St Martin Coney Street, York
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Superb 15th century stained glass window
The glory of St Martins is a 15th century stained glass window depicting the life of St Martin. It was removed from the church in 1940 for safekeeping, and returned during the post-bomb restoration. The window is directly opposite the main visitor entrance, and is set at eye-level. An iron railing keeps visitors at arm's length to protect the precious glass, but it is a rare treat to be able to see such a wonderful collection of 15th century panels art such close range. The effect is absolutely stunning.
At the west end is the medieval font where St Margaret Clitheroe was baptised in 1553. In 1571 she married John Clitheroe, a butcher with premises in The Shambles. Clitheroe (nee Middleton) converted to Catholicism, and was put to death for hiding a priest in 1586.
A Confusion of Names
Interestingly, the name 'St Martin-le-Grand' was not recorded until the 1830s, and it has never been the official name of the church. It was invented to distinguish the church from St Martin cum Gregory, Micklegate. The congregation probably thought the name sounded more dignified than 'Coney', another term for a rabbit. The name was probably inspired by the London ward called St Martin's Le Grand, which again, must have seemed more posh to the congregation. Despite the dubious nature of the moniker, it is still frequently used, which seems to mystify and no doubt annoy the congregation today!
Overhanging the street facade is a picturesque clock, decorated with a naval figure often called 'the Little Admiral'. The clock dates to 1779 and replaces an even earlier clock of 1668. St Martin's is usually open daylight hours and is well worth a visit, if for no other reason than to see the extraordinary St Martin's window.
About St Martin Coney Street
Address: Coney Street, York, Yorkshire, England, YO1 9QL
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: At the junction of New Street and Coney Street - look for the clock overhanging the street. Usually open daylight hours.
Website: St Martin Coney Street
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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