Holy Trinity Church

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January, 2016

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The church is well off the tourist beat and not mentioned in any of the guide books. Don’t confuse it with “Holy Trinity Church”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/york/york_1/holy_trinity/index.html on Goodramgate in the centre of the walled city. I found this one completely by accident when heading towards the “Bar Convent”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/york/york_1/bar_convent/index.html . It is set back from Micklegate near Micklegate Bar and surrounded by its graveyard.

A Benedictine Monastery was founded here in 1089 and was one of the two great monastic houses in York, along with “St Mary’s Abbey”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/ruined_abbeys/north/st_marys/index.html . The church was destroyed by a great fire in 1137 and had to be rebuilt. The nave dates from the C12th and the side aisles are C13th The tower, over the chapel of St Nicholas was added in 1453.

The church was originally a lot larger with a crossing and central tower. This collapsed in 1551 badly damaging the chancel which had to be demolished. The monks worshipped in the main body of the church. The lay members and parishioners probably used the Chapel of St Nicholas at the back of the nave. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the church became the parish church. The rest of the monastic buildings were robbed out for building stone and to repair the Ouse Bridge and city walls and nothing is left of them.

The church was in a bad condition by the end of the C19th and underwent a major restoration when the chancel was rebuilt on the site of the central tower. This explains the difference in the stonework which looks very different to the rest of the church. The north aisle was in poor condition by the C19th and was demolished. The line of the opening of the old arcade can be seen above the nave windows.

Inside the north porch is the bowl of an old font mounted on a modern base. This was found in the garden of a house on The Mount and may have come from the Chapel of St James on the Mount, which belonged to Holy Trinity.

Inside it is a large church. An arcade of octagonal pillars and pointed arches separate the nave and south aisle. The south wall is covered with memorial slabs. The North aisle was demolished although the arcade pillars can still be seen embedded in the north wall.

At the back of the church is the Chapel of St Nicholas and the font, which came from “St Saviour’s Church.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/york/york_2/st_saviour/index.html The wooden font cover is dated 1717. The chapel has rough stone walls and a small modern stone altar. Above is a small lancet window of St Nicholas rescuing children who had been drowned in a tub of brine by a wicked innkeeper.

On the north wall is a poignant memorial to to Captain Edwyn Walker of the 15 Hussars who died in 1919 aged 81 and his wife Elizabeth. One son was killed in a Point to Point race. The other three sons were killed in the First World War.

On a pillar near the chancel arch is a modern carving of the Holy Trinity showing God the Father holding the cross with the crucified Christ. The Holy Spirit is represented by a dove from God’s mouth.

The gilded reredos behind the high altar has images of the saints traditionally associated with the north of England; Paulinus, Wilfrid of Hexham, John of Beverley, Cuthbert, Aidan and Hilda. Above it is the Kempe east window with more images of saints and clerics associated with York.

At the back of the church is an exhibition about monastic life and the priory. There are illustrations from the Priory Book of Beasts which was written here in the early C13th and is now kept in the College of St John the Baptist in Oxford. Bestiaries were found in most monasteries and drew moral lessons from the character and moral habits of different animals. They were used as a basis for sermons.

At the end of the south aisle is an exhibition about the C19th restoration of the church by the Rector, John Solloway and his close friend and architect Walter Harvey Brook. There are copies of their detailed notes and photographs as well as some of the old stonework.

The church is open daily from 8-4 or 10-4 on Sundays, and is well worth finding. The nearest post code is YO1 6LQ and the grid reference is SE 599516.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/york/york_1/holy_trinity_mickle/index.html


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