Selby Abbey is one of the few monastic churches to survive as a parish church. Much of the church is mediaeval including the North Porch, which dates back to the 12th and 13th Centuries. The south internal elevation contains the main north door to the interior of the abbey church, a remarkable example of late Romanesque decoration. The church is grade I listed.
The need for gates on the North Porch arose from an unfortunate increase in anti-social behaviour and vandalism to the important masonry. As is so often the case in heritage settings, the project was one of trying to balance the tensions between altering a building and preferring not to. Accepting the need to have gates and seeking to make them interesting and worthy of their location.
The design of the gates is based on an abstraction of grand 18th century gates (with buttressed side pilasters and overthrow) combined with references to the north door and its surround (vertical ribs, layers of smaller detail) and details of the Romanesque door surround. The gates needed to fill the archway to prevent climbing over, whilst minimising restricting the view of the Romanesque arch of the inner doorway. With the arched gates open this doorway remains visible.
Painting and gilding of the arch sections reflect the small fragments of polychromy found on the north door surround.
As the porch walls are lined with pilasters, the gates have been designed to avoid side fixings. The gate construction is essentially a buttressed metal frame on which the gates are hung on pivot hinges. Working in partnership the architect and blacksmith developed details to try to ensure a successful result and a process that was enjoyable.