Dean’s Park

Dean's Park

About the Author

York resident and regular contributor. Fascinated by this historic city and always keen to promote local, independent businesses. The man taking the photographs and tweeting from @Jorvik

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Dean’s Park is a green oasis just to the north side of York Minster. It makes an ideal place for relaxing and absorbing the stunning views of the Minster and its Chapter House.  A meeting place, picnic site and a dream angle for photographers – Dean’s Park means many things to many people, tourists and locals alike.

A green oasis for both locals and visitors

A green oasis for both locals and visitors

Known as the Deanery from 1830 but latterly as Dean’s Park the area originally was the secluded Minster Close, a private area solely for those associated with the Minster and consequently inhabited by Deans and clergymen including the archbishop whose home was the Old Palace. This dated from the 12th century and was used by the archbishop until Bishopthorpe Palace was purchased in 1241. The old palace stood for over 300 years; its few remains, some 12th century arcading and the building that housed the palace’s chapel, now lie in Dean’s Park. A mansion built on the site by Sir Arthur Ingram in the early17th century became ruinous by the late 18th century; the site was cleared after being purchased by the dean and chapter and gardens laid.

Dean's Park Greenery

The palace’s chapel was refurbished in 1810 becoming the Minster Library shortly afterwards. This Grade I listed building, which has been extended, houses the library, archives, the Collections Department and conservation studio.

The Minster Library in Dean’s Park

In 1400 Henry IV had his own specially built vantage area in or near the palace in order to watch a tournament taking place in the palace grounds; in 1483 Richard III was accommodated  in the palace; Henry VII visited four years later followed by Margaret Tudor in 1503. The palace’s demise began when Archbishop Young (1561 – 68) removed the lead from the great hall in order to set his son up with an estate.

Stone Archway from part of the Old Palace, now the Kohima Memorial

Stone Archway from part of the Old Palace, now the Kohima Memorial

An interesting feature of Dean’s Park is a remnant of stone archways, from the late 12th century; this may have been part of a walkway or cloister from the Old Palace. Some years ago this arcade was restored and now acts as the Kohima Memorial to the British Army’s Second Infantry Division. In 1944 the Second Division was responsible for preventing the Japanese invasion of India. The group of seven arches has a bronze laurel wreath at its centre framing the Kohima epitaph: When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today. The Kohima Veterans’ annual meetings are held in York.

Kohima Memorial

Kohima Memorial

Complementing the ancient surrounds of Dean’s Park is a modern and intriguing octagonal stone sculpture, which was made by a group of stone carvers in 2000. It acts as a novel seating area and its gradually weathering surfaces depict many faces. The atmospheric ambience of Dean’s Park has naturally leant itself to such artistic forms as the ‘Illuminating York’ festival and the York Mystery Plays.

Alongside Dean’s Park is York Deanery, home to the Minster’s Dean, built in 1939 on the area which once contained the principia – the fortress of the mighty Roman Legion.

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