Monument record MYO5077 - Church of St Peter the Little


Site of a Medieval church, first mentioned in c.1125, it was recorded as redundant in 1549 though the tower stood until 1567. Some architectural fragments that may have come from this church were uncovered in 1891 when the new Gazette office was being built in High Ousegate.


Grid reference SE 6034 5176 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (5)

Full Description

Peter Lane Little from 1327, after the church of St. Peter the Little. This is first mentioned c. 1125 and was sold as redundant in 1549, although its tower was still standing in 1567. It stood to the N.E. of the N. branch of the lane. The S. branch was known as Pope's Head Alley in Drake's time.

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 5, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1981. p181

The church of ST. PETER-THE-LITTLE is first mentioned in a document dated between 1121 and 1128 when the advowson was confirmed to Durham Cathedral Priory An agreement made between 1162 and 1167 assigned the church to the archdeaconry of Cleveland but this was probably only a temporary arrangement. The Priory of Durham retained the advowson until the Dissolution when it presumably passed to the bishops of Durham or the Crown: the church was, however, by this time almost extinct.

A document of 1225 confirmed a pension of 1 mark due to Durham Priory from the incumbents of St. Peter's. The pension had apparently lapsed by 1535; the rectory was then valued at £2 6s. 6d. comprising tithes from gardens, lenten tithes, and all other oblations.

It was proposed in 1548 to unite the church with All Saints', Pavement, and it was then agreed that the mayor should sell the church for £40. The churchyard, and apparently the church, were sold in 1549 to Miles Newton for £1 6s. 8d.; in 1555 the site was 'noisefully used' by the local inhabitants and Newton was asked to remedy the matter. The act of union with All Saints' was completed in 1586.

The church lay on the east side of Peter Lane: a few courses of stone that probably formed part of the fabric were still to be seen in a wall in Peter Lane in 1958. An examination of the foundations about 1910 revealed a structure that had consisted of nave and chancel without aisles and a tower at the west end. The parish was small and lay west of the church: it retained its identity for secular purposes until 1900 and is marked on the Ordnance Survey Plan of 1852.

Licence was granted for the alienation of lands in support of a chantry at the altar of the Virgin to Stephen de Settrington in 1349. In 1535 the chantry at this altar was valued at £3 13s. 1d. clear, the income being derived from rents in the city. In 1546 the chantry, said to have been founded by John Settrington at an unstated date and to be at the altar of St. Margaret (although called 'the chantry of Our Lady'), was valued at £4 18s. 4½d. clear. The chantry was then said to have been at one time three, which had decayed and had been united in 1526.

Licences to alienate lands for the support of a chantry (in one case said to be at the altar of St. Mary) were granted to John de Akum of York in 1349. Similar licence was granted to John de Acum the Younger in 1359 for a chantry at the altar of St. John the Baptist. The chantry, said to have been founded by John and Joan Acom, was valued at £4 3s. 4d. in 1535; the chaplain then received a pension from Byland Abbey of £4. Neither of the Acum chantries is mentioned in 1546 but the pension from Byland was then attached to Swetemouth's chantry at the altar of St. John the Baptist.

Licence for the alienation of lands in support of a chantry was granted to Robert and William Swetemouth in 1350.The chantry was being served in 1356 and three years later inquisition was taken prior to licence for alienation of lands by John de Akum for the support of this chantry. In 1388 the chantry was said to be at the altar of St. Margaret.The valuation of Acum's chantry in 1535 probably refers to Swetemouth's chantry. In 1546 the chantry was said to be at the altar of St. John the Baptist and to have been founded by Robert Swetemouth in 1358: it was valued at £3 18s. clear and derived its income from the pension from Byland. St. Peter-the-Little was united with All Saints' in 1586, St. Crux in 1885, and St. Saviour's in 1954. References to All Saints Pavement indicate in 1716 the benefice derived an income of £1 from a house in the churchyard of St. Peter-the-Little.

'The parish churches', in A History of the County of York: the City of York, ed. P M Tillott (London, 1961), pp. 365-404.

Peter Lane is so called because in it stood the ancient church of St Peter the Little. Two narrow passages lead into High Ousegate, one continues the line of the street, the other is a dozen yards to the north-east. This latter, in mediaeval times, was a pathway from High Ousegate to the south door of St Peter the Little and was called Le Kyrk Lane. The church stood on the east side of Peter Lane and a few courses of the north wall showing a plinth are still to be seen. The church is mentioned as being among the possessions of the Bishops of Durham in 1121-30.

In 1369 the nave was ordered to be rebuilt. A north aile seems to have been added in the 15th century, for in 1433 Alice Davy left money for the building of three columns in the north part of the church, or for the building of the tower. The tower was probably built later as we find James Lonnesdale in 1493 leaving 20s for the fabric of the tower. Wills oprovide some informaiton on the church. The High Altar in 1352 Thomas de Lynton, skinner, left 40d towards the mending of the window over the high altar. 1473 William Knolles left money for painitn the reredos. There were four altar: St James; The Blessed Virgin; St John the Baptist; St Laurence and St Nicholas; and St Margaret. Known burials; 1486 Henry Alleyn asked to be buried before the great crucifix in the midst of the church; John Mansell asked to be buried before the rood. A porch is mentioned in 1404 in the will of Agnes Touthorp.

In July 1548 the church was to be sold. Union of Churchs put forth in May 1549 the parish was scheduled for union with All Hallow, or All saints. Pavement. In January 1548/9the church ground and churchyard were sold to Miles Newton for 26s 8d. In 1555 the City Council agreed that the church and churchyard 'doo now stand desolat and used noyfully to then habitants of Citie adjoining as passing by that way'. Miles Newton was ordered to improve the area. The tower still stood in 1567, for the Council granted to Richard Skawceby, tinker, a lease of the little cottage lately built against the tower of the church.

The location of the church was valuable and was soon built over, and more recently was an area of warehouses and stores, the building of which disturbed the ancient graves. In 1884 a warehouse was buitl for Messrs. Cox and Falconer. Some carved stones were observed and taken to 9 High Petergate where Raine (senior) was living and used in a rockery. Many coffins were exposed, a nd a clerk from a near by bank in 1884 was sent to collect a skull to be used as a tobacco jar. The bones were buried in a field at Clementhorpe. Some coffins had thick oak lids and some of these were taken home by workmen and used by their wives as baking boards. About 1930 an extension of the premesis of Messrs. Brown Brother ad Taylor revealed further burials.

Derived from Raine, A. 1955. Mediaeval York. p166-7

NMR Information

BF060225 ST PETER THE LITTLE'S CHURCH, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

Victoria County History, 1961, A History of the County of York: the City of York (Bibliographic reference). SYO1174.

RCHME, 1981, City of York Volume V: The Central Area (Monograph). SYO65.

NMR, 2019, NMR data (Digital archive). SYO2214.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History. 1961. A History of the County of York: the City of York.
  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jul 4 2020 2:53PM


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