1902 Encyclopedia > York (City), England

(City), England

YORK, a cathedral city and archbishop's see, the county town of Yorkshire, a county in itself, and a municipal and parliamentary borough, is situated on the river Ouse at its junction with the Foss, and on the main joint line of the North Eastern and Great Northern Railways, 188 miles north of London. The surrounding country is flat, but the plain of York is one of the richest and most fertile districts in England. While the special feature of York is the cathedral, the city generally has an antique appear-ance, with narrow picturesque streets, the remains of ancient walls, and many churches and other buildings of consider-able architectural interest. The Ouse is crossed by three bridges for general traffic,—the Ouse bridge, of three elliptical arches, erected 1810-20 where a bridge had stood from time immemorial; Lendal bridge, opened in 1863, a handsome structure of iron, consisting of a single arch 175 feet in span ; and Skeldergate bridge, 1880, constructed ol iron resting on stone piers. The Foss is crossed by five bridges. Of the old Roman city there are some remains of the fortifications, including ten sides of a thirteen-sided building called the multangular tower, occupying one of the four angles of the ancient wall, with the lower part of the wall leading from this tower to Bootham Bar, the upper part of the wall being of later origin. The walls of the English city, enclosing a much wider area, though they have undergone reconstruction at various periods and were much battered during the siege of the city in 1644, are in remarkably good preservation, especially the portion to the west of the Ouse. They contain Norman and Early Eng-lish architecture, but the bulk of the walls are in the Decorated style. There are four principal gates or "bars" —Micklegate Bar, at the southern entrance to the city, where the heads of traitors were formerly exposed, consist-ing of a square tower built over a circular arch, probably Norman, with embattled turrets at the angles ; Bootham Bar, the main entrance from the north, having also a Norman arch; Monk Bar, on the Scarborough road, the most imposing of the four, probably belonging to the 14th century, formerly called Goodramgate, which after the Bestoration was changed to Monk Bar in honour of General Monk; and Walmgate Bar, belonging to the time of Edward I. and retaining the barbican rebuilt in 1648. Of the Norman fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1068 some portions were probably incorporated in Clifford's Tower, which was partly destroyed by fire in


1684. It formed the keep or donjon of the later fortress, which was dismantled at the Civil War and converted into a prison. The debtors' prison, erected in 1708, and the North and East Biding assize courts, erected in 1777, are also included within the castle wall, which was constructed in 1836.

The cathedral of St Peter, if surpassed by some other English cathedrals in certain special features, is as a whole the most striking and imposing specimen of ecclesiastical architecture in England. It is in the form of a Latin cross, consisting of nave with aisles, transepts, choir with aisles, a central tower, and two western towers. The extreme external length is 524 feet 6 inches, the breadth across the transepts 250 feet, the height of the central tower 213 feet, and the height of the western towers 202 feet. The material is magnesian limestone. The cathedral occupies the site of the wooden church in which King Edwin was baptized by Paulinus on Easter Day 627.

After his baptism Edwin, according to Bede, began to construct "a large and more noble basilica of stone," but it was partly destroyed during the troubles which followed his death, and was repaired by Archbishop Wilfrid. The building suffered from fire in 741, and, after it had been repaired by Archbishop Albert, was described by Alcuin as "a most magnificent basilica." At the time of the Norman invasion the Saxon cathedral, along with the library of Archbishop Egbert, perished in the fire by which the greater part of the city was destroyed, the only relio of it now remaining being the central wall of the crypt. It was reconstructed by Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux (1070-1100); but of this building few portions now re-main. The apsidal choir and crypt were reconstructed by Archbishop Boger (1154-91), the south transept by Archbishop Walter de Gray (1215-55), and the north tran-sept and central tower by John Bomanus, treasurer of the cathedral (1228-56). With the exception of the crypt, the transepts are the oldest portions of the building now remaining. They represent the Early English style at its best, and the view across the great transept is unsurpassed for architectural effect. The south transept is the richest and most elaborate in its details, one of its principal fea-tures being the magnificent rose window; and the north transept contains a series of beautiful lancet windows called the Five Sisters. The foundation of the new nave was laid by Archbishop Eomanus (1285-96), son of the treasurer, the building of it being completed by Arch-bishop Melton about 1345. The chapter-house was built during the same period. The west front, consisting of a centre and two divisions corresponding with the nave and aisles, is one of the finest features of the whole building, and has been described as " more architecturally perfect as a composition and in its details than that of any other English cathedral," the great window above the door being, in the words of Mr Britton, " an unrivalled specimen of the leafy tracery that marks the style of the middle of the 14th century." In 1361 Archbishop Thoresby (1352-73) began the lady chapel and presbytery, both in the Early Perpendicular style. The rebuilding of the choir, begun about the same period, was not completed till about 1400. It is a very fine specimen of Late Perpendicular, the great east window being one of the finest in the world. With the rebuilding of the choir the whole of the ancient Nor-man edifice was removed, the only Norman architecture now remaining being the eastern portion of the crypt of the second period, built by Archbishop Boger (1154-91). To correspond with later alterations, the central tower was re-cased and changed into a Perpendicular lantern tower, the work being completed in 1444. The south-west tower was begun in 1432 during the treasurership of John de Bermingham, and the north-west tower in 1470. With the erection of this tower the church was completed as it now stands, and on 3d February 1472 it was re-consecrated by Archbishop Neville. On 2d February 1829 the wood-work of the choir was set on fire by Jonathan Martin, a madman. On 2d May 1840 a fire broke out in the south-west tower, reducing it to a mere shell. The cathedral within recent years has undergone extensive restoration.

