York Walks /2

St Andrewgate and Spen Lane

Photographed in March 2004

David Lloyd, in the Esher Report, described St Andrewgate as it was in the 1960s:

'The most decrepit thoroughfare in central York, but not entirely a lost cause. The former St Andrew's Church, secularised after the Reformation and much patched, is still a pivotal feature. To the S the frontages are largely cleared, but there remains one distinctive 18th c. pedimented town house (built and occupied by the architect T Atkinson), now a warehouse. The middle and northern parts of the street still have some Georgian and early Victorian cottages capable of improvement, enhanced by the street's gentle wavering.'

Houses on St Andrewgate, late afternnon, under a stormy sky! Houses on St Andrewgate. The refurbished church is visible on the right.
Sensitive redevelopment: St Andrewgate

These images show St Andrewgate now, in 2004. This street joins Aldwark and was part of the 1980s redevelopment. Many of the buildings David Lloyd mentions seem to have been retained and improved, with new buildings fitting around them. St Andrew's Church – just visible on the right of the photo – has a new roof, and an interesting history – see the quote and photos below.

This is a lovely street, enhanced by the fact that, as the bollards show, it is closed to through traffic.

Sign: St Andrew's Evangelical Church

St Andrew's hasn't always been used as a place of worship:

'By 1576 the parson of St. Saviour's was criticised for keeping his 'swyne' in St. Andrew's churchyard, and later still the building was used variously as a stable, a brothel and St. Peter's School, presumably not simultaneously. By 1924 it was called 'The Gospel Hall' and used by the 'open' Plymouth Brethren. The building has now reverted to its proper function and is used by a vigorous evangelical congregation of about 100.'

Brian Seymour – York's Other Churches and Chapels (1992)

St Andrew's, view 1   St Andrew's, view 2
St Andrew's, view 3   St Andrew's, view 4
St Andrew's, view 5  

A chapel with such a varied history – so many sides, indeed – seemed to require a tour of all its sides, so here they are. St Andrew's, from many angles.

I found an old image of the corner of the church shown above, taken in around 1910, when the area didn't look as smart. St Andrew's, from the Imagine York collection – (© City of York Council)


Update: Thanks to Andy who emailed in April 2010 with updated information on St Andrew's Evangelical church. "We are as a church trying to get down in written form the history of this church. We have about 30 in membership. We have never been a Plymouth brethren church. The Gospel Hall was started in 1923 and two of our congregation have been in the Assembly for 60 years."

'A decayed street in the Aldwark quarter, with one pleasant restored house and a view of the Minster rearing grandly over the roof of the old converted church building of St. Andrew's (desecrated after the Reformation), the near-at-hand small building setting off the distant great one in a memorable way, and the imminent squalor contrasting with the distant magnificence. A pleasant little alley leads past the east end of the church into St. Andrewgate.'

Lord Esher describing Spen Lane in 1968

It's certainly not "decayed" now, but like the rest of this area, redeveloped with new housing which has been planned carefully around the older buildings.

  Spen Lane, with a view of the Minster
Spen Lane, looking towards St Saviourgate  

Above: Spen Lane from the end of St Saviourgate, looking towards the Minster.

Left: Spen Lane from near St Andrew's Church, looking back to St Saviourgate.

Esher mentions the 'pleasant little alley' alongside the church. It's another of my favourite corners of York. Just look at the lovely brick and stone and the way it curves.

  The little alleyway by St Andrew's Church

Related pages:

Nearby are the streets of Aldwark, and Bedern and Bartle Garth.

A former Drill Hall (now used by Barnitts hardware store) is also on St Andrewgate. See York Walks /3: Former Drill Hall, St Andrewgate