Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate

Holy Trinity Goodramgate

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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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Holy Trinity Church is a real find – if you can find it! Out of sight of nearby Goodramgate its secluded peaceful churchyard is just a stone’s throw from one of York’s main shopping streets. It is accessed via an 18th-century brick archway adjoining buildings whose original role seven centuries ago was as artisans’ workshops.

The church is a Grade I listed building and dates from between 1250 and the late 15th century but shows some elements from its 12th-century foundation. Only minimal alteration has been undertaken since the 18th century.

A deed was granted in 1316 to build dwellings known as Our Lady’s Row within the churchyard space plus a separate house for the Chantry Priest, the rental income to be used for church maintenance and to endow a chantry fund of the Blessed Virgin in the church. Our Lady’s Row, a significant gem of architecture, consequently blocks the view of the church from the street making it a real hidden treasure. In 1827 a motion was fortunately overturned that would have otherwise demolished the historic Our Lady’s Row and exposed Holy Trinity’s sheltered churchyard to all the passing bustle of Goodramgate. However, the derelict former Chantry Priest’s house was demolished.

The church has points of great architectural and historical interest. Inside, its strangely comforting dimness can be suddenly lifted from light streaming through the windows dappling the honey-gold stone of the plain walls with flashes of colours. The setting is typical post Reformation. The simple font dates from the 15th century while the pulpit dates from 1695. The floors and arches are quaintly uneven and the 17th-century box pews are rare and unique to York.

Holy Trinity Close Up

The late medieval stained glass east window of late Perpendicular style dates back to 1470 and was gifted to the church by its then rector the Reverend John Walker. Among those depicted in the window are St George and St Christopher, among other saints, plus heraldic shields; the centre panel portrays God as the Trinity holding the dead Christ while the donors, including Reverend Walker, are positioned at the foot.

The church contains an inner chapel; this was once isolated from the main body of the church to allow lepers to participate in services and see the altar using a squint hole in the wall. Part of the Chancel dates back to the 12th century; the Tower and North Aisle were built in the early 15th century. Plaques, shaped like grandfather clocks, honour previous Lord Mayors of York including George Hudson, York’s ‘Railway King’.

In his Guide to English Churches, John Betjeman said that Holy Trinity Church’s exterior ‘is a delightful medley of different materials, colours and textures, many due to parsimonious repairs in the past’.

There is no gas, electricity or running water in Holy Trinity Church, but candlelight bestows a mellow atmosphere on the ancient building transporting you back in time. This church and its haven of a churchyard made for relaxing and contemplating, remain a vital need among the modern-day rush.

Holy Trinity Church was declared redundant in1971 and has been in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust since 1972.

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