City Gates - General, York
Bootham Bar is my favourite of York's gates - firstly, because I passed it everyday when I walked into the city, and secondly, because I thought it to be the most beautiful. Somehow I just really liked the style of the gate, and its atmosphere of ancient history. There has indeed been a gate on this spot since the year 71A.D., it was a Roman gate. The modern road of Bootham follows the ancient Roman road that once led to the north.
The earliest parts of the present gate date back to the 11th century, while most parts are from the 14th century. It also had a portcullis which was demolished in 1835. During that time, there were plans to demolish the gate entirely, but fortunately, this was prevented.
Walking through Bootham Bar, you get to High Petergate and after a short walk to the Minster.
To my mind, Walmgate Bar looks quite different to the other ones, and the reason is that it is the only gate that still has its barbican and portcullis, and it also features a wooden building. The main archway dates back to the 12th century, while other parts of the gate were built in the 14th century. The wooden construction is 15th/16th century, and people lived in the gate house until as recently as 1957!
This gate was attacked by rebels in 1489, but was rebuilt afterwards. It was also bombarded by cannons during the Civil War, and a tunnel was built underneath it to blow it up, which was prevented by the defenders who built a second tunnel.
Today, there is a small exhibition and museum located in the gate, it is free of charge.
Around Walmgate Bar, the stretches of the wall run quite close to houses and buildings, so the views are not as nice as in other parts.
The walk before and after Victoria Bar belonged to my favourite section of the city walls. They are quite high on grassy embankments, so it was really nice to walk here. There are also some pleasant views on residential areas of York, with pretty houses.
Victoria Bar was named thus because it was opened in 1838, the year Queen Victoria was crowned. It looks different to the other gates and you can see that it is not as old. It was created because when traffic increased, there was need for another gateway out of town in the southern walls. At first, there was only the great middle arch, the other two were added in the 1860s.
When you continue from Victoria Bar, look out for a pattern in the stones (picture 3) - it is the pattern of a chessboard! I wondered why there was a chessboard right out there on the walls, and my online research brought some fascinating suggestions: When this section of the walls was repaired, stones and material from York Prison were used. That prison was formerly located close to Clifford's Tower, but was demolished in 1934, and a lot of stones were used to repair the walls. It is therefore very likely that the stone with the chessboard pattern was once part of the floor of a Victorian prison cell!
Monk Bar is another medieval Gate located along the north east entrance route to York.
This Gate was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and had a drawbridge.
The Bar is four stories high, with the bottom three built in the 14th century. The top floor was added in the late 15th century during the reign of King Richard III from the House of York.
It's fortification seems to allow each floor to be defended independently, perhaps this is why it was used as a prison in 1563.
It was another Toll Gate, and from the archive's of the Bridgemaster rolls, rooms in the bar were rented out from 1440.
This Bar can be entered. Entry to the first floor shop is free, and from here you can see the portcullis.
A small admission fee takes you to the Richard III museum. The mechanism for portcullis is up here, in working order, with other exhibits.
From here, you can do a walls walk, just go down stairwells to get to the other side of Monk bar.
Bootham Bar, built in 1280, is one of York’s famous gateways through the city walls, is believed to be used as a Toll Gate in 1280.
It stands at the point originally occupied by the Roman entrance known as the Porta Principalis Dextra although the outer archway dates from the Norman period.
In 1501 a door knocker was added to the entrance as Scots were required to seek permission to enter the city of York.
Local custom has it, that there is still a law permitting a citizen of York to kill a Scotsman, using a bow and arrow, if he apprehends him within the city walls after sunset!
The name "Bootham" is believed to translate to "barram de Bootham" meaning bar at the booths, probably named this as St Mary's Abbey had the right to hold a weekly market here.
Three floor's high, it also has three statues standing on the top at turret level. These are not the original's but replacement's.
One is of a stone mason who holds a model of the Bar, next the 14th century Mayor of York Nicholas Langton, who holds a scroll, and the last statue is of a knight in medieval armour with a sword and shield.
Not a nice event happened here in 1405, when Thomas Mowbray, the Earl Marshal and others had their heads displayed here as traitors.
1633 saw the gate redecorated in anticipation of a Royal visit
York must have had so many gates in the past . There are still numerous gates to be seen. On arrival we were faced by one of these gates- a large central arch for traffic and smaller side ways for pedestrians. The ones I can remember are Walmgate, Skedergate,Gillygate, Monkgate, Stonegate, Goodramgate, Fossgate Housegate, Davygate, Petergate, Micklegate and Mary gate.
There are no actual barriers any more, but there would have been. In conjunction with the walls , they would have contributed to making York a secure city.
