Holy Trinity Goodramgate

Written By PhilG

York is a great place for a day trip or short stay. With lots of museums, restaurants, and pubs to explore.  

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Oh… I like this place!

Suppose I tell you about a little church hidden from view by a row of 700 year old houses, and then I tell you that the church is even older. Then I tell you that the church yard is surrounded by buildings making it feel like a little kingdom of its own.

Looking up the pathway through the church yard at Holy Trinity Goodramgate, past the branches and the church tower, you can see the top of York Minster. The church yard is peppered with ancient grave stones and there is even a little bench you can sit on.

I don’t know if history can seep in to your bones, but a feeling of timelessness and tranquillity seeped in to mine, well that’s how it made me feel anyway. This is one of the places that made me into a York Explorer in the first place, and I love it.

When was Holy Trinity Goodramgate built?

In 1236 part of the building we can see today was already built and as with most historic buildings Holy Trinity grew and developed over time. In 1496 the square church tower was built, completing the church as we see it from the outside today. In 1674 the church floor had to be leveled, one of the reasons was that so many people had been buried beneath it.

In 1236 York’s arch bishop Walter De Gray was in charge of Holy Trinity. De Gray was a powerful man; he had worked for king John (Richard the Lion Hart’s brother) and then King Henry III. Walter De Gray was the man who ordered the building to start on the first part of York Minster, the south transept, in 1220.

The first known rector of Holy Trinity was in 1236 he was called Gilbert.

But this isn’t just a historic shell the interior is historic too. The wooden pews were made in the 16 and 17 hundreds; they are laid out in box shapes with a door or gate to get in to each section. A family or group of friends would have occupied each section and paid an annual rent for the pews.

If you were poor you would have sat on benches down the side of the church or stood up.

I know from bills and accounts that some of the pews were restored in 1633 and some new pews were made in 1702. The pulpit cost £6, a lot of money when it was made in 1695 In 1470 the rector, John Walker, paid for some of the stained glass windows. The central image shows the holy trinity, god the father holds his son Jesus who bares the scars of his execution, the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove.

In the stained glass windows you can also see St George and the dragon, St John the Baptist, St Christopher carrying the baby Jesus and St William of York.

Holy Trinity Goodramgate has no electricity and the rare occasions when services are held here they are lit by candle. As far as I know the only services still carried out at the church are morning communion and evensong on Trinity Sunday and an advent carol service. I’m also told that there are occasional concerts performed here too.

Inside on the floor of the church you can see some large gravestones. One remembers William Richardson lord mayor of York in 1671, the stone describes him as the “pore mans friend”, a rare thing these days and probably just as rare then.

The Railway King married here.

One of the more Famous or should I say infamous people to get married in Holy Trinity was George Hudson, some times called the railway king. He married Elizabeth on 17 July 1821. I’ll tell you more about the railway king in the next chapter. George Hudson was also Lord Mayor of York three times and you can see his name on a board in Holy Trinity that lists York’s Lord Mayors.