Old York illustrated:
Life, death and disorder in Micklegate

28 Jan 2013 @ 12.01 pm
| News

Micklegate, as seen from the Bar. A bustling street of shops, pubs and hotels. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection
What was York like a century and more ago? In a new series we bring the city back to life thanks to Dr Evelyn’s photographic collection and extracts from the York Herald

 
If the past is another country, here is your passport to cross the border into old York. These wonderful photographs were commissioned by Dr William Evelyn, a member of YAYAS, The Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society, from 1902 until his death in 1935.

He arrived in York in 1891 and almost immediately started to document the city. He bequeathed his collection of glass plates to YAYAS, and thanks to the society’s kind permission we are publishing a series of his photographs on YorkMix.

Each image in the collection has a title but there are no detailed captions. If you have any more information about the images, do let us know in the comments.

To help us with our journey to Old York, we also reproduce some extracts from the York Herald to give a contemporaneous flavour of life – and death – in the city.

Micklegate in 1917, complete with tram line, the George Hotel and corset maker. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection
Micklegate in 1917, complete with tram line, the George Hotel and corset maker. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection

York Herald – Saturday, January 17 1857

THE STATE OF MICKLEGATE ON A SUNDAY EVENING.

To the EDITORS of the YORK HERALD. Gentlemen,— I shall feel greatly obliged if you will kindly publish the following extract from a city missionary’s report on the state of Micklegate and Blossom-street, on Sunday evenings : —

“Sunday, 7th December, 1856.— Having heard many remarks made respecting the disorderly behaviour of the young people who are in the habit of frequenting Micklegate and the Mount, on Sunday evenings, I took the opportunity, this evening, of visiting this locality for the purpose of distributing tracts and of ascertaining the truthfulness of what I had heard.

“I soon found that it was impossible to make any impression by the distribution of tracts, as they only caused the passers-by to indulge in some sneering or other offensive remark. I then directed my attention to the conduct of the young people who crowded the whole line of road leading from Ouse-bridge to the Mount. They had evidently come out to have what is termed a ‘lark.’

“Their language and behaviour were on several occasions most indecent and improper; so much so, that respectable, unprotected females experienced great difficulty in passing along without being grossly insulted. Girls from fourteen to sixteen years of age walked along in bands of half a dozen each, and as soon as one of these met with a similar gang of young men, a crush took place, acts of improper familiarity were perpetrated, and obscene expressions made use of.

“If I were asked to mention one of the source whence many of our young ‘unfortunates’ are derived, I should most assuredly name this as being one of the principal. Depend upon it, the impressions which these young girls receive on these occasions have a pernicious tendency; they are the first steps of a downward course of crime, suffering, and woe.”

While our authorities have exerted their beneficial influence to extirpate the singing and dancing rooms, and other nameless places, where the young people of our city were so liable to be corrupted, surely they will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to put a stop to those disgraceful proceedings which weekly take place in one of the most respectable parts of our city, and which are so injurious to the morals of those who take part in them, and so grievous to the feelings of those who witness them.
I am, Gentlemen, yours obediently,
A CHRISTIAN.
York, January 12th, 1857.

Dr Evelyn's caption: "No 24 Micklegate. My abode till 1910." Visible are Mrs Wade, Fancy Draper, Wiseman & Willis and J Dodsworth & Sons. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection
Dr Evelyn’s caption: “No 24 Micklegate. My abode till 1910.” Visible are Mrs Wade, Fancy Draper, Wiseman & Willis and J Dodsworth & Sons. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection

York Herald – Friday, October 6 1893

THE ROYAL VISIT TO YORK
PRESENTATION OF THE FREEDOM TO THE DUKE OF YORK.
THE YORK AND SHEFFIELD WEDDING GIFTS.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OPENING BY THE DUKE OF YORK.

