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St Mary's Tower

St Mary's Tower (York) was built circa 1324. It was damaged during the Civil War, then partially repaired. The damage and the repairs are still evident today.

St Mary's Tower was built in 1324 (or possibly 1325) and, aside from its defensive role, it was used to store records relating to the Monasteries in Yorkshire. In 'plan view', the tower is broadly circular on the outside (approximately 32 feet in diameter), but octangular on the inside.

The tower was severely damaged by a mine laid by the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. It was partially repaired in 1664 using materials salvaged from the King's Manor (which had also been damaged during the seige of York in 1644). The three window frames on the upper storey and the fluted masonry beside the telephone box on Marygate are all believed to have originated from buildings in the King's Manor complex.

In addition to a pair of ground-floor doorways (one opening onto Bootham, the other opening into what is now the extension of Museum Gardens), there are a pair of former doorways leading out from the upper storey. These once provided access to the walkway along the top of the adjacent defensive walls, but they were converted into windows at some point in history.

After the Civil War, houses were erected on both sides of the tower. In fact, houses were subsequently built right up to (and on top of) the walls along virtually the full length of both Bootham and Marygate. Some of these remain (mostly on Bootham), but most have since been demolished (especially on Marygate.)

Arguably the most unusual 'features' of the tower are the change in wall thickness (apparent from both Bootham and Marygate) and the missing facing stones and exposed rubble core (apparent from a few yards down Marygate). These are remnants of both the Civil War damage and of the building and subsequent demolition of adjacent housing. This damage to the tower (re)emerged when the houses were demolished as part of an 1869 scheme by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society to clear-away what had become slum housing and to re-expose the Abbey's defensive walls.

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St Mary's Tower
Bootham / Marygate

Latitude: 53.963688000000
Longitude: -1.087215000000

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