Monument record MYO2287 - St Mary Layerthorpe


The church of ST. MARY, Layerthorpe, is first mentioned in 1331 when, with five other capitular churches, it was annexed to St. Martin's, Coney Street. It continued to be annexed to St. Martin's at least until 1443.


Grid reference Centred SE 6092 5211 (70m by 64m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

The church of ST. MARY, Layerthorpe, is first mentioned in 1331 when, with five other capitular churches, it was annexed to St. Martin's, Coney Street. Closes sometime belonging to the parsonage house of the church are mentioned in 1467 and the parish is mentioned at the end of the 15th century. It was proposed in 1548 to unite the benefice with St. Cuthbert's and this was done in 1586: so little record of the church survives, however, that it seems likely that it had decayed before the 16th century. The foundations of the church were uncovered in 1921 on a site less than 100 yards from Layerthorpe Bridge on the south-east side of Layerthorpe (the street of that name) - ref Raine Medieval York. The parish no doubt lay in and around Layerthorpe but its topography is not known: it did not retain a separate identity for secular purposes after the union of 1586.

YAT 1986 watching brief observed that the site of the medieval church of St Mary, Layerthorpe, and its burial ground had already been largely removed.

By the 14th century Layerthorpe Bridge and gatehouse, Layerthorpe Postern, were in existence. The church of St Mary's is believed to have been 14th century in date. Aerial photographs taken in the 1930s revealed medieval ridge and furrow in the area of James Street. Rees Jones (2013, 78) states that by 1300 house plots were lout on both sides of the street near the church of St Mary. Cartographic evidence shows little development in this area from the 16th century-18th century. Industrialisaiton of the area is reflected in the OS Maps with numerous buildings and new roads. The site of the church is marked on the 1852 Ordnance Survey map.

The church is located under the car park to the north of the warehouse. The church foundations were identified in 1920/1 approximatly 100 yards from Layerthorpe Bridge. The church measured c 51ft by 15ft 6ins internally (Benson 1968, 170). A plan of the site in September 1920 provides external measurements for the north and south walls as approximatly 60ft, the east and west walls approximatly 28ft. The church is shown as a slight angle to the site boundaries but is approximatly 30ft from the eastern boundary, 50ft from the north boundary, 18ft from the west boundary and 80ft from the southern boundary.

The church is first documented in 1331, although a charter dated 1148-9 suggests there a priest at 'Leirthorpe'. Between 1331-1443 it was annexed to St Martin Coney Street as it was to poor to support the incumbent. Raine (1955, 288-289) describes a visitaiton n 1409 where the church is referred to as the parish church of the Blessed Mary, and the parishoners claimed poverty and lack of numbers and asked for help from their patrons, the Dean and Chapter. In 1412 the visitiaiton reported thsat the ornaments and vestments were sufficent but that mass was said once a week on Sundays. By 1472 it was repotred the missal is not in usem and the nave needed glass for the windows. The oarishoners were ordered to repair them or face a fine of 3s 4d. The cemetery walls were also noted to be broken downand the prayer book was missing. In 1510, Alexander Woodman requested to be buried in the cnanel before the image of Our Lady. Visitation books also note (Raine 1920, 302) that within st Mary's churchyard stood the York house belonging to Rievaux abbey. The church closed in 1549, and the parish along with St Helen on the Walls and All Saints Haymarket, were united with St Cutherbert's Peasholme Green in 1585. About this time the site was sold to Robert Cryping (Wilson and Mee 1998, 120), and he transferred the land to the Dean and Chapter.

Raine noted that in 1855 the foundaitons of te church were uncovered, but little is known of this work. In 1920 Rev. Pynes of St Cuthbert asked York Corporation to purchase the site as a garden for the Layerthorpe residents, but the failure to agree responsibility for maintenance saw the site remain as waste ground. In 1986 excavations by YAT concluded that remains of the church and burial ground had been removed, although there were fragmentary remains of burials.

The long term fossilisation of the property boundaries around the church may reflect the extent of the cemetery, and given it's potentially short period of use, it has high archaeological potentialfor a low status community. It is not clear whether the work in 1922 left the remains of the church in situ. The precise locaiton of the 1986 excavation is unknown.

Derived from The Jessops Consultancy Group

York Archaeological Trust, 2019, Archaeological Investigations at Carpetright, Layerthorpe (Unpublished document). SYO2501.

The Jessops Consultancy, 2019, Former Carpet Right, Layerthorpe (Unpublished document). SYO2499.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unpublished document: The Jessops Consultancy. 2019. Former Carpet Right, Layerthorpe.
  • --- Unpublished document: York Archaeological Trust. 2019. Archaeological Investigations at Carpetright, Layerthorpe.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Nov 10 2020 4:11PM


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