Monk Bar, York City Walls

Monk Bar is the tallest of the four Bars measuring 19.2m and the most intricately designed, in both ornate appearance and from a structural perspective as all four storeys can be self-contained and individually defended. It forms the North East entrance into the City.

The majority of Monk Bar, including the now-demolished (1825) barbican was constructed in the early 14th Century. The fourth storey was added in 1484 by King Richard III. It is home to the City’s only working portcullis which was last lowered in 1953 in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The rooms above the gateway originally gave access to the murder-holes where enemies could be fired down upon. Today they are are altogether less gruesome and are now home to the Richard III Museum, the King responsible for adding the top storey to the Bar. In between these two occupations the floors have also been used as a Jail and a Policeman’s house and was inhabited until 1914.

Monk Bar viewed from within the City Walls. Note the tiny stairwell entrance to the left of the main arch

The side arches were added to Monk Bar in 1820 and the main arch widened for traffic in 1861. Unfortunately the stairwell to get in and out of Monk Bar has not been widened and is very narrow and cramped with a low ceiling, so do be careful.

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