Fishergate Bar is one of the smaller gates without specific gate house. It consists of one main arch and two smaller ones. There is a commemorative plaque on the gate to remember a rebellion in 1489. In the afermath of the War of Roses, a rebellion against the Earl of Northumberland broke out. Northumberland betrayed Richard III from the House of York on the battle of Bosworth Field by remaining inactive. The peasants killed the Earl and burned down Fishergate Bar, but the rebellion was finally struck down. The current structures were built afterwards. Today, Fishergate Bar remains in the shadow of the four mein gates, especially neighbouring Walmgate Bar.
The only preserved Barbican of York’s city walls is at Walmgate Bar. It was built in the 12th century and was one of the places in York which saw most of the fighting during the English civil war in 1644. The Barbicans reached their present form in the 13th century and have a length of around 14 meters and a length of around 6. A poarticullis is retained, unlike the one at Monk Bar it is not in working order. The building behind it was added in the 18th century and now houses a bookhsop with a café.
This museum believes, as does the Richard III Society, that Richard was innocent and did NOT kill his nephews in the Tower of London. What did he have to gain? His own son was dead...Shakespeare wrote the play he wrote because he wrote for the winning side - the Tudors. Go there and make up your mind.
York has the most intact city walls than all other walled cities in the UK and some areas date back to the Roman times. The Romans first came to the city in the 1st century AD and they built a military fort on the banks of the river Ouse. The city Eboracum developed around the fort and strong walls were built to protect both town and fort. It is these wall that form the base of today’s city walls. By the time the Danes occupied the city in 867 the walls were in a bad state and they restored them. The Anglo-Saxon tower close to the Public Library is the only tower of that date in England. The main part of the wall dates from the 12th to 14th century, and small areas were restored in the Victorian times.
There are main gateways into the old city. They are at Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The name “bar” refers to the bars that were levelled across the gates to limit traffic into and out of the city. The bars also acted as tollbooths in the medieval period.
The rectangular gatehouse of Micklegate Bar (the name derives from the Viking "myla gata" or "Geat Street”) is the main entrance to the city. This gate is also the traditional entry point for kings and queen’s when they visit York. The monarchs always touch the state sword when entering Micklegate Bar, this ceremony that dates back to Richard II in 1389, The gatehouse has 4 stories and on its upper floors there are living quarters. In the 12th century there was a simple gatehouse but it was elaborated on with a heavy portcullis and barbican in the 14th century. In a small museum in the gate that shows the history of the gate and the city. It was in this gate that traitor’s heads were displayed in an attempt to stop rebellion. Famous heads that decorated the bar include Henry "Hotspur" Percy (1403), Lord Scrope (1415), Richard, Duke of York (1461), and the Earl of Northumberland (1572). The heads were often left atop the Bar for years.
A walk around the city walls is a good way to see the city and you get great views of the Minster.
Most of York's medieval ramparts, and four of the city gates. remain intact. People are permitted to walk along the top of the ramparts much as the sentries and archers did 700 years ago. Beautiful gardens and greenbelt run nearly the entire length of the ramparts on both sides. The views are excellent from atop the walls.
The city gates were commonly called bars, because iron bars were placed across the openings of the gates to control traffic and to ensure that tolls were collected. The gate shown in the photo was named Bootham bar. It is the main gate on the south side of the ancient city. Part of the internal stonework in Bootham bar is 1000 years old, but most of the gate as seen today was built in the early 14th. century following the invasion led by William Wallace. The success of the invasion exposed the vulnerability of the fortifications. Consequently the ramparts and gates were made considerably higher and stronger.
Along the city walls of York there are four gates (called 'bars'), these being Monk Bar, Bootham Bar, Micklegate Bar and Walmgate Bar. My photo is of Monk Bar which was erected around 1330 -- today it's the home of the small Richard 111 museum (website below).
Dating back to 1300, it was originally part of the city's defenses. In 1677 it was leased to the predecessors of the York Waterworks to use as a water tower. The sign on the tower says that the lease was for 500 years for the annual rent of one peppercorn. Who makes a 500 year lease? And for a peppercorn????
Anyway, during the 18th century it was used to house a steam pumping engine until 1850. In 1932 it was renovated and now houses the York Waterworks board rooms.
What I want to know is if they are still paying that peppercorn every year ;-)
When walking in the around the inner city of York, lots of remnants of the old city wall can still be seen. And a walk along and on the walls really makes you step back in time for a while. Moreover, three major gates can be found, Bootham Bar, Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar. In the picture you can see Bootham Bar with the York Minster in the background, which is really a fantastic view.
The four main gateways into the old city stand at Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The name "bar" refers to the simple bars which were leveled across the gates to restrict traffic in and out of the city. The bars also acted as toll booths during the medieval period.
Bootham Bar contains some of the earliest medieval stonework in the walls, with the oldest sections dating to the 11th century, though much of what can be seen today is from the 14th and 19th centuries