Our Lady’s Row, Goodramgate

Our Ladys Row

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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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Goodramgate has as one of its many points of interest a row of remarkable 14thcentury cottages called Our Lady’s Row; its historical and architectural significance make it a must-see attraction.

These unassuming, plastered timber-framed cottages with pantiled roofs date from 1316 when a deed was granted for their construction in the Holy Trinity’s churchyard, Goodramgate. They 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 – or ‘jetties’ – outwards above the lower part. Built within the ancient churchyard with a separate house for the Chantry Priests the rental income, a considerable sum of money, funded the church’s maintenance and contributed to the Chantry endowment costs on a regular basis.

The cottages’ positioning consequently blocks the view of the church from Goodramgate making it a real hidden treasure. Fortunately in 1827 a proposed motion was overturned that would have seen the entirety of Our Lady’s Row demolished and York would have lost these fine buildings. Holy Trinity’s churchyard would have then been exposed to Goodramgate; however, the former Chantry Priest’s house was demolished due its dangerous and dilapidated state.

Plaque on Or Lady's Row

Plaque on Our Lady’s Row

The cottages are remarkable for their ample overhangs so designed for the easier disposal of human waste – though not sparing the unfortunates below. They would have been built as accommodation for the poorer classes of the time. 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 although it is known that at least one apartment occupied two bays.

The row’s back elevation, none of which was ever ‘jettied’, is plainly plastered, and has brick facing nearer to ground level. The majority of the windows are simple horizontal sliding sash windows known as Yorkshire sash and none of these are earlier than18th century.

The house at the south end of the row was demolished in the mid 18th century and a new archway to the churchyard was built on its site. The next two houses going northward made up The Hawk’s Crest public house from around 1796 to 1819.

Some of the bays were rebuilt shortly before 1784 by a certain John Lund and transformed into two matching three-storey brick houses. In the early mid-19th century the house at the north end was heightened to three storeys with a narrow extension added built above the old entrance to the nearby churchyard; this was The Noah’s Ark public house in 1878.

Number 60’s first floor has a dragon-beam, also called a dragon tie (a horizontal timber beam running diagonally into a corner angle); this shows that the end wall was originally ‘jettied’ in the direction of the former churchyard entrance.

Though much of Our Lady’s Row has undergone considerable external change the basic structure of seven of the bays is chiefly intact today although others have been replaced by much loftier brick buildings. Careful monitoring and conservation work means Our Lady’s Row is maintained for posterity.

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