1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/York
YORK, a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, the seat of an archbishop, and the county town of Yorkshire, England, 188 m. N. by W. from London by the Great Northern railway. It is an important junction of the North-Eastern railway. Pop. (1901) 77,914. It lies in a plain watered by the river Ouse, at the junction of the Foss stream with the main river. It has narrow picturesque streets, ancient walls, and, besides the cathedral, many churches and buildings of architectural interest.
York was a Roman station (see below), and large collections of Roman remains are preserved in the hospitium of St Mary's Abbey. Of these a great proportion came from the cemetery and from the foundations of the railway station. A noteworthy relic of the Roman occupation, however, appears in its original place. This is the so-called multangular tower, on the N.W. of the city walls. Its base is Roman, of mingled stone and brick work. The city walls date in part from Norman times, but are in the main of the 14th century. Their circuit is a little over 21 m., and the area enclosed is divided by the river Ouse, the larger part lying on the left bank. The walls have been carefully preserved and are remarkably perfect. On the E. for a short distance the river Foss took the place of a wall. Of the gates, called Bars, the best specimen is Micklegate Bar on the S.W ., where the heads of traitors were formerly exposed. It is a square tower built over a circular, probably Norman, arch, and has embattled corner turrets. Others are Bootham Bar, the main entrance from the N., also having a Norman arch; Monk Bar (N.E.), formerly called Goodramgate, but renamed in honour of General Monk, and Walmgate Bar, of the time of Edward I., retaining the barbican repaired in 1648. The castle stands in the angle between the Ouse and the Foss immediately above their junction. Of the fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1068 some portions were probably incorporated in Clifford's tower, the shell of which, showing an unusual ground plan of four intersecting circles, rises from an artificial mound. The castle serves as the prison and county courts.
The cathedral of St Peter, commonly known as the minster, has no superior in general dignity of form among English cathedrals. It is in the form of a Latin cross, consisting of nave with aisles, transepts, choir with aisles, a central tower, and two W. towers. The palace of the archbishops is at Bishopthorpe, 21 m. S. of York. It is of various dates, and includes slight remains of the Early English palace of Archbishop Grey. The diocese includes over half the parishes in Yorkshire, and also covers very small portions of Durham, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
The extreme external length of the cathedral is 524 ft. 6 in., the breadth across the transepts 250 ft., the height of the central tower 213 ft., and the height of the western towers 202 ft. The material is magnesian limestone. The cathedral occupies the site of the wooden church in which King Edwin was baptized by Paulinus (q.v.) on Easter Day 627. After his baptism Edwin, according to Bede, began to construct “a large and more noble basilica of stone,” but it was partly destroyed during the troubles which followed his death, and was repaired by Archbishop Wilfrid. The building suffered from fire in 741, and, after it had been repaired by Archbishop Albert, was described by Alcuin as “a most magnificent basilica.” At the time of the Norman invasion the Saxon cathedral, with the library of Archbishop Egbert, perished in the fire by which the greater part of the city was destroyed, the only relic remaining being the central wall of the crypt. It was reconstructed by Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux (1070—1100), but of this building few portions remain. The apsidal choir and crypt were reconstructed by Archbishop Roger (1154—81), the S. transept by Archbishop Walter de Grey (1216—1255), and the N. transept and central tower by John Romanus, treasurer of the cathedral (1228—56). With the exception of the crypt, the transepts are the oldest portions of the building now remaining. They represent the Early English style at its best, and the view across the great transept is unsurpassed for architectural effect. The S. transept is the richest and most elaborate in its details, one of its principal features being the magnificent rose window; and the N. transept contains a series of beautiful lancet windows called the Five Sisters. The foundation of the new nave was laid by Archbishop Romanus (1286—96), son of the treasurer, the building of it being completed by Archbishop William de Melton about 1340. The chapter-house, a magnificent ornate building, was built during the same period. The W. front, consisting of a centre and two divisions corresponding with the nave and aisles, has been described as “more architecturally perfect as a composition and in its details than that of any other English cathedral,” the great window above the door being considered by some superior to the famous E. window at Carlisle.
