York, Yorkshire – Priory Church of the Holy Trinity

A afternoon in York on Thursday 27 September was an opportunity have supper with the kids – and do some book shopping. I left Julie in one shop and did a church visit. The Priory Church of the Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York – grid reference SE 598866 – website – welcomes you with their stocks! Inside they welcome you with an exhibition about Faith – surely something we should all have. Apparently there is also an app – search York churches.

It has been suggested that this is a very early, even Roman, site – York Minister occupies a site in the Roman military settlement, this site is in the civilian town the other side of the Ouse. Holy Trinity was certainly founded before the Norman Conquest, and it is recorded by 1066 as a church dedicated to Christ Church supported by a community of secular priests or canons. In the Domesday Book it was listed as one of the five great northern churches. It was re-founded circa 1089 by its new Norman lord as a Benedictine priory served by a community of monks. It may well have been a double church – Holy Trinity for the monastic community, and next door St Nicholas for the lay community of the parish. The monastic complex covered about 7 acres. At the Dissolution the monastic buildings were demolished, but the church remained – it is now only half the length and width of the original.

The original font has at some point been replaced by this one with an amazing carved cover. The gilded dove suspended over the font is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The St Nicholas Chapel dates from 1453 and the window depicts the C3 saint restoring to life children who had been killed by a wicked inn keeper and kept in a brine tub. We have a Victorian window on the “suffer little children” theme. The Great East Window is by Charles Kempe, it depicts St Thomas of Canterbury, St Martin and St Benedict, whose altars were in the former monastery church, and St James. The reredos depicts saints associated with the North – Paulinus, Wilfred and John of Beverley; Bishops of York, Cuthbert and Aidan of Lindisfarme with Hilda of Whitby.

There are lovely monuments. The white marble tablet was erected in memory of Dr Burton, a parishioner of the church. He was the author of Monasticon Eboracense, and is well known to the world as Dr Slop of Tristram Shandy. Hanging from the scroll is a seal, with the motto ‘Diligentia Sapientia et Virtute’ and bearing the shield Dr Burton 1771. Mr and Mrs Jubb sound rather lovely too.

There are some interesting War Memorials – including one which shows what affect the War had on individual families. There is a superb display about the War – and this church has superb displays about everything. There is nothing grotty, photocopied and second-rate here. There is plenty to look at, plenty to read, and good children’s activities (does that means activities for good children?).

The eagle is flying, the roof bosses worth looking up at – and this statue of the Holy Trinity, carved by Matthias Garn, is a reproduction of the original medieval statue that used to be here. God the Father is seated in majesty, the Son of God is represented by the crucified Christ, with the Father holding the cross beam of the cross, thereby showing his consent to the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit is represented by a dove emanating from the mouth of the Father, showing he is the source of all things. The Father shares the pain of the Son, the Spirit flows over and towards the Son, uniting all.

On a lighter note, this advertising board just across the road made me smile.

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