Sunday, 20 June 2010

St Crux Hall, York

St Crux Hall

After 1424, the Parish church of St Crux was the largest Parish church in the city of York. It was, however, closed sometime around 1880, after being deemed unsafe, and finally demolished in 1887 after sufficient funds for repairs were not found.

Above. A view of St Crux Hall from Stonebow, showing the re-used 15th century window from the Parish Church of St Crux.

Some of the stonework from the original church was used to build St Crux Hall, at the junction of Shambles and York's shortest street, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.

Above. A view of St Crux Hall from Pavement.

The hall contains a number of monuments and memorials from the demolished Parish church, whilst other fittings and furniture were removed to All Saints Pavement. Some of the stone from the church's North aisle can be seen forming part of a nearby property, and the South wall of the narrow alley that leads into Whip-Me-Whop-Ma-Gate.

Above. A view of St Crux Hall from Shambles, showing the re-used door from the Parish church of St Crux.

This Grade II listed building was erected in 1888, and as mentioned above, contains masonry from the original church, built on this site sometime during the 1080's. It was paid for by using the repair fund for St Crux. As the costs of rebuilding the Parish church spiralled out of control, it was finally decided that the church should be demolished, and the remaining funds be used to erect the Hall.

Check this website for more information on St Crux.

St Andrew, York

St Andrew
St Andrewgate

Above. The North side of the church.

Above. The South side of the church.

Above. The West wall of the church.

The Bedern Chapel, York

The Bedern Chapel

Above. A rather limited view of the chapel from Bedern street.

Check the website for further information on the Bedern Chapel and nearby Bedern Hall.

All Saints, Pavement, York

All Saints Pavement

Above. Looking towards All Saints from the North East (The Stonebow)

Above. All Saints from High Ousegate.

Above. All Saints from Hight Ousegate.

Above. A rather obscured view of All Saints from Coppergate.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

All Saints, York

All Saints
North Street

All Saints can be found on North Street on the West banks of the River Ouse, between the Low Ousegate Bridge and Lendal Bridge. It's fairly well hidden to be honest, and I only stumbled on it by accident as I was making my way around the walls. The first part of the building seen from the road is the three aisled chancel, shrouded in trees and boasting three magnificent three light windows. The tower with its spire is the next part of the building to be seen, rising above the nearby houses. At the West end of the church, standing in a small fenced area, a medieval cross head mounted on a more modern shaft can be seen.

Above. A view of the West tower.

Apparently records indicate that there was a rectory on or near this site in 1089, and it's therefore likely that there was an accompanying church here well before the Norman conquest of 1066. Nothing seems to remain of this earlier church, and much of what we see today dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. The church seems to have been expanded and rebuilt as the population it served increased through the years. The chancel was built expanded and rebuild in the 13th century and another aisle was added. The East end of the church was also rebuilt in the early 14th century and the tower with its spire was added....and it is this period of building that gives us the church we see today.

Above. A view of the 14th century East chancel.

The tower with its 120 foot spire were being built by 1394, and the church was a whole was probably all but finished by around 1410, although the new roof was still unfinished by around 1440, and would not be completed until the late 1470's.

Above. A view of the chancel from across North Street.

According to the church website, the church had at least four and maybe five altars....dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St Nicholas, St Katherine, St Thomas the Martyr and St James the Great. It was certainly an important centre of Catholic worship. The church also at this time, contained around eight chantries, where prayers were said for those who had contributed money, materials and time to the upkeep and running of the church. However, as a result of the Reformation, the altars and chantries, and all the elaborate plate and vestments that went with them, were removed, destroyed, sold off or just stolen. The altar in the chancel became the sole center of worship in line with the new laws that governed how people worshipped. All Saints contains a fantastic array of medieval stained glass. Check their website for some excellent photos of many of the windows. Unfortunately time did not allow for detailed visits of these churches, so I'll have to rely on their excellent website.

Above. A close up of the head of the cross at the West end of the church.

Situated at the West end of the church, in a small fenced off area, this Grade II listed cross can be found. The best way to find this cross, is to enter the church yard from Tanner access the West end of the church from a narrow alley, with a path that runs along side this small area.

Above. The cross that stands outside the West end of the church.

The shaft and base are undoubtedly modern, whilst the cross head most likely dates from the 15th century. The head of this cross was obviously very highly decorated, but has either suffered due to weather erosion or has been defaced.

Check out All Saints' brilliant web site. There are some excellent photos of the interior of the church here.

