What is still remaining of the abbey and what can it tell us?
As previously mentioned, the abbey church still stands in the Museum Gardens. However, other parts of the abbey are still standing. Perhaps the most important part of the abbey precinct still standing are the abbey walls. These stretch down Bootham and Marygate and continue to the water tower on the banks of the Ouse. These walls would have originally encircled the land of the abbey. They were important not only for marking the limits of the abbey land, but also for protection, much needed in the disputes with the city of York!
Also standing is the Watergate where merchants came to trade with the monks bringing goods including cloth from the Low Countries and timber and fuel from other parts of Britain. Next to the Watergate is the Hospitium. It is not certain what this building was used for, perhaps as storage for goods received or a barn. It might also have been a guesthouse for pilgrims and visitors to the abbey.
Underneath the Yorkshire Museum are the remains of the Chapter House and entrance or vestibule to the Chapter House. The Chapter House was were the monks would gather every day and hear readings from the Bible. They would then be given their tasks for the day as well as having punishments meted out to them for any misdemeanours.
Part of King’s Manor, now part of the University of York, was the abbot’s house. This marks the northern extremity of the abbey’s land in York.
Other parts of the abbey were excavated in the 1950s, but were covered up again. The buildings of the abbey would have covered the whole area of the Museum Gardens, stretching up to Bootham and down to the Ouse.