Monument record MYO717 - YORK CITY WALLS (DAVY TOWER)

Summary

Part of the base of the Davy Tower (or Friars Minor Tower), a postern, stand at the southern end of the South Esplanade. The tower was built circa 1250 and was converted into a summerhouse circa 1830. It was converted into a house circa 1830 and extended in the 20th century.

Location

Grid reference SE 6036 5139 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Also known as: Davy Tower TOWER PLACE. Defensive tower, converted to summerhouse, now house. Tower c1250; converted to summerhouse c1730, extended c1830; further extension in C20. MATERIALS: tower base of magnesian limestone; raised and extended in red brick in Flemish bond; C20 extension in red and grey brick in Monk bond; porch and coved eaves cornice of timber; slate roof, hipped towards river, with wrought-iron corner scrolls and 2 brick stacks. EXTERIOR: entrance front to Tower Place: 1-storey gable end. Steps up to door of 6 raised and fielded panels with divided overlight in plain porch, to left of extruded stack. River front: basement and 1 storey, 2 windows; 1-bay extension to left. Main wall has 12-pane sash to left and blind window opening to right: both have painted moulded stone sill and flat arch of gauged brick with fasciated keyblocks. Extension bay is canted at the corner and has 2 x 4-pane casement window. Park front: basement and 1 storey, 2 bays. To left, offset buttress and musket loop to right. Above, windows are 16-pane sashes, detailed as on river front. Return wall to right has cruciform loop. In the C14 and early C15, tower was known as the Tower of the Friars Minor; by the end of C15, Davy Tower. A defensive chain was customarily slung across the river from Davy Tower to the tower opposite. INTERIOR: not inspected. RCHM records its original summerhouse fittings including a chimneypiece with pulvinated frieze, window seats, a dado rail with sunk panelling above, and a moulded and enriched cornice. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 158-9; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 235-6).
Listing NGR: SE6036951390

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

Davy Tower (Pl. 52; Fig. next) is first mentioned in the Custody of the Walls for 1315: 'A pede muri qui dicitur Davytoure'. The wording of this and later Custodies, 'from the church of St. Mary at the castle gate up to the water of Ouse outside Davy Tower', suggests indeed that it may have been the terminal point of a wall or earthwork running from Castlegate along the edge of the ditch around Clifford's Tower. In 1424 the tower was described as 'a stone tower at the corner of the wall of the Friars Minor of York, late in the tenure of John Davy'. (fn. 95) As at St. Leonard's Landing, an iron chain could be stretched across the river from this tower to that on the opposite bank; the Custodies of 1380 and 1403 give the names of the keepers of these chains 'from the Friars Minor to Hyngbrigg' or 'from the tower of the Friars Minor to the tower near the Crane'. The sale of the chains was ordered in June 1553: 'the Iron Cheans at the Towre at the Lait Gray Freres wall and other place shalbe sold to the Comon profett of this Citie'. (fn. 96)
Along the river bank beside the tower there was a pathway leading towards Ouse Bridge; in 1453 this was blocked with wooden posts. (fn. 97) Across it a wooden building was erected in 1607 as a public lavatory. (fn. 98) From 1658 this was known euphemistically as the Sugar House and frequently required repair. (fn. 99) In 1731, however, the Corporation ordered 'that a way be made from Fryer walls to St. George's Close by pulling down the necessary House there, commonly called the Sugar House, and that a portal be there erected and the door to be shutt at night time'. (fn. 100) A stone arch with an iron gate was accordingly erected, bearing an inscription mentioning the date, 1732, and the Lord Mayor, Jonas Thompson; (fn. 101) the stonework was by William Bateson, and the gate was supplied by William Silcock. (fn. 102) It was known as Friargate Postern or the Iron Gate, and a watchman was employed until 1835 to open and close it. (fn. 103)

At about the time this postern was built a square summer-house with a stone base and brick first floor was built in the S. angle of the tower. It had a pyramidal tiled roof with a finial at the apex and a chimney on the N.E. It was extended to the N.E. and N.W. between 1835 and 1850 and is now a house, No. 9, Tower Place.

