Bootham Bar was substantially rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was near to the burning of the suburb of Bootham in 1265. It is the only one of the city gates which it is thought was built on the site of the old Roman gateway into the city and has stonework which dates from the eleventh century, including the outer Norman archway.
In 1501 a door-knocker was installed on which Scots were expected to knock, and could only enter if given permission from the city’s Lord Mayor. Bootham Bar was damaged during the Siege of York during the Civil War. In 1663 three heads were displayed on the building from men executed trying to restore the Parliamentarians.
In 1830 the city authorities decided to build a pavement and the road widened given the improvements that had been made to Micklegate Bar and also similar work at Monk Bar. In 1831 this work took place which meant that the barbican was demolished. However the bar was nearly lost entirely in 1832 when proposals were made to demolish it. The local press noted that much effort had rightly gone on repairing the city’s other bars, and so the destruction of Bootham Bar didn’t seem consistent. There was much local protest against the plans to demolish the bar and it was decided in 1834 to spend money repairing it.
In 1968 the city council launched a public appeal to raise 25,000 pounds to help repair the Bar. The council said that the building itself was too heavy for the medieval foundations and large cracks had appeared and were widening. The Estates Committee of the council said that although the building wasn’t in danger of an imminent collapse, work was needed immediately to help protect the building.
Queen Margaret’s Arch is situated nearby, as are some of the city’s public toilets, which had to be roofed when steps up to the gateway were constructed.