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York Abbey

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
St Marys Abbey; The Kings Manor

In the civil parish of York.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of York.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire Ainsty & York.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE59945217
Latitude 53.96207° Longitude -1.08957°

York Abbey has been described as a certain Palace, and also as a certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site, and also as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


C12 Benedictine abbey and monastery. Originally founded as the minster of St Olave at Galmanho before 1055, it was refounded as a Benedictine monastery as part of an exchange of land between the Archbishop of York and monk Stephen of Whitby by 1068. Following a visit by William Rufus circa 1086-9, the church was found to be too small for the brethren and William granted land adjacent to the church to expand the abbey. A new church was built and rededicated to St Mary. It was the first monastic establishment founded in Yorkshire after the Conquest and became one of the wealthiest abbeys of the order and had a mitred Abbot who sat in the House of Lords. The chief portions remaining are the late C13 north aisle with arcading and traceried windows, the adjoining west wall and doorway, most of C13 precinct wall, towers and gatehouse. Licence to crenellate granted in 1318. The abbey precinct wall forms part of York Town Wall. The Abbot's House, constructed by Abbot Sevier 1485-95, altered and rebuilt in 1541, additions of 1572. Offices of the King's Council of the North and occasional royal residence 1539-1641. (PastScape)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1318 July 12 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


The precinct wall of the Abbey has slots in the sides of the merlon and a reconstructed shutter and a notice describing this as a military feature to protect 'soldiers' on the wall walk and saying it exists only there and at Alnwick. Unlike the city wall, there was not a masonry wallwalk behind this wall although there is evidence there was a wooden platform. The shutters may have served as much to hid the lack of patrolling soldiers as to 'protect' them.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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