Sectional Preface: Secular Buildings

Pages lxi-cv

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 3, South west. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972.

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In this section


Houses to 1650

The earliest domestic buildings surviving on the south-west side of the river date from the second half of the 14th century, and evidence for earlier occupation must be sought from archaeological, documentary and historical sources. Apart from some fragments of stone walling at the back of the Queen's Hotel, Micklegate (55), tentatively assigned to the 12th century but making no coherent building pattern, nothing survives from before c. 1350. Documentary evidence, however, shows that the district was growing in popularity as leading citizens moved in and better houses were built. In the second half of the 13th century Robert de Clairevaux settled in Micklegate and his son Sir Thomas acquired from Nicholas de Selby a house (the site of Nos. 35 and 37) near St. Martin's church (YASRS, lxxxiii, 182); this was called a 'stone house' in 1281 and a 'stone hall and cellars' in 1290. Hugh de Selby, Nicholas's grandfather, who had been Mayor in 1230, was living c. 1240 in the house called Mountsorrell on the corner of St. Martin's Lane (VCH, York, 45). Mountsorrell also is described as a stone house, and survived wholly or in part until 1866. (fn. 1) Old drawings show it as a stuccoed building with a jettied, and therefore timber-framed, upper storey. It is not clear in the references to stone houses whether they were fully stone-built (as the surviving ruined 12th-century house in Stonegate was) or had timber-framed upper storeys (as Mountsorrell appears to have had). This latter type was certainly still being built in York in the 14th century. The number of documentary references to stone houses, stone chambers and stone halls suggests that they were normal amongst the more wealthy merchants of the 12th and 13th centuries. Benedictus and Moseus the Jews were living in Micklegate in 1290, and probably occupied this same type of building, as Moseus's house had an annual value of 40s., and that of Benedictus, owned by his father Bonamicus, 33s. 4d. (YAJ, iii (1875), 193), the same value as the Clairevaux stone house.

The surviving mediaeval houses are not numerous, and are mostly so fragmentary as to provide no evidence except that some sort of mediaeval structure existed on the site. Those relatively intact are too few to provide a chronological sequence of timber-framed development, especially as none of them is precisely dated. Their dating in this Inventory is therefore based on the much greater number of houses across the river, and may, in the light of further research, need to be modified. To the 14th century can be ascribed the row of seven houses, Nos. 99–111 Micklegate (87) (Plates 49, 50 and Fig. 60), of which only the four numbered 99–103 now survive, the other three, heightened and refronted in brick in 1774, having been demolished in 1961. Like all the surviving mediaeval houses they are timber-framed, and exhibit features suggesting an early date. These include the isolated curved struts supporting the truss-rafters (Fig. 61), the tenoning of main struts into the stem of the crown-post below its enlarged head, and possibly the absence of any other strutted framing, (fn. 2) though the application of this last criterion should perhaps be regarded with caution in regard to town houses. The prodigal use of a long street frontage for a row of small tenements also hints at an early date, whilst their position contiguous with the gateway to Holy Trinity Priory (Cave, pl. XVII), and standing on the edge of the Priory precinct, leaves little doubt but that they were built to provide rental income for the Priory. In their disposition of seven tenements with a total length of 100 ft. they may well be a copy of the row in St. Martin's Lane, Coney Street, built in 1335 (Salzman, 430–2). Furthermore if they were Priory property, they probably date from before 1369 when the Priory was taken into the king's hands (CFR 1369–77, 14). The evidence suggests that these rows of small 'domus rentales' were a comparatively common feature of the street scene in the early 14th century. Possibly to the 14th century should also be ascribed the single-storeyed building of at least two bays, forming the back part of the Nag's Head, No. 100 Micklegate (88). Its framing has only in part survived and is possibly of more than one period. However, the present roof-truss at the south end has a steeply-cambered tie-beam carrying a crown-post and raking struts, all suggestive of an early date. If indeed 14th-century, it is the earliest single-storeyed building, whether a ground-floor domestic hall or an outbuilding for mercantile use.

No buildings dating from the first half of the 15th century have been found, and their absence seems to be echoed across the river, probably indicating slack building activity during that period of decline. Several houses, however, survive from the late 15th century, no less than three of them containing a ground-floor hall open to the roof. Possibly other ground-floor halls, set well back from the street, have been lost in alterations and redevelopment.

The most important of these late 15th-century houses is Jacob's Well (125) in Trinity Lane (Plate 191). This contains an open hall sited a few feet from the choir of Holy Trinity Priory church. At right-angles to the hall and lying along the street is a two-storeyed range of stone and timber framing jettied on two adjacent sides. Its importance lies in the fact that its history can be traced back in detail to 1549 when it was described as 'lately belonging and appertaining to the recently dissolved Priory of Holy Trinity, York' (AASRP (1902), 531). Its situation in or by the Priory precinct and its proximity to the Priory choir strongly suggest that it was the house of a chantry priest or of a person of similar standing. (fn. 3) As such its plan of an open hall and two-storeyed range is of considerable interest as showing the type of accommodation provided in York for parish or chantry priests. The original way in to the upper floor from the hall has disappeared entirely. There is a modern doorway in the upper partition wall against the hall, which must reproduce an opening of at latest 17th-century date, and may represent the original means of access approached by a stair against the end wall of the Hall. The insistence, in the early deeds, that the structure formed 'two tenements' probably indicates that the south half of the present long two-storeyed block, which had an internal staircase at the south end by the side of the stone chimney, was originally a separate dwelling. The general plan suggests a similar function for two other buildings of the same unusual type— No. 31 North Street (104) (see below) and, across the river, Bowes Morrell House, No. 111 Walmgate, perhaps a chantry priest's house associated with one of the nearby churches, St. Peter the Willows or St. Margaret.

The other two open halls are in the complex of buildings at the end of North Street near All Saints' church. The range nearest the church consists of three tenements, No. 31 North Street and Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane (104) (Plate 185 and plan Fig. 66, p. 98). No. 31 North Street consists of a single-bayed open hall and a two-storeyed corner wing jettied on adjacent sides. The other two tenements, Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane, form a continuation of the corner wing and are integrally built with it. Each of them has one room down and one room up, with access to the upper room by an internal staircase. Neither staircase is original, but the disposition of the ceiling joists in No. 1 shows that the present staircase replaces an original one, and there was no doubt an identical layout in No. 2. The simple framing to the upper storey facing the lane survives nearly intact and indicates that each room, of two small bays, was lit by an oriel window awkwardly cut in half by a vertical stud in the wall-framing. This, however, may indicate that the room could be divided into two by a hanging, with each half lit by half the oriel. The layout of the whole range is thus the same as at Jacob's Well, with the addition of an extra tenement. Here again proximity to the church suggests ecclesiastical occupation, and the number of wealthy chantries and benefactors in the first half of the 15th century in this church makes its function as a chantry priest's house very probable, especially as the old parsonage house, drawn by Cave (pl. VI) was elsewhere.

A few yards along North Street, at its junction with Tanner Row, stands another house of the same period also containing an open ground-floor hall. This house, No. 1 Tanner Row (120) (Plate 48), is in fact the survivor of at least a pair of Wealden houses (Wood, 218). Another example of this type can be seen across the river at No. 51 Goodramgate, and at least one other local example is known from old photographs. These appear to be the most northerly recorded occurrences of this type of house, common in Kent and Sussex. The design was probably brought here by a southern carpenter employed by one of the York merchants, whose connections with the Staple of Calais imply contacts with the south-eastern counties. Advances in standards of comfort, however, led to the hall of No. 1 Tanner Row being divided into two storeys in the early 17th century, and the upper storey was given a jetty to match the lateral blocks, thus disguising the original form, which only came to light recently when the framework was exposed after years of neglect. The simplicity of conversion into two storeys makes it possible that other houses were similarly treated. The building has now been thoroughly renovated and the disguise is effective once more.

The influence of Holy Trinity Priory can again be seen in the range of three houses Nos. 85–89 Micklegate (79) (Plate 174), the date of which has been disputed. Stylistically it belongs to c. 1500, although it is not shown on Speed's map of York dated 1610. Like Nos. 99–109 Micklegate it was built along the edge of the precinct where building in depth was not possible, the only rearward projections having been small staircase annexes, and was probably designed to provide rental income for the Priory after the povertystricken years of the previous century (CPR 1446–52, 69, and YCR, 1, 26–7). In this connection it is significant that there were no windows in the rear wall where they would have overlooked the Priory grounds. Furthermore in the early 17th century, by which time the Priory had fallen into secular hands, a timber-framed wing was built at the back of No. 89, projecting well into the former Priory precinct. (fn. 4) It is interesting to note that the top-floor rooms of the main range were still open to the roof. Owing to the paucity of houses dating from the first half of the 16th century, it is not possible to say when this 'open-roof' feature went out of fashion. The disappearance, as here, of the central purlin (Fig. 13e), followed elsewhere by the crown-post, probably marks the beginning of this development, and the next century may have provided ceiled roofs of a simpler construction, reflecting the demand for economy in materials, and less draughty top-floor accommodation. Probably Nos. 85–89 Micklegate is one of the last examples of this mediaeval type.

The considerable wealth still available in the city in the late 15th and early 16th centuries is indicated by large houses such as Nos. 17–21 Micklegate (59), of the late 15th century. This is of three storeys, originally jettied to the street, and with an L-shaped extension at the back probably marking the site of a staircase annexe. The plan has been much obscured by later alterations, but there is no evidence that the house comprised more than one tenement, whilst the original roof-structure, although mutilated, shows that the top-floor rooms were all open to the roof. The provision of a staircase situated in an annexe at the back of the house seems to be a new feature. It marked an improvement on the inconvenient internal staircase which took up living space, and can be seen as part of the trend towards greater comfort, though in this case it complicated the constructional problems and was ultimately replaced by the internal stairwell.

That the more normal two or three-storeyed house on a deep and narrow messuage continued to be built is clear from the numerous fragmentary examples, No. 112 Micklegate (92) being one of the best preserved. This, on a site which belonged to the Vicars Choral from the 13th century, shows signs of influence from an exotic timber-framed tradition in its use of principal rafters. This feature is exceedingly rare in York, though other examples can be seen in No. 32 Micklegate (61) of the mid 16th century and in the Manor Farm at Acomb (137), a late 15th or early 16th-century building, now greatly altered, which belonged to the Treasurers of York Minster. Lying on the western periphery of York it might have been open to the infiltration of a more westerly carpentry tradition. No. 112 Micklegate had a markedly cambered tie-beam in its central truss indicating that the top floor was open to the roof. Were it not for the incorporated alien elements, it might be regarded as one of the transitional types prevalent in the early Tudor period before the demand for attics spurred the carpenters on to further constructional experiments.

Another large house dating from the second half of the 16th century is the recently demolished block, Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Micklegate (54), of three storeys jettied along the street front. This property appears from grants of the late 12th and early 13th centuries to have belonged to St. Peter's Hospital (EYC, 1, 176–8), and therefore presumably came on to the market in the 1540s, after which it was rebuilt by one of its new owners. Here again details of the layout have been lost in alterations, but the height of the top-floor rooms suggests that they were ceiled off from the roof. The wing at the back by St. John's church is an addition or replacement of the early 17th century. These large blocks of houses, clearly combining several smaller messuages, possibly reflected and accentuated the growing disparity between the few very wealthy merchants and the increasing number of impoverished traders (VCH, York, 122 et seq.).

The late 16th century saw the introduction of attics as usable rooms, partly for storage but also for habitation, since they were provided with both headroom and fenestration. The earliest examples of this development made use of the sole-piece (see under Roof Structure), the side-walls being carried up some 3 to 4 ft. above the level of the top floor. This construction allowed adequate headroom and light from the gable-ends, and the building required only a small increase in height. Of the four recorded examples in this area, three have recently been demolished: Nos. 16–18 (58) (Plate 52) and 111 Micklegate, House (C) (87) and a warehouse (?) behind No. 10 North Street (101). Evidence for gable windows survived in the two Micklegate examples. The one surviving example is a timber-framed wing added at the back of Nos. 17–21 Micklegate, of two unjettied storeys and attic. Originally at least five bays long, the attic must have been a gloomy space as, with its north end abutting the earlier house, it was lit only by a window in the southern gable. There were no structural partitions, and it may have been used mainly for storage, though, as the well-lit floor below was also unpartitioned, it may possibly have been a hostelry with extensive sleeping accommodation (cf. the illustration of the sleeping quarters in a French inn of c. 1462 in Glasgow University Library MS. Hunter 252 (fn. 5) ). Nos. 16–18 Micklegate (Plate 52) was remarkable not only for the attic construction but also as a large building probably designed from the beginning as an inn. Double-gabled and jettied both at the front and the back, it provided three full storeys as well as attics. It has further importance in that there is evidence for each half of the building having had an original chimney between the front and back rooms. By leaving a space between the front and back rooms, the builder made the construction of the central chimneys very easy and economical, and it seems likely that the staircases also were incorporated into this central area. It is surprising that this type of plan, so wellsuited to the long narrow messuages, was not adopted more readily. It is possible that the erection of such large houses as Nos. 2–6 and 16–18 Micklegate, taking in several mediaeval messuages, was facilitated by the devastating plagues of 1550 and 1551, which decimated the lower Micklegate area (VCH, York, 120), and must have pushed a lot of tenements onto the market all at the same time, with a depressing effect on prices. These had already been artificially depressed, first by the statute of Henry VIII in 1540 ordering the rebuilding of decayed houses and secondly by the enormous grants of properties, previously owned by the various religious houses, to Leonard Beckwith in 1543, most of which he seems to have sold very quickly.

Another important building was the Plumbers' Arms (118) in Skeldergate of c. 1575 (Plate 46), demolished in 1964. This made a faint concession to the Renaissance by sporting a moulded and carved bressumer to the jetty with egg-and-dart motifs. It also had two large original chimneys with weathered offsets, each containing two flues. These were engulfed in modern buildings, but can be seen in an old photograph of c. 1855 (NMR, BB/57/1517). Although on the ground floor each fireplace served a separate room, on the first floor there was no structural partition, and the significance of the two fireplaces is not clear. Possibly the importance of this large first-floor area as a living or reception-room was enhanced by the dual heating arrangements. The original fenestration had all been replaced, but a small annexe, added on the northwest side some thirty years after the building of the main house, retained, blocked up, all its old windows on first and second floors. These window frames were of timber, constructed for glazing, and were also interesting as shop-made units ready to be jammed into position between the pegged framing. As they were moveable they could legally be treated as tenant's fixtures (Salzman, 185). That the style of decoration on the main house was still in fashion in the early 17th century is shown by the egg-and-dart motif on the bressumer being copied on the annexe jetty. This annexe with its two extremely well-lit rooms must have provided a high degree of extra comfort and privacy, far beyond that available in most houses of the city. On the ground and first floors the space between the two chimneys was filled in, probably when the annexe was built, to form a closet on each floor, 5 ft. by 3 ft. under a pent roof. Each closet was lit by a two-light wood-mullioned window. The first floor was reached by an 18th-century staircase in a block to the east, almost certainly occupying the site of an earlier block containing the original staircase and some additional accommodation. The attic was contained in the triangle of the roof, and was probably lit from both gable-ends.

The problem of the lack of partitioning is not confined to the Plumbers' Arms, as it occurs in several other houses of this period, and has already been noticed in the late 16th-century wing behind Nos. 17–21 Micklegate. It may sometimes have been to provide larger rooms for social occasions, but it often occurs on the ground floor where the layout must have included shops or workrooms. Equally it is clear that not all the examples can be dismissed as warehouses or other non-domestic forms of building. It may be an indication of the same casual attitude to privacy found in the 15th century when the ground-floor rooms were not separated from the entrance and through-passage. The same problem appears in The Old Rectory in Tanner Row (122) (Plate 190), a house of the early 17th century. This is of two storeys, jettied to the street, and with a usable attic completely within the triangle of the roof. The gypsum plaster floor in the attic is possibly an original feature. The building is three bays long, and has no structural partitions on either ground or first floor. The first bay was lit from the front, whilst the second and third bays each had a glazed three-light window to each floor in the side wall. A large chimney-breast was inserted into the middle of the building probably in the late 17th century. The glazed windows suggest that it was primarily a domestic building, but this is strongly counterbalanced by the lack of an original chimney-breast, which was probably almost universal by this date in new houses.

