Over the years, YAYAS has supported the publication of many historical texts: these are displayed below and are available for purchase, please contact for more information or to order a copy of any of our publications.
All YAYAS texts are available to purchase by post for a small p&p fee of £1.50, or alternatively, why not drop by one of our lectures or events where our bookstall is set up ready for you to peruse the books for yourself.
The Bars and Walls of York’ – A Handbook for Visitors, by Dr RM Butler M.A., Ph.D., F.S.A.
There are many leaflets and books about York’s bars and walls, but this hand book is the one for the visitor with a serious interest in the history of York’s historic defences.
The author was instrumental in the production of the Royal Commission volume on the defences of York, so it is no surprise that this book is high on reliable historical fact, backed by selected photographs of the features being described.
With the aid of a centre-page map, the text describes the features to be seen on the route of the walls, highlighting the Bars (fortified entrances to the city), and also includes descriptions of past defensive features now sadly lost. With additional information about the adjacent St Mary’s Abbey walls and the history of the defences, the book gives an extensive overview of the defences of York from Roman times to the present day.
Of a size handy to carry, this book is the ideal companion for an interesting and informative walk along York’s defensive walls.
Medieval York by R.M. Butler
Dr. Butler has produced a useful account to help with our understanding of York as it was in medieval times and what we can see of it, still, today. We are introduced to York's government, with its taxes including the delightfully named 'husgabel', its inhabitants including Alice Mattrissmaker and Robert of Acomb, its disputes and its festivals and fairs.
The Minster, friaries, monasteries and parish churches, all 40 of them, receive attention as do the hospitals. Names that may puzzle us, such as the origin of Gillygate (named for St. Giles) and Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate are explained. Dr. Butler translates the latter name as 'call that a street?' a term of contempt. It's hardly a street now at all, of course. There are paintings and photographs; some places we can still recognise and some which have changed beyond recognition. A fantastic text for anyone wondering how York became the place it is today.
George Townsend Andrews of York: ‘The Railway Architect’ by Bill Fawcett
Pub. 2011; ISBN 9781 873513767; 256pp; over 600 illustrations – chiefly in colour.
The architect George Townsend Andrews (1804-55) is best known for his railway buildings – everything from stations to water towers – built during the dozen years down to 1850 when the network was expanding with amazing vigour and building types were evolving rapidly. Andrews’ designs range from the cloistered Gothic of Richmond station, a response to its picturesque Swaledale setting, to the elegant palazzo of his Hull station hotel. His patronage by George Hudson, the first Railway King, also brought Andrews the job of designing the first phase of a new town on Whitby’s West Cliff.
This biography puts his work in the context of the history of local people and institutions at this time, exploring both its functional significance and the mechanism of patronage, while his designs are explained against the background of architectural trends nationally. The book also sheds light on Andrews’ role as an entrepreneur, including an unlikely spell at the helm of the Durham County Coal Company.
Hugh Murray, Photographs and Photographers of York, the Early Years, 1844-1879. Published by YAYAS.
Diligent and knowledgeable as he always was, Hugh created this fascinating and informative book, which provides several facets to York's early photography. The book contains photographs of York, many housed in YAYAS' own Evelyn and Hanstock Collections, many now totally lost to us. Hugh provides biographies of these early photographers including Fox Talbot, William Pumphrey, Francis Frith and George Fowler Jones. There are descriptions of their techniques, working conditions and also listings of York photographs taken by some of the photographers.
Hugh Murray had a very readable style: '... a strange vehicle arrived in York accompanied by three men ...' Impossible not to read on! Some dates are precise, others conjectural, Hugh making use of visual and his own historical knowledge. He also provided 'what happened later' comments such as that for Frith's Lendal Bridge photograph where he explained that the bank of the Ouse 'was not piled, walled and sloped until 1914.'
For architectural historians there is an index of the photographs themselves, too.
This is a book to read, dip into or take along for a stroll through York to spot what's still there and what, sadly, is not.
