Building record MYO910 - Unitarian Chapel, 31 St Saviourgate


Presbyterian chapel constructed in 1692 on a Greek Cross plan with a central tower. Refenestrated, re-roofed, refitted and vestry added 1851-60; restored 1990-91. 19th century work by George Fowler Jones. Now Unitarian.


Grid reference Centred SE 6061 5197 (24m by 21m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

Formerly known as: St Saviourgate Chapel ST SAVIOURGATE. Presbyterian chapel, now Unitarian. 1692; refenestrated, re-roofed, refitted and vestry added 1851-60; restored 1990-91. C19 work by George Fowler Jones.

MATERIALS: orange-brown brick in stretcher bond, with brick doorcase and dressings; timber guttering on paired modillions; slate roofs with stone copings. PLAN: cruciform with low crossing tower.

EXTERIOR: main entrance in south arm through panelled double doors in raised brick surround with plain cornice, flanked by inserted 1-pane sash windows: round-arched window in raised surround over door. Both returns and south faces of east and west arms have similar windows in flush surrounds, those in flanking arms over panelled double doors with flat arches. Windows are round-headed margin-glazed sashes. North, east and west arms are gabled and have 2-course brick bands at eaves level and blocked oeil-de-boeuf openings in gable ends; roof of south arm is hipped. Crossing tower has pyramidal roof and two blocked window openings with flat arches of brick to south face; east and west faces have single louvred openings.

INTERIOR: largely refitted C19, with C18 octagonal pulpit. Ceilings mostly C19, although the north room retains its original plaster barrel vault and roof timbers above. Monuments include many simple white marble wall tablets. Chapel is important for its cruciform plan, and notable as the earliest surviving nonconformist chapel in York.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 55-56).
Listing NGR: SE6062151975

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

Unitarian Chapel, originally Presbyterian, stands on the N.W. side of St. Saviourgate within its own burial ground. It is built in the form of a Greek cross, with raised central crossing forming a low tower, and has walls of brick with a rendered plinth, and roofs of Westmorland and Welsh slate. It is aligned N.W. to S.E. with the communion table in the N.W. arm and the main entrance in the S.E., but is described as if the main axis were N. to S.

The chapel was built by December 1692 (J. Kenrick, Memorials of the Presbyterian Chapel, St. Saviourgate, York (York 1869), 32–3) and opened in April 1693 (VCH, York, 404). It was endowed at her death by Lady Hewley, the foundress of the hospital in Tanner Row which was later rebuilt in St. Saviourgate (see Monument (41)) but the building of the chapel was financed by members of the congregation (Kenrick, op. cit.; W. Hargrove in Supplement to YH, 14 Sept. 1907). According to Kenrick (p. 34), the chapel remained largely as first built until 1859, but the fenestration and the rainwater gutters were altered before 1851 (YCAG, F3 (EC/ENG), R. R[odwell]) and the W., E. and S. arms may have been re-roofed before this date. The high wall with wooden gates to St. Saviourgate was replaced in 1851 by a low wall with iron railings and gates by John Walker of Walmgate (Chapel Minute Book 1844–95, 72–5). Alterations to the interior, under the supervision of the architect George Fowler Jones, took place in 1860 (Minute Book, 11 June 1860 et seq.). The vestry in the N.W. angle was added in the 19th century and has been further altered and extended in the 20th century. The entrance doors to the chapel have all been replaced, those on the N. side in the 19th century and those on the S. in the 20th.

Despite complete refitting internally, the chapel remains important for its unusual cruciform shape and as the earliest nonconformist chapel surviving in York.

The main entrance in the S. arm has a moulded stone cornice above the doorway, and there are also doorways in the E. and W. arms. In each face of each arm of the building is a round-arched window with renewed voussoirs. In the W. arm two inserted windows replace a blocked central window. The windows have 19th-century glazing with marginal lights. The N., W. and E. faces of the N., W. and E. arms respectively have two-course brick bands at tie-beam level and a blocked oeil-de-boeuf window with flush surround of headers to the gable. Eight small windows, two to each face of the tower, formerly lit the crossing; with one exception these have been blocked with bricks or filled by louvres.

The pitch of the roofs of the W., E. and S. arms has been lowered and the scar of the former roof of the E. arm is visible on the E. face of the tower. The roof of the S. arm is hipped to the S. and that of the tower is of pyramidal shape. The tower and the N. arm retain their original arrangement internally, above the ceilings inserted in the 19th century. The walls of the tower were plastered and formerly had a deep cornice with brackets, but the 17th-century ceiling has been removed and the tie-beams and large principal rafters and the crossing members, ending in a block at the apex, are exposed. The N. arm retains its original plaster barrel vault and, above, rather thin roof timbers with one pair of principal rafters and collar, purlins and common rafters. The blocked oeil-de-boeuf window had a splayed surround. Evidence for similar plaster barrel vaults survives in the re-roofed W., E. and S. arms.

Monument 32; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 55-56

NMR Information

Full description

(SE 60625197) St. Saviourgate Chapel (NAT)

1. ST SAVIOURGATE (north-west side) 5343

Unitarian Chapel (formerly listed as St Saviourgate Chapel)

SE 6051 NE 17/514 14.6.54


1692. Originally Presbyterian. Built of brick on a Greek cross plan with central tower; later semi-circular headed windows; doorway in plain architrave with small cornice; coupled bracket leaves; slate roof, the tower with pyramidal roof. Interior with original pulpit and some C18 and early C19 monuments. (1,2)

Documented. (3)

1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date). 1:2500 1963.
2 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. p.299 City of York, June 1983.
3 An inventory of nonconformist chapels and meeting-houses in the north of England 1994 by Christopher Stell p.185

613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey

BF060231 UNITARIAN CHAPEL, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued. Copyright, date, and quantity information for this record may be incomplete or inaccurate.
VF000032 Chapels of England Items in this file were created digitally and have not been printed.

People and Organisations
Compiler CHRISTINE A PROBERT Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England 1985-12-01 1985-12-01 RCHME Staff: Southampton 1984-1988

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 (1)

Record last edited

Jun 14 2020 2:32PM


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