The increased demand for comfort is well illustrated by alterations carried out c. 1600 in Nos. 17–21 Micklegate in conjunction with the long rear wing (see p. 72), added at the same time. The old staircase annexe was filled up with a large chimney to heat the eastern end of the house, and the staircase moved, probably to the more convenient position in a new annexe to west of the present staircase, where it may also have provided access to the new wing. At the same time the large room on the first floor was given a handsome plaster ceiling and had its walls lined with panelling. Similar improvements were made in the early 17th century at No. 32 Micklegate where a large chimney and staircase were inserted in the middle of the house, and the roof altered to allow the roof-space to be used as rooms.

These early 17th-century buildings are the latest surviving examples of timber framing on this side of the river apart from fragmentary survivals almost lost in later remodellings. Timber-framed building continued spasmodically throughout the city, but the rising demands for comfort, warmth and privacy, and the slow change of taste under the late-coming Renaissance influence led to impatience with the old layouts and appearance of timber houses. The Civil War provided a pause in building activities, and the Corporation, by its resolution of 27 January 1644/5, 'It is moved to Common Council on Monday next for making an order for building houses upright from the ground in brick' (YCA, B.36, f. 122V.), put an end to the traditional methods of building just as thoroughly as the Great Fire did in London twenty years later. That so many timber-framed buildings have survived to our own day is due mainly to the fact that it was so much cheaper in the not very prosperous 18th and 19th centuries to cut off the front, if one wished to modernise, and replace it with a brick façade than to rebuild entirely, so that each generation had merely to make what ad hoc internal alterations suited the tastes and pockets of its own time.

It is unfortunate that 'le read brick house', built in Micklegate by Thomas Waller probably just before 1600 (Davies, 137) no longer exists, as it must have been almost the first brick house built. (It is possible that some part of it is incorporated at the back of Nos. 142–146 Micklegate (100), which seems to have been the Waller house.) By contrast, the first surviving brick building in Shrewsbury is said to be of c. 1670 (Arch. J., CXIII (1956), 187), and in Exeter 1680 (ibid., CXIV (1957), 170). The trade-name 'tiler', standard in York throughout the later Middle Ages, was rapidly displaced in 1590–1620 by 'bricklayer'. References in documents, however, suggest that brick was occasionally being used structurally as early as 1578 (YCR, VII, 177; YCR, VIII, 35). Brick was apparently becoming fashionable in the late 1630s, when two major buildings were erected in the Bishophill area: Fairfax (later Buckingham) House (begun 1638), and Towers' Folly (c. 1640) (129), but until this date it seems to have been used in positions of minor visual importance (see p. xxviii). Brick building, however, did not become general until the Corporation in 1645 forced the issue, probably as a measure of protection against fire, after the burning of the suburbs in the previous year's siege. Even then the numbers of bricklayers in the Freemen's Rolls did not increase as much as might be expected, a fact significant in the light of the scarcity of late 17th-century buildings. From a total of 86 tilers and bricklayers admitted to the Freedom in the half-century 1597–1646, the number admitted (of bricklayers only) increased to no more than 109 in the years 1647–96.

Types of Sites

The commonest type, as elsewhere in York, was the long narrow messuage with a street frontage of from 12 to 20 ft., stretching back some considerable distance—in the case of the riverine areas of North Street and Skeldergate, from the street back to the river. These latter properties had wharves and warehouses at the river end of the plot, but most of them have disappeared in recent redevelopments. No. 10 North Street was a good example. The narrow messuages survive mostly in Micklegate now, where the high value of sites tended to fossilise this arrangement. These plots usually possessed, as well as the various buildings, a garden or orchard, and in the case of the more important properties, stabling as well; all these usually survived up to the 19th century. An alternative type was the long shallow site along the street front. In the 14th and 15th centuries in this area this type seems to be confined to sites developed by the religious houses. Many of these, whether local, as St. Peter's and St. Leonard's Hospitals, or remote, owned much property in the district. The principal local house, Holy Trinity Priory, clearly saw the pecuniary disadvantages of having a plain precinct wall to the most important street in York, and adopted the idea of shallow development to use the street frontage without encroaching more than was necessary on its grounds. Its privacy it guarded by not providing any fenestration on the Priory side. The 14th-century development along Micklegate here probably extended nearly to the present churchyard, as an early 19th-century engraving shows a small tenement on the eastern side of the Priory Gateway similar to those still existing on the western (Cave, pl. XVII). Another example of the long street frontage is Nos. 17–21 Micklegate, a late 15th-century range in an area in which the religious houses owned much property. Other examples belong to the late 16th or early 17th century—e.g. Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Micklegate— and probably bear witness to the emergence of a particularly wealthy elite of merchants, who, especially as the Reformation had thrown so much religious property on to the market, were able to buy up two or three adjacent tenements for redevelopment.


Domestic layouts have nearly all been modified so that their original forms are no longer ascertainable, except perhaps for those of the simplest type. Such are the two ranges, Nos. 99–109 Micklegate (partly demolished; Fig. 60) and Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints Lane (Plate 185, Fig. 66). In these ranges, each tenement contains two rooms: a ground-floor room, which, in the Micklegate range at any rate, was no doubt a shop, and an upper room, jettied to the street and open to the roof. In Nos. 99–109 Micklegate each pair of houses has a central passageway on the ground floor, and the end house, No. 109, had a passage along its far end. In their present form these passages are of 18th-century date, but the arrangement of brackets under the jetty of Nos. 99–101 suggests that the position of the openings may have survived from the original layout. Presumably all these houses had communal wells and soil-houses in the narrow yards behind. Nos. 85–89 Micklegate also contain three separate tenements with one room to each floor, the top floor again open to the roof. The ranges fronting the street are either of two storeys, as Nos. 70–72 Micklegate (74), or of three, as No. 112 Micklegate, and are usually two bays deep, though the Nag's Head, No. 100 Micklegate, is of three bays. Both of these arrangements provide only one room in depth. Most of the back ranges are of later date than those at the front, and probably represent rebuilding of earlier structures. The Nag's Head, No. 100 Micklegate, is alone in preserving an earlier structure at the back, and the fact that this rear building is of only one storey suggests that it may have been the original hall. If this was a common arrangement in the earlier mediaeval period (cf. W.A. Pantin, 'Domestic Architecture in Oxford', Ant. J., XXVII (1947), 133), the rebuilding of out-of-date hall-blocks would explain the existence of so many late 16th and early 17th-century ranges behind the front ranges. Plans in the late 16th and early 17th centuries were tailored to the re-emergence of the long street frontage incorporating several mediaeval messuages, and this resulted in unusually large buildings or pairs of houses, as in Nos. 16–18 Micklegate (Plate 52) and probably the houses now numbered 67, 69 and 71 Micklegate (71, 73) (Plate 158). In a category by itself must be placed the late 15th-century block Nos. 17–21 Micklegate, lying along the street front and containing lengthwise at least four rooms. Three are of one bay each, 9 ft. 6 in. to 10 ft long, and the fourth has two bays, one 10 ft. 6 in. and the other only 6 ft. This last may have been the principal room on each floor, the small bay housing whatever heating arrangements were in use.

Modifications to layouts, apart from the rebuilding of front or rear blocks, were mainly directed to making the houses more comfortable for living. Cutting down the vertical size of rooms was a great step to this end, as well as, in some cases, providing extra accommodation. The ground-floor halls of Jacob's Well, No. 1 Tanner Row, No. 100 Micklegate, and probably No. 31 North Street were all converted into two storeys in the late 16th or early 17th century, and many of the open-roof structures must have been ceiled off in the 17th century, as Nos. 99–101 Micklegate. Heating improvements are discussed under Fireplaces.

Insufficient evidence is available to equate the layouts and rooms with inventory descriptions. Some inventories have indeed been published, (fn. 6) but most of these deal with high dignitaries of church and state, and where they do concern York merchants they are highly selective, dealing with stocks-in-trade more than domestic arrangements. In so far as any conclusions can be drawn from a random number of published inventories of between 1390 and 1450, there seems to be a basic minimum of four rooms, of which the kitchen (coquina), which is always mentioned, was no doubt a separate building at the back. The hall (aula) always appears, and frequently has a spere in it, probably a moveable screen to protect against draughts. One inventory describes the spere as 'wooden', which suggests perhaps that others, less elaborate, were merely a framework for a cloth hanging. Other rooms mentioned regularly include the buttery (pinserna), the bakehouse (pistrinum) and the store-room (salarium).


Oak was the most common constructional material, and none of the early stone houses recorded in documents have survived. Chamfered stone base courses to carry the timber ground-sill survive at No. 1 Tanner Row, and a single course of chamfered rubble still existed at No. 31 North Street as recently as 1953. The only stone building in the area is the south wing of Jacob's Well, but this was so heavily restored in 1905 that it is now impossible to decide its original date.

Brick, like stone, is rarely found. The 'wall-tile' infilling to timber framing was superseded in the late 16th century by brick walls on to which panelling was being fastened by the early 17th century. As a constructional material, however, brick only became fully established after the Civil War, though the moulded brick windows inserted into the stone wing of Jacob's Well must belong to the first half of the 17th century. Drake's remarks about York in 1736 are an interesting comment on the rarity of brick buildings even at that date (Drake, 279–80).

Timber Framing

The timber framing is plain and simple, and the houses are all jettied on at least one side. The unjettied walls are framed on full-height posts with enlarged heads, and occasionally, as in No. 112 Micklegate, with a small shoulder to carry the first-floor transverse rail or beam. This same house is unusual in that there is no enlargement at the post heads. The height from the ground to the wall-plate varies from 13 ft. 6 in. in No. 111 Micklegate (House 'B') to 22 ft. in No. 95 Micklegate (85), but most of the 15th and 16th-century houses tend to lie in the bracket of 15–18 ft. The main posts to each floor on the jettied fronts also have enlarged heads—enlarged on the external face under the jetties (Fig. 55), and on the inner face at tie-beam level. The framing within the bays and along partition walls consists of plain studs with curved braces or struts at one or both ends. In the earliest surviving houses, Nos. 99–109 Micklegate, the central stud in each partition wall is wider than its fellows, though in later buildings all the studs tend to be of the same width. In this same range of houses all the oblique members are braces, no struts being used (Plate 49). By the second half of the 15th century, however, nearly all oblique members are struts and only rarely, as in parts of Nos. 31 North Street (Plate 185, Fig. 66) and 1 Tanner Row, are braces used in the earlier fashion. (fn. 7) Braced framing reappears occasionally late in the period, and can be seen in the rear wing of Nos. 17–21 Micklegate, and in the open bay on the first floor of The Plumbers' Arms, where it was presumably considered less of an obstruction than a strut down to the floor. An unusual brace with inverted curvature appears at the end of the 16th century in No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C'). Struts return towards the end of the period and ogee struts appear in The Plumbers' Arms. They can have had little structural value, and must have been used largely for decorative purposes. In The Old Rectory the struts are practically straight (Plate 190).

Fig. 9. Vertical Chase-mortice.

Fig. 10. Joints in Wall Plates and Purlins.

Fig. 11. Carpenters' Marks. a. (120) No. 1 Tanner Row; b. (54) Nos. 2, 4, 6 Micklegate and (126) Nos. 2, 4 Trinity Lane; c. (54) Nos. 2, 4, 6 Micklegate; d. (58) Nos. 16, 18 Micklegate; e. (54) No. 2 Micklegate.

The spacing between studs varies considerably, but a change can clearly be distinguished in external wall-studding (as opposed to partitions) from the late 14th-century houses Nos. 99–109 Micklegate to the early 17th-century annexe to The Plumbers' Arms. The former in a 12 ft. bay has one central stud only, whilst the latter has studs varying from 9 in. to 1 ft. 5 in. apart. At an intermediate period, No. 1 Tanner Row late in the 15th century had external studs at 1 ft. 3 in. to 1 ft. 7 in. apart, whilst those in No. 111 Micklegate were 1 ft. 2 in. apart, and those in the rear wing of Nos. 17–21 Micklegate 1 ft. 4 in. apart. The studs themselves are about 5–6 in. in width.

Jetties were invariably constructed to the street front, but only one house, Nos. 16–18 Micklegate, was jettied both front and rear (Plate 52). Corner sites, such as Nos. 31 North Street and 1 Tanner Row, and L-shaped houses, such as Jacob's Well, had jetties on two adjacent faces, and made use of the normal dragon-beam construction at the junction of the two walls (Plate 185). The joists running from the dragonbeam are all set on an increasingly acute angle to the beam in the late 15th-century houses No. 1 Tanner Row and Jacob's Well (Fig. 12a), whereas in the early 17th-century annexe to The Plumbers' Arms, the joists are laid parallel to each other on each side of the dragon-beam (Fig. 12b). One house, No. 95 Micklegate, had a jetty to the first floor, but no further jetty above, although the house was of three storeys and an attic. The projection of the jetty seems to have been standardised throughout the period at about 1 ft. 6 in., except for the early 17th-century Old Rectory, which has a jetty of about 1 ft. 2 in. These measurements may be compared with projections generally of 1 ft. 6 in. to 2 ft. 6 in. in various building contracts, and in particular with the 2 ft. to 4 ft. of the Coney Street contract (Salzman, passim).

Fig. 12. Dragon Beams and Joists forming jetties.

The construction of the jetty can usually only be seen in the course of repairs or demolition. In No. 17 Micklegate the truss-joist carried at its end the horizontal sill-plate of the floor above. This was presumably pegged vertically on to the joist. The post of the upper floor was notched to rest mostly on this plate, but also on the joist, though the methods of fastening could not be seen. The construction is slightly different again in Nos. 85–89 Micklegate (Fig. 55). Here the joists end in horizontal stopped (fn. 8) tenons on to which is morticed and pegged the moulded sill-plate which projects above them by 2 in. On this plate stands the post, notched, as in No. 17, to rest on the truss-joist also, but thickened out at this point and cut with a tenon which is pegged into the joist. This method cloaks the joist-ends and provides a place for moulded decoration.

The infilling of the framing is almost always of thin bricks, set on edge longways in the wall and referred to in documents as 'wall-tiles'. The only exception to this is in Nos. 99–109 Micklegate where Nos. 105– 107 had, as infilling in the spandrel between a post and a curved brace, a series of riven baulks of wood with the bark left on—mostly logs of 2 in. diameter chopped in half and flattened at each end. These were set horizontally 2–3 in. apart, and covered up, and the spaces between filled in with daub. It is not, however, certain that this was the original infilling, as the baulks were nailed at each end. However, the partition between Nos. 99 and 101 has a brown infilling of daub plaster containing hair, though the framework on which it is spread could not be ascertained. A similar daub infilling was recorded at one area in No. 1 Tanner Row, but this may have been a late 16th or early 17th-century repair, as the same wall elsewhere had wall-tile infilling. From the 15th century onwards wall-tiles were used, standardised within very narrow limits to 10½ by 5½ by 1½ in. In Nos. 17–21 Micklegate they were jammed between framing pegs—a series of pegs let into the sides of the timbers and projecting out a few inches. Most of the walltiles, however, were anchored by means of shallow grooves cut in all the members, the purpose of the groove being to provide a key for a layer of plaster or mortar against which the wall-tiles were bedded. This system lasted to the end of the period, being found in the late 16th century in Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane and The Plumbers' Arms (Fig. 71), and in the early 17th century in No. 6 Trinity Lane.

To join together pieces of timber for long lengths, as in purlins and wall-plates, two methods were in use. The earlier method was the splayed lap, found in No. 103 and Nos. 85–89 Micklegate (Fig. 10, top). In No. 103 three pegs were driven up vertically through the two pieces, and the same probably occurred in Nos. 85–89, though this was not seen. The later method, found in Nos. 16–18 and No. 100 Micklegate (Fig. 10, middle) was a forked tenon joint, pegged horizontally, with two pegs in No. 100 and four in Nos. 16–18. These joints were often sited over or near to the supporting wall-posts or crown-posts to provide extra stability. There is only one example of a halved joint, in a reset wall-plate in No. 1 Tanner Row (Fig. 10, bottom) where it may be a later repair; in the same house is an example in situ of the splayed lap joint.

