Archive for the ‘Medieval History’ Category

Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle was built in Wyke Regis on the north side of Portland Harbour by order of Henry VIII, fearful of attacks by Spanish and French forces. It was built at the same time as Portland Castle on the southern point of the bay and was completed in 1539. It is said that much of the stone for the castle came from the dissolved abbey at Blandon near Wool.

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle


During the English civil war it was held by the Royalists until 1644, when following a siege it was captured by the Parliamentarians, who used it as a storehouse. It continued in this role until around 1691, when coastal erosion was threatening to undermine the cliff on which the castle stands. This was addressed by the building of the Portland breakwater in 1849, but by this time the castle was in a dangerous state and had been abandoned.



It was purchased by Weymouth Council in 1902 for the sum of £150 and Tudor gardens were laid out on the adjoining land and a public park created. It was not until 2009-2010 that in a joint project with a local community trust that funds became available to carry out the works needed to allow public access to the castle buildings.


Vidoeo by Alice Goss

York 2018: Barley Hall

Posted: October 31, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York
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Barley Hall is situated in the centre of York. Parts of the house date from around 1360, when it served as a lodging for priests and monks from Nostell priory visiting the Cathedral. In 1430 it was rebuilt and in 1466 was leased to William Snawshall, a goldsmith, who would become an Alderman and later Lord Mayor of York. In 1489 William moved away from York and a series of different tenants held the Hall. Following the dissolution of the Monasteries, it became the property of the crown and continued to be let to tenants. At some point in the 16th or 17th centuries, it was sub-dived into different dwellings and by the early 20th century had become used for workshops and storage. By the mid 20th century it was in a very poor condition and in 1984 it was bought by the York Archaeological Trust. In the 1990s following extensive excavations, the Trust took the decision to restore the Hall to its Medieval state. It was named Barley Hall after the founder of the YAT. they tried to preserve as much of the original building as possible but centuries of poor maintenance meant that some timbers etc was too far gone to be saved and had to be replaced.

As you walk around the hall today, it is set up exactly as it was when William Snawshall, Lord Mayor of York lived there.

As with many Cathedrals, the roof of York Minster sores upwards creating a sense of immense space. There was a lot of maintenance work going on including the restoration of the organ and so the centre of the Cathedral was full of scaffolding which rather obscured and spoilt the impression on this occasion though. Still, this work has to be done and I imagine it is one big headache trying to keep an 800-year-old building in tip-top condition.

There is some fantastic stained glass on display in the Cathedral.

York 2018: York Minster

Posted: October 29, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York
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The first church on this site was built around 627 AD by the Kings of Northumbria and 100 years later the first Archbishop of York was recorded. The Saxon Church, which had been rebuilt in the 8th century following a fire, was seriously damaged by William the Conqueror’s forces in 1069 during the ‘Harrying of the North’. William appointed a new Archbishop who set about building a new Cathedral on the site. The present building was built between 1220 and 1472 in the Gothic style.

York 2018: Medieval Streets

Posted: October 26, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York


It is just a delight to wander down the Medieval streets of York city centre and see the wonderfully preserved Medieval buildings.

York City Walls

Posted: September 12, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York
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I think one of the most attractive things about York as a city is the city walls. These are almost complete except for one section to the north of the city and you are able to walk around the city upon them. It merely gives you an idea of what a medieval walled city might have been like.



One of the fascinating aspects of the city walls is that they have been refurbished and rebuilt over a number of years and as a result show a number of different styles of defensive wall building.



York Minster

The first recorded church on the site was in 627 in a record of the baptism of a King of Northumbria. This church was rebuilt and extended over the years but was finally destroyed by Danish raid in 1075. it was rebuilt in 1080 in the Norman style. The current Gothic cathedral was begun in 1220. Building continued over the next 250 years and it was eventually completed and consecrated in 1472.





Statue of Roman Emperor Constantine, who was proclaimed Emperor by the Army at York whilst he was commanding them in 306. The statue stands outside the Minster as a reminder that Constantine, as well as being proclaimed in York, was the Emperor who made Christianity an official religion in the Roman Empire.


The Abbey of St Mary’s in York is built on the north side of the river Ouse about half a mile from York Minster. It dates back to 1055, but its prominence begins in 1088 when it was refounded as a Benedictine community on the permission of William the Conqueror. It quickly grew into one of the pre-eminent monastic houses in the North of England and also quickly developed a reputation or its rather lax and lavish lifestyle. In 1132 Prior Richard, together with 13 monks, left St Mary’s to join the Cistercians at Fountains Abbey as they felt that the lifestyle at St Mary’s did not fit their monastic vows. In the 12th century, the now wealthy order built a large extension to the monastery, including a new church and a crenellated enclosure wall.

Part of the Abbey's enclosure wall along the banks of the river

Part of the Abbey’s enclosure wall along the banks of the river

Remains of the Church

Remains of the Church

Remains of the Church

Remains of the Church

It may be that this new wall was partly built as a response to the tensions and troubles that have broken out between the monastery and the town over rights and privileges and these problems seemed to dog St Mary’s during its entire history so that when in 1539 it was dissolved by Henry VIII, it is said that there was no public outcry at its dissolution.
Initially, the buildings were used as a royal palace when the king visited in 1540, but they soon fell into disuse and disrepair.
Today the remains of this once enormously powerful abbey are found in the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum.

The Hospitium - originally either a guest house or barn in the Abbey.

The Hospitium – originally either a guest house or barn in the Abbey.



Perhaps the most famous memorial in the Cathedral is to William Shakespeare, who performed many of his plays at the Globe Theatre, a few hundred yards from the Cathedral.

The Shakespeare memorial and window which contains characters from his plays

The organ, the font and some roof bosses from the 15th-century wooden roof

In the SW corner are a fragment of the original Norman church and the memorial to the Marchioness Tragedy in 1989, which happened on the river not far from the Cathedral

Medieval tombs in the Cathedral