Monk Bar is the tallest of all of the York gates and dates from around the thirteenth century and retains the Plantagenet Arms. There were initially three floors, with a fourth added in the fifteenth century, and each of the floors can be defended independently.
The Bar once contained Little Ease prison, which once housed Alice Bowman in what was a tiny prison cell, measuring just 1.6 metres across. Bowman was imprisoned for her Catholic beliefs during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
In 1824 the city commissioners looked at what they thought would be improvements to the city and noted that, “the Corporation lately resolved that as Monk Bar is a most uncomfortable and unsafe avenue for foot passengers, and as all the the other Bars have each a detached passage for pedestrians” and plans were drawn up to build a passageway along the side of Monk Bar. Changes didn’t happen quickly however several months after it was reported that no pathway had been constructed after a “false rumour” that the Corporation of York had no power to remove or alter any part of the City Walls. The changes did though take place in 1825, although it meant the destruction of the Monk Bar barbican.
In 1829 however the city authorities paid 540 pounds for repairs to Monk Bar and the areas of wall just by it. Monk Bar does however have the city’s only working portcullis, which was last lowered in 1953 for the Queen’s Coronation.