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“Feb., 1419. For als mykill als Maister Thomas Haxey, Tresorer of the Cathedrale Kirk of Seint Peter of York, and other Chanons of the same kirk, compleyned un to the Meir and un to the gude men of the cite of York that the kynge's dyke betwix Bouthum-barr and Munkbarr was so stopped, that the water myght noght hafe issue, for the whilk defaute a close of the erchebisshope was drowned yerly, and also, diverse tymes, thaire gardyns in the self manere, and also thaire halles and thaire houses of office of som of tham; and than, be the assent of the Meir and the chanons and the gude men thay went bathe the partys to gyder to se the defautes, and when thay had seen the defautes, it was accorded and assented be bathe the partys that the se ours of the masons and of the wryghtes of this cite of York suld ga and see what were ryght for ayther party; and, apon thys, the sercheours was warned that thay suld ga serche and see and do ryght to ayther party, and that thay went and serched, and demed, and awarded that the Tresorer and the person of Seint John kyrk of Pyke gar remove thayre pryves that standys upon the kynge's dyke, and all other also that hafes any pryves standyng thare apon, betwene the barrys beforesayd ; and that thay and all other gar clense of thaire costages all the foresayd pryves and rutes, wedys and erthe, that hafes ben casten thar out of thaire gardyns or thayre houses be any of thaire servants, the whilk lettys the water to hafe the ryght issue ; and that all dores that opyns apon the dyke be closed, and all the bryggys taken away that na man hafe na entre un to the kynge's walles bot at bathe the endys; and that nane entir, neyther at the endys na ellys whare, to defoule the walles na the motes,1 bot thay that has taken tham to ferme, the whilke sall kylle the herbage that grewys apon the mote."'2
Further reference to the Kynge's dyke” behind the houses in Petergate is contained in an award dated Aug. 20th, 1476 :
"John Burgh, William Stanehouse, William Cole, and Richard Blakelok, seircheours of ye wrightes and tilers within ye citie of Yorke, ye same day above written, come to fore Thomas Wrangwish, Maire & ye chamberleyns, in ye counsell chaumbre uppon Owse brigg, and award & jugement gaffe of a variaunce
1 Mote, a hill or mound on which fortifications were built. The latinised form of the word is mota. Mote meant. originally, a sod or clod of earth used in throwing up embankments. To-day the
citizens speak of the city rampart, as the moat or moats.
Reg. Civ. Ebor. AY, 1810, printed in English Miscel.anies (Surtees Soc , 1xxxv), p 14.
of a ground be twix John Gilyot, Alderman, of ye on partie, and Ambrose Preston, of London, chandeler, of ye other partie. First yai deme a gutter yat ligge in lengh frome ye streit of Petirgate, before doun thrugh a tenement of ye said John Gilyot, Alderman, to ye Kynge's dyke be hynd of ye on partie, and a tenement of ye said Ambrose Preston of ye other partie, ye which said gutter and ye leid yer of, we ye said seirchours fyndes be our discrecions pertenyth evenly to ye forsaid John Gilyott & the said Ambrose, never ye lesse we consider ye greit cost and expences yat ye forsaid John Gilyot maid and done, we y'fore giffes and awardes yat ye said John Gilyott shall have ye said gutter all hole to hym selff, so yat he giffe to ye forsaid Ambrose, or to his depute, for cause of eassement in watter fallyng owt of ye forsaid gutter uppon ye ground of ye said Ambrose, iijs. iiijd. now furthwith, and never after yis to giff more to ye said Ambrose for ye said gutter, and els ye said John Gilyott to bere charge of ye watter commyng of ye said gutter.”1
A century later, and still similar complaints are made. On Feb. 5th, 1570-1, the election of the Master and Wardens of the Corpus Christi Guild, York, should have taken place at the Hospital of St. Thomas, just without Micklegate Bar, but the members of the Guild found it more convenient to meet “in the Consell Chambre apon Ousebrig—for that the way and wether was troblesome and myery."'?
