Retaining a sense of place? King’s Square, phase 2


King’s Square phase 2 work: Feb 2014 update, with mulberry tree retained. (c) City of York Council

The proposal for ‘phase 2′ of the King’s Square work has been released, and is online and available for public viewing on this page on the council’s website (with background information on this link).

The proposal for the raised area is rather different from the original plan approved in April last year. I’m assuming that the changed plan, though titled ‘proposal’, doesn’t have to go for Cabinet approval again, as the phase 2 work begins this week.

The main points of interest:

  • The mulberry tree and its planter will be retained and refurbished, with the railings around the top removed
  • The raised area  will be given a ‘deep clean’
  • Broken flagstones on the raised area will be replaced, and some of the gravestones reset where necessary

Can I hear everyone shouting ‘hurrah’? Everyone who says the council never listens, everyone who said the square was basically fine as it was and just needed some cleaning and repair … I think it should be acknowledged that the way King’s Square will look is quite different to how it might have been, without input and comment from residents.


‘Option 1′ for King’s Square – with mulberry tree removed – approved in April 2013. (c) City of York Council

Council-bashing is very popular at the moment, particularly over the Lendal Bridge fiasco (and in that case, fair enough). But ‘the council’ is many many people in different departments. And here, in King’s Square, we see definite evidence of listening, taking note, adapting plans in the light of public reaction.

I guess we should reserve judgement for now, until we see how it actually turns out. I still fear that a forgotten memorial plaque might end up in a skip, because it’s small and dirty and not particularly visible on the bench it’s on. (Maybe Barnitts can take care of it and clean it up with one of their tins of Brasso.)

Just details – but meaningful ones – what makes the place – not the ‘visions’. This is York. It’s all about details, layers, all the centuries, and including the most recent. And the reminders of our lives within that context, in this place.

I don’t know how many people joined my ‘save the mulberry tree‘ campaign, sending emails of concern/protest. Thank you if you did. It was a very low-key campaign, but might have got more exciting, had the emails of concern failed …

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  1. Edward Royle

    What has happened to the relatively modern carved slate slab which was set into the paved area and recorded the site of Holy Trinity commonly known as Christ Church? Nothing was said about moving this but it has gone.

  2. According to the FAQs on the council’s pages about the Phase 2 work:

    “Will the plaques which have been removed be put back?

    The commemorative stone will be re-fitted on the raised area and a new brass plaque to mark the Roman Wall will be installed. Bench plaques will also be refitted in the square. These will not be in their original locations because the old benches are being replaced.”

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