Goodramgate

Goodramgate

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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The Viking legacy is evident in many of York’s place names; Goodramgate, created by the Vikings in 1100 and now lined with charming shops and many pubs and cafés, is a prime example.

The thoroughfare was built to connect two of the former Roman gateways, the eastern and the northern (now King’s Square and Monkbar). Its original name Guthrumgate or Gutherumgate may be an Anglicised reference to the Viking king Guthrum ruling from York in the 9th century.

Situated within the Minster Quarter, and near the 3rd-century site of Emperor Severus’ Roman Palace House, Goodramgate’s wonderful variety of architecture includes Our Lady’s Row. These unassuming timber-framed cottages with pantiled roofs date from 1316 and are the oldest row of houses in York and one of the earliest examples in England of the medieval ‘jettied’ houses, whose upper story protrudes outwards above the lower part. Built in Holy Trinity’s churchyard for Chantry Priests they consequently block the view of the church from Goodramgate making it a real hidden treasure. Their rental income funded the church’s maintenance.

They are remarkable for their ample overhangs so designed for the easier disposal of human waste – though not sparing the streets below. Originally the row measured 128 feet long by 18 feet deep with two storeys and eleven bays; each bay formed a single dwelling having one room on each floor. The basic structure of seven of the bays is chiefly intact today although others have been replaced by loftier brick buildings.  Fortunately in 1827 a motion was blocked that would have demolished Our Lady’s Row thus exposing Holy Trinity’s churchyard to Goodramgate.

Holy Trinity Church, accessed via an 18th-century brick archway, shows some elements from its 12th-century foundation although the present-day building dates from between 1250 and the late 15th century with minimal alteration undertaken since the 18th century. The rare box pews date from the 17th century. A contained inner chapel was used by lepers and has a squint hole in the wall.

Goodramgate has some unusual pubs to explore. The Old White Swan is a 16th century collection of buildings with an illustrious history and has medieval buildings behind its courtyard. In 1781, the landlord exhibited Mr O’Brian the world’s tallest man, standing eight feet tall, at a cost of a shilling (5p) per view. TheSnickleway Innis a 15th-century galleried inn while The Cross Keysdates from the late 1800s.

Bedern Passage, a snickelway in between Goodramgate’s shops, leads to Bedern Lane and the remains of Bedern Chapel – consecrated in 1349 as the Chapel of the College of the Vicars Choral of York Minster,whileOgleforth and Aldwark passages lead to the Merchant Taylor’s Hall.

Wealden Hall (Numbers 49 & 51) has seen extensive restoration. This late 15th/early 16th century large timber-framed construction with a depth of some sizeable distance back from the street frontage was built to a height of three storeys. Wealden type construction is rare outside Kent and the Home Counties. Numbers 43 & 45 have both undergone sympathetic restoration work as has nearby Powells Yard, a 16th-century courtyard, now offices for the York Conservation Trust.

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