Like many parts of the UK, Yorkshire has been home to many diverse peoples throughout it’s history. From the Iron Age Arras culture of the Parisii tribe and then the Celtic Brigantes, followed by the Romans, Danes, Anglo-Saxons and the Normans, all left their mark.
York preserves many examples of Roman architecture in the forts and walls that surround the city. The Normans built their castles and Christianity laid down the stones of the great abbies and churches. Much later the Industrial Revolution added to this legacy with its ‘temples of industry’. We hope our list of some of these fine buildings will help to bring the past alive and inspire you to take a deeper look into Yorkshire’s rich heritage.
#10 – Halifax Minster
Built in: 1438 AD
Halifax Minster in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, is dedicated to St John the Baptist. The Minster, formerly a Parish Church until 23 November 2009, was completed by about 1438. It comprises a nave, chancel and full-length aisles, and is thought to be the third church on this site, but it includes stonework from earlier periods. There are a few carved chevron stones, which date from before 1150, and several 12th century tomb-covers in the porch. Windows of the Early English style in the north wall are replacements of originals dating from the 14th century. A portion of this north wall is much earlier, and may have originally been part of the Norman church; it has sometimes been claimed this was the south wall of an older church.
After the completion of the present nave and chancel, several additions were made. The tower was erected between 1449 and 1482; and the Rokeby and Holdsworth Chapels – originally chantry chapels – were completed by about 1535.
#9 – York Minster
Built in: 1408 AD
The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title “minster” is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title.
#8 – York Castle
Built in: 1265 AD
York Castle in the city of York, is a fortified complex comprising, over the last nine centuries, a sequence of castles, prisons, law courts and other buildings on the south side of the River Foss. The now-ruinous keep of the medieval Norman castle is commonly referred to as Clifford’s Tower. Built originally on the orders of William I to dominate the former Viking city of York, the castle suffered a tumultuous early history before developing into a major fortification with extensive water defences. After a major explosion in 1684 rendered the remaining military defences uninhabitable, York Castle continued to be used as a jail and prison until 1929.
#7 – Kirkstall Abbey
Built in: 1265 AD
Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall north-west of Leeds city centre in West Yorkshire, England. It is set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire. It was founded c.1152. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII.
The picturesque ruins have been drawn and painted by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman. Kirkstall Abbey was acquired by Leeds Corporation as a gift from Colonel North and opened to the public in the late 19th century. The gatehouse became a museum.
#6 – Helmsley Castle
Built in: 1120 AD
Helmsley Castle (also known anciently as Hamlake) is a medieval castle situated in the market town of Helmsley, within the North York Moors National Park
Helmsley Castle is a medieval castle situated in the market town of Helmsley, within the North York Moors national park, North Yorkshire. The Castle was constructed in wood around 1120 and was built by Walter l’Espec. For the next 500 years, there were many different owners and it even survived besiegement during the English Civil War. Charles Duncombe, a banker and politician who was knighted in 1699 and became Lord Mayor of London in 1708, bought the castle in 1687. His sister Mary’s husband, Thomas Brown, inherited the castle on Charles’s death in 1711. Thomas changed his name to Duncombe. He hired John Vanbrugh to build a country house at Duncombe Park overlooking the castle and left the castle to decay. Although it is still owned by the Feversham family of Duncombe Park, the castle is now in the care of English Heritage.
#5 – Skipton Castle
Built in: 1090 AD
Skipton Castle is a medieval castle in Skipton, North Yorkshire. It was built in 1090 by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron, and has been preserved for over 900 years. The castle was originally a motte and bailey castle built in 1090 by Robert de Romille, lord of the multiple estates of Bolton Abbey. Shortly after 1102 Henry I extended Romille’s lands to include all of upper Wharfedale and upper Airedale. The earth and wood castle was rebuilt in stone to withstand attacks by the Scots.
Lady Anne Clifford (1590–1676) was the last Clifford to own it. After the siege, she ordered repairs and she planted a yew tree in the central courtyard to commemorate its repair after the war. Today Skipton Castle is a well preserved medieval castle and is a tourist attraction and private residence.
#4 – Richmond Castle
Built in: 1072 AD
Richmond Castle in Richmond, North Yorkshire, stands in a commanding position above the River Swale, close to the centre of the town of Richmond. It was originally called Riche Mount, ‘the strong hill’. The castle was constructed from 1071 onwards following the Norman Conquest of England, and the Domesday Book of 1086 refers to ‘a castlery’ at Richmond. The castle is a Scheduled Monument, a “nationally important” historic building and archaeological site which has been given protection against unauthorised change. It is also a Grade I listed building and therefore recognised as an internationally important structure.
#3 – Selby Abbey
Built in: 1069 AD
Selby Abbey is an Anglican parish church in the town of Selby, North Yorkshire. It is one of the relatively few surviving abbey churches of the medieval period, and, although not a cathedral, is one of the biggest. It was founded by Benedict of Auxerre in 1069 and subsequently built by the de Lacy family. On 31 May 1256, the Abbey was bestowed with the grant of a Mitre by Pope Alexander IV and from this date was a “Mitred Abbey”. This privilege fell in abeyance a number of times, but on 11 April 1308, Archbishop William Greenfield confirmed the grant, and Selby remained a “Mitred Abbey” until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
In 2002, The World Monuments Fund committed more than $800,000 to exterior work, including roof repairs.
#2 – Church of All Hallows
Built in: 850 AD
All Hallows Church, Bardsey, contains one to the best surviving Anglo-Saxon buildings in West Yorkshire. The core of the present church was built over a thousand years ago, most probably between 800 and 825, and consists of the lower section of the tower and parts of the central nave walls. The upper portions of the tower, excluding the parapet, are of later Saxon origin and were built during the tenth century. At this time the church consisted of a west porch, narrow nave and tiny chancel. The period between 1100 and 1400 saw the adding, and the later widening, of a north and south aisle and the moving of a Norman doorway to its present position at the west end of the south aisle.
All but the most recent records of the church records are in the care of the Leeds City Archivist, as are other registers and ancient documents.
#1 – Ripon Cathedral
Built in: 672 AD
Ripon Cathedral is a seat of the Bishop of Leeds and one of three co-equal mother churches of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, situated in the small North Yorkshire city of Ripon. The cathedral has Grade I listed building status. There has been a stone church on the site since 672 when Saint Wilfrid replaced the previous timber church of the monastery at Ripon with one in the Roman style, making this the oldest building still standing in Yorkshire.
This is one of the earliest stone buildings erected in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. The crypt dates from this period. People have been coming to worship and pray at Ripon for more than 1,350 years. The Cathedral building itself is part of this continuing act of worship, begun in the 7th century when Saint Wilfrid built one of England’s first stone churches on this site, and still renewed every day.
The minster finally became a cathedral (the church where the Bishop has his cathedral or throne) in 1836, the focal point of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Ripon — the first to be established since the Reformation.