In 1361 Archbishop Thoresby (1352—73) began the lady chapel and presbytery, both in the Early Perpendicular style. The rebuilding of the choir, begun about the same period, was not completed till about 1400. It is Late Perpendicular, the great E. window being one of the finest in the world. With the rebuilding of the choir the whole of the ancient Norman edifice was removed, the only Norman architecture now remaining being the E. portion of the crypt of the second period, built by Archbishop Roger (1154—1191). To correspond with later alterations, the central tower was recased and changed into a Perpendicular lantern tower, the work being completed in 1444. The S.W. tower was begun in 1432 during the treasurership of John de Bermingham, and the N.W. tower in 1470. With the erection of this tower the church was completed as it now stands, and on the 3rd of February 1472 it was reconsecrated by Archbishop Neville. On the 2nd of February 1829 the woodwork of the choir was set on fire by Jonathan Martin, a madman. On the 2nd of May 1840 a fire broke out in the S.W. tower, reducing it to a mere shell. The stained glass both in the cathedral and in other churches of the city is particularly noteworthy; its survival may be traced to the stipulation made by the citizens when surrendering to parliament in the civil wars that it should not be damaged.
The following is a list of the archbishops of York:—
1. Paulinus, 627—633
30.Henry Mordac, 1147—1153
59.Robert Holgate, 1545—1554
*These bishops did not receive the pall as metropolitans
Next to the cathedral, the most interesting building in York is St Mary's Abbey, situated in Museum Gardens, founded for Benedictines by Alan, lord of Richmond, in 1078, its head having the rank of a mitred abbot with a seat in parliament. The principal remains of the abbey (see Abbey) are the N. wall and the ruins of the church, in the Early English and Decorated styles, and the principal gateway with a Norman arch. They lie near the cathedral, outside the walls. The hospitium, of which the upper part is of wood, contains a collection of Roman antiquities; the building is of the 14th and 15th centuries. A considerable portion of the abbey was employed for the erection of the king's manor, a palace for the lord president of the north, now occupied as a school for the blind. In the gardens is also the ambulatory of St Leonard's hospital, founded by King Aethelstan and rebuilt by Stephen. St William's College, near the minster, was founded in 1453 as a college for priests holding chantries in the minster; its restoration as a church house and meeting-place for convocation was undertaken in 1906. York also possesses a large number of churches of special architectural interest, including All Saints, North Street, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular, with a spire 120 ft. in height; Christ Church, with S. door in the Decorated style, supposed to occupy the site of the old Roman palace; Holy Trinity, in Goodramgate, Decorated and Perpendicular, with Perpendicular tower; Holy Trinity, Micklegate, formerly a priory church, now restored, showing Roman masonry in its walls; St Denis, Walmgate, with rich Norman doorway and Norman tower arches; St Helen's, St Helen's Square, chiefly Decorated; St John's, North Street, chiefly Perpendicular; St Margaret's, Walmgate, celebrated for its curiously sculptured Norman porch and doorway; St Mary the Elder, Bishophill, Early English and Decorated, with brick tower, rebuilt in 1659; St Mary the Younger, Bishophill, with a square tower in the Saxon style, rebuilt probably in the 13th century; St Mary, Castlegate, with Perpendicular tower and spire 154 ft. in height, the body of the church dating back to transitional Norman times; St Michael-le-Belfry, founded in 1066, but rebuilt in 1538 in Late Perpendicular style; St Martin's-le-Grand, fine Perpendicular; and St Martin's-cum-Gregory, Early English and Perpendicular. Among modern churches is the Roman Catholic pro-cathedral, standing near the cathedral.
The guild-hall, with a fine old room in Perpendicular style erected in 1446, contains a number of stained-glass windows. Adjoining it are handsome municipal buildings (1891), and near it is the mansion house, built in 1725 from designs by the earl of Burlington. The courts of justice were opened in 1892. Assembly rooms, a corn exchange, barracks and a theatre are the other chief buildings. The public institutions include the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, whose museum, in the Grecian style, was opened in 1830 and the free library in the building of the York Institute of Science and Art. The principal schools are St Peter's cathedral grammar-school (originally endowed in 1557), Archbishop Holgate's grammar-school, the York and diocesan grammar-school, and the bluecoat school for boys (founded in 1705), with the associated greycoat school for girls. There are numerous charities.