Heraldry and the Buildings of York. Hugh Murray. 120 pages. 1985
From the magnificence of the Minster, City Gateways, Royal Palaces and the homes of Noble families through to humbler public houses and 20th century shop fronts York’s buildings are emblazoned with Heraldry. The City’s Arms, Royal Arms, Ecclesiastical Arms (including at least one Pope), Corporate Arms, Personal Arms and the products of modern invention are all here. In this comprehensive look at York’s Heraldry Hugh Murray has identified over 100 examples of Shields of Arms, Quaterings and Crests displayed within the City including no fewer than nine different Royal Coats of Arms. Descriptions, history and locations are provided for all the Heraldry featured.
This book is richly illustrated throughout with over seventy photographs many in full colour. In addition the book includes two suggested ‘Heraldic Walks’ guiding the reader around parts of the City rich in Heraldry, identifying Shields, Coats of Arms and Crests that even the most frequent visitors may well have previously overlooked. Whose Shield is that? What is represented by this Coat of Arms? The answers are all here.
Comprehensive though this book is and one would expect nothing less from a book by Hugh Murray, the author himself is the first to say in his introduction that it can never be a complete listing. Be warned! Heraldry hunting in York is addictive. Buy this book to find answers to questions you have often asked yourself and above all start looking at York’s buildings in a new and more informed way.
Scarborough, York & Leeds: The Town Plans of John Cossins, 1697-1743
by Hugh Murray
In his Preface and Introduction, Hugh Murray explains the basis on which he has created this work. John Cossins was largely known only as the mapmaker of three maps, of Scarborough, Leeds and York for 1725, until his notebook appeared in 1993, offered for sale at Sotheby's and purchased by the City of York. The notebook contains plans of Beverley and Whitby which had not been published previously, together with sketches of many houses in all the towns, intended to increase the subscribers' lists, which were also included in the notebook.
Hugh Murray has created a valuable resource, using Cossins' plans and drawings, engravings from contemporary artists and adding historical and biographical notes derived from his own research.
The York Mystery Play Eileen White, YAYAS, 1984
As we expect from Eileen White, this publication is both well-researched and very accessible. Eileen has provided photographs and other illustrations that help us to have some idea of how the Mystery Play worked in the years up to 1569. Some of York's buildings along the route of the Play are no longer with us and for some, like those shown in Low Petergate, the wonder is that they are still standing!
Eileen's book provides the historical background, describes the 'Organisation of the Play': how it was rehearsed, the costumes, actors and music; and she goes on to describe the performance process. A map shows the route that the Play wagons took and we can still walk those roads. Following the last performance of the day the wagons lined up for their return to Toft Green to await next Corpus Christi. In 1461, quotes Eileen, the Mercers Guild paid for drink, breakfast and dinner to the players while in 1549 the Bakers Guild, responsible for The Last Supper pageant, gave their players breakfast and provided two gallons of ale. They probably deserved it.
In a final chapter, 'Other Plays and Entertainments in York' Eileen talks about other plays and Ridings that took place, including an attempt to find a replacement for the Corpus Christi Play. But those days had passed. Not until 1951, with the presentation of the Mystery Plays as part of the York Festival, did York citizens again witness 'one of its former glories'
Elizabethan York, Eileen White, YAYAS, 1989
This is a handy little book to dip into, with some illustrations that don't appear in other publications. Eileen has a knack of bringing Elizabethan York to life. It is indeed a puzzle to know how York citizens survived given the lack of sanitary arrangements. The Ouse was such a convenient sewer. It was also the drinking water source for many. However, the City Fathers considered, 'Those living near the river were served well enough.' So a proposal to build a conduit into the City with fresh water fell through.
We have a picture of a City managing well enough but perhaps there was no real drive for development. Few houses were built in the Elizabeth period although there were adaptations with chimneys becoming a feature. The City 'lost all its communal processions and dramatic events'. Eileen notices some bright events including the street party along Mickelgate following the failure of the Babington Plot; but all the excitements of the saints days' celebrations were lost. York seems scarcely to have been part of 'Merrie England'. Eileen White has provided an excellent counterbalance to romantic ideas about the Elizabethan Golden Age.