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Views of York...
8:21am Tuesday 29th May 2012 in History articles
An interesting detail in John Varley’s study of bathers under Ouse Bridge, dated to 1805, is the barred window just above and to the side of the arch.
This may well have been the lower prison or “kidcote” which was known for its appalling conditions, writes Peter Brown in his catalogue to the Views of York exhibition at Fairfax House, where this painting is on loan from the York Museums Trust.
In 1594, he writes, three women “took their death with cold” after a particularly fierce winter night without bedding.
The arch as seen in Varley’s painting is probably part of the earlier medieval bridge which had been incorporated into the “new” bridge in 1566.
The protective timber platform from which the children are playing was known as a starling.
• The Views of York exhibition runs at Fairfax House until August 31. To find out more, visit the York Civic Trust website yorkcivictrust.co.uk