When (in 1539) St Mary’s Abbey was closed by order of Henry VIII the adjoining abbot’s house became royal property and headquarters of the king’s Council of the North. The windows of the house and the masonry that surrounds them record the alterations that were made to fit the building for its new purpose. As parts of the house were rebuilt brick walls were patched with stone taken from the abbey and grand new windows in up to date styles were added.
The heyday of the King’s Manor lasted for a hundred years. Henry VIII, Charles I and James I all stayed here. During the English Civil War the building served as the military headquarters for the royalist forces. In 1644 the royalist army was defeated at the Battle of Marston Moor, just outside York, the king lost control of the north of England and the King’s Manor surrendered. In 1688 the building was leased out and divided into apartments.
The bricks and stones of the building tell the story of its changing fortunes over the centuries. To a casual observer (like me) the story is a jumble of styles, themes and details but to an architectural historian it must read like a page-turning novel.
It’s no coincidence that the King’s Manor now houses the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies and Centre for Advanced Architectural Studies.
(Click on any photo for a closer view)
A post for Monday Windows.