¶Davy Tower is an irregular polygon but was probably formerly rectangular, having lost its N.W. angle. It has a plinth and limestone walling 1 ft. 8 ins. thick and 10 ft. high, above which the brickwork of the summer house and its extension continues. A buttress with chamfered offsets projects from the S.E. wall. The only old openings are a cruciform arrow slit in the N.E. wall and a small musket loop in the S.E. wall. The only old room of the three rooms on the ground floor is the basement of the former summer house, 12¾ ft. square, entered by a doorway on the N.E. flanked by a window in an arched recess. Another doorway in the N.W. wall, the concrete floor, and a brick coal store are modern alterations, but the roof beam and joists carrying the floor of the room above are probably 18th-century.

There is now no trace either of Friargate Postern, demolished c. 1840, or of the extension of the city wall from it to the river ordered in 1732 for defence of the city. (fn. 104) The substantial limestone wall running N.N.W. from Davy Tower alongside the Ouse is part of the precinct wall of the Franciscan Friary, built in c. 1290. (fn. 105) It once had a crenellated parapet and still retains a plinth and buttresses.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol2/pp139-159

(499) Summerhouse, No. 9, was built in the second quarter of the 18th century in the S.W. angle of Davy Tower (York II, 158–9), and extended c. 1830. It is square, of brick over a stone basement, with a doorway and window in the E. wall, and had a pyramidal roof with ball-finial (shown in N. Drake, The New Walk, 1756). The S. wall of the extension closely copies the summer-house, and has a reset length of the original coved cornice. Internally the summer-house retains its original fittings: a chimney-piece with pulvinated frieze, window seats, a dado rail with sunk panelling above and a moulded and enriched cornice
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol5/pp235-242

NMR data:

[SE60375139]. Part of the base of Davy or Friars Minor Tower can be seen at the southern end of South Esplanade. (1)

The southern and western end of the tower base stand to a height of 3.0m and are incorporated in the lower courses of a modern brick building. See GP AO 63/114/1. (2)

In the C14 and early C15, tower was known as the Tower of the Friars Minor; by the end of C15, Davy Tower. A defensive chain was customarily slung across the river from Davy Tower to the tower opposite. Defensive tower, converted to summerhouse, now house. Tower c1250; converted to summerhouse c1730, extended c1830; further extension in C20.

MATERIALS: tower base of magnesian limestone; raised and xtended in red brick in Flemish bond; C20 extension in red and grey brick in Monk bond; porch and coved eaves cornice of timber; slate roof, hipped towards river, with wrought-iron orner scrolls and 2 brick stacks.

EXTERIOR: entrance front to Tower Place: 1-storey gable end. Steps up to door of 6 raised and fielded panels with divided overlight in plain porch, to left of extruded stack. River front: basement and 1 storey, 2 windows; 1-bay extension to left. Main wall has 12-pane sash to left and blind window opening to right: both have painted moulded stone sill and flat arch of gauged brick with fasciated keyblocks. Extension bay is canted at the corner and has 2 x 4-pane casement window. Park front: basement and 1 storey, 2 bays. To left, offset buttress and musket loop to right. Above, windows are 16-pane sashes, detailed as on river front. Return wall to right has cruciform loop. Grade I. (3)

History and plan of the tower. Although now an irregular polygon, it was probably originally rectngular in plan. (4)

1 A history of Yorkshire: the city of York 1961 edited by P M Tillott 514
2 Field Investigators Comments F1 RW Emsley 30-May-1963
3 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Default value used to record large numbers of archive items which are not separately catalogued. See Monument Recording Guidelines for details of use. City of York, 14-Mar-1997
4 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences
2 copies. 1972 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England 158-9
5 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest District of York, 14-MAR-1997

NMR related objects;

BF061220 9 TOWER PLACE, 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.
BF061948 York City Wall, York Included in the file is material on Walmgate Bar, Red Tower, Fishergate Postern and Fishergate Bar. Also included are the City Walls from Red Tower to Walmgate Bar and Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Bar.


RCHME, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences, 158-9 (Monograph). SYO63.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences. 158-9.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jun 30 2020 3:40PM

Feedback?

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