The chief industrial establishments are iron foundries, railway and motor engineering works, breweries, flour-mills, tanneries and manufactories of confectionery, artificial manure, &c. There is water communication by the Ouse with the Humber, and by the Foss Navigation to the N.E. This is under the control of the corporation. The parliamentary borough returns 2 members. The county borough was created in 1888. The municipal borough is under a lord mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. The city within the municipal limits constitutes a separate division of the county. The municipal city and the Ainsty (a district on the S.W. included in the city bounds in 1449) are for parliamentary purposes included in the N. Riding, for registration purposes in the E. Riding, and for all other purposes in the W. Riding. The parliamentary borough extends into the E. Riding. Area, 3730 acres.
History.—York is known to have been occupied by the Britons, and was chosen by the Romans as their most important centre in north Britain and named Eboracum or Eburacum. The fortress of Legio VI. Victrix was situated near the site of the cathedral, and a municipality (colonia) grew up, near where the railway station now is, on the opposite side of the Ouse. Many inscriptions and a great quantity of minor objects have been found. The emperor Hadrian visited York in A.D. 120, and, according to tradition, the body of the emperor Severus who died there in A.D. 211 was burnt on Severus Hill, near the city. After the death of Constantine Chlorus, which also took place in York, his son Constantine the Great, who, according to an ancient but incorrect tradition, was born there, was also inaugurated emperor there. A bishop of York is mentioned, along with, and with precedence of, bishops of London and Lincoln (the last name is uncertain) as present at the council of Aries in 314. Nothing is known of the history of the city from the time the Romans withdrew from Britain in 410 until 627, when King Edwin was baptized there, and where shortly afterwards Paulinus, the first archbishop, was consecrated. In the time of Archbishop Egbert (732—766) and of Alcuin, at first a scholar and afterwards master of the cloister school, York became one of the most celebrated places of education in Europe. It was also one of the chief Danish boroughs, and Earl Siward is said to have died there in 1055. In 1066 it was taken by Harold Hardrada, and in 1068 the men of the north of England, rising under Edgar Aetheling and Earl Waltheof, stormed the castles which William I. had raised, putting to death the whole of the Norman garrison. The Conqueror in revenge burnt the town and laid waste the country between the Humber and Tees. York was frequently visited by the kings of England on the way to Scotland, and several important parliaments were held there, the first being that of 1175, when Malcolm, king of Scotland, did homage to Henry II. In the reign of Richard I., the citizens rose against the Jews, who fled to the castle. Here, however, they were obliged to surrender, many killing themselves after putting to death their wives and children, the rest being massacred by the citizens. The council of the North was established in York in 1537 after the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace. In 1642 York was garrisoned by Royalists and besieged by the parliament. It was relieved by Prince Rupert, but surrendered after the battle of Marston Moor. Being under the rule of the earls of Northumbria, York is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In the first charter (which is undated) Henry II. granted the citizens a merchant gild and all the free customs which they had in the time of Henry I. Richard I. in 1194 granted exemption from toll, &c., throughout the kingdom, and King John in 1200 confirmed the preceding charters, and in 1212 granted the city to the citizens at a fee-farm of £160 a year. These charters were confirmed by most of the early kings. Richard II. conferred the title of lord mayor, and a second charter, given in 1392, shows that the government then consisted of a lord mayor and aldermen, while a third in 1396 made the city a county of itself and gave the burgesses power to elect two sheriffs. Edward IV. in 1464 incorporated the town under the title of “Lord Mayor and Aldermen,” and in 1473 directed that all the citizens should choose the mayor from among the aldermen. As this led to constant disputes, Henry VII. arranged that a common council, consisting of two men from each of the more important gilds and one from each of the less important ones, should elect the mayor. The city is now governed under a charter of Charles II., confirming that of 1464, the governing body consisting of a lord mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. The city has returned two members to parliament since 1295. During the 14th century there were constant quarrels between the citizens and the abbey of St Mary's about the suburb of Bootham, which the citizens claimed as within the jurisdiction of the city, and the abbey as a separate borough. In 1353 the king took the borough of York into his own hands, “to avoid any risk of disturbance and possible great bloodshed such as has arisen before these times,” and finally in the same year an agreement was brought about by Archbishop Thoresby that the whole of Bootham should be considered a suburb of York except the street called St Marygate, which should be in the jurisdiction of the abbey.
From the time of the conquest York was important as a trading and commercial centre. There were numerous trade gilds, one of the chief being that of the weavers, which received a charter from Henry II. During the 17th and 18th centuries the trade declined, partly owing to the distance of the city from the sea, and partly owing to the regulations of the trade gilds.