Category Archives: Where Is This?

Where Is This? – Numbers 19 & 20

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 19 –

Mystery19

This is St Mary’s Tower, at the corner of Marygate and Bootham, a corner tower to the abbey walls. Built sometime between 1318 and 1324 by Stephen de Austewyk, St Mary’s tower has changed much over the years. It is a two storey structure, around thirty four feet in diameter, with an octagonal interior.

It was badly damaged during the 1644 siege of York, and subsequently rebuilt. The tower was mined by Parliamentarian forces during the attack, with an explosion beneath its foundations almost totally destroying it. The subsequent breach in the walls enabled Cromwell’s army to gain access to the city, fighting their way to the King’s Manor. However the attack was soon repelled with many injured and killed. The tower was rather crudely rebuilt, with much thinner walls, and some rather inexplicable external faults ….. still visible today.

With its disjointed bits and salvaged masonry it’s a visible reminder of the 1644 siege, a part of our history which doesn’t really seem to have captured the public imagination.

Picture Number 20 :-

Mystery20

The daffodils are a bit late this year – so here is one from 2012.

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Where Is This? – Numbers 18 & 19

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 18 –

Mystery18

The Multangular Tower in the Museum Gardens is the most noticeable and intact structure remaining from the Roman walls. It was constructed as part of a series of eight similar defensive towers. The first settlement, centred on where the Minster now stands, had a much smaller circuit wall than the later medieval defences and the Multangular Tower was a polygonal bastion added to the western corner around the early third century, though it may have been built later.

Its style, protruding from the fortress wall rather than sitting behind it, was a development designed to enable defenders to fire down on anyone attacking the wall itself.

The small stone blocks making up the lower section, along with the red tile course known as Saxa Quadrata, are typically Roman. The larger blocks above however, date from a later medieval rebuilding. Walk round to the left of the tower, under the yew trees and through a little door to get the view from inside the tower and a look at some old Roman coffins.

Picture Number 19 :-

Mystery19

Another distinctive tower – showing the battle scars from 1644 !

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Where Is This? – Numbers 17 & 18

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 17 –

Mystery17

The narrow spiral staircase is inside Fishergate Postern Tower – an impressive, grade I listed, rectangular stone building at the end Piccadilly, opposite the Wetherspoon’s “The Postern Gate”. The stone tower as we see it today, but without the tiled roof, was built between 1504 and 1507 in place of an earlier structure known as Talken Tower.

The spiral staircase is the only access to the upper floors. There are hidden defensive “trip steps” built into the stone treads – to catch out any unsuspecting attackers trying to rush up to the higher floors. The only “attackers” these days are the increasing number of people who come to see the interior of the tower during open days organized by the Friends of York Walls.

One of the biggest ongoing objectives of the Friends of York Walls is to re-open Fishergate Postern Tower for community use. They are also seeking to raise funds towards refurbishment of the tower by inviting the general public and local businesses to “Sponsor a Stone”. The tower is currently opened up by The Friends at significant York events and during the summer weekends. Watch the website at https://yorkwalls.org.uk/ for details.

Picture Number 18 :-

Mystery18

A tower probably better known for its outside appearance !

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Where Is This? – Numbers 16 & 17

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 16 :–

Mystery16

Heraldry on Micklegate Bar includes the carved plaque commemorating the restoration of 1727, with shield of arms of Lord Mayor Sir John Lister Kaye; two shields of the Arms of the City of York: the Plantagenet Royal Arms beneath a crested helm. Some sources give the date as 1737.

Micklegate Bar is a 12th century Norman arched gate and rebuilt in the late-12th or early-13th century. In the early 14th century, the three-storied structure was added, which allowed for the inclusion of the portcullis. The outward façade seen today dates from the 14th-century renovations. It was at this stage that the Bar also received its barbican, a walled but roofless space in front of the Bar, with walkways on top of its walls. The barbican, although in disrepair for many years, remained in place until demolished in 1826. The last major restoration work took place in 1952 and the stone figures on top of the bar date from that restoration. In 1968, the west turret was dismantled and completely rebuilt.

Picture Number 17 :-

Mystery17

Our first inside mystery picture, but a place increasing numbers are visiting !

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Where Is This? – Numbers 15 & 16

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 15 –

Mystery15

Bootham Bar is on the site of one of the four main entrances to the Roman fortress. There has been a gateway here for nearly 2000 years. Although much of Bootham Bar was built in the 14th and 19th centuries, it also has some of the oldest surviving stonework, dating to the 11th century. It stands almost on the site of Porta Principalis Dextra – the northwestern gate of Eboracum.

Like the other city gates, Bootham has displayed the heads of traitors in its time: notably Thomas Mowbray in 1405; it easily survived an unsuccessfully attack by Lord Scrope on behalf of the Royal impostor, Lambert Simnell, in 1487; but was heavily damaged by the Earl of Manchester’s troops during the Siege of York (1644). It was restored seven years later and pedestrian archways added in the following century. Fortunately, plans to demolish the bar in 1831 were eventually scrapped.

Bootham Bar was the last of the gates to lose its barbican, demolished in 1835. The Victorian steps leading up to the tower and the wall walk are inappropriately placed against the outer face of the walls !

Picture Number 16 :-

Mystery16

Can you identify this, and where it is ?

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Where Is This? – Numbers 14 & 15

The solution to last weeks Picture Number 14 –

Mystery14

“Railway Arches”. The railways arrival in York had a dramatic impact on the walls. The first railway station was built immediately outside the city walls and opened on the 29 May 1839. The railway company, the North Midland and Great North of England Railway, felt that being outside the walls was not good for business. Two years later in January 1841 they opened a new station and offices inside the city walls.

To bring the rail tracks inside the city walls, the walls had to be breached. Several arches were made. Two large pointed arches can be seen in Queen Street. The most southerly was made first in 1839 and carried the footpath on the wall over the YNMR track. It spans some 20m. The arches were designed by architect George T. Andrews. Initially only one arch was built but rail traffic grew and more lines were needed so a second arch was added in 1845. The station was replaced by the present York Station in 1877, located on a new site outside the walls.

Picture Number 15 :-

Mystery15

Steps to the start of a wall walk taken by many thousands each year !

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