BISHOPHILL is to get its long-overdue moment in the spotlight.

As we reported last week, members of the award-winning Clements Hall Local History Group have begun researching the area. They will be holding a meeting next Saturday (at Jacobs Well in Trinity Lane from 11am - 2pm) to meet with interested locals, and explain what they have discovered so far about the area's history.

They will have plenty to get their teeth into. Bishophill's history dates back to Roman times - in fact, this was where much of the civilian Roman city or 'colonia' was based - the other bank of the Ouse, where the city centre is today, was mainly the Roman military fortress.

The area's name gives it a distinctly clerical feel. But all may not be quite what it seems - at least according to Avril Webster Appleton and her 2011 publication 'Looking Back at Micklegate, Nunnery Lane and Bishophill'. She believes the name is nothing to do with bishops at all, and may instead come from the colourfully-named Bitchdaughter (or ‘Biche Doughter') Tower on the city walls.

Doughter here comes from an old French word meaning dormitory. In 1451 the tower functioned as the King's prison, and it wasn't a very pleasant place to be - so you can imagine what the 'biche' means. So, residents of Bishophill, you may actually be living in a place whose name means something like 'horrible hill'...

York Press:

View towards Priory Street from the roof of St Mary's, Bishophill Junior, in the 1900s. Image: Explore York Libraries and Archives

Whatever, ahead of Saturday's meeting we've been trawling through both our own archives and the wonderful electronic archive at Explore York to dig out some old photos of Bishophill.

They range from the long-demolished St Mary's Bishophill Senior (we have photos of both the inside and outside of the church) to views from the tower of St Mary's Bishophill junior taken in the early 1900s, right up to 2003 and the coming of rising bollards to Victoria Bar.

There's also a photo of a group of doughty locals who, in 1974, campaigned top prevent the 'demolition of Bishophill'.

We'd love to hear more from readers about that...

York Press:

Laura McKenning (far right) in an Evening Press picture taken in January 1974 when she and other locals fought the council and apparently stopped the 'demolition of Bishophill'