A feature recorded more frequently across the river is the method of inserting internal beams after the outer timber-walls had already been erected, but the only example recorded in this area was in Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane. A long vertical chase-mortice was cut in the inner face of a main post (Fig. 9), increasing in depth to 4½ in. at the bottom. There it corresponded with the base of an ordinary 4½ in.-deep mortice in the opposite main post. The horizontal beam was lowered at an angle into position, one tenon being placed against the ordinary mortice. As the other tenon was lowered down the chase, the first tenon sank home until the beam was horizontal and both tenons were in position. They were then pegged to the post. The rest of the chase was usually filled up with fragments of wall-tile and plastered, the plaster being sometimes painted to match the woodwork. Joists were laid on top of the side-rails without any fastening, as in The Plumbers' Arms, and No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C').

Floors have almost always been renewed, though a few survive with elm planks 1 in. thick and about 10 in. across, which may be original. In The Plumbers' Arms, the front room on the attic floor had flooring made up by a layer of close-set laths nailed on to the joists. On these and at right-angles to them was placed a thick layer of reeds, and then gypsum was spread over the top (Fig. 71). The similar floor in the attic of The Old Rectory has already been noticed (see p. lxv). This type of flooring was used only in attic rooms of late 16th and early 17th-century date, and was probably an attempt at insulating the room below from the cold and draughty attic. The same principles seem to have been applied as were adopted contemporaneously for sound insulation (see W. Allen and R. Pocock, 'Sound Insulation: Some Historical Notes', JRIBA (March 1946), 183–8).

Roof Structures

Roof structures provide a more reliable guide to dating than does wall-framing, as after c. 1500 roofs of crown-post construction disappear. The crown-post roofs have coupled rafters, but no ridge-beam or principals. The crown-post, except in the latest example, Nos. 85–89 Micklegate, carries a central purlin in its enlarged head. Across the purlin lies the collar to each pair of rafters; supporting members include longitudinal braces from the crown-post up to the purlin, and a curved strut on each side of the crown-post down to the tie-beam (Fig. 13b). The latter is cambered, and all joints are of mortice-and-tenon type, pegged together. The height of the crown-post varies from 4 ft. 9 in. in No. 111 Micklegate (House B) (Fig. 62) to 7 ft. 8 in. in Nos. 17–21 Micklegate. Nos. 99–109 Micklegate (Fig. 13a) shows some archaic features such as the steady taper of the crown-post in No. 103 (Plate 50 and Fig. 61, bottom), the fastening of the crown-post struts below the enlarged head (Fig. 13a), and the separate curved raking struts from the tie-beam to the rafters (Plate 50 and Fig. 61 top). In the 15th century these raking struts were incorporated into the framing by moving their feet nearer to the crown-post and halving them across the crown-post struts (Fig. 13c), and this development is associated with the appearance of side purlins. These were carried in an enlargement of the strut where it was tenoned to the rafters. This arrangement is more common on the other side of the river, but obtained in the now altered roof of Nos. 17–21 Micklegate (Fig. 13d). The central purlin continued in use at the same time. By the turn of the 15th century, Nos. 85–89 Micklegate had dispensed with the central purlin whilst illogically retaining the crown-post for which the central purlin was the raison d'être (Fig. 13e). It seems that the introduction of the side purlins was a safety device for those houses with a wide span of 20 ft. or more and a high roof pitch, for they do not occur in the smaller houses such as Jacob's Well, or No. 31 North Street (Fig. 66). The latter, however, has the curved purlin struts in the eastern gable (Fig. 66) but not elsewhere, so they may also have been regarded as a decorative feature towards the street. Another feature which appears late in the 15th century is the oblique purlin-brace—a longitudinal curved brace from the purlin strut to the side purlin (fn. 9) (Fig. 13d, e). These purlin-braces can be seen reused in Nos. 17–21 Micklegate (Plate 50) and in situ in Nos. 85–89 Micklegate. This latter house is the last case of crown-post construction, and the disappearance of the crown-post together with the two large struts which supported it clearly lightened the roof structure without weakening it, and effected great economy in the use of timber.

Fig. 13. Roof Trusses.

a. (87) Nos. 99–109 Micklegate, early-mid 14th century; b. (125) Jacob's Well, Trinity Lane, late 15th century; c. (104) Church Cottages, No. 31 North Street, late 15th century; d. (59) Nos. 17, 21 Micklegate, late 15th century; e. (79) Nos. 85–89 Micklegate, c. 1500; f, g. (92) No. 112 Micklegate, 16th century. h. (126) Nos. 2, 4 Trinity Lane, late 16th century; i. (87) No. 111C Micklegate, late 16th-early 17th century; j. (58) Nos. 16, 18 Micklegate, late 16th-early 17th century; k. (127) No. 6 Trinity Lane, early 17th century; l. (122) The Old Rectory, No. 7A Tanner Row, early 17th century.

The intermediate stage before the utilisation of the roof space is not well represented, but appears to have been an experimental one directed to finding better methods of supporting the side purlins. The solution seems to have been either in the continued use of curved struts from the tie-beam directly to the purlin and rafter, and without any enlargement of the strut head, or else in curved or straight kerbprincipals rising from the tie-beam up to a collar, and supporting the purlin in a notch half-way up. The purlin-strut was used in The Nag's Head, No. 100 Micklegate, and both types in No. 112 Micklegate (Fig. 13f, g), but this house is atypical in many ways, as in its use of principal rafters, and the survival of the earlier type of brace from horizontal members down to posts. Both types were also used in the wing behind No. 89 Micklegate (Fig. 13e), in alternate bays and in conjunction with two purlins each side. The use of the kerb-principal to support the purlin seems to have filtered down from use in buildings of large span. It occurs across the river in St. Anthony's Hall as early as 1453, and is found on this side in the roof of Holy Trinity Church which cannot be earlier than 1551. It continued in use until late in the century, being found again in Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane (126) (Fig. 13h) where it probably reflects the influence of Holy Trinity Church. In the mid-16th century also, internal tie-beams tend to become flat instead of cambered, suggesting that the top-floor rooms were being ceiled at this period. This feature is illustrated in the unusual roof construction of No. 32 Micklegate where flat tie-beams carry principal rafters. The principals are supported by struts from the tie-beam, fossilising the system of purlin-struts, although the purlins are here carried by the principals.

The late 16th-century carpenters were faced with the demand for more space within the same groundarea. Rather than add an extra jettied storey, they turned the roof-space into attics, in accordance with a country-wide trend. Their first solution was to heighten the building by some 3 to 4 ft., flooring the attic at that distance below the wall-plate, whilst subsidiary transverse and axial beams and longitudinal side rails were incorporated to carry the attic joists. Unimpeded circulation between the inner trusses of the attic was then achieved by means of sole-pieces (fn. 10) which were in effect junction-pieces between posts and wall-plates below and common rafters and kerb-principals above (Fig. 63). The kerb-principals were carried up to support a collar high enough to give full headroom. A variant of this in the outbuilding behind No. 10 North Street combines the common rafter and kerb-principal into a principal rafter cut back at collar-level, and then continued to the apex in the same scantling as the common rafters (for this 'diminishing principal' see J. T. Smith, 'Medieval Roofs', Arch. J., cxv (1958), 124–5). Nos. 16–18 Micklegate (Fig. 13j) and No. 10 North Street have two purlins each side, but No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C') (Fig. 13i) can only have had one—at collar level—as the gable has common rafters with no principals. Nos. 16–18 Micklegate is also interesting in that the twin-gabled construction required a double-headed post in the centre of the building with the valley-plate housed centrally in it, and a double-ended solepiece to serve both roofs (Fig. 13j). The double-headed post also occurs in No. 67 Micklegate for a twin-gabled house, and in Nos. 17–21 Micklegate for a rear extension. The sole-piece system was rather clumsy in design and extravagant of timber, and was possibly not structurally secure, as No. 10 North Street has had the collar replaced, and No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C') has had an extra collar inserted just above head-height. By the beginning of the 17th century the sole-piece was replaced by the simpler system of lifting the attics entirely into the roof, flooring them at wall-plate level. The gables had simple stud framing, as in No. 6 Trinity Lane (127), with a collar which carried the side purlin (Fig. 13k). On the internal trusses, support for the purlins came either from the collar without the stud framing of the gable, as again in No. 6 Trinity Lane, or from housings in the principal rafters, as in The Old Rectory (Fig. 13l). Very few internal arrangements, however, survive from this period. The gable-end was occasionally pushed forward beyond the wall below, with brackets supporting the ends of the wall-plates. This can be seen in The Old Rectory, and seems to have existed originally in The Plumbers' Arms.

Carpenters' Marks and Numbering

Not many carpenters' marks have come to light. The earliest (Fig. 11a) is on one of the front posts to No. 1 Tanner Row on which it appears twice. The other recorded marks are mostly of late 16th-century date. Nos. 2–6 Micklegate and Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane both have the same mark (Fig. 11b) and the former has an additional mark or doodle as well (Fig. 11c). Similar to the mark in Fig. 11b is one in Nos. 16–18 Micklegate, where it is repeated three times (Fig. 11d). To the early 17th century must belong the mark on the added back range to No. 2 Micklegate (Fig. 11e). Numbering of timbers was done in Roman numerals and was confined to roof members and tie-beams until the late 16th century when studs began to be numbered as well. Examples of the latter are in Nos. 4 and 6 Micklegate and Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane. Roof trusses are usually numbered as self-contained units, but in the 14th-century range, Nos. 99–109 Micklegate, the roof timbers are numbered continuously along the north side and back along the south side from I-XIIII. There was apparently no numbering on the truss at the west end.


Decorative detail in wood is extremely scarce, in stone and plaster entirely absent (except for plaster ceilings, q.v.). The earliest surviving examples are the corner posts carrying the dragon-beams of Nos. 31 North Street and 1 Tanner Row. Each of these has a carved and moulded cap below the springing of the post-head, and both have the same basic design, although differing in detail. Each cap contains a top and bottom set of mouldings sandwiching a central decorative panel sunk back to the surface of the main post. In No. 31 this panel has, on the southern face, a row of three rosettes carved in relief, and on the eastern face a very worn row of four sunk quatrefoils, whilst the upper set of mouldings is crowned by battlementing. In No. 1 Tanner Row (Plate 48) the central panel has a row of square compartments each containing a pointed-lobed quatrefoil with sunk spandrels. There were three quatrefoils on each face originally, but now there are only two on the northern side, and two and a fragment of a third on the eastern face, the post having been considerably mutilated and cut back. On both caps the mouldings are of late 15th-century style, though those of No. 31 are very badly worn. Other carvings of this period are to be found at Jacob's Well, where a beam across the western end of the hall has its chamfered lower edge divided into five sections by four carved petal-form quatrefoils, and where the reset brackets of the canopy to the doorway display motifs of an eagle, a tudor rose and conventional foliage (Plate 191). The only moulded bressumers to survive are to be found on Nos. 85–89 Micklegate (Plate 174) on both the first and second-floor jetties. These are very badly worn and mutilated, but can be recognised as a hollow moulding surmounted by battlementing, probably not much later than c. 1500. The Plumbers' Arms of c. 1575 had a moulded fascia board fastened to the jetty and carved with egg-and-dart, copied in the early 17th century for the two fascia boards of the annexe. Also to the early 17th century belongs the large oak staircase inserted into No. 32 Micklegate (Plate 83). Its string is carved with stylised roses and thistles, and its newel-posts with crude jewel ornaments.

See also under Doorways, Plasterwork and Staircases.


Alterations and rebuildings have played havoc with mediaeval doorways, and none now survives intact. In two cases, No. 1 Tanner Row and Jacob's Well (Plate 191), the jamb posts of an original entrance doorway remain, and in both houses pegholes in these posts suggest that a shaped wooden door-head was pegged in between them. No other original doorways survive, but Jacob's Well preserves the only surviving evidence for the canopied doorways which must once have been a normal feature of the street scene. Reset in 1905 under a modern canopy are two elaborately carved and moulded brackets (Plate 191), from the demolished Old Wheatsheaf inn in Davygate. The moulding of the bracket suggests a date at the end of the 15th century.

Fireplaces and Overmantels

Contemporary arrangements for heating are extremely rare, and most houses must have had either portable systems such as braziers, or very simple non-structural fireplaces with plaster cowls, all of which could be removed without leaving any trace of their presence. The earliest surviving heating arrangement is the stone-built chimney in the south wing of Jacob's Well, but any original fireplace was lost in 1905. It is not clear now whether this is contemporary with the late 15th-century timber-framed house adjoining the wing, or whether it belongs to an earlier building.

From the late 16th century the large double house, Nos. 16–18 Micklegate, has lost both its original chimneys, removed c. 1760 to make space for new staircases, but the evidence survives to show their original position centrally between the front and rear rooms. Of the same date were the two massive chimneys in The Plumbers' Arms. These projected externally on the side of the building (Fig. 70), and were built of brick with stone dressings and weathered offsets. Internally each of them contained a fireplace to each floor. On the first floor these had been completely disguised by late 18th-century grates and surrounds, but during demolition the original late 16th-century brick fireplaces were uncovered. These had shallow three-centred heads with a continuous chamfer to the head and jambs. The large brick chimney in No. 1 Tanner Row is associated with the insertion of an intermediate floor into the hall and the construction of two newel stairs, all of which must date to the early 17th century. A large chimney inserted in No. 32 Micklegate is also of this date. This exiguous list is completed by an early 17th-century carved overmantel in Nos. 2–6 Micklegate. Of a type fairly common throughout the city, it is the only one recorded on this side of the river, and has now been destroyed.

Plasterwork and Ceilings

Decorative plaster ceilings do not seem to have achieved the popularity they enjoyed in some parts of the country, and only three, all of late 16th or early 17th-century date, have survived. This is possibly a reflection both of a local indifference to embellishments, and of the general poverty of the period, whilst the very localised situation of the three in this area—all within about 100 yds. of each other—hints at a single source of influence and, perhaps, execution. (fn. 11) In this context it may be of significance that no plasterers are recorded in the York Freemen's Rolls in the relevant century 1550–1650.

The plainest of these ceilings is in No. 17 Micklegate. It has a running pattern applied to the pre-existing ceiling beam, and a large fleur-de-lis in each corner and flanking the ends of the beam. Each fleur-de-lis is enclosed by a moulded rib in the form of a square. There is a much richer design in No. 18 Micklegate (Plate 51), but the date is the same as No. 17, for the soffit of the ceiling beams in both houses has an almost identical arabesque pattern. The arabesques together with the fauna in the frieze provide a design half-way between the simplicity of No. 17 Micklegate and the florid exuberance of the remaining ceiling at No. 6 North Street. This has recently been removed, on the demolition of the building, and has been re-erected in The King's Manor. It has four large identical panels (Plate 186) formed by intersecting ceiling beams, and has a remarkable collection of decorative motifs. Beasts' heads, arabesques, foliate bosses, stylised and naturalistic vine leaves with bunches of grapes are woven into an intricate pattern with a deeply-moulded border. Centrally on the wall-plate cornice of each compartment there is a projecting section supported by a man's head—a feature which suggests a date well into the 17th century.

Ornamented timber ceilings have rarely survived. The earliest survival is in the suburbs at No. 4 Front Street, Acomb (132), where there is a ceiling-beam with paired ogee mouldings of the early 16th century. A very plain example existed in No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C'), whilst intersecting ceiling-beams in The Plumbers' Arms had a simple quarter-round and hollow moulding with run-out stops. Both these date from the late 16th century. To the early 17th century belong ceilings in No. 32 Micklegate, with ovolo-moulded beams and joists, and in The Old Rectory where the existence of beams having only plain chamfers with run-out stops is perhaps another argument for its non-domestic function.


Of all the mediaeval fitments, staircases have perhaps suffered most from modernisation, both for ease of usage and under the pressure of fashion. Consequently no complete examples have survived, though a fair amount of evidence for their positions can be found. In No. 1 All Saints' Lane, the arrangement of the joists carrying the first floor shows that there was a short straight staircase going up against the east wall almost exactly where the present staircase is. It seems a fair inference that in the adjoining cottage, No. 2, there was a similar arrangement where the present straight staircase is situated against the west wall. Similarly in Jacob's Well, Trinity Lane, there is evidence that there was a staircase in the south-east corner between the front wall and the side of the stone chimney.

