the chapel and it occurs frequently in boundary descriptions.

'The parish churches', in A History of the County of York: the City of York, ed. P M Tillott (London, 1961), pp. 365-404

The RCHME also noted at 109 The Mount, when a passage was driven between two cellars a heavy rubble foundation was encountered, probably part of the foundations of St. James's Chapel, known to have stood near this spot.

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 3, South west. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972. Monument 50.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

Victoria County History. Edited by P M Tillott, 1961, A History of the County of York: the City of York (Bibliographic reference). SYO2398.

RCHME, 1972, RCHME City of York Volume III South-west of the Ouse (Monograph). SYO64.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History. Edited by P M Tillott. 1961. A History of the County of York: the City of York.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1972. RCHME City of York Volume III South-west of the Ouse.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Mar 10 2020 9:58AM


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