If one of the chief thoroughfares of the city, Micklegate, 3 was in such a state of disrepair, no doubt the minor streets were in a worse condition. In fact, one byway was so much neglected that it was for many years known as Dirt Lane. Frequent reference to this lane is found in fifteenth and sixteenth century records, and it is thought that Trinity Lane is its more modern name.
1 House Book, Civ. Ebor., i, 21. house where Abstrupus Danby, Esq., Ibid., p. 20
then dwelt, the same
then 2 The Register of the Guild of Corpus without Bootham Bar. The posts to Christi, Surtees Soc., vol. lvii, p. 308. be erected were required to protect
3 Flagged footpaths were unknown pedestrians from the incursions of horses in the Middle Ages, and it is scarcely and carriages, which were not always credible that the wealthy residents of guided on the middle part of the highway. Michlegate should be contented, until the Hence the necessity for the advice which year 1750, to live in this street without Gay, the author of Trivia, gave to persons the convenience of such a footpath walking in the streets of London a century before their dwellings. In that year they ago: obtained permission from the city authori- Though expedition bids, yet never stray ties to crect, at their own expense, posts Where no rang'd posts defend the at a convenient distance from their
rugged way. houses, and make a flag-pace, two feet Davies, Ajutiquarian Walks through York, broad, for the use of foot-passengers, p. 139. to extend in length from the Bar to the
Mention has been made of the open ditches or sewers by which the city was drained, and evidence of the site of one is recorded in a document describing the boundary of St. Saviour's parish, in the year 1328 :
“Furst that from Olde Yorke, and so goynge furth the street unto one lane called Spenlayne, which layne ledeth from the street of St. Savyour-gate, unto a common sewer bakwarde comynge from Goodramegate, and one other sewer comynge in it lyeing on the north side of seynt Sauyeyour-gayt aforsayde, and boundyng unto Saynt Andrewgate."'?
King's Square, occasionally described as King's Court, and anciently as “Conyngesgarth,” is a site near which the early
” kings of England probably had a place of abode or residence. The ditch or sewer that drained the precincts of this royal dwelling ran between the houses of Colliergate and the Shambles. It can still be traced, sections of it are figured on modern ordnance plans, and in the locality it is often, at the present day, spoken of as the King's Ditch. Hargrove, in his History of York, published in 1818, says, that in many ancient records a residence hereabouts was styled aula regis. The author further adds that a “ ditch on one side of his church (Christ Church or Holy Trinity) is yet visible, and still retains the name of the King's Ditch."
No previous writer has explained how the city disposed of its sewage matters; and the locating of a few of the mediæval open drains is somewhat interesting. It is curious to find that these old sewers, invariably, formed the boundaries of the ecclesiastical parishes of York. By a
careful examination of the ordnance maps of the city, the position of some of these disused uncovered drains may be ascertained. For instance, along the north boundary of the parish of St. Michael, Spurriergate, a sewer ran down from Thursday Market, behind the houses fronting Feasegate and Market Street; crossing the end of Spurriergate, or Little Conyng Street, it entered a channel, walled on each side, and the sewage was discharged under a stone archway into the River Ouse. The upper portion of the.
1 Olde Yorke was the image of a mythical person, Ebraucus, whom Geof. frey of Monmouth imagined to have been the founder of York, which stood at the corner of St. Saviourgate and Colliergate. The figure was removed in 1501, and a tablet, now in the Museum at York, bearing the following inscription, was set up in its place :-“ Here stood
the image of Yorke and remeved (removed) in the yere of our Lord God, A.M.vi.i. unto ye Common Hall in the time of the mairalty of John Stockdale." In 1738 a restored figure of Ebraucus was ordered to be fixed in a niche on the inner front of Bootham Bar.
2 Hargrove's History of York, vol. ii, p. 331.
channel, subsequently filled with refuse, now forms the entrance to Waterloo Place; and the lower section is merely a footpath in the bed of the sewer to the brink of the river.
