The Parish of St. Mary Bishophill, York
The Parish of St. Mary Bishophill, York

The history of our church.                                                                                            The oldest part of the church is the tower; it was built in the 11th century just before the Norman Conquest. The archway facing the nave is believed to be of Roman origin it was completely rebuilt into the fabric of the tower. When the church was built the tower was where the congregation stood, the archway led from the tower into the first Chancel (where the altar stands and the priest performs Mass). The tower now houses a parish room which is used for both prayer and community meetings, making it the oldest space continually used for Christian worship in York. Beside the arch lie some carved stones, they were found built into the walls of the church during renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries. These stones pre-date the building of the tower by around two hundred years. They are the remains of stone crosses erected in the Anglo- Scandinavian period. In all seven fragments of stones have been found of which two are in the Yorkshire Museum. The medieval font stands on a modern base, its oak cover dates to the late 1600’s. Beside the font sit two medieval bells: the first, which is 14th century, has an inscription reading “+Fac. tibi. Baptista. fit, ut. acceptabilis ista”, the stamp represents St. John the Baptist. The second is 15th century and is stamped with heraldic shields and an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the inscription reads “+Mater Dia me sana Virgo Maria”. This bell was probably made by John Hoton, a York bellfounder who also made bells for The Minster. Stand with your back to the Tower. You can see that the church is divided into different spaces. The space in which you are standing is the Nave; it is where the congregation sit during religious services. This Nave was built in the late 11th or early 12th century. It was needed as the population of the parish expanded and the tower room became too small to house it. The roof dates to the 15th century. Walk down the Nave to the Chancel. Originally built in the 12th century to replace the old Chancel which had been demolished when the Nave was built, the Chancel was extended in the 13th century. Due to heavy restoration in the 19th century little of the original survives. On your right as you face the altar you will see a window containing four panels of painted glass, these are the only pieces of medieval glass that survive in this church. Working from bottom to top you can see the image of an Archbishop wearing his pallium (the “Y” shaped cloth draped over his shoulders and falling to the floor) and giving a blessing. Above him is another Archbishop this time shown with a pastoral cross. Next is an image of the Virgin Mary, seated in glory, and finally the Archangel Michael with his scales. There is also a stone image of the Virgin and Child attached to the wall beside the next window. Before leaving the Chancel have a look at the chairs, two of these are probably 17th century and are contemporary with the font cover, whereas the pair of very ornate chairs are 19th century. The reredos (the screen behind the altar), pulpit and choir stalls were made by Temple Moore, who was also responsible for restoring St. William’s College and the Treasurer’s House in York. Return to the Nave and face the Altar. To your left is the North Aisle. Built at the same time as the Nave,       the rounded arches are typical of Romanesque period architecture. In the window beside the tower is part of a reredos which once stood in the South Aisle. The North Chapel was built in the 14th century. It now houses the Vestry and the organ. The organ was built in 1864 by Robert Denham, and before being installed here, in 1987, it was used by a Masonic Lodge and a Spiritualist Church. Return to the Nave and face the Tower. To your left is the South Aisle; built in the 14th century its pointed arches, if somewhat flat and elongated, reflect the architectural fashion of the day. Like the Chancel the South Aisle was heavily restored in the 19th century. The Stations of The Cross. As you walk around our Church you will see 14 ceramic plaques, these have been created by Fiona Khan Fitzgerald, each one represents an event experienced by Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. Christian worshippers walk from station to station saying prayers and meditating on the meaning of the event depicted. The Icons. Icons play an important role in Eastern Orthodox services; there are several Icons in our church because we host the Greek Orthodox Congregation of St. Constantine and St. Helen. 

We are located at:

Bishophill Junior

[between houses 9 and 11]



Contact us today!

If you have any questions or wish to make an appointment, please contact Bishop Glyn Webster by email: glynwebster74@




call our Churchwarden : Graeme on  07905248116

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