It was with no ungrudging hand that the citizens of York paid homage to their Royal Duke and Duchess, yesterday, and the progress of their Royal Highnesses through the city was attended on every hand by the most cordial demonstrations of attachment and loyalty…

Nearing Queen-street and Nunnery-lane, the reception the Royal pair met with was cheering in the extreme, and was continued as the procession slowly filed through Micklegate Bar. All along the route the windows were lined with sightseers, who waved their pocket-handkerchiefs, and, like the crowds on the sidewalks, were delighted by the kindly way in which the Royal pair acknowledged their repeated plaudits. From Micklegate Bar the procession proceeded via Micklegate, Bridge-street, Low and High Ouse-gate, Parliament-street, Davygate. Stonegate, and Petergate to the Minster.

The surging crowds, who were intent on viewing the attractions, had a rare treat as they approached Micklegate Bar from the Mount. The grand old Bar was chiefly noticeable for an illuminated device, consisting of the Royal Star and Garter, with the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” There was also a motto “God bless the Duke and Duchess,” flanked by Brunswick Stars.

Micklegate Corner House, on the junction with St Martin's Lane. The adverts on the railings include one for a lecture by Dr Evelyn himself. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection
Micklegate Corner House, on the junction with St Martin’s Lane. The adverts on the railings include one for a lecture by Dr Evelyn himself. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection

York Herald – Saturday, January 11 1845

LOCAL NEWS &c.
SUDDEN DEATH OF GEORGE MEYNELL, ESQ., BARRISTER-AT-LAW.–

In the list of those who have died so suddenly in York during the present week, we have to include the above gentleman, who expired at his lodgings (Mr F Calvert’s, in Micklegate,) on Wednesday evening. On Thursday afternoon an inquest was held on the body at the Falcon Hotel, Micklegate, before John Wood, Esq., the coroner, when the following facts were elicited from the evidence. On the day of the deceased’s death he was apparently in his usual health, and was expected at dinner in the evening at the house of Thos. Meynell, jun., Esq , his nephew.

Not having gone there, however, Mr. Meynell, accompanied by bis brother, went to Mr. Calvert’s, where he was told that the deceased had left the house about half-past five o’clock. On the suggestion of Mr. Thomas Meynell, he and Mrs. Calvert proceeded to the water closet, and, on pushing open the door, the deceased was discovered, to all appearance, dead.

Mr. Williams, the surgeon, who had been accustomed to attend the deceased professionally for several years past, was sent for, and he arrived in two or three minutes. It was then about half-past-nine o’clock, and the unfortunate gentleman appeared to have been dead for one or two hours. On the following day, Mr. Williams, in company with Dr. Goldie, made a post mortem examination of the body, when there was found extensive disease of the brain of long standing, as marked by a large quantity of effusion in the cavities of the brain, with disease of the substance of the organ.

There was also a considerable effusion of blood In the cavities of the brain, which was the immediate cause of death. There was no disease in the stomach, but the heart was considerably enlarged. The effusion of blood into the cavities of the brain was calculated to cause sudden death. Mr. Williams was quite satisfied that death was occasioned by natural causes. Verdict, “Died suddenly, by the visitation of God.” The deceased was in the sixty-eighth year of his age.

The north side of the street, including Micklegate House. Now home to the Ace York budget hostel it was built for John Bourchier (1710-1759) whose ancestor Sir John Bourchier was one of the signatories to the warrant for the execution of King Charles I. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection
The north side of the street, including Micklegate House. Now home to the Ace York budget hostel it was built for John Bourchier (1710-1759) whose ancestor Sir John Bourchier was one of the signatories to the warrant for the execution of King Charles I. Photograph: YAYAS, the Evelyn Collection



These images are from the Evelyn Collection and are reproduced here with the kind permission of YAYAS, The Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society.

Dr William Arthur Evelyn was a member of YAYAS in the first three decades of the last century and helped the society campaign against the spoilation of the city he loved. The photographs in his collection captured the special nature of York, and were bequeathed to YAYAS.

Unfortunately YAYAS does not have the resources to allow the general public to view the collection, although it welcomes inquiries from accredited researchers.