Next to the cathedral the most interesting building in York is St Mary's Abbey, situated in Museum Gardens, founded for Bene-dictines by Alan, earl of Richmond, and latterly one of the most powerful ecclesiastical establishments in England, its head having the rank of a mitred abbot with a seat in parliament. The principal remains of the abbey are the north wall and the ruins of the church, in the Early English and Decorated style, and the principal gateway with a Norman arch. The hospitium, a curious building -of wood, is now used as a museum of antiquities, and contains a fine collection of Roman remains discovered in the vicinity. A con-siderable portion of the abbey was employed for the erection of the king's manor, a palace for the lord president of the north, now oc-cupied as a school for the blind. In the gardens is also situated the ambulatory of St Leonard's hospital, founded by King Athel-stan and rebuilt by Stephen. iBesides the cathedral, York possesses a large number of churches of special architectural interest, including All Saints, North Street, Decorated and Perpendicular, with a spire 120 feet in height; Christ Church, with south door in the Decorated style, supposed to occupy the site of the old Roman palace ; Holy Trinity in Goodramgate, Decorated and Perpendicular with Perpendicular tower; Holy Trinity, Micklegate, in a dilapi-dated condition, with Roman masonry in its foundation walls ; St Denis, Walmgate, with rich Norman doorway and Norman tower; St Helen's, St Helen's Square, chiefly Decorated ; St John's, North Street, chiefly Perpendicular ; St Lawrence, without the bar of Walmgate, with rich Norman doorway ; St Margaret's, Walmgate, celebrated for its curiously sculptured Norman porch and doorway; St Mary the Elder, Bisho'phill, Early English and Decorated, with brick tower, rebuilt in 1659 ; St Mary the Younger, Bishophill, with a square tower in the Saxon style, rebuilt probably in the 13th century; St Mary, Castlegate, with Perpendicular tower and spire 154 feet in height; St Michael-le-Belfry, founded in 1066, but re-built in 1538 in the Late Perpendicular style ; and St Olave, Mary-gate, Perpendicular, said to have been founded by Siward, earl of Northumberland. Among the principal secular buildings are the guild hall, with a fine old room in the Perpendicular style °-ected in 1446, and containing a number of stained-glass windows ; the mansion-house, built in 1725 from designs by the earl of Burling-ton ; the assembly rooms, erected in 1730, also from designs by the earl of Burlington, with the concert-room adjoining, built in 1823; the com exchange ; the infantry barracks ; the cattle market; the theatre, founded by Tate Wilkinson in 1765, and lately re-faced in the Gothic style by the corporation, who own the property; the De Grey rooms for balls and concerts; the fine old merchant's hall; the merchant tailors' hall; and the masonic hall. The public in-stitutions of a learned or educational character include the York-shire Philosophical Society, whose museum in the Grecian style was opened in February 1830 ; the subscription library, instituted 1784, and containing upwards of 20,000 volumes ; the York institute of' science and literature, established in 1827, and removed to the present premises in 1846 ; the Wilberforce school for the blind; the York fine art and industrial institution ; and the Government school of art. The charities include the York county hospital, the union workhouse, the dispensary, Colton's hospital for 8 poor men, Harrison's hospital, Dorothy Wilson's hospital (founded in 1777) for 16 poor women, Sir Arthur Ingram's hospital (founded in 1640) for 10 poor widows, and the old maids' hospital for 10 poor spinsters. The principal schools are St Peter's cathedral grammar-school (originally endowed in 1557), Archbishop Holgate's grammar-school, the York and diocesan grammar-school, and the blue-coat school for boys (founded in 1705), with the associated grey-coat school for girls.

