Fishergate Corner Tower
Fishergate Corner Tower is next to the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Fishergate and Paragon Street
The Royal Commission for Historic Monuments describes the tower as contemporary with the adjacent walls [built by Thomas de Staunton in1345], but modified in the later middle ages.
It has only one room, with a fireplace which seems to have been installed soon after the civil war. The southern and western arrow slits were also blocked at this time. The eastern arrow slit remains in a splayed alcove looking out over Fishergate. The brick arched roof is also described as dating from the post-civil war period too. The alterations, particularly the new brick arched roof, may indicate that the corner tower was damaged during the Siege of York in 1644, but there is no other evidence of damage on the tower or the adjacent walls. The nearest recorded fighting is a ‘skirmish’ near the junction of Cemetery Road and Fulford Road, probably because the adjacent windmill was useful as a look-out post. Walmgate Bar and Red Tower were badly damaged by artillery on Lamel Hill.
The length of walls between the Corner Tower and Fishergate Postern Tower are very important for the defense of the city, as they guard the southern approach to the castle. The alignment of the walls along Paragon Street kinks south near the Corner Tower. This increases the length of wall overlooking Brownie Dyke and provides more room along its battlements for archers to fire on attackers trying to reach the castle.
The nearby Postern Tower was not built until 1505, but there was a building there before, described as ‘New Tower’ in 1389, so it is likely that the new walls had a small tower at each end, and that the Postern Tower was a similar looking building to the Corner Tower. As well as the earth rampart and walls around Fishergate, there was also a deep ditch. This ran from the King’s Fishpond and discharged into Brownie Dyke next to the Mason’s Arms pub - still the lowest point on the road today. The ditch was dug in the mid 1100’s, when the earth ramparts were also built. These were topped by a timber palisade, which remained as the main defense for some 200 years, until replaced by the masonry walls in 1345.
Text and pictures provided by Chris Rainger, Chair of the FFH