A similar sewer, also a parish boundary, flowed from the vicinity of Newgate, behind the east side of Parliament Street, then across or under the roadway of The Pavement into a confined channel on the south side of The Pavement, by which water or sewage was emptied into the King's Pool or Royal Fishpond of Foss.1 A portion of this old-time sewer ran in a line with the new street, recently formed, on its east side. It also became, when discarded, an alley or lane, and before the late improvements were effected, was known as Dove's Passage, because it led to a foundry used by Messrs. Dove and Sons.
The maintenance of public highroads really rested with the landed proprietors, who were obliged to see that their tenants executed the proper repairs. This was the law in theory, according to the triple obligation of the trinoda necessitas, but systematic neglect prevailed, and State officials were either reluctant or unable to effectually deal with delinquents.
The road leading from Nottingham to York is mentioned in Domesday Book. It had to be preserved, “and if any one should dig up the ground, or make a ditch within two perches of the king's road, he must pay a fine of eight pounds.”2
The superiors of religious houses, and the Church, large estate owners, were equally negligent in upholding the roads adjacent to their property. But they devised alternate schemes, by which they persuaded the general public to contribute to their repair. They taught that it was a pious and meritorious work before God to help in keeping highways and bridges safe for the passage of pilgrims and travellers.
In the cathedrals and parish churches was used every Sunday a Bidding Prayer, which was not so much a form of prayer, as a bidding of the bedes or prayers of the congregation by the officiating priest, who called aloud to the people present to pray, at the same time directing them who and what to pray for. Referring to road-mending and travellers, the priest said :
“ Ye sal mak your prayers for al pilgrymes and palmers, and for al that any gode gates3 has gane or sal, and for thaim
1 For a full account of the Fishpond of Foss see York : the Story of its Walls, Bars and Castles, pp. 62-79.
Bawden, Domesday for Yorkshire, p. 332.
3 Good ways, pilgrimages to shrines
that brigges and stretes makes and amendes that God grant us part of thare gode dedes and thaim of oures."1
Giving or bequeathing the means for amending roads, a kind of conscience-money, was a universal practice of making restitution when those who had been wronged could not be found.
Archbishop Greenfield, on May 12th, 1314, made a gift to Thomas Frere, William Curtays, and Roger de Upton, of Doncaster, of 20 marks for the repairs of the causeway between Doncaster bridge and a bridge outside the town, called Wylghebrigg2
Hermits, or anchorites, frequently obtained permission of the authorities to dwell in cells near frequented parts of great roads, or at the corners of bridges. They lived on the charity of passers-by, and testamentary bequests; and were supposed to attend to the upkeep of the roadways and bridges near which they dwelt.
On August 20th, 1327, Edward III granted letters patent of “ Protection and safe-conduct for brother Adam de Ovenby, hermit of the Chapel of St. Helen, Shupton, during the construction of a road which he has begun to make in a place in the forest of Galtres called 'les Polles,' where very great perils have arisen by the depth of the roads, and whilst he is travelling through the kingdom to obtain carriage and alms therefor."'4
The wills of the Middle Ages contain numerous bequests for the repair of the roads. The following examples are characteristic of the times; many more might be quoted, but these give sufficient contemporary proof of the prevailing bad condition of the streets of York, and the highroads in other parts of the county.
John de Gysburne, a wealthy citizen and merchant, Mayor of York in 1371, 1372, and 1380, made his will in 1385, and devised :
“To mending of the bridge of Thornton, near Helperby, forty shillings. Also to sustaining of the bridge of Skipbridge, forty shillings. Also to the mending of Stamford bridge, forty shillings. Also I bequeath to mending of the bad way on Hessay moor hundred shillings . ... Also I give and
1 The Lay Forks Mass-Book, p. 65.
2 Fasti Eboracenses, Lives of the Archbishops of York, ed. by the Rev. James Raine, M.A., 1863, p. 393.
3 Shipton, in the Forest of Galtres, six miles from York.
Cal. Patent Rolls, 1327–1330, p. 146.