Nos. 17–21 Micklegate had a timber-framed annexe at the rear in the north-east corner, the most likely explanation of which is that it was to house the staircase. The same type of external staircase annexe must have been provided for each of Nos. 85, 87 and 89 Micklegate for ascending to the first floor, as gaps are left in the first-floor stud-walls at the same place in each house, and the rooms are still entered at these points. The continuations up to the second floor, however, were inside the rooms, and in No. 87 there still remains a short straight staircase against the east wall for reaching the top floor. This staircase is opposite the entrance doorway to the room, and has timber-framed construction on its open side.

In the late 16th century the new wing behind Nos. 17–21 Micklegate was provided with an internal staircase, though this has now been replaced by a later one in the same position. Similarly, though lacking the structural evidence which survives in Nos. 17–21 Micklegate, the original staircase at The Plumbers' Arms was no doubt in the eastern annexe where the 18th-century staircase eventually replaced it. Two staircases in No. 1 Tanner Row, both with octagonal newel posts, are possibly associated with the extensive remodelling of the early 17th century, when the hall was divided into two storeys and a large chimney inserted. The provision of two separate staircases suggests that the eastern wing was converted to a selfcontained tenement at that date. Also of the early 17th century is the moulded and carved oak staircase with symmetrically turned balusters in No. 32 Micklegate (Plate 83). It was altered in the 19th century, but is the only surviving example of the period (see also under Carvings). In a class by themselves, and unrelated to the local development of staircases, are the richly-carved newel posts and handrails of a grandiose staircase of c. 1640, reset in The Old Rectory. They are said to have come from Alne Hall in the North Riding (Plate 82).


Panelling came into fashion here in the early 17th century, and all the surviving examples are of this date. It probably became fashionable once the brick-built fireplace was established as a normal part of design, replacing the woven hangings which must have preceded it in unheated rooms. Esdras Browyas and Anthony Rayskaert, described as 'Dochemen, arresworkers' were admitted to the freedom of the city in 1570, and were lucky in that a whole generation elapsed before their trade was put out of business by the new fashion of wood panelling. There is little variety in the local panelling, and most of it has vanished in recent demolitions. Square or rectangular oak panels were formed by 'run-through' rails and short styles. The rails were moulded on the lower edge—that is, at the top of the panel—and chamfered on the upper edge, forming the bottom of the panel. The styles were moulded on both edges, and the ogee was the moulding most in favour in the early period.

Windows and Glazing

The earliest surviving windows are the two three-light mullioned windows of oak in Jacob's Well, of late 15th-century date (Plate 191). The windows were originally unglazed, with mullions of a fairly broad diamond section, set 6–7 in. apart. They were probably closed by internal shutters and now have 20th-century glazing. Evidence for windows of the same date exists at Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane, and at No. 1 Tanner Row. At Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane and No. 1 Tanner Row the upper storey seems to have had a series of paired oriel windows separated internally by a wall-stud. No. 1 Tanner Row had a large opening on the ground floor, but it seems more likely that this was a shop opening with perhaps a ledge for serving, rather than a window (cf. MS. of c. 1450, Bibl. Nat., Paris, illustrated in CIBA Review, 47 (1943), 1694; and 'The Wool Hall', Lavenham of c. 1500, Wood, pl. XXXIV). In the top floor of Nos. 85–89 Micklegate the evidence shows that there were two windows in each bay, probably paired oriels, as in Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane and No. 1 Tanner Row, with a central dividing wall-stud, and presumably the same arrangement obtained on the first floor. The lack of infill-grooving in the upper half of some of the studs in the top floor of Nos. 2 and 4 Trinity Lane suggests that there was a row of small windows just under the eaves along the south wall. The early 17th century provides examples of windows in The Old Rectory and The Plumbers' Arms. The Old Rectory has at least four three-light windows on the west front, of which the two ground-floor ones are completely blocked and the upper southern one has one light blocked. The remaining lights have ovolo-moulded mullions, and the shape of these together with their wide spacing show that they were designed for glazing.

The Plumbers' Arms in its early 17th-century annexe exhibits a most remarkable series of original windows. On both first and second floors the annexe had a two-light window in the south wall, set at the western end to clear the chimney, and a three-light window in the north wall. On the first floor, almost all the west wall was taken up by a 'picture-window' containing two rows of five lights each, the rows separated by a large chamfered transom. Above this window on the second floor was a three-light window. All the windows were shop-made, ready to jam into position in the existing timber-framework. The picture window, at any rate, was designed to be glazed, as the glazing groove was visible, and presumably the smaller windows were as well. All the mullions were lozenge-shaped, but very much slimmer than in the 15th-century houses. There was also a two-light window on each floor to the closet formed between the chimneys in the early 17th century. These had wooden mullions and jambs, but as they were blocked, the type of moulding could not be seen. At that date they would probably have been made for glazing. A similar type of shop-made window was probably used in No. 111 Micklegate (House 'C'), but was taken out in the 19th century to make way for a staircase. Mention should also be made of two brick-built windows, each of two lights, in the back wall of Jacob's Well. The chamfered mullions and jambs have been heavily and inaccurately restored, but a photograph taken during the restoration of 1905 shows that they were originally shaped with rebates for glazing. They probably date from the first half of the 17th century and illustrate the pattern wherein brick was at first used structurally in the less important elevations away from the street.

The scarcity of original windows makes an assessment of early glazing very difficult. The oriel windows in Nos. 1 and 2 All Saints' Lane were probably unglazed with shutters fastening to the central stud, and unglazed windows were certainly being put up in the late 15th century at Jacob's Well. There are documentary records of glazing: in a house belonging to Symond Stele, in 1422 (SS, lxxxv, 16); and in a 16th-century house in Micklegate when payment to John Calbeck, glazier, who rented the house from 1517 till 1533, included 'five shillings and fourpence paid in glase yt he leyfft in ye howse in Mykylgatt when he whent frome it' (YAYAS, Report (1950–1), 19). Other entries show that domestic glazing was being carried out extensively at this latter period.

(T.W.F., J.H.H.)

Houses 1650–1800

Plans and Planning

No houses of the latter half of the 17th century remain intact in this part of the city, and therefore no analysis of development of the buildings of the period is possible. The plans and dimensions of the York town houses of the 18th century were governed by the mediaeval (and earlier) development of the city. The houses within the boundary of the city walls were generally built on sites recently occupied by earlier structures with the building set forward to the road frontages of long narrow curtilages. Such a confined site for the average-sized house conditioned the ground plan to one room to the front and one to the rear, with a side entrance passage and staircase; some minor variations, however, are possible, such as the placing of the staircase transversely between the back and front rooms (see Fig. 64, (95)). Some of the properties had access to the service quarters at the rear from a subsidiary road, but others had to incorporate a through passage for the access of servants and goods to the back of the house from the main thoroughfare, and this arrangement is well illustrated by monument (68).

Business and trade expansion in the main thoroughfare of Micklegate, particularly in the 19th century, has led to the conversion of private residences into shops, with considerable mutilation of the original ground-floor arrangements and the despoiling of pleasant, though modest, Georgian street elevations. Many a Georgian front masks a mediaeval structure, the jettied timber-framed building having been trimmed back and a brick façade erected. The recently demolished range of buildings to the west of St. John's Church, Nos. 2–18 (54, 56), and the range opposite to them, Nos. 17–19 (59), are examples of this Georgian 'improvement'. It is fortunate that a group of town mansions survive, and they have passed into the ownership of enlightened institutions: Micklegate House (81) and the adjacent Bathurst House (80) (University of York) and Garforth House (66) (Chartered Accountants' Offices), while the Bar Convent (13) still occupies its original premises in Blossom Street. The house numbered 53, 55 Micklegate (65) has been sub-divided but little internal alteration has been made; 56 Skeldergate (117), however, has suffered considerably with a carriageway driven through half the ground floor to give access to a builder's yard at the rear.

On the rising ground away from the River Ouse, some of the larger houses have cellars and basements provided for storage and larders. Small closet wings are noted on houses as early as c. 1700; they do not appear in houses of the second half of the 18th century. The service quarters, including kitchens, are generally on the ground floor to the rear within the main house block, and only in one or two houses on the higher ground away from the river are they in semi-basements. Domestic quarters in a rear wing appear to be limited to some of those houses which incorporate older structures at the rear, though one or two of the larger houses had service wings provided from the start. By contrast, some of the most important houses, Micklegate House (81), Garforth House (66) and 53/55 Micklegate (65) (see plans, Figs. 58, 53, 51), have no such domestic annexes. The placing of the service range at the rear became more common practice in the 19th century. Throughout the 18th century most houses had a reception room on the first floor overlooking the street—the saloon. In the grander houses the saloon is reached by a staircase placed in a spacious stairhall at the back with a decorated window on the half-landing and an ornamental ceiling. A fine example is at Garforth House where a Venetian window occupying the full width of the half-landing bears testimony to the high quality of York craftsmanship. These grand staircases were not continued above the first floor, access to the full height of the house being provided by a secondary staircase rising from the ground floor or the basement, to the attics.

External Features

Brick-work. Up to the 17th century York buildings, apart from churches, were constructed in timber framing, but this form of building within the city boundaries was terminated by order of the Council on 27 January 1644/5: 'It is moved to Common Council on Monday next for making an order for building upright from the ground in brick' (YCA, B.36, f. 122v.).

From the middle of the 17th century onwards brick is the accepted building material for houses of all grades, though from before c. 1700 none remain complete. Bricks were made locally from the clay that abounds in and around York. Projecting at the rear of 104 Micklegate (89) is a late 17th-century brick wing (Plate 54), and moulded brick bands and various blocked windows of the period survive at the back of 35/37 Micklegate (63). All brickwork of the late 17th century is irregular in the rise of courses and random bonded. A warehouse in Skeldergate (29), now reduced from three parallel ranges to one, (fn. 12) incorporates bricks measuring 11 in. by 2½ in. by 5 in., four courses rising 11¼ in. (Fig. 47).

Most accomplished brickwork occurs in the important houses of the 18th century and none better than in Middlethorpe Hall of 1699 (163). This is in Flemish bonding, as are most Georgian fronts in York; it is further refined at Middlethorpe by tuck pointing. Of the early 18th-century town houses, fine examples of brickwork are seen at the Queen's Hotel (55) and the Bathurst House, 86 Micklegate (80). Usually the street elevations are in a rich warm brown brick of fine quality and uniformity with deep red gauged rubbed brick window arches. A paler stock brick occurs in a few main elevations with red brick dressings as at 118 Micklegate (95) (Plate 184). This treatment is also adopted for the rear elevations of some major houses, such as the Garforth House (66), 53/55 Micklegate (65), and Micklegate House (81). These same houses have best quality regular brickwork of uniform colour in their principal elevations; it is a standard of craftsmanship which occurs also in a later building, the Bar Convent (13) of 1786. These Micklegate houses have bricks measuring 9 in. by 4½ in. by 2¼ in., five courses rising 1 ft. 1 in. As the 18th century advanced the bricks became larger but maintained a general red-brown hue where used in principal elevations; the paler, variable coloured brick is more usual in houses of the following century.

The use of stone dressings is limited to a few important houses, presumably because of its relatively high cost; Middlethorpe Hall (163) has all openings, bands and rusticated quoins in dressed ashlar. Quoins appear again on a small group of mid 18th-century houses, and they are of a distinctive form: the quoin blocks are five brick courses in depth, with no bevel to the edges, the longer blocks project further from the face of the wall than the shorter ones and, moreover, the longer blocks on the face are also the longer on the returns and the shorter blocks the shorter on the returns, contrary to usual practice (see Fig. 14). This idiosyncrasy appears on 53/55 Micklegate (65) and Garforth House (66), on Micklegate House (81) and two other buildings in the city, Peaseholme House of 1752 and 39–45 Bootham of 1747–8 (see p. lxxxi).

Fig. 14. Stone Quoins. Mid 18th century.

The earlier elevations are commonly divided by projecting horizontal bands. The best examples of the late 17th century are at the rear of 35/37 Micklegate (63); they are of four oversailing brick courses incorporating moulded brick (Plate 54). The houses of pre-1727 date now numbered 3–9 Micklegate (55) have a double band above the first-floor windows: the upper is of five courses with the lowest course of hollow chamfered moulded or rubbed brick, and the lower of three courses. Of this early 18th-century period, 86 Micklegate (80) has a first-floor band of four courses. Throughout the first half of the 18th century bands of oversailing brick courses, varying from three to five courses in depth, are to be found, and from the mid century plain ashlar bands are used on some of the better houses. Several houses have the distinctive arrangement of a broad band at the first-floor level, with a subsidiary band above serving as a continuous sill band to the first-floor windows. This Palladian feature appears or appeared on houses in York designed by John Carr, such as Castlegate House and Fairfax House, Castlegate, and his own house, 58 Skeldergate, demolished some years ago.

Two important houses, Micklegate House (81) and Garforth House (66), have this feature, but with a further band at the second floor and, associated with it, the unusual rustication described above. Micklegate House, built for John Bourchier of Beningbrough by 1752, has long been ascribed to Carr (George Benson, in the Architectural Review, 11 (Jan./Nov. 1897), 111, states that John Carr of York was the architect, but gives no documentary evidence). Should the designer of Micklegate House be established, to him also must probably be ascribed several other major York town houses with the same features, namely: the range of four houses, 39–45 Bootham, 1748; 53/55 Micklegate (65), c. 1755; 54 Micklegate (Garforth House) (66), 1757, and Peaseholme House, 1752. The last named house was built as a speculation by Robert Heworth, a joiner and carpenter, and it may well be that he was its designer. No. 56 Skeldergate (117) has much about its elevation that is found on houses certainly designed by Carr.

Cornices. Most eaves cornices of the period are of wood; only one of moulded ashlar (Middlethorpe Hall (163)) and a very few of brick remain. In the second half of the century bricks set on edge, or set obliquely, are used as cornices to subsidiary elevations. Cornices in association with parapets are exceptional at any date in York. A late 17th-century example with a shallow parapet and oversailing brick courses with some moulded brick incorporated is the range at the rear of 37 Micklegate (63) (Plate 54). On the side elevation at the rear of 5 Micklegate (55) is a heavy moulded and modillioned cornice of timber of late 17th-century type, with considerable projection from the façade. This type of cornice, but more moderate in scale, is used on houses of the early 18th century, such as on the front elevations of 3–9 Micklegate (55) and Bathurst House (80) (Plate 175).

The modillioned cornice is also employed on most of the more important buildings in the third quarter of the century: Micklegate House (81) of c. 1752 (Plate 177), 53/55 Micklegate (65) of c. 1755, and John Carr's residence of 1765 which formerly stood in Skeldergate; the same feature is used on the Bar Convent front (13) of 1786 by Thomas Atkinson (Plate 138). Garforth House (66), 1757, has a distinctive cornice treatment with a Roman-Doric entablature.

During the second half of the century the moulded wooden cornices with modillions and dentils gradually decreased in scale and projection. Typical of the cornices applied to buildings according to the stipulation of the City Council Order of 1763 (see below), to carry rainwater off the roofs by gutters, was the example of 1764 on the recently demolished houses, 16 and 18 Micklegate (58) (Plate 52). Holgate House (52) of c. 1772 has the modillions reduced to simple shaped angle-pieces of little projection, and 57/59 Micklegate (68) of c. 1783 further illustrates this tendency to reduce scale and projection of cornices.

Doorcases (external). No examples of 17th-century main entrances remain in situ in this part of the city, though it is rich in Georgian ones of all categories, from the mansion entrance to the more modest front doorway of the smaller house, inspired by one of the many copy-books available, and this despite whole sale destruction due to conversion of ground floors to shop and other commercial premises in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The entrances at Middlethorpe Hall (163), c. 1700, with bolection-moulded eared architraves in ashlar are stylistically late 17th-century (Plate 62); the doors and fanlights are later insertions. The early 18th-century entrance to 19 Bishophill (41) has a simple moulded wood surround with ears, a fanlight and a flat hood supported on consoles. Micklegate House (81), 1752, has possibly the finest Georgian entrance in York, standing upon stone steps with sweeping iron railings on either side. The freestanding Corinthian columns flanking the rusticated surround to the round-headed doorway support an entablature and triangular pediment (Plate 178). Of the Doric doorcases so popular throughout the country in the second half of the 18th century, probably the earliest dated example in York is the one remaining of a balancing pair to the Garforth House (66), 1757. There are similar doorcases to 106 Micklegate (90) and 118 Micklegate (95).

