St Olave’s Church was founded by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, and is where he was buried in 1055. The church is dedicated to St Olaf of Norway.
St Olave’s is the first church in the world to be dedicated to St Olaf, the former warrior King of Norway, who converted Norway to Christianity and died in battle in 1030. Olave is the old English Spelling of Olaf. The church was given after the Norman Conquest to a group of Benedictine monks who built beside it St Mary’s Abbey, one of the greatest monasteries of medieval England. The ruined nave of the abbey church now forms the boundary to St Olave’s beautiful churchyard.
St Olave’s Church was rebuilt in the fifteenth century but was badly damaged when used as a gun platform during the siege of York in the Civil War (1644). The church was restored in the early eighteenth century. In 1887-9 the east end of the church was extended by the addition of a chancel, and enlarged in 1908. It incorporates the fifteenth century east window. The church is built of magnesium limestone in the perpendicular style. Some original medieval stone can be found in the tower structure.
St Olave’s Church