HERE'S a view of a popular York square that has changed out of all recognition.

The square in question is King's Square. And in the 1876 painting by William Boddy it is dominated by Holy Trinity Church (sometimes known as Christ Church), which was demolished in 1937.

The church Boddy painted, which seems somehow too big for the square in which it stands, was itself a bit of a newcomer. An earlier, medieval church which once stood on the site was demolished (apart from the east wall) in 1861 and then rebuilt to create the 'new' church.

In fact, King's Square always seems to have had a bit of a cavalier attitude towards its churches, chopping and changing and altering them at will, often for what seem to have been purely practical reasons.

An entertaining article on the York Stories website quotes the 18th century historian William Hargrove on the problems caused by an over-large church in a too-small space.

"The confined entrance to St. Andrewgate, on account of the projection of this church (Holy Trinity), has often been the cause of misfortunes, which the feeling mind cannot but contemplate with horror," Hargrove wrote in 1818. "The turn is so sudden from the narrowness of this part of the street, that several lives, at different times, have been sacrificed."

Hargrove insisted he felt nothing but 'the highest respect' for all houses of worship. But this didn't stop him from suggesting that the eastern end of the church, next to St Andrewgate, should be demolished, to benefit the citizens of York 'by widening and improving this dangerous part'.

Over the years, various bits were in fact chopped off the old church. "Two chantry chapels on the north side were removed in 1767 (ie years before Hargrove weighed in) to make room for the hay market and a triangular piece was cut off the church in 1829 to widen Colliergate," according to 'A History of the County of York', published in 1961.

By 1852 Sotheran's guide was saying that the church was not worth keeping: 'the building has been several times curtailed, and if it was altogether removed there would be no loss of architectural beauty, and a great increase to public convenience, ' Sotheran's declared. Poor Holy Trinity.

The church was indeed demolished, then rebuilt on a smaller scale, in 1861. But the 'new' Holy Trinity fared little better.

In 1886 its parish was united with that of nearby St Sampson's, and Holy Trinity quickly fell into disuse. In July 1886, the London Gazette, no less, reported that 'Holy Trinity King's Court (otherwise Christ Church) is in an unsanitary condition and dangerous to the health of a congregation assembled there. The same church is, owing to defective construction, ill-adapted to public worship."

It may not have been suitable as a place of worship - but the hard-headed businessmen of York soon found a use for it. Because of its position at the top of Shambles, the church was often referred to as the 'butchers' church'. And in about 1896, according to the History of the County of York, 'some parishioners who had charge of the keys used it to house a small flock of sheep until they were ready for slaughter."

The church was eventually demolished in 1937 to create the open square - popular with buskers - that we have today. But not everyone was pleased to see it go.

In York oral historian Van Wilson's recent book Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick Makers, Van interviewed Joyce Douglas, who remembered the church well.

"Once we had the keys to go in," Joyce recalled. "All I remember was a lot of cobwebs and high pews... But the clock was kept up somehow because it used to strike the quarter hours. I learned to tell the time by that clock.

"My cousin remembers the sunlight streaming in through the windows ... he said the colours were marvellous."

Both the Boddy painting of this lost church that we carry today and the contemporary photograph of Kings Square by Chris Shephard come from The Streets of York, the book first published last year to coincide with a major exhibition at St William's College. Between them, book and exhibition raised more than £70,000 for charity. A second print run of the book has now been published, with the proceeds going to York Against Cancer.

We also include some further images from the book: two of King's Square itself (a 1930 watercolour and a contemporary photo) showing how little the entry into Shambles has changed in the last 100 years; and three of Peasholme Green showing how the Black Swan has resisted the march of time since the 1880s. Enjoy.

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 or from Amazon, or from the York Against Cancer shops in Huntington and at York Hospital