As the 18th century advanced there was a general tendency towards alteration of the proportions of entrances and the use of Adam-style applied decoration. The matching entrances to 57/59 Micklegate (68) of 1783 illustrate the fashion of the period, and so too does the simple entrance to No. 92 Micklegate (83), which is emphasised by raising the threshold on a flight of steps. Central emphasis is given to the Blossom Street front of the Bar Convent (13) of 1786 by the entrance and the first-floor window above it, but the design of the porch, with round-arched opening set in a rusticated surround framed by paired Doric columns supporting an entablature and triangular pediment, is rather old-fashioned. The only concession to current trends is the employment of close-set fluting to the entablature and tympanum.

Fenestration. No original late 17th-century windows remain intact; the few examples have been either blocked or reformed in later times or had hung sashes inserted in place of the wooden transomed and mullioned or casement windows. Of this period, however, a bull's-eye window formed with rubbed headers remains in situ in the rear wing of 35/37 Micklegate (63) (Plate 51). Possibly the earliest example of a hung-sash window in Yorkshire occurs at Middlethorpe Hall (163), c. 1700, where no fewer than twenty such to each of the two main elevations exemplify the new form of fenestration. The earliest sliding-sash window, commonly called the Yorkshire sash, is at 1 Tanner Row (120) (early 18th-century). Throughout the 18th century most window openings to the street fronts have flat arches formed with gauged rubbed bricks; some of the more modest houses have segmental arches of brick headers or cut stock bricks. Throughout the period, the rubbed brick voussoirs are single narrow bricks with saw cuts on the face simulating joints. The depth of the arches of the late 17th and early 18th century is generally shallower than in the mid-century and later, a maximum depth of five-and-a-half courses being reached at the Garforth House, 1757. Ashlar key-blocks are rare; only a few larger houses, Micklegate House (81), 53/55 Micklegate (65), and Acomb House (142), have them.

The early 18th-century window openings had tall narrow proportions, well illustrated by those on the two main floors of the Bathurst House (80) and the first floor of 3–9 Micklegate (55); both have windows three panes wide by six tall. By the mid-century the proportions had changed, with a marked decrease in the height, to three panes wide by four tall. This proportion was maintained until the end of the century.

Hung-sashes of the early 18th century had heavy glazing bars and the sash boxes were exposed, flush with the face of the wall. Most of them have been replaced at later times, but here and there some remain in situ, as those on the second floor of 11/13 Micklegate (57), and some on the top floor to the front of 3–9 Micklegate (55). The sashes in a group of houses of the mid-century are set back to leave 4½ in. reveals, but as late as 1783 Nos. 57/59 Micklegate (68) has almost flush moulded frames.

Round-arched windows only occur on staircases or in Venetian windows, as in Garforth House, Micklegate (66), and No. 56 Skeldergate (117).

Leadwork. Many good lead rainwater heads still survive on York buildings though the lead fall-pipes have very often been replaced in cast iron. A City Corporation Order of 15 June 1763 (YCA, M.17) states, 'That the spouts of the City's houses and places to be put up and fixed for bringing down the rain and other water pursuant to the Act of Parliament [3 Geo. III, c. 48] in that case made be provided by the City Steward by the Consent and approbation of the Alderman Wardens of the Ward in which such houses and places respectively are situate'.

The finest and earliest head is that to the Bathurst House (80); its survival, together with the cornice and eaves, is remarkable, since the house was raised by a storey in the early 19th century. It has a projecting centre section enriched with a winged cherub's head and swags and the initials of Charles and Frances Bathurst (Frances died on 24 January 1724) (Plate 81). The earliest example incorporating a date, 1752, in the part of the city under review is on the rear elevation of Micklegate House (81); the tapered angular form incorporating classical mouldings is typical of the general shape of rainwater heads of the first half of the 18th century. Characteristic of the later designs, to the end of the century, is the inverted bell shape; it is well illustrated by the dated examples, of 1763 at 67 Micklegate (71) and of 1783 at the rear of 57 Micklegate (68). The shape is simplified to a fluted bowl form in the early 19th century. Surviving fallpipes from the first half of the 18th century are of square section, with the bracket-junctions enriched with decorative motifs or the owners' crests (Plate 81).

Internal Features

Doors and Doorcases. Good examples of doorways in the late 17th-century idiom survive at Middlethorpe Hall (163) of c. 1700 and the Queen's Hotel, Micklegate (55).

At the beginning of the Georgian period bolection-moulded panels to doors gave way to recessed and fielded panels, six to a door, as illustrated by the fine example in Acomb House (142) (Plate 67). Of the mid 18th century, there are many good examples of the carpenter's craft in major houses, such as 53/55 Micklegate (65) and Garforth House (66).

The influence of the Adam fashion was well illustrated by the interior door-case to the saloon of 113 Micklegate (93) (Plate 66), now demolished, and a first-floor room at 53/55 Micklegate was refurbished in the late 18th century, the entrance from the landing having sunk panels to the architrave, enriched with applied arabesques and lion-mask paterae from the moulds of a York craftsman, Thomas Wolstenholme, one of a family of carvers and gilders. (For architrave mouldings, see Fig. 15.)

Fireplaces. Though many fine fireplaces of all periods of the 18th century remain in situ, none of a late 17th-century date exists in this part of the city. In the style of the late 17th century, however, is the chimneypiece in the dining room of Middlethorpe Hall (163) (Plate 200).

Angle fireplaces occur in three buildings of the early 18th century: the Queen's Hotel, Micklegate (55), in the room adjacent to the saloon (Plate 166), and in the rear wing of the Bathurst House (80). Although the first is compact and small in scale, the carved enrichment to the overmantel itself shows that it heats an important room. The second, in a rear wing, is clearly in a room of secondary importance. A third early 18th-century example, in association with heavy bolection-moulded panelling, is in the 'Blue Room' on the first floor of Middlethorpe Hall (163) (Plate 201). Small angle fireplaces appear later in the century in upper rooms and attics of modest houses and are not overtly dateable.

Fig. 15. Timber Mouldings. Architraves around doorways.

a, b. (163) Middlethorpe Hall, c. 1700; c, d. (55) Queen's Hotel, Nos. 7, 9 Micklegate, before 1727; e. (80) Bathurst House, No. 86 Micklegate, c. 1727; f. (81) Micklegate House, Nos. 88, 90 Micklegate, 1752; g, h. (66) Garforth House, No. 54 Micklegate, 1757; i. (65) Nos. 53, 55 Micklegate, c. 1755; j. (117) No. 56 Skeldergate, c. 1765; k. (68) No. 57 Micklegate, 1783; l. (65) No. 53 Micklegate, c. 1800.

In the idiom of the first half of the 18th century is the fireplace in the ground-floor front room of Acomb House (142), with a bolection-moulded marble surround to the fireplace, a shelf moulded and enriched, and a panel in the overmantel with an eared surround terminating in volutes at the top (Plate 194). On the first floor of the same building, in probably the original saloon, is a fine carved fireplace and overmantel in a more rococo style (Plate 72). Examples of a more modest type of fireplace of the second quarter of the 18th century are found in smaller houses, such as 12 Front Street, Acomb (136), and 122 Micklegate (96) of c. 1740, and in the less important rooms of larger houses. They are of white marble, with simple jambs generally with fielded panels, a segmental arched opening with a key-block and a plain shelf. The spandrels are usually filled with fielded panels, and the key-blocks are decorated with a variety of motifs, such as a scallop shell or conventional foliage.

Many fine examples dating from the mid 18th century survive; they reflect the use of builders' patternbooks by the local craftsmen and are, therefore, following fashion rather than setting it. The chimney-piece in the ground-floor front room of 118 Micklegate (95) (having survived in shop premises recently reconverted to living accommodation) is of c. 1742 (Plate 73). One of the fireplaces from the saloon of Micklegate House was removed some years ago and reused in the Princess Victoria Room of the Treasurer's House, York; it is a good example of the style of the mid 18th century (Plate 71). All fireplaces of this category, with an overmantel, are in rooms that have some kind of panelling. In rooms that are without panelling where the walls were covered originally with paper or fabric, the fireplaces are much reduced in importance, though the decoration may be similar to that on the more important type of chimney-piece found in the same house.

Garforth House of 1757 (66) shows the variation in design of fireplaces in one house according to their situation. In the front room on the ground floor, which was probably the dining room, the design is bold and impressive (Plate 71); a first-floor room above has a fireplace of delicate design with rococo arabesques, suitable for a ladies' withdrawing room (Plate 73) and an adjacent room has a fireplace of similar character but less elaborate; on the second floor the fireplaces are very much simpler showing the economy of workmanship which sufficed for the furnishing of secondary rooms (Plate 71).

The general decoration of chimney-pieces with carved arabesques remained in fashion until the late 1760s, when the new, more delicate style introduced by Robert and James Adam had reached York. The Adam influence in the last quarter of the century is seen in applied composition decoration on fireplaces in houses of all categories, and many an earlier building has had an original fireplace replaced with a 'modern' one in the fashionable style. Local craftsmen using copy-books even produced their own moulds for casting composition ornaments.

The finest example of the conventional Adam-style fireplace complete with firebasket is in Middlethorpe Manor (164) (Plate 75). Closely dated examples are to be seen in Holgate House of c. 1773 (Plate 75) and 57/59 Micklegate (68), a house of 1783. Those in the latter have ostensibly Adam urns, swags and transverse flutings, but they are most probably by a local designer-craftsman and not direct copies of Adam motifs. This is suggested by, for example, the decoration in the central tablet on the freize of the saloon fireplace, an urn form with lush growth of foliage, which is too undisciplined to be an accurate copy of an Adam design. The making of applied composition decoration for the enrichment of fireplaces, doorcases, etc., by local craftsmen more or less in the Adam fashion is well illustrated by the work of the Wolstenholme family of carvers and gilders, notably Thomas Wolstenholme (1759–1812), which can be identified in 118 Micklegate (95), 53/55 Micklegate (65) and in the range added to Middlethorpe Hall (163).

Iron grates cast at the Carron works near Falkirk to Adam designs are numerous, though many that matched a fireplace surround have been removed in the cause of fuel economy, to be replaced by a slowburning grate or other form of heating. One of the most complete surviving ensembles is in the flat at No. 5 Micklegate (55), which also has applied pewter and cast-lead decoration on the surround (Plate 61).

Panelling. Bolection-moulded panelling, so characteristic of the late years of the 17th century and the early 18th century, is to be found in a number of houses. The finest example, in oak, is in the dining room at Middlethorpe Hall (163) (Plates 200–2). This elegant room, which contains a fireplace and shallow round-headed niches all with flanking Ionic pilasters and bold enriched entablatures, has an unusual arrangement of the two adjacent panels by the corners at one end of the room. The surface plane is advanced slightly and emphasised by extending the main cornice down to an enriched entablature over the sunk fielded panels. This contrivance is introduced to balance the entrances at the opposite end of the room. Panelling of early 18th-century date of equal quality lines a suite of three rooms on the first floor of the Queen's Hotel, Micklegate (55) of c. 1720. Similar boldly projecting bolection-moulded panels occur in the first-floor room to the rear of 122–126 Micklegate (96) of c. 1740 (Fig. 16) and the front room on the first floor of 35 Micklegate (63). Acomb House (142) of c. 1745 has a fully panelled front room on the ground floor, with a plain dado and tall bolection-moulded panels above the rail and an entablature all in pine (Plate 194). This is probably the latest example of bolection-moulded panelling in the area under review.

Fig. 16 (opp.). Timber Mouldings. Wall Panelling.

a. (55) Queen's Hotel, Nos. 7, 9 Micklegate, before 1727; b. (96) Nos. 122, 126 Micklegate, c. 1730; c. (95) No. 118 Micklegate, century. c. 1745; d. (64) No. 48 Micklegate, 1747; e. (65) Nos. 53, 55 Micklegate, c. 1755; f. (94) No. 114 Micklegate, early 18th century.

By the fifth decade of the century simpler forms of panelling were being developed. In the saloon of 118 Micklegate (95), there is a plain dado with tall panels above; the moulded surrounds project only slightly from the wall surface and the fielded panels are recessed (Fig. 16; Plate 183). A second, more modest type of panelling is employed in a house of 1747, Nos. 42–48 Micklegate (64); the walls are lined with softwood boarding and a simple raised moulding is fixed over it to form rectangular-shaped panels (Fig. 16; Plate 69). In houses of the following decade panelling is becoming unfashionable, and in some of the major houses, such as the Garforth House, Micklegate (66) of 1757, only the front room on the ground floor, probably the dining room, is fully panelled, with a plain dado and tall sunk fielded panels above with moulded surrounds (Plate 71). Elsewhere in this house panels with carved enrichments to the surrounds are used in the dado, and the walls above are plain, presumably intended to be papered or lined with fabric. Micklegate House (81) of 1752, the largest of the town houses in this part of the city, originally had the saloon panelled, but the panelling has since been removed and some of it reused in the Princess Victoria Room of the Treasurer's House; in this the moulded panel-surround has been abandoned and the panelled effect is achieved simply by raising the panels very slightly from the background (Plate 71). The decoration of 53/55 Micklegate (65) of c. 1755 is archaic; the front ground-floor room has sunk fielded panels, the larger panels having raised eared surrounds enriched with Greek fret ornament, and similar panels occur in the staircase hall. In a back room the walls are lined with pine planks, and panels are delineated by applied mouldings (Fig. 16).

Plasterwork. No elaborate late 17th-century or early 18th-century plasterwork is to be found in the houses in the area under review. The ceiling over the staircase of the Bathurst House (80) has a plain cove above the deep cornice (Plate 90) with a simple geometrical design formed with raised mouldings. In the eastern house of the Thompson pair of houses, 3–9 Micklegate (55), of c. 1720, the ceiling over the stairhall, from which the original staircase has been removed, remains in situ; it is elliptical on plan with a heavy modillion cornice with some enrichment, the spaces between the modillions being enriched with well modelled fruit, floral motifs, and a family crest; the cove above is quite plain (Plate 165). The finest examples of the plasterer's art in York date from the middle of the century; possibly the best is at Bishophill House (38). In the first-floor saloon, which has a large apsidal bay at the eastern end (Plate 61), the decoration of the ceiling is rococo and includes an abundance of finely modelled foliage, fruit and flowers (Plates 154, 155); it bears a close resemblance to a ceiling by Giuseppe Cortese at Newburgh Priory in the North Riding.

Micklegate House (81) of 1752 has lost most of the plaster enrichment of the ceilings in the main rooms; the fragments that remain in the saloon are rococo and incorporate animal figures and profile heads (Plate 77). The ceiling over the main staircase remains intact; it is in a severer geometrical style than that in the saloon, but the free-flowing arabesque enrichments in the compartments are again in the rococo fashion. Busts of Shakespeare and Newton (?) within roundels are incorporated, and stylised 'sea-god' masks appear in the spandrels (Plate 180). The Garforth House (66) of 1757 and 53/55 Micklegate (65) of c. 1755 also contain fine displays of enriched plaster ceilings (Plates 169, 180).

Examination of this group of mid 18th-century ceilings reveals no obvious common feature, such as the use of the same moulds. If it be assumed that this means that no single craftsman had a monopoly, then the same would demonstrate the ready availability of highly accomplished artist craftsmen at this period to accept commissions in York. The decline in the building of larger town houses in the city during the 1770s shows in the comparative dearth of plasterwork in the Adam style. One ceiling in Acomb House (142) is clearly influenced by Adam decoration in the general design, though none of the motifs, apart from the radial treatment of the centre circle, is found precisely in work known to have been designed by Robert Adam (Plate 77). (J.E.W.)

Staircases. Only two staircases dating from before 1650 have been found, and only one of these is in situ; for convenience they are included in the following account. Staircases dating from after 1800 are described elsewhere (p. ciii).

In the 'Back Part' behind 26–28 Micklegate (61), now No. 32, part of an early 17th-century staircase survives; it has an elaborately carved newel-post and turned symmetrical balusters. The pre-1650 stair at the Old Rectory, Tanner Row (122), was brought from elsewhere, and only the carved newel-posts and handrails are old.

