York has churches to spare. There were forty-five of them in 1300. Nineteen of these still stand, though only eight are used for worship.
They’re worth seeking out, because most have hidden treasures, and many have been so much altered that they are fascinating archaeological jigsaws.
Perhaps the most distinctive is All Saints’, Pavement, which stands higher than the surrounding streets, directly aligned on the Ouse Bridge. Its lantern tower was an inland lighthouse, guiding travellers through the Forest of Galtres towards the city. Now it’s lit as a war memorial.
Though the present building dates from the fourteenth century, the site has been used for worship for much longer – possibly back to the time of St Cuthbert c685 AD. There was certainly a church in existence by the time of Domesday Book (1086).
This was an imposing cruciform church, with transepts and an aisled chancel, until the east end was demolished for road-widening in 1782.
It now contains the 1634 pulpit from which John Wesley once preached, as well as the fifteenth-century lectern and the 1688 Royal Arms from the nearby lost church of St Crux, which became structurally unsound and was demolished in the 1880s [http://allsaintschurchpavementyork.co.uk/StCrux.aspx].
The stained glass ranges in date from the fourteenth-century west window (transferred from the church of St Saviour), to four Victorian windows by Charles Kempe and a modern addition of 2002.
All Saints’ is the Guild and Civic church, with a ministry for the shops and businesses of the city-centre, and the regimental church of the Royal Dragoon Guards.
The parish clergy and congregation take pride in welcoming visitors. There is a website at http://allsaintschurchpavementyork.co.uk/default.aspx, but it’s not necessarily up to date: current services are posted at http://www.achurchnearyou.com/venue.php?V=18961.
There’s a positive “mystery worshipper” report at http://ship-of-fools.com/mystery/2009/1686.html. The choir and the chocolate biscuits are particularly commended.
The 44-page, A4 handbook for the 2009 Historic York tour, with text, photographs, and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To view sample pages click here. Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.