When I visited York this summer, I made sure to visit both Micklegate Bar and Walmgate Bar. These two gates paint a vivid picture of the medieval period. While Micklegate was the main entrance into the city, Walmgate Bar played its own role in the history of York.
In the medieval period, Walmgate Bar was on the principal road from Hull so it makes sense that this would be the gate through which Edward IV would have entered upon his return from exile in March of 1471. After leaving Kingston-upon-Hull, where he had been denied entry, he made straight for York. Edward, Richard and the others with them were in a desperate situation. They were in hostile territory, with only a letter signed by Henry Percy to assist them in winning over the people.
As they rode towards York, Edward and his men were met by the city’s recorder and told that it was not safe for them to enter York. Edward persisted, and once again, as they reached the city walls, he was urged to leave. He had left his troops outside the city walls and had brought only a small contingent with him. Stating that he’d only come to secure his inheritance as the Duke of York and not to claim the crown, Edward asked the citizens of York for assistance in claiming his inheritance.
According to Polydore Vergil, Edward gave many speeches and flattered the citizens until they began to soften towards him. The Warkworth chronicler goes so far as to say that he cheered for Henry, saying ‘A! Kynge Henry! A! Kynge and Prynce Edwarde!’ and wore Prince Edward’s symbol of a white ostrich feather in his hat. While this is doubtful, Edward certainly won over the citizens.He, Richard and the rest of the small group were allowed entrance into the city through Walmgate Bar.
Today, Walmgate Bar is the only gate in York to retain its barbican, which was completed in the fourteenth century.
Its wooden gates are from the fifteenth century. The gate also retains its portcullis and it paints a better picture of how a complete gate would have appeared in the fifteenth century. Walmgate had an added fortification of a moat that passed under the barbican. Above the gatehouse, there are two crenellated turrets, which offered a great vantage point where one could watch for any threats.
My last piece of advice? Don’t get hit by a car as you stand there dazed, admiring this medieval gem. All I can say is ‘thank goodness for horns’!
For more information on Walmgate Bar, download a free PDF at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCkQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.york.gov.uk%2Fdownload%2Fdownloads%2Fid%2F3925%2F17_walmgate_bar_587mb&ei=wfuZVJLHPMangwS-y4LgAQ&usg=AFQjCNGWRQIGjVRd5QbKnuEWURC5fpZ0ug&sig2=xSdkf8HSb0a3XTrv4AF9fQ.