York Civic Trust plaques

Edwin Ridsdale Tate

Architect, antiquary and artist

Location of plaque: All Saints Church, North Street

EDWIN Ridsdale Tate is the Victorian architect whose best-known building is probably the Tempest Anderson Hall. But he was also a prolific artist: a man who left behind him a series of detailed pencil sketches and watercolours which provide a wonderful glimpse of York more than 100 years ago.

Tate brought to his drawings an architect's eye for detail and precision. But he was also interested in scenes and obscure corners of York that many other artists passed by - which is what makes his work so interesting.

Tate was also interested in local history. In addition to drawing the city he saw around him, he attempted to imagine what it might have looked like long before he himself was born in 1862. One of his most notable drawings is a wonderful panoramic view of York as it may have looked at in the 15th century, which he drew for the 20,000th edition of the Yorkshire Herald newspaper in May 1915.

To historians of the First World War, meanwhile, Tate is known for designing the King's Book of York Heroes - the magnificent book kept at York Minster which commemorates the York people who died on active service in the war.

For all these reasons, Tate deserves his own plaque in York. One was duly unveiled this week at All Saints Church in North Street.

But why there?

Local historian Peter Stanhope, whose book Quaint & Historic York Remembered is the definitive account of Tate's life and work, takes up the story.

Tate was born in 1862, the son of bookbinder and publisher James Tate. He was baptised into the Catholic faith and remained a staunch churchman for the whole of his life.

He studied at St William's Academy, Scarborough College and York School of Art, then went off to London to make a career. After his first wife's early death in Wandsworth in 1904, however, he returned to York.

His father had been a friend of Father Patrick Shaw, the Priest at St. Olave's Church, Marygate.

"Tate must have renewed his father's friendship with Fr. Shaw, who had now moved to All Saints Church North Street," Mr Stanhope writes.

In 1908 the church published 'An Old York Church - All Hallows in North Street', which included many illustrations of the church by Tate.

"By this time Tate must have become a Warden at the church as there is an illustration in the book of a processional group which, to my mind anyway, shows him as one of the Wardens," Mr Stanhope writes.

Tate was then commissioned to restore the old Anchorites Cell at the Church and also to design the Chancel Screen.

"Unfortunately, (he) did not live to see his beautiful design carved and installed at the church as he died in 1922 and the screen was not installed until later in the 1920s," Mr Stanhope says.

Tate was only 60 years old when he died, from complications arising from appendicitis. He was given a Requiem Mass and funeral at All Saints and was buried at York Cemetery in his second wife's family grave.

"It is therefore very fitting that the York Civic Trust 'Blue Plaque' is affixed to the front wall and gatepost of All Saints Church, a place that he loved and served so well," says Mr Stanhope.