There are about a dozen staircases of the later 17th-century type, but some do not appear to be in their original positions. Three are in 18th-century houses, where they are reused as balustrades in attics or upper flights. It is unlikely that any is earlier than c. 1650. The latest dated example is at Middlethorpe Hall, a stylistically advanced house built shortly before 1703, but it would seem probable that in more modest buildings the same type of staircase continued to be used during the earlier part of the 18th century. Characteristic features of the type are the balusters of heavy bulbous shape, closed strings and square newel-posts, usually with attached half-balusters. The stairs are generally arranged in short flights with quarter-landings about an open well. The earliest example, stylistically, is at 68 Micklegate (72) (Plates 82, 176; Fig. 17a), which is constructed of plain but massive timbers, the heavy string being especially notable. All the other examples show a later development in which the balusters are slightly more slender, and more complex in profile, as in the secondary stair at Middlethorpe Hall (163) (Plate 83; Fig. 17b) and at 48 Skeldergate (112) (Fig. 17c), just after 1700. In the later staircases of this type the newel-post does not rise above the level of the handrail of the ascending flight but has a moulded cap in continuation of the handrail. The thick string at 68 Micklegate (72) is exceptional; in all the other, later, examples the string is much thinner, but since a broad housing for the balusters was still necessary the string capping had to be wide and so projected outwards from the string, sufficiently far to have a deep moulding on the under side.

Two examples of a different type of late 17th-century stair are in 95 Micklegate (85) (Fig. 17d) and Middlethorpe Grange (162) (Plate 83). These have balusters of thin planks cut to the silhouette of turned shafts.

The turned balusters in all but the very earliest 18th-century staircases are very different from those of the late 17th century. The main feature takes the form of a classical column standing on a round or square 'knop' above a 'pedestal' of various contrasting shapes, the shapes being more irregular in the earlier examples; by the second half of the century the form had become more standardised and simpler. Again, these balusters are not as heavy as those of the late 17th century and do not normally exceed a maximum breadth of 2 in. as against 3 in. in the earlier period. Two staircases with this type of baluster are probably earlier than 1700. That in 114 Micklegate (94) (Plate 84), of oak, has extremely thin square knops, very similar to those at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, recorded to have been installed in 1675. The other is at 102 Micklegate (89). An early 18th-century example with a very thin knop was at 4–6 Micklegate (54) (Plate 161), now demolished.

The principal staircase at Middlethorpe Hall (163) (Plate 202) is very much grander than the others considered here. It dates from c. 1700 and is advanced in style, for the balusters have fluted shafts and carved enrichment to patterns which are not found in the city until a later period. It is the earliest stair without a closed string, though it still has, in the older manner, three flights about an open well with square newel-posts at the angles. The treads are designed in imitation of stone cantilevers: they have a considerable overlap to allow sloping bearers to be concealed within them. In York this form of 'falsecantilever' stair preceded the open-string stair.

There are very few staircases that can be placed with certainty within the period 1700–30. Nos. 3–9 Micklegate (55) and 86 Micklegate (80) (Plates 82, 84) were both built about 1720, and 10 North Street (101) (Fig. 17f) (recently demolished) was probably a little earlier. This last provided a good illustration of the early 18th-century treatment of the swept handrail. The staircase at 86 Micklegate (80) is the earliest in which the balustrade is without newel-posts and is curved at the corners. The balusters still have the square knop and complex shape below, but they show a tendency towards being a little less robust; there are three to each tread, two with fluted shafts and the third with two interlacing twisted stems, a form almost unique in York.

During the second quarter of the 18th century the open or cut string was introduced. The earliest surviving staircase with it is probably that in 122–126 Micklegate (96) (Plates 84, 87; Fig. 18m), probably of about 1740, though difficult to date accurately because it is an insertion into a 17th-century building. Rectangular cheek-pieces on the face of the string maintain an illusion of monolithic treads, but the overlap is now reduced to a minimum. The balusters of this staircase have a complex outline below the square knop, though the shafts are more slender and the details of caps and bases are more refined than those of the two stairs of c. 1720 discussed above. It also exemplifies the tendency in the middle of the century towards greater density in the spacing of the balusters; there are three to each tread, and the space between them is distinctly less than the width of the individual balusters. In this stair all the balusters have plinths of equal height, and the necessary adjustment in the total height of the balusters, due to the slope of the handrail, is made in the shaft. This treatment also occurs in the adjoining house, 118 Micklegate (95) (Plate 87), but in nearly all other staircases with open strings the plinths are graded in height to allow the turned parts of the balusters to be kept equal. This produces a more even line in a rising balustrade, which is particularly noticeable with closely set balusters.

From the period c. 1750–60 there are several staircases that can be considered to be among the finest in York. They represent the culmination of the early 18th-century development of the stair as one of the principal ornaments of the house; attention is focused mainly on balustrades of varied design with the use of twisted and fluted shafts, carved enrichment, etc. The opportunity for their creation was given by the erection at this time of several large town houses for county families. The principal ones are 88–90 Micklegate (81) (Plate 182), 54 Micklegate (66) (Plate 88), and 53–55 Micklegate (65) (Plate 171). To these may be added Bishophill House (38) (Plate 82), a smaller and slightly earlier building but with a good stair, and also 40 Blossom Street (47), demolished in 1965. Before this period perhaps only Middlethorpe Hall and 86 Micklegate have staircases which are comparable in their spaciousness and elaboration. These staircases rise only to the first floor, to which they provide an imposing approach. The secondary staircases in these houses are more modest but are nevertheless good and up-to-date examples of the kind usually found in middle-sized houses.

Nos. 88–90 Micklegate (Micklegate House) (81) (Fig. 180) has probably the best of this group of ornate staircases. There is more carved enrichment than on any other, and the three balusters on each step have plain, fluted and twisted shafts respectively. No. 54 Micklegate (Fig. 18p) is only a few years later in date than the foregoing, but the staircase has rather more elegance. This is due partly to the lack of the broad stepped plinth-blocks used in the other staircases in this group, but also the balusters are thinner and their mouldings are extremely delicate for work in pinewood. The treads are true cantilevers in timber, connected by short risers, which greatly contribute to the lightness of the stair. A later example of the cantilevered timber tread occurs at Holgate House (52) (c. 1775).

Of the 18th-century stairs examined in this area of York more than half have balusters which, as a result of increasing standardisation from c. 1740, by c. 1760 may be grouped into two types. Of the two, the one which has a column above the knop and a bulb-shaped feature below is the earlier, though none can be firmly dated before the example of 1747 at 32–36 Blossom Street (46); previous examples appear transitional, as in the upper flights of 134–136 Micklegate (98) (Plate 85) where the balustrade has rather sturdy shafts and square newel-posts with attached half-balusters, a pattern more common earlier in the century. At 113 Micklegate (93) (Plate 86; Fig. 18j) the shafts have deep 'capitals' which are typical of 1720–30, though it is not possible to conclude that this stair is so early.

Fig. 17. Staircase Balusters.

a. (72) No. 68 Micklegate, mid 17th century; b. (163) Middlethorpe Hall (servants'), c. 1700; c. (112) No. 48 Skeldergate, c. 1700–10; d. (85) No. 95 Micklegate, late 17th century; e. (54) Nos. 4, 6 Micklegate, early 18th century; f. (101) No. 10 North Street, early 18th century; g. (118) Plumbers' Arms, No. 61 Skeldergate, early 18th century; h. (80) Bathurst House, No. 86 Micklegate, early 18th century; i. (75) Nos. 73, 75 Micklegate, early 18th century.

The second type utilises the 'urn' motif below the knop. The earliest dated example in fully developed form is of 1757, in the secondary stair at 54 Micklegate (66) (Plate 88; Fig. 18p). During the last quarter of the century all balusters are much alike, the only differences are in the proportions and the multiplicity of small mouldings. Dated examples, differing but little, are of c. 1777 at 26 North Street (103), 1783 at 57–59 Micklegate (68) (Fig. 18q), and 1789 at 22–26 Blossom Street (45). Most of the staircases of this period have an open string with two balusters to each tread, and the cheek-pieces on the face of the string, previously rectangular, after 1760 are usually shaped. The use of the closed string is mostly restricted to staircases in small houses of cheaper quality or where the space is restricted and winders are necessary.

Fig. 18. Staircase Balusters.

j. (93) No. 113 Micklegate, c. 1740; k. (59) No. 17 Micklegate, 18th century, before 1750; l. (98) Nos. 134, 136 Micklegate, 1740; m. (96) Nos. 122, 126 Micklegate, c. 1738; n. (41) No. 19 Bishophill, early 18th century; o. (81) Micklegate House, Nos. 88, 90 Micklegate, 1752; p. (66) Garforth House, No. 54 Micklegate, c. 1750–7; q. (68) Nos. 57, 59 Micklegate, 1783; r. No. 6 South Parade, c. 1825–8; s. (112) No. 48 Skeldergate, c. 1820; t. (115) No. 53, Skeldergate, c. 1840.

The urn-type baluster with square knop is found occasionally in early 19th-century staircases, though with the very slender proportions typical of that period; nevertheless the general change to the Regency types of slender turned and square balusters occurs quite suddenly about, or just before, 1800.

One staircase of interest which does not fit into the general 18th-century sequence is in 83 Micklegate (78), a small house of early or mid 18th-century date. To economise space, the stair follows the much earlier practice of having all the treads housed into a single central newel-post which rises through three floors.


Three Micklegate Houses ascribed to John Carr

Three houses in Micklegate: Nos. 53/55 (65) (Plate 170); No. 54 (Garforth House) (66) (Plate 172), and Nos. 88, 90 (Micklegate House) (81) (Plate 177), are clearly by the same designer, who must also have been responsible for Peaseholme House and Nos. 39–45 Bootham across the river. The group can be closely dated to the years 1748–57 and probably to 1748–54. Among the distinctive features shared is a type of masonry quoin consisting of plain ashlar blocks in alternate sizes, the larger, square on plan, oversailing the smaller (Fig. 14). This treatment is very unusual, but significantly it occurs at Arncliffe Hall in the North Riding completed by 1754 to the designs of John Carr (APS, Dictionary of Architecture).

Both Micklegate House and Garforth House have long been credited to John Carr (G. Benson in Architectural Review, ii (1897), 111; J. W. Knowles, 'York Artists', MS. in York City Library). Carr had settled in York before October 1751, when he bought a property in Skeldergate, describing himself as 'mason' (YCA, E.93, 268), and he was working for the Garforth family at Askham Richard Hall about 1750, on the evidence of his own reminiscences (R. Davies in YAJ, iv (1876), 212a). It would be a reasonable assumption therefore that the family would again turn to him for the building of their York town house within the next few years. Carr later remodelled Wiganthorpe Hall for the same family (Colvin, 125).

The group of five buildings, associated by common stylistic features, do not display the sophisticated Palladianism of Carr's certain works of later date in York: No. 47 Bootham (1753–4); Fairfax House, Castlegate (1755–62); and Castlegate House (1759–63). A certain solidity of massing does, however, connect them with the design of his own house in Skeldergate, built in 1765–6 (Plates 56, 57), and with some of his other works. It is probable that they constitute an early period in his stylistic development belonging to the time when he was a master mason rather than an architect, and that in later life he avoided claiming them as his own. The list of Carr's York town houses in APS, Dictionary of Architecture, provided about 1850 by his successor in practice, J. B. Atkinson, is improbably short, leaving an otherwise inexplicable void in his career at the very period when he had begun to win distinguished clients. It is possible that Atkinson omitted houses of that early phase, knowingly or in ignorance, because Carr himself had regarded them as unworthy of his later reputation when he was a renowned architect and an accredited representative of the Palladian school.


Houses 1800–50

Until 1800 development outside the city walls was mainly confined to Bootham and Blossom Street. During the period of great expansion between 1800 and 1850, building necessarily beyond the restricted area enclosed by the walls resulted in the creation of comparatively extensive suburbs. At first, isolated houses for professional men built alongside the main roads created sparse ribbon development, which was soon followed by more intensive development comprising housing in specific areas for railway workers and speculative housing schemes and estates.

Little of the early 19th-century housing was of high quality but none was so poor as to deteriorate into slums. That in the Holgate Road area was of working-class type with rarely a servant in the house, so too was that in the Nunnery Lane area, but the houses in Blossom Street, Park Street, The Mount and Mount Vale were homes of the servant-keeping class (F. Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty, A Study of Town Life (1901), frontispiece map).

Sources for dating are plentiful. The newspapers, the York Courier and the Yorkshire Gazette, provide information chiefly in the form of advertisement of newly built houses for sale or to let. W. Hargrove's History of York mentions properties developed before 1818, the date of its publication, and Directories give a terminal date for the formation of streets and the occupation of houses in them. Interest in archaeology provides valuable dating evidence, for the digging of foundations preparatory to building often produced artefacts duly noted in the Proceedings of Societies, Museum catalogues or the newspapers. Property deeds and surviving parish rate books also provide information.

A good map of York published by E. Baines in 1822 is the earliest to show buildings in the modern manner, and the Ordnance Survey map published in 1852, but surveyed in 1850, is invaluable. It is to a scale of 1/1056 and covers the whole city in twenty-one sheets, being large enough to show seating inside churches and the shape of houses, and affords contemporary evidence of the houses existing at the terminal date of this Inventory.

The houses may be considered in the five groups described below.

(1) Large detached houses are few in number; two call for mention. An impressive town house Nos. 77, 79 The Mount (Plate 59) was built in 1831 on the corner of Park Street for Alderman Dunsley; the architect was Peter Atkinson (II). The building has been much altered in conversion to a hotel. Mill Mount House, now Mill Mount School (Plate 196) was erected in 1850 for Charles Heneage Elsey, Recorder of York, to the designs of J. B. & W. Atkinson.

(2) Villas, medium-sized detached houses for the upper middle class, usually with a symmetrical front, appear in some numbers after 1830. Mount Terrace House, similar to the villas but attached to the end of a terrace, was completed by 1827, and typical groups of villas were erected on The Mount and the Tadcaster Road between 1830 and 1835, and Holgate Villa, designed for a senior railway official, probably by G. T. Andrews, was up by 1846 (Directories).

(3) Groups of two or three houses designed to form one more or less symmetrical architectural composition occur all through the early 19th century. Nos. 100, 102, 104 The Mount, completed in 1808, make no attempt at symmetry in the placing of the doorways but the middle house is stuccoed and has rusticated quoins to mark it as the centre-piece of the group. Nos. 130, 132, 134 (c. 1830) presented a similar emphasis on the central house but the effect has been lost through drastic alterations to No. 134; the central house has first-floor windows recessed under segmental arches. Nos. 92, 94 The Mount (1821) form an almost symmetrical pair with the doorways placed together to form an impressive central focus. Nos. 39, 41 Micklegate built in 1835 by J. B. & W. Atkinson and Toft Green Chambers (c. 1845) are symmetrical pairs with doorways at the outer ends of the front, and Nos. 120, 122 Holgate Road (c. 1840) have the doorways in recessed side wings. One of the Micklegate pair became the Atkinsons' office.

(4) Rows of terrace houses on a common frontage and with a common roof line, were built from 1823 onwards, but each house is of individual design. Much of Holgate Road was developed in this way from 1823 and in the same year Mount Parade was projected; houses on Mount Parade were for sale in 1828 and Pigot's Directory for 1829 shows six of the houses occupied by gentry. The adjoining Mount Terrace was begun in 1827 and a house there was described as having 'two kitchens, a servants' hall, drawing room, two parlours, and four lodging rooms with attics'. The development was of superior middle-class type and the houses are of different designs with great variety of detail. Larger, rather featureless terrace houses followed in Park Place and Park Street, off Blossom Street, c. 1835, also separately designed. More successful were terrace houses built on The Mount after 1840.

(5) Terrace houses built to a uniform design form the largest part of the housing of the period. Such terraces had been built in York from mediaeval times and examples survive from the late 17th century at Precentor's Court and from c. 1745 in New Street and St. Saviourgate. These last were more imposing buildings than most of the early 19th-century terraces, of which the first was probably in St. Mary's Row, Bishophill, later called Victor Street, and was put up by Thomas Rayson in 1811 (E.96, f. 169, and Deeds); it has now been demolished. Some of the small terrace houses in Albion Street, off Skeldergate, were mentioned as 'lately built' in 1818. These were small houses erected as investment property for letting. A terrace of three larger houses, Nos. 78–84 Micklegate, was erected by Peter Atkinson junior in 1821. Numerous terrace developments followed; among the earlier ones the largest and most imposing was South Parade which was being built with finance provided by forty subscribers in 1825. Most of the houses were occupied by 1829 (Pigot's Directory) and a number of well-known people lived there, including W. J. Boddy, the artist. From 1846 terraces were being erected between Holgate Road and the railway to house railway staff of all grades. G. T. Andrews was probably the architect chiefly responsible, as he controlled railway building at the time.

