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Grid reference SE 6031 5147 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

Part of south-west boundary wall to precinct of former Franciscan Friary; now retaining wall on north-east side of South Esplanade incorporating steps and railings at rear of Magistrates' Court, No.16 Clifford Street (qv) and to Peckitt Street; in part forming boundary walls to No.8 Peckitt Street and Nos 1-3 Friar's Terrace (qv), Nos 1-5 South Esplanade (qv), and No.8 Tower Place (qv). Wall extends approximately 150 metres from south-east corner of Lower Friargate to No.9 Tower Place (qv), formerly Davy Tower. Late C13 and later. Magnesian limestone, raised in brick of various dates, with stone copings, sloped, milled or cambered in places. Painted cast-iron railings. Wall is approximately 3 metres high, on chamfered plinth, stepped over blocked opening at Friargate end; base of wall is battered between Friargate and Peckitt Street, and strengthened by 7 battered buttresses. At south-east corner of Lower Friargate is square section stone pier with moulded cornice beneath cross-pedimented cap; at foot of Peckitt Street a brick pier with pyramidal cap. Further south-east, wall is broken by various openings, including round-arched chamfered doorway beneath No.4 South Esplanade, iron gate to No.1 South Esplanade, and a chamfered 2-centred door arch to No.8 Tower Place. At rear of Magistrates' Court, flight of steps and gate have diagonally set square section railings with crocket finials and octagonal gate posts. Railings to steps at foot of Peckitt Street are square section with flat handrail, scrolled at bottom on turned standard. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 159; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 51).
Listing NGR: SE6031951477

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

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

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.

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

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area.

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Record last edited

Jan 28 2016 3:01PM


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