It's also worth checking out the Images of England entry for All Saints.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

St Mary and St Michael, Great Urswick

St Mary and St Michael
Great Urswick

The church at Urswick is a Grade I listed structure and officially dates to the 13th century. The earliest parts of the building appear to be the tower and the Chancel. The Nave and the vestry date from a 14th century extension of the church. Steve Dickinson, a local archaeologist claims that there was a church of some sort, possibly even a monastery, on this site long before the current 13th century building. He supports his theory by pointing out that Roman artifacts (dedication stones and masonry) are built into the fabric of the current church. A recently discovered ancient foundation stone adds weight to his theory, as does the Tumwinni stone, displayed on a window sill and shown in this post. Such is Steve's confidence in the age and significance of this whole site, that he claims that the church may be the oldest church in the country....a claim that I'm sure will be challenged by others around the UK. However, I'm sure that these claims need to be treated with caution. It's not uncommon for stones from other buildings, ecclesiastical and non ecclesiastical, to be inserted into walls for decoration and rebuilding purposes. It adds up to an intriguing idea, but more research is obviously required to corroborate his ideas and prove beyond a doubt that Urswick church is indeed one of the oldest in the country.

Above. The 13th century tower on a Norman base.

The base of the West tower dates from before the 13th century, probably the 1100s, when it was added to an earlier church. The tower may have had a typical pre-Norman saddle back roof and the whole structure would have been rather squat. A guide to the church and the parish written by L.Pollitt in 1977 is based on investigative work carried out by the Rev. T.N, Postlethwaite in 1924, and claims that the original tower was built as a place of refuge....he refers to it as a 'pele' tower, but it's unlikely that this is the case as pele towers were not commonly built until much later. There's also no documentary evidence to suggest that a defensive structure was built here at all. 

Above. 11th century Anglo Saxon cross shard and the Tunwinni stone.

Above. Distorted view of the Tunwinni stone.

I've deliberately distorted the image of the Tunwinni stone so that the carved surface area is easily viewable. This is an important pre-Norman artifact, found in 1911 when the plaster was being stripped from the walls of the church. Professor W.G. Collingwood dated the stone to between 850 - 870 AD and pretty much wrote it off as a minor find. However, the stone was re-examined at a later date by Steve Dickinson, who came to a completely different, and more important opinion. Dickinson claims that the stone depicts the 7th century Archbishop of Canterbury Saint Theodore, and a prior named Luigne, and shows the Roman church gaining ascendancy over the Irish important separating of the ways between new and old Christianity. The Tunwinni, whom the stone is named after, is mentioned in a runic inscription over the two characters carved on the stone's surface. He was an important Northern Bishop to the Picts in 681AD. Saint Trumwin\Triumwini\Trumini, was a missionary Bishop to the Pictish nations, and is widely thought to have been the first Bishop of Whithorn in Galloway. His mission to Galloway didn't go to plan however and he returned to England and to Whitby Abbey, where he died in 686. He was present at the Synod of Whitby in 684, where the it was agreed that England would observe the customs of the Roman church and not the Ionan church. So....the stone appears to show Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury and Luigne, with Theodore holding a crosier, a staff signifying high office of an official of the Roman\Catholic church. Both carved characters appear to be sporting Irish\Pictish tonsures, though this could just be down to the imagination of the creator or carver of this artifact. It is thought possible that Tumwinni\Trumwini many have visited Urswick sometime during the 680s. It's also thought possible that Theodore visited Urswick at or around this time, possibly to meet up with Luigne to discuss the church on the Isle of Mann and it's subsequent move towards the Roman church. Whatever the reason, the history, the story or the symbols that this fragment of ancient cross contains, it's an intriguing and special item to find in this church.

Above. Rare surviving Georgian gallery. 

Above. Looking down the Nave into the Chancel.

Above. Weather worn Pieta high up in a niche on the tower.

Above. Possibly an old window.

Above. Looking from the gallery into the Nave.

Above. Beautiful three decker pulpit.

Above. The Chancel and choir stalls.

Above. Two worn niches reset into columns in the Nave.

Above. Looking from the Chancel into the Nave.

I've unfortunately not been able to find a floor plan of the church indicating which portions date from which periods. If one turns up, I'll post it here as they're always useful when visiting churches to help plan your visit. You simply have to check out this web site, Explore Low Furness, it contains a wealth of information about the whole of the Furness area's churches and  religions sites.