On 8 September 1850 the Town Clerk was directed to issue a notice that plans of new buildings must be submitted to the local Board of Health and on 27 January 1851 the City Surveyor was instructed to file such plans (York City Library, Council Minutes IV). Houses being built in 1851 in the area covered by this volume and the persons who submitted the plans were: Cambridge Street, Mr. Mosley; Clementhorpe, seven houses, Mr. Nicholson; Holgate Lane, Mr. Moseley, Henry Todd; Holgate Road, J. C. Cooke; The Mount, Mr. Coleman; Mount Vale, Richard Snowdon, James Guy; Nunnery Lane, eight cottages, R. Bainbridge; Railway Street (then Hudson Street), J. Brown, Noah Ackroyd, two houses and warehouse, Mr. Varvill, Mr. Young, six houses, Mrs. Eskelby, two houses, John Brown; Rougier Street, ten cottages, Mr. Jackson, and Tanner Moat, two cottages, Edward Calvert.

Architects and Contractors

The firm of architects founded by John Carr continued to flourish after 1800. Peter Atkinson II (1776– 1842/3), son of John Carr's assistant Peter Atkinson I, designed Nos. 78, 82, 84 Micklegate in 1821 and Nos. 77, 79 The Mount in 1831/2, and his sons, John Bownas Atkinson (1807–74) and William Atkinson (1810/11–86), had a flourishing practice. In this area they designed Nos. 39, 41 Micklegate (1835), No. 17 Bridge Street (1837), a warehouse in North Street (1837/8), No. 2 Bridge Street (1842), four houses in Skeldergate (1843), Nos. 43, 45 and 47 Trinity Lane (1846), a warehouse on the Queen's Staith (1849), Mill Mount House (before 1850), and St. Paul's Vicarage (1850/1). (Mill Mount House is called Mill Field House in the architects' records.)

George Townsend Andrews (1804–55), as chief architect to the Railway, probably controlled the building of Cambridge Street, Mount Ephraim and Oxford Street, with the terraces in the vicinity, all c. 1846; and Holgate Villa, Holgate Road, had a staircase like one in the Railway Station by him. He definitely rebuilt St. Catherine's Hospital (1834/5) and 21 Blossom Street.

The most successful contractor was probably Thomas Rayson senior (1763/4–1836), who was witness to Peter (the elder) Atkinson's will (27 April 1805) and certainly worked with Peter's grandsons. He built some houses called St. Mary's Row, Bishophill (later Victor Street) in 1811, perhaps erected South Parade where he lived in No. 16 from 1828 to 1836, and certainly built No. 7 Park Street for himself in 1836.

Fig. 19 (opp.).

(1) Mill Mount, 1850.

(2) 100, 104 The Mount, 1807–8.

(3) 92, 94 The Mount, 1820–1.

(4) 84 Micklegate, 1821–2.

(5) 120 The Mount, 1842–3.

(6) 13 Clementhorpe, 1823.

(7) 136 The Mount, 1824.

(8) 116 The Mount, c. 1840.

(9) 147 Mount Vale, 1827.

(10) 9 Albion Street, 1815–20.

(11) 12 Cygnet Street, 1846.

(12) 6 Mount Terrace, c. 1827.

(13) 306 Tadcaster Road, 1833.

(14) 20 Mount Parade, 1834.

(15) 65 Acomb Road, c. 1828–9.

(16) 121 The Mount, 1833.

(17) 117 The Mount, 1833–4.

George Eshelby (c. 1788–1861), joiner and builder, put up 302 Tadcaster Road in 1833 and undoubtedly was the contractor for the other Mount Villas, 300, 304 and 306 Tadcaster Road.

The Plan

The types of house plans described below follow no historical sequence; different types were in use at the same time. Examples are illustrated in Fig. 19, p. xcv.

In a class by itself is Mill Mount House (now Mill Mount School) (Fig. 19:1) with the entrance placed diagonally across the re-entrant angle between two wings. Most of the smaller detached houses, or villas, are symmetrical and have a central entrance passage and staircase with rooms to front and back on each side:

(i) The passage leads to a wider stairhall at the back, as at Mount Terrace House (Fig. 19: 12) and 127 The Mount. At 306 Tadcaster Road the staircase is elliptical (Fig. 19: 13).

(ii) The entrance passage continues to form a stairhall of the same width, as at 20 Mount Parade (Fig. 19: 14).

(iii) The central entrance and staircase have only one room each side, as 65 Acomb Road (Fig. 19: 15). Service rooms are in a basement below.

(iv) The plan is asymmetrical, as 121 The Mount (in classical style) (Fig. 19: 16) and 117 The Mount (in Gothic style) (Fig. 19: 17).

The plans of houses in groups and terraces conform to a few regular types:

(i) A side passage leads to stairs on the same alignment at the rear and flanks two rooms arranged one behind the other (Fig. 19: 6). The passage may widen out to accommodate the staircase (Fig. 19: 4, 5), and there may be a basement.

(ii) Almost as common as (i) is the type with a staircase placed between the front and back rooms at right angles to the entrance passage (Fig. 19: 2, 3, 8). In this the entrance passage does not always continue to the back (Fig. 19: 9).

(iii) A scullery projects at the rear, opening off the stairhall (Fig. 19: 3, 5) or off the back room (Fig. 19: 2, 6). Other houses have a long range of service rooms forming a single-storey wing, as at 136–144 The Mount (Fig. 19: 7) where the wing consists of scullery, wash-house, closet and coal house. These houses are as early as 1824.

(iv) The smallest houses have no passage (Fig. 19: 10).

Variations of these types occur, one of which is shown in Fig. 19: 11, where stairs between the rooms lead down to a cellar.

The Use of Rooms. A description dated 1815 of a large mid 18th-century house is given under Monument (81) with two elegant drawing rooms on the first floor, but after 1800 the upstairs drawing room or saloon went out of fashion. A description of one of the villas on The Mount, built in 1833, is given in an advertisement of 20 June 1846 (Yorkshire Herald) and lists a dining room, drawing room, breakfast room, library and butler's pantry on the ground floor; three spacious lodging rooms, a dressing room, and a water closet with large bathroom on the first floor; and servants' rooms and attics above. The kitchens were probably in the basement.

A description dated 1850 of accommodation at 70, 72 Holgate Road, a medium-sized house which had been built a few years before, lists the following rooms: in the basement is a kitchen, back kitchen, larder and coal store; the ground floor has a dining room with a children's room behind it to the one side, and a drawing room with parlour behind it on the other side of an entrance hall; on the first floor are three bedrooms, a night nursery and some closets, and at the top are two good attics (YCL, YL/Gray).

Basements, which provided not only cellarage but also one or more rooms lit from outside, had been built in the mid 18th century (Monuments (81) and (66)) and basement kitchens became common in larger 19th-century houses, especially those built after 1830. In the smaller houses the kitchen remained on the ground floor with a larder, coal-house and W.C. in a single-storey wing at the back. Two-storey wings at the back were introduced after 1850.


The early 19th-century houses in the part of York covered by this volume are not very impressive. There is little use of stucco and there are few iron balconies and no ornate iron porches as, for example, at Cheltenham. The homely adaptation of the Classical style shows signs of change towards neo-Classicism after 1830, at a time when one or two Gothic villas and a 'cottage orné' (the Herdsman's Cottage at the entrance to the Knavesmire) were also being built.

In the larger detached houses it is evident (allowing for irregularity resulting from alteration and addition) that symmetry was not strictly followed, as at Mill Mount House where the two wings provide balance, though one is of two storeys above the basement and the other of three. Similar balance without exact symmetry is seen in the group of three houses Nos. 100, 102, 104 The Mount.

The elevations of terrace houses are regular, but the openings on the ground floor do not always align with those above. Most of the houses in Mount Parade (Plate 59) have doorway and window with two windows aligned above but houses in South Parade and on The Mount (Plates 58, 157, 159) depart from this regularity in order to keep the front door nearer to the side of the house than would be convenient for the window above. In the smaller Dove Street houses (Plate 58) this difficulty is overcome by the omission of the second upper window in each house.

Detached villas and 'double-fronted' houses are generally symmetrical with a central porch between two bay windows and with three hung-sash windows above. Two variations on this theme are shown on Plate 58 where No. 306 Tadcaster Road has the design of the porch echoed in the window surrounds and No. 119 The Mount is designed in Gothic style. No. 117 The Mount, also in Gothic style, studiously avoids symmetry for a 'picturesque' design.

Eaves cornices (Plate 79). At the beginning of the 19th century cornices follow the late 18th-century pattern, and the moulded and dentilled cornice of 100–104 The Mount (1807/8) could stylistically be twenty years earlier. Some of the later cornices make use of earlier forms: at 92, 94 The Mount (1821) and at 128, 130 The Mount of c. 1840 are moulded cornices on square modillions reminiscent of those of the early 18th century.

The most popular early 19th-century cornice, however, and that most characteristic of the period, consists of a fairly ornate gutter carried on paired brackets, as at 136–144 The Mount (1824); this type can be found all through the first half of the 19th century. An Italianate version of it occurs at 306 Tadcaster Road (1833), where a boldly oversailing roof is carried on shaped brackets arranged in pairs, and a similar treatment is found at 60 York Road, Acomb, and 124 Holgate Road.

Many cornices of c. 1830–5 have simple classical mouldings as at 77 The Mount (Abbey Park Hotel) but as early as 1835 a new type appeared at 39–41 Micklegate, probably by J. B. & W. Atkinson and for many years their own office; it has a gutter supported on shaped brackets with vertical incised lines on the outer face; another version of it is seen at 94–96 Micklegate (1842/3) and this particular type of cornice became characteristic of the decade 1860–70. At the beginning of the century the gutters were often still of wood lined with lead, and round lead fallpipes with opposed fleurs-de-lis on the astragals were in general use in York, usually associated with a simple fluted rainwater head, as at 102 The Mount (1807/8), but cast-iron gutters, heads and fallpipes soon became common.


Brick is the principle walling material, and common stock bricks of rather pale mottled appearance were generally used for façades as well as for less conspicuous work. Through the first two decades of the 19th century there is little change in colour and size from the bricks in use at the end of the 18th century. 'White' bricks appear in Mount Terrace House in 1827 and in three villas on The Mount (Nos. 117, 119, 127) after 1835 but it is unlikely that they were produced locally, and they never became popular in York, but the taxation of bricks by number, introduced at the end of the 18th century, led in the end to the manufacture of bricks of larger size, and these larger bricks continued in use for some time after the repeal of the tax in 1850.

Stucco, which was so popular in the early 19th century elsewhere, is little used here, but it occurs in 1807/8 on No. 102 The Mount, in 1833 on No. 121 and c. 1843 on Nos. 124 and 128 in the same street. For the ground floor only it is used with horizontal rustication at 39, 41 Micklegate (1835), and the entrance to Mill Mount is similarly treated. At 89 The Mount and Acomb Park stucco is used to unify building of different periods.

Stone was used for the whole façade of 122 The Mount (1848/9) (Plate 159) and elsewhere sparingly for dressings, as for the pilasters which flank the stucco front of 21 Front Street, Acomb (Plate 193). The lower part of an ashlar front which survives at 16 Tanner Row may be of the late 18th or the early 19th century.

Welsh slate was the general roof covering, and roofs were mostly of low pitch. Westmorland slate had replaced the traditional clay tile on Fairfax House, Castlegate, in 1755, and by the early years of the 19th century tiles had almost completely given way to slate.

A good description of the materials to be used in a better class house in 1850 is given in a lease of 7 March 1850 of the site for Mill Mount House and others. It rules that '... the several houses shall be built and finished in a good substantial manner, the Walls being of good sound Brick, the Whole of the Timber Deals and Battens of Baltic Red Wood, except the Inner Panels and Mouldings which may be of American Pine and the Roofs covered with the best Bangor Welsh Slate nailed with Copper Nails; the principal outer Walls in which are placed the Doors and Windows, are not to be less than fourteen inches in thickness with proper footings, and all Windows and openings to be revealed or recessed four and a half Inches; all flues to be fourteen inches by ten inches inside Measure, well lined with lime and hair; All principal inner walls on basement and ground floors to be nine inches in thickness, the Lead for Gutters to be seven pounds weight to the square foot, and for flashings five pounds weight; Deals eleven inches by two inches to be used for floors not exceeding sixteen feet in bearing, and Battens seven inches by two and a half inches for floors under ten feet bearing, the Joists not being more than twelve inches apart, and on bridged or bolted Wall-plates under joist ends; All trimming Joists to be half an inch thicker than common joists; The Main Roofs to be framed with tie beams, principal Rafters and King Posts and the Spars not to be more than twelve inches apart...'.


External doorways after 1800 have a horizontal moulded entablature at the top: the open pediment, so popular in the late 18th century, disappears. Up to 1820/30 doorways are tall and narrow and the detailing is Classical but used in a free manner. Pilasters are nearly always reeded, have no entasis, and are of the same width from top to bottom. A 'milled' enrichment of Adam type persists for a time and the Adamesque door with six flat panels and applied mouldings is common at the beginning of the century, but later the shapes vary and ultimately a four-panel door with raised mouldings supplants the long six-panel tradition.

Fig. 20. Fanlights and Window Heads.

(1) 136–142 (even) The Mount, 1824.

(2) 132 The Mount, c. 1830.

(3) (123) 16 Tanner Row, c. 1830–40.

(4) 100 The Mount, 1807–8; 6 Mount Terrace, 1834.

(5) 147–151 Mount Vale, 1823–8.

(6) 5–8 Dove Street, 1827–30.

(7) 7 Bishopgate Street, c. 1830.

(8) 13 Clementhorpe, 1823; 226, 228 Mount Vale, c. 1830–40; 74, 76 Holgate Road, c. 1845–50; 43 Tanner Row, c. 1845–50.

(9) 25, 26 Dove Street, 1827–30.

(10) (157) 34 Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses, c. 1830; 26, 28–34 Holgate Road, c. 1845–50; 28, 30 Cambridge Street, 1846.

(11) 1–16 Rougier Street, 1842–3.

(12) 92, 94, 96 The Mount, 1821; 71 Acomb Road, 1828–9; 19 Mount Parade, 1830; 10 Mount Ephraim, 1846–51.

(13) South Parade, 1825–9; 14, 16, 31, 32 Dove Street, 1827–30; 17, 19, 21 Mount Ephraim, 1846–51

(14) 6 Bishopgate Street, c. 1830; 126 Holgate Road, with lamp, 1835–40.

(15) 6 Mount Terrace, front door, 1834; 45 Holgate Road, c. 1845–50. 306 Tadcaster Road similar but larger, 1833.

(16) 147–151 Mount Vale, 1823–8; (157) 34 Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses (some of 9 and 10 voussoirs), c. 1830.

(17) 74–86 (even) Holgate Road, c. 1845–50. 147–151 Mount Vale similar but with segmental top and key-block projecting, 1823–8.

(18) 21–26 Dove Street, 1827–30; 70, 70a, 72 Holgate Road, 1846–7; 28–34 Holgate Road, 1845–50. 66 Holgate Road similar but with key-block projecting above top, 1845–50.

(19) 10, 12 Holgate Road, c. 1840.

(20) 65 Acomb Road, 1828–9; 63, 65 Holgate Road, c. 1830. 147–151 Mount Vale similar but with upper side segmental and key-block projecting upwards, 1823–8.

(21) 43, 44 Dove Street, 1827–30; 19 Mount Parade, c. 1830.

(22) South Parade, 1824–8.

(23) 39 Blossom Street, 1828; 77, 79 The Mount, annexe, c. 1835–40.

A good example of a doorway of the beginning of the period is at 100 The Mount (1807/8) (Plate 65); it has a radial fanlight of 18th-century type set between slender foliated consoles with lions' masks at the top and slender reeded pilasters below. The six panels of the door have applied mouldings. A doorway at 84 Micklegate (1821) (Plate 65) by Peter Atkinson has no consoles and bold reeded pilasters support the entablature directly; the door has six fielded panels. The doorways of 136–144 The Mount (1824) (Plate 64) are of the same type, but in each frieze is an oblong panel with the corners set in. There is a similar doorway at Clementhorpe (1823/40). Doorways at South Parade (1824/8) and at 34 Tadcaster Road are of the same sort, but have oblong fanlights with diagonal glazing bars producing a fret, which are like similar features in contemporary corner cupboards and library fittings and which became a standard design of the decade 1830–40. (For fanlights of this form see Fig. 20.)

