The entrance to Priory Street off Micklegate today is pretty unremarkable. There are small shops on Micklegate on either side of the turning, and then Priory Street runs straight as an arrow off towards Bishophill.

Until comparatively recent times, however, the gateway to an imposing medieval priory stood right here. In fact, the gateway survived long enough to have been captured, at an oblique angle, in a very early photograph of Micklegate taken in the 1850s.

The priory in question was, of course, Holy Trinity Priory. All that remains of it now is the parish church of Holy Trinity, a bit further down Micklegate. But in medieval times a substantial monastic community was based here.

King Henry VIII put paid to all that. Like so many other religious communities, Holy Trinity Priory fell victim to the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s.

The building survived, and was brought into us as a parish church. but further disaster struck in 1551, when the central tower collapsed during a great storm. Much of the stone was used to repair the city walls and Ouse Bridge. The nave was restored, but very much reduced in size. So the church of today gives little real sense of just how big and important the medieval priory that once stood behind Micklegate actually was.

The priory gateway has long since been demolished - obviously some time after the 1850 photograph was taken, although we are not sure quite when. But a sequence of images showing it can be found in the book The Streets of York. We reproduce three of them here:

1. A watercolour from the early 1800s by an unknown artist, showing the gateway as it looked in the 1800s. It was outside this very gateway that, throughout the Middle Ages, York's famous medieval Mystery Plays cycle began each year (at 5am, no less). by the 1800s, as the watercolour shows, much of the archway had been filled in, but the gatehouse was still substantially intact.

2. The entrance to Priory Street today, in a contemporary photo by Chris Shepherd. This is where the gatehouse once stood.

3. An 1850s photograph of Micklegate, in which the priory gatehouses is still visible, and looking recognisably similar to that depicted in the earlier watercolour.

The Streets of York, the book in which these images appear, was first published last year to coincide with an exhibition of the same name at St Williams College. Book and exhibition between them raised more than £70,000 for charity. The book sold out, but a second print run has now been brought out, with the proceeds going to York Against Cancer.

The book uses original paintings and historic and contemporary photographs to tell the story of how York's streets have changed over the last 200-300 years. We have chosen two more pairs of images from the book to finish with. They show:

4. Micklegate Bar in a drawing by T Hearne, printed by W Byrne and T. Medland in 1782. The drawing shows the bar with its Barbican still intact. This was demolished in 1826, we believe. The decision to remove it caused an uproar at the time, with Sir Walter Scott, perhaps the most famous literary figure of his day, offering to walk from Edinburgh to York if the city council would spare it. The council wouldn't. The drawing also shows, on the right, the buildings of St Thomas's Hospital, also long since demolished.

5. Micklegate Bar today, in a contemporary photograph by Chris Shepherd.

6. Goodramgate before 1902, in a watercolour by JK Knowles. Knowles' painting dates from just before the buildings on the far left of the painting were demolished so that Deangate could be punched through.

7. The same view of Goodramgate today, showing the entrance to Deangate on the left.

Stephen Lewis

The Streets of York: Four Centuries of Change by Darrell Buttery, Ron Cooke, Stephen Lewis and Chris Shepherd is printed by York Publishing Services, priced £30. All proceeds from sale of the book will go to York Against Cancer. The book is available online from or from Amazon, or from the York Against Cancer shops in Huntington and at York Hospital.