In modern times York has ceased to retain its commercial im-portance ; but it possesses several iron foundries, railway engineer-ing works, a large glass factory, breweries, flour-mills, tanneries, glove manufactories, and confectionery and other minor establish-ments. Within its municipal limits the city of York constitutes a separate division of the county of York; the municipal city and the ainsty are for parliamentary purposes included in the North Riding, for registration purposes in the East Riding, and for all other purposes in the West Riding. The parliamentary city of York, which formerly extended beyond the municipal limits, is partly in the North and partly in the East Riding. The corps-ration consists of a lord mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors. The city returns two members to parliament. In 1884 the bound-aries of the city were extended to include the townships of Holgate and St Olave, and part of the townships of Clifton, Dringhouses, Fulford, Heworth, and Middlethorpe. The population of the municipal borough (area 1979 acres) was 43,796 in 1871 and 49,530 in 1881, and that of the parliamentary borough (area 2789 acres) 50,765 in 1871 and 60,343 in 1881. The new area is about 3553 acres, with a population estimated at over 70,000 in 1888.

York, the British name of which was Caer-Ebroc, was chosen by the Romans as an important depot after the conquest of the Bri-gantes by Agricola in 79 and named Eboracum. Ultimately it became the military capital and centre of the Roman power in Britain. The original Roman city was rectangular in form, about 650 yards by 550, and built somewhat after the plan of ancient Home on the east bank of the Ouse. In York the emperors sat in the prsetorium, and a temple was erected there to Bellona. The first emperor to take up his residence in York was Hadrian, when he visited Britain in 120. Severus died at York in February 211, and his body is supposed to have been burnt at Severus's Hill, a short distance south of the city. Constantius Chlorus also died at York in July 306, and his son Constantino the Great was there inaugurated Roman emperor. Early in the 7th century the city, under the name of Eoforwic, became the capital of the Bretwaldas. Edwin after his conversion in 627 made it an archbishop's see. The province of York, of which Paulinus was the first bishop, formerly included a great part of Scotland, but is now confined to the ten northern dioceses of England. From the time of Arch-bishop Egbert (732-766) York became celebrated as a school of learning and under Alcuin was one of the most famous places of education in Europe. The city was one of the principal Danish settlements and seats of commerce, its population in 990 being estimated at 30,000. It was the capital of the Danish jarl; and Siward is stated to have died at York in 1055 and to have been buried in St Olave's church. After the death of Edward the Con-fessor York was captured by Harold Hardrada, who, however, was shortly afterwards defeated and slain at Stamford Bridge. It was captured by William I. in 1068 and to guard it he erected a tower ; but it was re-taken and the whole Norman garrison put to death. In revenge for their slaughter William, on re-capturing the city after a siege of six months, devastated the country between York and Durham. In 1175 Henry II. held the first English parliament at York, when Malcolm of Scotland did homage for his kingdom. The city was frequently visited by subsequent monarchs, and was the scene of important conventions and parlia-ments. After the suppression of the rebellion known as the Pil-grimage of Grace in 1569, the Council of the North was established at York. The city was besieged during the Civil War by the Parliamentary troops, to whom it surrendered on 16th July 1644. York received its first charter of incorporation from Henry I.

See Drake's Eboracum, 1736; Sheahan and Whellan's History of York, 1855-56 ;
Hargrove's History of York, 1818; Dixon's Fasti Eboracenses, 1863; Ornsby's Dio-
cesan History of York, 1882 ; Raine's Historians of the Church of York, 1S79-86 ;
Davies's Walks through York, 1880 ; Twyford's York and York Castle, 1883 ; and
Benson and Jefferson's Picturesque York, 1886. (T. P. H.)

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