Fig. 21. Entrance Doorways.

a–e. Dove Street, 1827–30; f. Mount Ephraim, 1846–51.

The coupled doorways of 92, 94 The Mount show a tendency towards broader openings and a more conventional use of Classical detail. The columns are fluted, have correct entasis and support a moulded and modillioned entablature with triglyphs on the frieze, but the enrichment on the cornice is unorthodox. The doors have six fielded panels and there is an oblong fanlight with diagonal glazing bars. Doorways in Newington Place, 147–151 Mount Vale (1823–8), also have fluted columns supporting entablatures with a triglyph above each column, modillioned cornices and radial fanlights. Similar doorways are found at Cumberland House, 20 Mount Parade (after 1834), where the frieze is fluted, and at the back of Mount Terrace House (by 1827), where the frieze has triglyphs and the fanlight is of the 18th-century form already noticed at 100 The Mount. Often the whole surround is recessed, as in a series by the Bar Convent.

Some doorways have an individuality which excludes them from the ordinary categories. Each of those of c. 1830 at 130–132 The Mount (Plate 65) has a moulded entablature with square modillions which is supported by attached columns with strong spiral reeding and with well carved Composite capitals and Attic bases. Above the door is a radial fanlight and the door has four panels with projecting moulding, a type which became common after 1850. The only doorway which shows strong Soane influence is at 16 Tanner Row (c. 1830); it has very slender reeded pilasters with lions' masks at the top and a door recessed between two glazed lights; it has the linear decoration and flush panels associated with Soane, and the fanlight is segmental with radial glazing bars.

From c. 1835 many doorways had plain panelled pilasters and a simple entablature, sometimes with modillions as at 39, 41 Micklegate (1835) by J. B. & W. Atkinson, in Cygnet Street (1846/51), 28 and 30 Cambridge Street (1846) and 89 The Mount. Towards 1850 doorways commonly retain the plain pilasters but the projecting entablature is supported by coarse brackets or consoles. Early examples are at 120 and 126 The Mount (1842/3 and c. 1840); there are others at 8–10 Cambridge Street (1846) and Bishopgate Street, where the houses were being erected just before and after 1850.

Porches with freestanding columns are rare. One at 306 Tadcaster Road (1833) (Plate 64) has good Roman-Doric columns and an elaborate entablature with small guttae at the bottom of the plain frieze. Over the doorway is a fanlight with marginal panes and the door is of false two-leaf type with six panels. A porch to Mount Terrace House (by 1827) has Ionic columns and a similar fanlight. The Elephant and Castle Inn in Skeldergate (c. 1840/50) had plain columns supporting an entablature with modillions. Other porches have solid side walls; a type embodying pairs of plain pilasters on either side and a plain entablature is seen at 121 The Mount (first rated 1834/5) and 127 The Mount (first rated 1839/40).

Two recessed porches with Doric pillars in antis are found at 123 The Mount (1833) and at 77, 79 The Mount (1831/2) (Plate 59).

Internal doorways are usually surrounded by simple mouldings butted against square blocks at the angles (Plate 68). An early doorway of this type at 53 Micklegate (Plate 68) has guilloche decoration on jambs and lintel and lions' masks on roundels at the angles; the decorations are by the composition manufacturer and carver Thomas Wolstenholme (1759–1812). In general, however, the jambs and lintel are simply moulded and the angle piece has a round moulded patera as at 84 Micklegate (1821) by Peter Atkinson (II). A more ornate version of the same theme in which the moulding is more complicated and the paterae foliated is at 302 Tadcaster Road (1833), and there is a similar doorway used externally at 98 The Mount.

An original drawing by J. B. & W. Atkinson of 77, 79 The Mount dated 1831 shows some doorways with mitred architraves and others flanked by plain pilasters with brackets under a plain entablature decorated with five paterae.


From 1800 to 1850 hung-sash windows were in general use. The openings had flat arches but there was a tendency towards the end of the period to make the under side of the arch slightly segmental. Flat arches in ordinary common brick were built from the late 18th century onwards and common bricks were used for window arches all through this period in cheaper building and in subsidiary situations. For better quality work arches of special rubbed brick were used till about 1830; from 1820 natural and artificial stone lintels were introduced, grooved to simulate the voussoirs of an arch. Where rubbed bricks were used they were the full depth of the arch but incised to give the impression of jointing. There is effective contrast between rich red rubbed brick arches and pale buff walling at 130, 132 The Mount (c. 1830) and elsewhere (Plate 60). Artificial stone lintels often have the centre emphasised by an enriched 'key-stone'. Window heads of natural stone occur at 147–151 Mount Vale (1823–8) (Plate 59, Fig. 20), and of artificial stone at South Parade (1824–8) (Plate 157, Fig. 20) and in many other later houses, particularly in the area of Holgate Road and Mount Parade. A few houses including 122, 124, 128 The Mount and two villas in Park Street, have moulded stone architraves in the style of the first half of the 18th century.

Round-headed windows were used for lighting staircases but only occasionally for rooms, as at 122, 124 and 128 The Mount, all of c. 1830–40.

Tripartite sashed windows with narrow lights flanking the main light, commonly used by James Wyatt in the late 18th century (see A. Dale, James Wyatt (1956), where they are dubbed 'the Wyatt window') appear in York only rarely and after 1800 as at 17 Micklegate, 19 Park Street, and 89 The Mount. A variation with a Gothic flavour, from 130 The Mount, is illustrated in Plate 91.

The horizontally-sliding sash window, which is used extensively in the country around York in the early 19th century, is uncommon in the City. There are some in Acomb, which was a separate village at this time; there is an example in the town in the back kitchen of 100 The Mount, added in 1808/13.

Bay windows are used from 1800 to 1850. Two polygonal bay windows with rubbed-brick heads at Nunroyd, 109 The Mount, are of late 18th-century date but were not copied. At the beginning of the 19th century shallow bays, segmental in plan and framed in wood, were fashionable, nearly always with a curved version of the tripartite sash window with narrow side lights. None of this type in the area covered by this volume is of proven late 18th-century date, although there are some of 1797 across the river at 3–5 Gillygate, built by Thomas Wolstenholme. Good examples at 100, 102 The Mount (1807/8) (Plate 59) have all the frame members reeded, a slender leaf enrichment above each jamb and mullion, picking up a similar detail in the doorways, and moulded cornices. Others at 92 and 94 The Mount (1821) are much plainer; further examples occur at 136–144 The Mount (1824) (Plate 58), at South Parade (1825/8) (Plate 157) and at 34 Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses.

About 1830 the segmental bay fell into disfavour and a three-sided bay with canted sides and angles built up in timber or artificial stone supplanted it. Perhaps the earliest examples are at Mount Terrace House (1827); those at 127 The Mount (1833) are certainly original.

The introduction to England in 1832 of a new process for sheet glass and improvements in the technique of making plate glass made possible the use of larger window panes, free of the distortions to which crown glass had been subject. The increase in size of pane is noticeable from 1833, and the large plate-glass panes at 306 Tadcaster Road may be original (also 1833). Generally large panes were not at first used to fill a whole sash but they were surrounded by a border of narrow marginal panes which combined the advantages of an uninterrupted outlook with the texture given by glazing bars. All the fenestration of 46 St. Paul's Square is treated in this way and in particular the three-sided bay (Plate 91) is a fine example of both bay and glazing; there is a similar one at 117 The Mount. 46 Holgate Road and 54–60 Holgate Road also have marginal panes. 7 Park Street, erected by the builder Thomas Rayson for himself in 1836, has such a good display of such windows to the garden front as to suggest that he built 46 St. Paul's Square also.

When used in stair lights the marginal panes were often made of white glass flashed with ruby, blue or green, and then cut with patterns through to the white. An exceptional French window at 302 Tadcaster Road (1833) (Plate 91) has marginal panes combined with a Gothic treatment of the upper glazing bars.

Most of the windows were fitted with shutters; where they were external they have mostly been removed but they still remain at 120, 125 and 127 The Mount (1833); internal shutters, such as some decorated with Soanesque grooves at 86 Micklegate, were also still in use.


Early 19th-century staircases (Plate 89) were not so elaborate as those of the previous century but often still formed architectural features of some importance. They usually had cut strings with decoration applied at the end of each step. Handrails were slender and at first moulded like those of the late 18th century but later were reduced to a simple round section. Newels were commonly omitted. The commonest form of baluster had a simple square section, at first very slender but later more robust; often they were of wood with iron ones introduced at intervals for strength and rigidity. Examples are found at 74, 78–84 Micklegate and 94, 100–104, 136–144 The Mount. Turned balusters similar to those of the late 18th century continued till 1850 but are usually more spindly (Mount Terrace House, and Acomb Park). Others show large numbers of small roll mouldings, sometimes with a small leaf-like decoration. Staircases at 89 and 92 The Mount retain many 18th-century features; typical of the 19th century are those at 127 The Mount (after 1833), 302 The Mount and 304 Tadcaster Road.

Iron balusters, very rare in York before 1800, were sometimes used. A simple form with decoration consisting of a hollow-sided diamond at 125 The Mount and 306 Tadcaster Road, both of c. 1830–40, are very like balusters elsewhere by Peter Atkinson. Less elegant balusters, round in section with a roundel at the middle, were designed by G. T. Andrews; an example from the Old Railway Station is illustrated. On plan staircases were generally rectangular but those at 306 Tadcaster Road (1833) and at 126 The Mount were elliptical or semicircular (Fig. 19: 13).


In the illustrations on Plate 76 fireplace surrounds are shown with contemporary grates. No. 8 Front Street, Acomb (c. 1800), shows a continuing use of late 18th-century Adamesque elements in the urns and the central panel with figures, but the reeding of the sides and head is characteristic of much work of the first half of the 19th century. The inner marble slip and the surround of the iron grate itself also show the use of roundels at the angles, similar to those used on door and window architraves, which are also characteristic of the period. A surround at 100 The Mount (1807/8) with fluted pilasters and festoons on the head is rather closer to the Adam style. Elsewhere Adamesque elements are used in an inconsequent manner before being abandoned altogether. The fireplace illustrated from 92, 94 The Mount shows a very simple surround with the basic elements of side and head cut to a symmetrical moulding and not mitred at the corners but butted against an angle piece. The motif is repeated in the ironwork of the grate. At 136–144 The Mount simple reeding is used and again it is stopped at the angles. At 127 The Mount (after 1833) a Victorian type is shown with very plain side pilasters and head and florid foliated ironwork to the grate. In the latest fireplace before 1850 the mantelshelf was carried on coarse console brackets, and the grate often had a semicircular-headed opening.

The iron grates were all fixtures unlike the free-standing fire-baskets of the 18th century. Large numbers of them were made by Messrs. Carron of Falkirk. Of those illustrated, that from 94 The Mount is signed Carron, that from 138 The Mount is signed Low Moor Company, Bradford (Plate 76).

Other Interior Details

Walls and Ceilings were generally quite plain. Of the panelled wall treatment of the 18th century only the chair rail remains in the entrance hall. Ceilings were only decorated with foliated centre-pieces from which light fittings were suspended. These centre-pieces, often made of cast-iron and very florid in design, were particularly associated with gas lighting, introduced to York in 1824, but were being put up before gas came into use. Ceilings in Gothic style with simple barrel and ribbed vaults appear in 117 and 119 The Mount and groined vaults in 121.

Cornices used in the first half of the 19th century to effect the transition from wall to ceiling mostly show a complete departure from the Classical models used in the 18th century and consist of a series of mouldings, often incorporating reeding, in the plane of the wall and in the plane of the ceiling only. Where Classical forms are followed the mouldings are softened and the clear-cut vertical face of the fascia in a Classical cornice never appears.

Recesses flanking chimney-breasts were commonly finished with segmental or semicircular arched heads.


Balconies are little used in comparison with many other towns and show the same designs that are to be found in other areas (Plate 80). Railings are simple and sometimes associated with heavy cast-iron gate piers enriched with honeysuckle ornament (Plate 80). Bootscrapers were commonly provided. At the Bar Convent, railings and bootscraper were made by William Haxby in 1815 and, together with an iron gate and stonework, cost £54 (Bar Convent Archives, 7 B3(10)). Trellis-work for porches only appears at 151 Mount Vale.

Lighting and Plumbing

Progress in domestic services is exemplified by the fitting at the Bar Convent of gas pipes in 1834/5 and water closets in 1844; these last had zinc and copper tubes, ball cocks and waste pipes and were fitted by William and Thomas Hodgson (Bar Convent Archives, 7 B 12(15)).



Among the many houses built in the S.W. part of the City after 1850 one is of outstanding importance as being illustrative of contemporary culture. Elm Bank, a large house on the N.W. side of The Mount, occupied from 1870 by William Benson Richardson, a solicitor, was acquired by Sidney Leetham, miller, who in 1898 employed Messrs. W. G. and A. J. Penty as architects and George Walton (1867–1933) as interior decorator to remodel the interior. Walton was a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement and Elm Bank was one of his earliest works outside his native Glasgow.

The house, built of white brick with stone dressings, with an Italianate tower at one corner, has been converted to a hotel and considerably enlarged. Inside, the staircase is contained in a large hall with a gallery giving access to the first-floor rooms. In this stairhall and in the principal rooms on the ground floor much of Walton's decoration still remains, including fireplaces and an overmantel inlaid with glass and ceramics, stained glass, and wall paintings (these last restored) (Plates 205, 206).

For early photographs of the Elm Bank interiors see The Studio XXII (1901), 36. For George Walton see N. Pevsner in the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal XLVI 3rd Ser. No. 11, 3 Apr. 1939, 537–48. See also John Betjeman in Daily Telegraph Magazine, 7 May 1965, and Patrick Nuttgens, York (1971), 74.

Walton was a contemporary of James Rennie Mackintosh, who also worked in Glasgow, and who was a pioneer of modern architecture. The influence of Mackintosh's work can be seen in two schools designed by W. H. Brierley, at Scarcroft Road (1896) and Poppleton Road (1904). The functionalism of these two red brick buildings contrasts with the florid eclecticism of the railway offices adjoining the old station, designed by H. Field and W. Bell in the 'Queen Anne' style of Norman Shaw, and completed in 1906.


Map 1 showing areas covered by Maps 2–5 and position of outlying Monuments.

Map 2. Monuments in the Micklegate area.

Map 3. Monuments in the area of Nunnery Lane and Skeldergate.

Map 4. Monuments in the area of Blossom Street and The Mount.

Map 5. Monuments in Acomb Village.

Fig. 22.

Fig. 23. Drawings of houses from John Cossins's Map of York, c. 1727.


  • 1. A statement that other stone houses stood near the church of St. Gregory in 1230 (G. Benson, Notes on the Church & Parish of St. Martin-cum-Gregory, pt. I (1901), 17) rests on a misreading by Dodsworth of an entry in the Healaugh Park Chartulary (YASRS, xcii, 155–6).
  • 2. Discussed as 'tension-braced' framing by Wood, 222–4.
  • 3. In the above-mentioned article, Solloway identified the house as belonging to the Nelson Chantry in the Priory Church. On this basis he dated the building to 1474–80.
  • 4. The same pattern of development can be seen in No. 111(C) Micklegate (87).
  • 5. Reproduced in CIBA Review 62 (1947), 2288.
  • 6. Mostly in volumes of the Surtees Society; cf. Med. Arch., VI–VII (1962–3), 207, n. 10.
  • 7. These two methods of strengthening appear to correspond with Rigold's 'arch-braced' and 'tension-braced' framing (Wood, 222–4).
  • 8. I.e. the tenon does not run through to the face; the stopped tenon is the only form found in this area.
  • 9. This is a form of wind-bracing in which the braces run in an oblique plane opposed to the slope of the roof whose purlin they abut.
  • 10. See R. A. Cordingley, 'British Historical Roof-types and their members: a Classification' in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, N.S., ix (1961), 113.
  • 11. A fourth example in the same area existed at Mountsorrel on the site of No. 1 St. Martin's Lane; fragments are preserved in the Yorkshire Museum, Basement, Case 4, nos. 1 and 9 (from 'house of the Metham family').
  • 12. Finally demolished 1970.