Monument record MYO2204 - Franciscan Friary (York Greyfriars)

Summary

Probably founded in 1230 in an unknown location in the city. They were granted timber for building in 1236 and 1237. They were granted a site between the castle and the River Ouse, within the city wall, circa 1243. They acquired more land, eventually extending the site over the castle ditch and outer bailey. From the reign of Edward I onwards, the Greyfriars was a fashionable Northern location for the Royal court, the royal entourage often establishing itself there. Little is known of the conventual buildings, but the church was built immediately within the main gateway of the precinct..A short section of the precinct wall survives. Excavations have located part of the friary cemetery.

Location

Grid reference Centred SE 6037 5149 (172m by 225m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (3)

Full Description

THE FRANCISCAN FRIARY lay immediately to the west of the castle, between Castlegate and the Ouse. The precinct wall ran along the south side of Castlegate and along the line of the present Tower Street to Castlegate Postern; from this postern to the river at Davy Tower, the city wall served as the friary boundary; the precinct wall was continued along the river bank as far as the city staith; and from the river to Castlegate, the wall lay close to Hertergate (now Friargate, but partly lost). It appears that the site did not extend up to Hertergate despite the friars' acquisition in 1314 of property lying between their gateway and that street; in 1434 a tenement was said to lie between Hertergate and the friary, and in 1850 remains of the friary wall existed a little to the south-east of Friargate. The friary gateway, with the church standing just inside it, opened into Castlegate near the cemetery of St. Mary's Church; the positions of other buildings within the precinct, which included the king's chamber, the chapter house, and a kitchen, are unknown.

The house was probably founded in about 1230 and in 1236 Henry III gave timber for the building. In 1237 the friars were permitted to enclose a strip of ground, measuring 12 ft. by 40 ft., which formed part of an adjoining street, and to lengthen their courtyard. The position of this first site is unknown. In 1243 the site already described was obtained and the king contributed 40 marks for new buildings. A royal grant of a ditch to the east of the site was made in 1268 on condition that it was enclosed with an earthen bank. The friary was surrendered in 1538.

The extent of the monument polygon has been plotted using the 1852 OS Plan. Due to differences in projections between the 1852 and modern OS plans, the polygon doesn’t "fit" with the contemporary OS plan. Please refer to City Archaeologist for precise interpretation of the boundary line.

NMR sources:
1 Medieval religious houses in England and Wales 1971 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock 229
2 Archaeological papers from York presented to M.W. Barley
Includes bibliographies. Three plans on 3 microfiches in pocket 1984 edited by P V Addyman and V E Black 109-121 Dobson B

Related NMR object: BF060253 FRANCISCAN FRIARY, 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.


Victoria County History, 1961, A History of the County of York: the City of York, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/city-of-york/pp357-365 (Bibliographic reference). SYO1174.

THE FRANCISCAN FRIARY lay immediately to the west of the castle, between Castlegate and the Ouse. The precinct wall ran along the south side of Castlegate and along the line of the present Tower Street to Castlegate Postern; from this postern to the river at Davy Tower, (fn. 123) the city wall served as the friary boundary; the precinct wall was continued along the river bank as far as the city staith; and from the river to Castlegate, the wall lay close to Hertergate (now Friargate, but partly lost). It appears that the site did not extend up to Hertergate despite the friars' acquisition in 1314 of property lying between their gateway and that street; (fn. 124) in 1434 a tenement was said to lie between Hertergate and the friary, (fn. 125) and in 1850 remains of the friary wall existed a little to the south-east of Friargate. (fn. 126) The friary gateway, with the church standing just inside it, opened into Castlegate near the cemetery of St. Mary's Church; (fn. 127) the positions of other buildings within the precinct, which included the king's chamber, the chapter house, and a kitchen, are unknown. (fn. 128)

The house was probably founded in about 1230 and in 1236 Henry III gave timber for the building. (fn. 129) In 1237 the friars were permitted to enclose a strip of ground, measuring 12 ft. by 40 ft., which formed part of an adjoining street, and to lengthen their courtyard. (fn. 130) The position of this first site is unknown. In 1243 the site already described was obtained and the king contributed 40 marks for new buildings. (fn. 131) A royal grant of a ditch to the east of the site was made in 1268 on condition that it was enclosed with an earthen bank. (fn. 132) In 1280 the friars were licensed to enclose an adjacent street, (fn. 133) and another lane was taken into the site in 1290. (fn. 134) In the following year leave was given for the completion of a stone wall which had been begun on the river bank; (fn. 135) the flow of the river was so diverted by this wall that another, protective, wall was necessary on the opposite bank in 1305. (fn. 136) Licence was given for the dedication of a church and cemetery in 1303; (fn. 137) the acquisition of houses and land to the north-west of the site in 1314 (fn. 138) probably completed the growth of the precinct.

¶The friary was surrendered in 1538 (fn. 139) and a 21year lease of the site made to Leonard Beckwith in 1539. (fn. 140) The site was granted in fee to Beckwith in 1543, (fn. 141) and in 1546 he alienated it to William Harper; (fn. 142) it remained in the hands of the Harper family at least until 1571. (fn. 143) Nothing is known of the subsequent history of the site which is now completely built over.

The friary gateway still stood in the late 16th century, (fn. 144) and sections of the south-east, south-west, and north-west walls remained in 1850. (fn. 145) The river wall on the south-west is probably represented by the present stone wall abutting upon the river at that point.

RCHME, 1981, City of York Volume V: The Central Area, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol5/pp50-56 (Monograph). SYO65.

Franciscan Friary was founded c. 1230 and dissolved in 1538 (VCH, York, 362). From 1243 it occupied a site on the S.W. side of Castlegate, extending to the river and bounded on the S.E. by the city wall (York II, 158). There are no remains of the church or conventual buildings, but parts of the precinct wall survive. In 1291 a royal licence was granted to the friars to allow them to complete a stone wall on the bank of the river, already begun (CPR, 1281–92, 427), and there were subsequently complaints that it had an injurious effect on the Skeldergate bank opposite (CPR, 1301–7, 387).

¶A surviving section of the mediaeval river wall, 240 ft. long, extends from Lower Friargate to Peckitt Street. It is of magnesian limestone to a height of 6 ft. above the modern footpath and the S.E. half is overlaid by 3 ft. of brickwork of late mediaeval date. The lower part of the wall is battered and there are seven large buttresses, each splayed on the upstream side. The N.W. bay has a chamfered plinth; of this, a length of 14¼ ft. is raised up over an opening, now blocked and hidden by the modern esplanade, but which must have been a water-gate serving the friary. The upper part of this section appears to have been rebuilt. The S.E. continuation of the wall, as far as Davy Tower, of magnesian limestone, is of 17th or 18th-century date; it has a chamfered plinth and there is one round-arched doorway.

Remains of a length of about 150 ft. of the N.W. wall of the precinct, mostly built over with later structures, survive at No. 20 Castlegate (87), No. 22 Castlegate (88), and the Friends' Meeting House (27).

YAT, 2015, Fire Station, Clifford Street EVA (Unpublished document). SYO1760.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History. 1961. A History of the County of York: the City of York. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/city-of-york/pp357-365.
  • --- Unpublished document: YAT. 2015. Fire Station, Clifford Street EVA.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol5/pp50-56.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (11)

Record last edited

Dec 7 2022 12:53PM

Feedback?

Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.