York's Medieval Churches (Self Guided), York

By 1330 there had been around 45 parish churches in York. Twenty of them survive, in whole or in part, and they are amazing. Today, twelve of the surviving churches hold services. Take this tour to become acquainted with these magnificent sacred places.
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York's Medieval Churches Map

Guide Name: York's Medieval Churches
Guide Location: England » York (See other walking tours in York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Author: val
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St Michael-le-Belfrey
  • York Minster
  • Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate
  • All Saints Pavement Church
  • St. John's Church
  • All Saints Church
1
St Michael-le-Belfrey

1) St Michael-le-Belfrey (must see)

Built unusually all in one go, St Michael's replaced an earlier church on the site during the reign of Henry VIII and sits at the end of Petergate in the shadow of the Minster. It is famous for being the place where Guy Fawkes was baptized in 1570 and many visitors come to see the enlarged copy of his baptismal entry in the church's registers.

The exterior is (predictably) executed in Tudor Gothic, and is wide and low. The west front is newer, as it was rebuilt in the 19th century when adjacent houses were demolished.

Inside, there are generous aisles running the length of the church, but the real reason for a visit is to see the fine 18th-century Baroque altarpiece and the collection of late medieval glass: that in the East window dates from the mid-14th century and comes from the previous church, whereas that in the aisles dates from its rebuilding in the mid 16th century, in the Flemish style. There is also an extensive collection of 18th-century monuments and memorials.

Tip:
When the sun is going down this church really does stand out!

Opening Hours:
Sun: 10am-1pm; Mon, Fri: 1-3pm; Tue, Wed: 10am-3pm; Thu: 11am-3pm
Free admission
2
York Minster

2) York Minster (must see)

York Minster, a Gothic cathedral, is one of the largest of its kind in northern Europe alongside the Cologne Cathedral and as such is visible from much of the city. The title "minster" is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches and serves now as an honorific title.

Devoted to Saint Peter, the minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic quire and east end and Early English North and South transepts. The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 53 feet (16.3 m) high. The south transept contains a rose window, while the West Window contains a heart-shaped design colloquially known as The Heart of Yorkshire. The organ of the church, which was reconstructed several times after several fires, is one of the most expensive in England.

Why You Should Visit:
Very deserving of its 2nd place as the UK's best Cathedral. After taking in the sculptures, memorials, and incredible windows, you can go up the tower for 360-degree views of York and/or down to the Undercroft, revealing the foundations of a huge Roman fort which must have been easily the size of the present city. Astounding! Tickets last you a whole year so you can pop back at any time.

Tip:
Do try and get on the free guided tour – loads of interesting facts and stories about the history.
Do visit the book shop opposite the Minster, too – an amazing place with some fantastic bargains.

Opening Hours:
[General Visiting] Mon-Sat: 9am–4:30pm; Sun: 12:30–3pm
[Undercroft Museum] Mon-Sat: 10am–4:30pm; Sun: 1–3:15pm
[Shop] Mon-Sat: 10am–5:30pm; Sun: 12:30–5:30pm
[Worship] Daily: 7:30am–6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate

3) Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate (must see)

Founded in the first half of the 12th century, this church's architecture is that of the 13th and 14th centuries, with woodwork and pews from the 17th and 18th centuries. The stained glass over the altar was a gift of John Walker, dating back to 1470-1480, a rare date in York glass. The churchyard is secluded behind rows of old buildings, accessed by narrow alleyways. It is about as close as you can get to how a church would have looked after the Reformation: dark, quiet, homely, with uneven floors, high box pews and plain walls.

Why You Should Visit:
Absolutely gorgeous, free to enter, and a great way to take a pause and breath in the middle of your busy day.

Tip:
A cold, cloudy day does not make for ideal conditions in which to visit Holy Trinity, so check out this site when it's warmer... and bring your lunch to eat in the small but beautiful garden.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sat: 11am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
All Saints Pavement Church

4) All Saints Pavement Church

Much of the All Saints Pavement Church was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The east end, designed by George Edmund Street, was rebuilt in 1887, but the remains of the medieval chancel-arch can still be seen above the east window inside the church. Its most prominent feature is the octagonal lantern-tower from 1400, which had been a beacon for travelers for many years. It boasts a hexagonal pulpit from 1634, and several fittings from St. Saviour and St. Crux, whose parishes, among others, were united with it. Most notable additions are the 15th century west window with scenes from the life of Christ, the east windows by Kempe and the 12th century 'doom' knocker on the north door.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
St. John's Church

5) St. John's Church

The earliest parts of St. John’s Church, including the tower base, date back to the 12th century. Much of the current building was built in the 15th century. The east end was rebuilt in the middle of the 19th in order to widen North Street, and some extensive restoration was also performed during that period. The church closed in 1934 and became the Institute of Architecture of the York Academic Trust, which merged with the University of York. The university used it as the Arts Centre in the 1960s, but it was subsequently sold and now houses a bar called the Parish. One notable feature is its old church bells, which are still occasionally rung.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
All Saints Church

6) All Saints Church (must see)

All Saints Church was founded in the 11th century, though most of the present building is from the 14th and 15th centuries. The land on which it was erected was reputedly donated by Ralph de Paganel, a Norman tenant-in-chief whose name is commemorated in the Yorkshire village of Hooton Pagnell.

Located near the Ouse River, next to a row of 15th century timber-framed houses, its main feature is an impressive tower with an octagonal spire. The church is also noted as containing the finest collection of medieval glass in York except that of York Minster, mostly dating from the early 14th century. Perhaps the most famous is that depicting the Prick of Conscience dating from circa 1410 which depicts the fifteen signs of Armageddon.

Why You Should Visit:
Free to enter, this church is a delight, and somehow has a far more authentic and untouched feel than some of the other medieval sites in the city.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 10:15am-6:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in York, England

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Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles