Sectional Preface: Secular Architecture

Pages lviii-xcviii

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 5, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1981.

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Secular Architecture

Guild Halls

There are four buildings in this category. The Guildhall (36), behind the Mansion House, was built in c. 1449–59 jointly by the city and the Guild of St. Christopher and St. George. The Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37) in Fossgate, built in 1357–61, and the Merchant Taylors' Hall (38) in Aldwark, of c. 1400, were both erected for organisations with certain constitutional similarities, being founded initially, in name at least, as religious guilds but transformed in the 15th century into Merchants' Companies. In both cases provision was also made for a hospital. St. Anthony's Hall (39), in Peasholme Green, was built in the mid 15th century for the more specific purposes of a religious guild, and also included a hospital.

The Guildhall is a large aisled hall, built of stone though with timber arcades, and attached to it is a chamber at the E. end. The building was badly damaged in an air raid in 1942 and later expertly reconstructed. The Merchant Adventurers' Hall and St. Anthony's Hall are two-storeyed, each with a hospital below and a large hall above. In both these buildings the first-floor hall was built as a timber-framed structure on top of a ground storey with stone or brick walls, though at St. Anthony's the framing of the external walls was rebuilt in brick in the 17th century. At the Merchant Adventurers' Hall the hall comprises two parallel ranges of equal size open to one another. The hall of St. Anthony's has a nave-and-aisles arrangement. The Merchant Taylors' Hall is a more conventional unaisled open hall, the largest one in the city; built entirely as a timber-framed structure except for a stone retaining wall against the city bank, it was much rebuilt in brick in the 18th century.

Mediaeval Stone Houses

Fragmentary remains of two 12th-century houses survive in the central area. One of these, the Norman House (469) (Plate 89) behind Nos. 48, 50 Stonegate, comprised a first-floor hall with a timber floor above an undercroft. One window remains in situ in a good state of preservation and has details on which the house can be confidently dated to the late 12th century, and therefore to the same period as the well-known Lincoln examples of the Jew's House and Aaron the Jew's House. Unlike these two Lincoln houses, the York one does not stand on the street frontage but is set back about 47 ft. and so probably represents a secondary stage in the development of the site. The builder of the house is not known but it has been Minster property since at least the 14th century. The other 12th-century house occupied a site at Gray's Court in the Minster Close; one original outer wall survives now incorporated within the later building. The house was two-storeyed and had small round-headed windows (Plate 183) and a carved corbel-table, but the original form is even more obscure than that of the Stonegate house.

Apart from one possible wholly stone-built 15th-century house at No. 10 Precentor's Court (378), the few examples of the use of stone in lesser houses are confined to ground storeys of buildings otherwise timber-framed. The best known is No. 6 Newgate (289), illustrated in J. H. Parker's Concise Glossary of Architecture (p. 274); it was built in the 14th century and the timber-framed parts were removed in the 19th century leaving mutilated stone walls containing one original window. Another notable example, now lost, in Cumberland Street (formerly Middle Water Lane), was drawn in 1778 (Plate 3) and the stone ground storey survived long enough to be photographed in the late 19th century (YAYAS, Report 1950–1). A 16th-century wing at the rear of No. 10 High Petergate (321) and the early 17th-century King's Head p.h. (247) on the King's Staith both have stone ground storeys.

Timber-Framed Houses

Before the 18th century the central area must have contained almost entirely timber-framed houses. They survive in greatest numbers in Petergate, Stonegate, Goodramgate and the Shambles. There are a few left in Coney Street, which has been developed as one of York's principal shopping streets, but many in Jubber-gate and Pavement were lost in the creation of Parliament Street and Piccadilly. The rebuilding and widening of Ouse Bridge in 1810–20 resulted in the wholesale demolition of those in Low Ousegate illustrated picturesquely by Cave, and street widenings in Spurriergate, Davygate and Blake Street must have had a similar effect. Few timber buildings survive in Walmgate even though the whole length of the street was shown by Speed in 1610 to be built up.

The earliest timber-framed houses in the city are two-storeyed and built along the street frontages. Predominant among these are several ranges, sometimes of considerable length, built on churchyards to provide rents to endow chantries. Lady Row, Nos. 60–72 Goodramgate (222), was built in 1316 and was originally twelve bays long though now partly rebuilt; Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291), built on St. Sampson's churchyard in 1337, is a less complete survival than Lady Row but was originally at least eight bays long. No. 11 Coney Street (139), by St. Martin's, was built in 1335, and its last remaining fragments were recorded before demolition in 1958; it was eight bays long and is of particular interest because of the survival of the original building contract (Salzman, 430–2) in which the houses are specifically referred to as domos rentales. A range was built in Spurriergate in 1337 on St. Michael's churchyard (Raine, 157) and may have survived until the street widening of 1841; other ranges were built by All Saints, Pavement, in 1336 (Raine, 181) and St. Peter-in-the-Willows in 1396 (CPR, 1391–6, 692). These ranges seem to have consisted mostly of small tenements, each occupying a single bay and therefore having no more than one room about 10 ft. by 18 ft. on each floor; at Lady Row one house must have been of double width as there are two bays not divided by a partition, and there must have been a similar arrangement at No. 11 Coney Street as the contract specifies only seven houses. In the Newgate range the upper floor is jettied to both front and back, but this is virtually unique in the city in ranges parallel to streets; the only other instance known is an adjacent late 16th-century three-storey building in Patrick Pool (307). In all other examples, both two and three-storeyed, only the front is jettied, the back wall rising sheer from the ground to the wall-plate. Two-storey ranges of this type, but generally of shorter length than those mentioned above, continued to be built along street frontages until the 16th century. There are 15th-century examples in the principal streets, such as two adjacent in Stonegate, Nos. 17, 19 (478) (Plate 121) and Nos. 21, 25 (479), but by the 16th century they appear to have been confined to lesser or more peripheral streets, e.g. in Peter Lane (318) and Ogleforth (299). They also occur as secondary developments well back from frontages at No. 40 Stonegate (465) and behind Nos. 75, 77 Low Petergate (363) and in both these buildings there are no jetties.

The earliest three-storey range along a street frontage is at Nos. 54–60 Stonegate (471); the original building, though later much altered and partly rebuilt, was seven bays long and had structural details very similar to Lady Row, thus suggesting an early 14th-century date. As with the two-storey ranges, the bays seem generally to have been divided from each other by partitions but because of the very altered condition of this building it is impossible to be certain whether each bay formed a separate tenement.

Apart from Nos. 54–60 Stonegate, no three-storey framed building earlier than the 15th century now survives, but thereafter they became very common in the main streets of the city. Two good adjacent 15th-century examples are in Goodramgate, Nos. 41–45 (193) and 47, 49 (194) (Plates 122, 123); in both these houses some rooms occupied two bays, but it is not now possible to determine the precise planning or exact number of individual tenements. Also in both houses there was a through-passage on the ground floor leading to a yard at the rear. Other examples of this feature exist in York; in some, such as at Nos. 41–45, the passage was partitioned off from the adjoining rooms but there are others, at Nos. 12 (424) and 35, 36 Shambles (436), where the passage is not clearly defined but suggested by opposed doors in the front and back walls. Ranges of the type aligned along the street frontage continued to be built through the 16th century and into the 17th. The latest examples are often quite short, such as Nos. 12, 14 Stonegate (456) of only two bays.

Only about half of the multi-storey framed houses in York are of the type described above, built parallel to the street. Equally common are those placed at right angles to the street and thus presenting narrow, gabled front elevations. They do not seem to occur earlier than the 15th century but in the later part of the timber-framed period they were more common than those ranged along the street, probably because the sites were used in greater depth. These houses are most often three bays deep, extending 30 to 40 ft. back from the street, though sometimes of only two bays and occasionally of four. The upper floors are always jettied on the front elevation and a very few also at the rear. That such houses were intended to employ the maximum available space is also suggested by the fact that they are usually of three storeys. Where a wider frontage was available, two houses joined together were built presenting twin gables towards the street, as at Nos. 37, 38 Shambles (437) (Plate 124). Very occasionally three such houses were built at the same time; Nos. 16–22 Coney Street (130) (Plate 119) form a good example, in which each house appears to have had only a large single room on each floor, three bays deep. Many houses must have had shops on the ground floor. No original mediaeval shop fronts survive, but in some buildings their former existence can be inferred from wider spacing of studs in the front wall, indicated by mortices and peg-holes in the jetty-plate. Stalls in front of the shop windows which survive in the Shambles are probably of much later date.

In the central area fifteen buildings have been noted which originally contained open halls or rooms of similar character, and there are two or three more possible ones in a fragmentary state. It is not certain that they were all domestic halls, and one of the more doubtful is an irregularly-shaped three-bay range at No. 45 Goodramgate (193) (Plate 128) which is of plain construction and may have had a commercial use. They are mostly of two bays and occupy diverse positions in relation both to the street pattern and to other buildings with which they are connected. The earliest of the ground-floor halls, at No. 45 Walmgate (530) and now demolished, was probably of the second quarter of the 14th century. It was aligned along the street frontage and appears to have been open on the lower storey to a cross-wing at the S.E. end. A similar arrangement obtained at No. 111 Walmgate (537) built in the early 15th century though with a shorter hall, of only one bay, and in this respect it is comparable with No. 31 North Street (York III, (104) 98). In these examples the hall is placed directly on the street frontage, but usually it is further back, behind a multi-storey range fronting the street. At Nos. 12, 14 Stonegate (456) there are remains of a possible 14th-century hall placed end-on behind a 17th-century three-storey range. In the Shambles at Nos. 10, 11 (423) and 32 (434) are two better examples, of 15th-century date, placed in a similar position, and there must have been a quite impressive one at Nos. 48, 50 Stonegate (468) filling in the space between a front range and the Norman House, but this has been virtually rebuilt leaving only part of one post visible, with a substantial arch-brace attached to it. At No. 5 Colliergate (109) there was a small hall forming the central bay of a range running back from the street. At No. 51 Goodramgate (194) (Plate 123) is a complete though heavily restored example of a 'Wealden' house with the characteristic oversailing wall-plate in front of the hall, a type which has been noted elsewhere in York (York III, (120) 106). The Goodramgate house, with the open hall flanked by two-storey bays, is complete in itself though placed immediately behind and end-on to a three-storey range fronting the street, of very similar date and with which it appears to have been associated. The position of the screens passage can be located within the service end and, as in some other houses in the city, the hall was open on the ground floor to the upper end bay.

Some halls were placed further back on their sites. The hall at Nos. 44, 46 Stonegate (467) was 30 ft. behind the range on the street frontage and whether the two were physically connected at all cannot now be determined. At No. 2 Coffee Yard (485) there is a hall placed so far back from the Stonegate frontage, over 100 ft., that the complex of buildings with which it is associated must have been separate from those fronting the street.

Four first-floor halls have been recorded, all attributed to the late 14th or 15th century. At the former Fox Inn, No. 66 Low Petergate (346), now demolished, the hall formed part of a large building aligned gable-end to the street. The Red Lion p.h. (519) should be considered in relation to Walmgate and not to Merchantgate which is a modern creation; the hall, now very fragmentary, lies parallel to Walmgate about 50 ft. back across a yard. Both the buildings mentioned above had been inns for a considerable time and may always have been so, which may be of significance in relation to their form. The first-floor halls of Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151) and Nos. 35, 36 Shambles (436) occupy similar positions in the rear part of buildings which are two ranges in depth, both parallel to the street. In both houses the halls are of two very unequal bays and have roof trusses of similar heavy scantlings. In the Shambles house the front range, between the hall and the street, is of secondary date though perhaps replacing a yet earlier building; at Coppergate both front and back ranges appear to be contemporary.

In all the mediaeval buildings the top storey was open to the roof and in nearly every one an attic floor was later inserted to make a usable 10ft. The exact date of the introduction of attics as integral parts of new buildings cannot be exactly determined but it appears to have been in the later 16th century, and by the 17th century the practice had become established, as at Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311) and the King's Arms p.h. (247). It had an effect on roof construction, described later, and also led sometimes to the introduction of jettied gables, as in those which survive at the rear of Nos. 53, 54 Fossgate (177).

In addition to the insertion of attic floors, most timber-framed buildings were altered to some extent during the succeeding centuries. The external appearance was usually modified by a plaster rendering over the whole surface, covering the previously exposed timbers, and by the replacement of original windows by 18th-century sashes. The front walls of some houses were completely rebuilt in brick in the 18th century and, since it was usually impossible to encroach on the street, the jettied upper floors were cut back. One exception to this practice was at the George Inn, Coney Street (142), demolished in the 19th century; here, when the timber-framed front wall was rebuilt in brick in 1716, only the second floor was cut back and the new brick upper wall was supported by columns which the landlord was allowed to erect in the street in front of the ground-floor wall.

Later additions were generally made at the rear of buildings, sometimes in more than one phase, and in very few framed buildings is the original back elevation now exposed. Some of these rear additions were made at a sufficiently early date still to be built in framing, such as Nos. 56–60 Low Petergate (343), but more often they are in brick of 17th or 18th-century date. They often contain kitchens on the ground floor. In a few instances timber-framed buildings were heightened with further framing. One good example of this is Nos. 17, 19 Stonegate (478) where a two-storey 15th-century range had a third storey added in the late 16th century, changing the appearance from a range along the frontage to one with three gables facing the street (Plate 121).

The open halls were all divided at a later date by the insertion of intermediate floors and the interiors of framed buildings were generally adapted to later standards of comfort by the erection of new partitions to subdivide rooms and create corridors. In rooms used for domestic purposes, the walls, if not already covered by 17th-century panelling, usually acquired a plaster rendering obscuring the original timbers. The ground storeys of many buildings are retail shops and some have been so extensively modernised that no original work can now be seen. Those buildings in which the timber-work is fully exposed, such as Nos. 41–45 (193) and 49–51 (194) Goodramgate (Plates 122, 123), No. 111 Walmgate (537) (Plate 118) and St. William's College (34) (Plate 76) are in that condition because of modern restorations; caution must be used in their evaluation because much new timber has been introduced which may not correctly reproduce the original, and old timbers have occasionally been moved to new positions. Some framed buildings were so fundamentally altered in the Georgian period that they survived as little more than fragmentary remains within virtually new houses.

Timber-framed Construction

The basic method of framing in timber buildings in York is a primary structure of posts rising through two or three storeys from ground-sill to wall-plate except in jettied walls which have, of necessity, separate posts to each storey. The bays demarcated by the posts are usually 10 to 12 ft. long with a depth generally of 16 to 21 ft. As a result of decay or later alterations the ground-sills on which the posts stood have rarely survived. In 15th-century structures the posts extending through two or more storeys usually have brackets cut on the solid to give additional support to the transverse beams which are tenoned into them, and the beams are often thickened on the underside at the ends. Ground-floor posts of jettied walls have heads enlarged on the outward side to carry both the transverse beam and the jetty-plate of the ground-floor wall. In the earliest work, of 1316 at Lady Row, Goodramgate (222), the enlargement is a continuous taper from about half-way up the post (Fig. 86) but by 1337 at Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291) this has taken a curved form which continues, with variations in the profile, until the 17th century. Posts on upper floors all have enlarged (or jowled) heads to facilitate support of the wall-plates and tie-beams. The enlargement has a distinctly angular profile in the earlier buildings, such as Lady Row and Newgate, but generally it has a smoother shape; in the latest phase, from the late 16th century onwards, it is often a straight taper and there are some reversions to the early angular outline.

The secondary framing of walls, external and internal, is of vertical studs usually extending the full storey-height between horizontal plates. In multi-storey buildings middle rails within a storey-height are only found in York at St. William's College (34) of the mid 15th century and in a 16th-century house at Nos. 5, 6 King's Court (244), the rails in both being at window-sill level. In the early 14th-century buildings the studs are fairly widely spaced; at Lady Row in the front and back walls they are about 24 to 27 in. apart, the studs themselves being about 5½ to 6½ in. broad, and in the cross-walls of the same building the studs are broader, 7 in. or more, and 34 to 36 in. apart. In Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291) (Plate 135) the studs are 5 in. broad and up to 43 in. apart. In the 15th century, studs are generally 5 to 6 in. broad and spaced about 18 to 24 in. apart, though at Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151) (Fig. 77) they are 7 to 8 in. broad and up to 26 in. apart. St. William's College, built in the 1460s, has closer studding than other York buildings of the period, but the whole building is exceptional in the character of its framing. A later example of very close studding is a mid or late 16th-century house behind Nos. 75, 77 Low Petergate (363) where the studs are 7 to 8 in. broad and only about the same distance apart. In the latest period, studs are narrower and more widely spaced. At No. 8 Stonegate (454) and the King's Arms p.h. (247), both of the 17th century, the studs are 4 to 5 in. broad and about 15 in. apart.

Infilling of framing is nearly always of thin bricks, set on edge. The method was described in York III (p. lxxi), but an additional fact noted in the central area is that brick sizes in earlier and later buildings differ. For example, the late 16th-century bricks at No. 23 Stonegate (480) are 9 by 4½ by 2 in., smaller but thicker than those used in the 15th century; they do, however, correspond to the standard size of brick used for other contemporary constructional work, e.g. in chimneys. In the earliest timber-framed building surviving, Lady Row in Goodramgate, infilling is of stone rubble, set in mortar and plastered (Plate 127), and this has also been noted at No. 70 Low Petergate (347).

Wall Bracing. As a result of the examination of many more buildings, some conclusions drawn in York iii (p. lxviii) are no longer tenable. The distinction between upward and downward bracing is less of a dating criterion than previously thought and the choice was determined more by the position of the braces in relation to the structure of the building.

Downward bracing, i.e. bracing from a post downwards to a sill or other horizontal member, is usually associated with jettied walls (Fig. 3f) and, conversely, upward bracing, from post to wall-plate or tie-beam, with unjettied walls (Fig. 3i). These are generalisations and there are exceptions which tend to be more common in the later period of timber framing. Every jettied wall in which the framing is visible has downward bracing but there are also a few examples in which upward bracing is also present. These are at Lady Row, Goodramgate (222) (Fig. 3e), White Rose Cafe, Jubbergate (240), Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37) and No. 1 Shambles (418); as these are all known or thought to be of the 14th century, upward and downward bracing attached to the same post within a single storey appears to be an early feature. The posts of jettied walls are often also braced downwards in the transverse walls across the building, though this does not occur in the earliest framing at Lady Row (Fig. 3a) and Newgate (Fig. 107). Where there is no partition wall inside, posts are always braced upwards to a transverse beam or tie-beam. The cross-sections through timber-framed houses in the city often show a pattern of downward bracing at the jettied front and upward bracing at the unjettied rear (Fig. 3c), though there are exceptions where both front and rear posts are braced downwards (Fig. 3b). Downward bracing was also used in walls of unjettied upper storeys which have no framing below them either because they stand on stone or brick ground storeys, such as the long side walls of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall and the N.E. wall of the Merchant Taylors' Hall, or because they were over openings; examples of the latter occur at No. 111 Walmgate (537) where the S.E. wall of the hall is closed on the upper storey only and at Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151) (Fig. 77) where an open ground floor runs underneath the partition at the N.E. end of the first-floor hall. Since downward bracing is usually limited to posts only one storey high it is likely that it was found sufficient during erection to hold a post in position until secured by superimposed framing, whereas a taller post two or three storeys high needed additional shoring.

In earlier 14th-century buildings braces tend to be relatively thin and straight or only slightly curved, but throughout the main period of framing they have a more pronounced curvature and are usually 10 to 12 in. broad. Upward braces are curved inwards towards the head of the post, though one exception with a reverse curve existed at No. 70 Low Petergate (347), now demolished. Downward braces generally have a curvature away from the foot of the post, though in a few early buildings a slight inward curvature occurs, as at the White Rose Cafe, Jubbergate (240) (Plate 117) and in the roof trusses at Lady Row, Goodramgate. Nos. 41–45 Goodramgate (193) (Plate 122; Fig. 3g) and Nos. 16–22 Coney Street (130) (Plate 119) both have paired braces on the front elevation, probably introduced more as a decorative feature than serving a structural need; at the Coney Street house the upper brace of each pair on the second floor goes from sill to tie-beam and has no connection with the adjacent post. No. 76 Low Petergate (350) (Fig. 3h) has crossed-braces on the first floor; these, though in fragmentary condition and not now visible, are unique in York in wall framing.

Fig. 3 (opp.). Wall Bracing.

a. (222) Nos. 60–72 Goodramgate. Cross-wall. 1316.

b. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. Cross-wall. Early 16th-century.

c. (174) No. 44 Fossgate. Cross-wall. Late 15th-century.

d. (312) Lady Peckett's Yard. Cross-wall. Mid 16th-century.

e. (222) Nos. 60–72 Goodramgate. Front wall. 1316.

f. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. Front wall. Early 16th-century.

g. (193) Nos. 41–45 Goodramgate. Front wall. Early 16th-century.

h. (350) No. 76 Low Petergate. Front wall. 15th-century.

i. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. Back wall. Early 16th-century.

j. (317) Patrick Pool. Back wall. Late 16th-century.

In the late 16th century, short ogee-shaped downward braces were fashionable; there are examples at No. 77 Walmgate (536) (Plate 126), at Patrick Pool (307) (Fig. 3j), and in the second floor added to Nos. 17, 19 Stonegate (478) (Plate 121). In the final phase of timber framing, which roughly covers the first half of the 17th century, braces were generally thin and straight, as in Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311) (Plate 121), but differ from those used in the earliest framed buildings in being disposed at less steep angles. Downward bracing became more common in unjettied walls and was sometimes used in combination with central posts in cross-walls (Fig. 3d), a practice previously rarely employed.

Floor Construction. In ranges which are aligned along the street frontage the floors are framed with joists laid across the building from front to back, an obvious arrangement to provide for a jettied front formed by protruding joists. The joists of the first floor often span the whole building, but in some examples there is a central longitudinal beam, otherwise known as an axial or spine-beam, into which they are tenoned. In three-storey ranges of this type, the second floor is framed with an axial-beam in all known examples. The axial-beam spans a whole bay and is framed into cross-beams which span transversely and are supported by the posts. In adjacent bays the axial-beams are usually not exactly in line but staggered a little so that the cross-beams are not unduly weakened by double mortices at a single point of intersection.

In buildings which are aligned at right angles to the street, the jetty is in the gable-end at the front and also occasionally at the rear. In this type the joists run parallel to the long axis and are supported by the cross-beams; consequently, there are no axial-beams. Buildings at the corner of two streets have jetties on two adjacent sides, with a dragon-beam laid diagonally to support joists running in two directions. The methods of laying the joists, radiating on plan in the earlier buildings but parallel to each other in the later period, have been illustrated in York III (p. lxx; Fig. 12). The inner end of the dragon-beam is always supported by a cross-beam.

In jettied construction the bressummer of the wall of an upper storey is most often lodged upon the ends of the protruding joists, and the posts sometimes have enlarged feet so that they can clasp the sill and also be tenoned into the relevant joist (Fig. 4b). In a lesser number of buildings the joists are tenoned into the back of the bressummer which in these examples is moulded and frequently embattled (Fig. 4a). This method was used in the late 15th and early 16th centuries; though more decorative it was a weaker construction than the lodged bressummer and has since caused many structural failures where the timber around the joists has rotted away.

In the earlier and principal periods of timber-framed building in York the floor joists were laid flat, that is, with the wider dimension horizontal. At Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291), built in 1337, they are 6 in. broad and 4 in. deep, and this order of proportion continued through the 15th century, sometimes with larger dimensions such as at No. 34 St. Saviourgate (413) where they are 8½ in. broad and 5 in. deep. In the later period of framing, the joists were laid upright. Early 17th-century examples of this are in the back range of No. 45 Goodramgate (193) where they are 3½ in. broad and 5 in. deep, and the King's Arms p.h. (247), 4½ in. broad and 6 in. deep. The protruding ends of joists are usually rounded on the lower front angle (Fig. 4b), though in two early buildings, No. 32 Goodramgate (215) and No. 1 Shambles (418), they have a pronounced roll moulding. In some very late examples of framing, such as Patrick Pool (307), the joist ends are finished with straight cuts.

The cross-beams, which span between the posts and thus mark the bays, are of greater scantling than the common joists. Until the 16th century, in buildings with jetties on the long wall the beams were reduced in depth as they passed over the posts of the storey below and thus appear externally on the projecting jetty as uniform in depth with the common joists though perhaps of greater width. In the later 16th and 17th centuries, when the joists were of slighter scantling, the beams were cut to a heavier section and protruded on the jetty without any diminution, providing a more strongly marked external indication of the bay system (Fig. 4c).

Fig. 4. Jetty Construction.

a. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. First Floor. Late 15th or early 16th-century.

b. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. Second Floor. Late 15th or early 16th-century.

c. (311) Nos. 12, 14 Pavement. House B. Mid 16th-century.

Fig. 5 (opp.). Scarf Joints.

a. (222) Nos. 60–72 Goodramgate. 1316.

b. (413) No. 34 St. Saviourgate. 15th-century.

c. (34) St. William's College. c. 1465.

d. (343) Nos. 56–60 Low Petergate. c. 1500.

e. (37) Merchant Adventurers' Hall, N.E. addition. Early 17th-century.

f. (363) Behind Nos. 75, 77 Low Petergate. 16th-century.

Scarf Joints. In Lady Row, Goodramgate (222), erected in 1316, joints in the wall-plates are stop-splayedand-tabled scarfs with under-squinted square butts (fn. 1) and probably with face-pegs but this could not be verified (Fig. 5a). Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291), of 1337, has similar joints but without tabling. The common 15th-century scarf joint of which many examples have been noted is a stop-splayed scarf with sallied butts and either with face-pegs or a face-key (Fig. 5b). At St. William's College (34), of c. 1465, a wholly exceptional building, the wall-plates have edge-halved scarfs with over-squinted bridled butts (Fig. 5c). The same joint, though with a larger overlap, recurs in the early 17th century at Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311) and No. 78 Low Petergate (351). In the late 15th and early 16th centuries edge-halved scarfs with sallied butts were used occasionally, as at Nos. 56–60 Low Petergate (343) (Fig. 5d) and Nos. 1–5 Blake Street (70), though the stop-splayed scarf also continued to be used. A late 16th or early 17th-century type is the squint-butted and bridled scarf, one example of which is found in the N.E. addition to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (Fig. 5e). Also of the same period is the edge-halved scarf with vertical bridled butts, as at a building behind Nos. 75, 77 Low Petergate (363) (Fig. 5f).

Roof Construction

Three roofs utilising passing-brace construction have been recorded, all in a very fragmentary condition, and a fourth, now demolished, is known to have existed in the Shambles area (YAYAS, Report 1949–50, 33). In none is there any positive dating evidence but the type is usually assigned to the 13th and early 14th centuries. Two of the examples, at No. 2 Minster Court (270) (Plate 134) and No. 2 College Street (276) (Fig. 6a), are in houses in the Minster Close and may well be of the later 13th century as passing braces were used in the roofs of the N. transept of the Minster in c. 1250 and the chapter house c. 1280. A third example, now destroyed, was in Coney Street (131) (Plate 127) and this one incorporated a crown-post though with no evidence of a collar-purlin.

Two good examples of roofs with scissor-braced rafters were erected in the mid 14th century in the Bedern complex (33). In the hall (Plate 65; Fig. 36) they are used in combination with arch-braced trusses and a collar-purlin; the roof of the chapel (Fig. 34), dedicated in 1347–9, has now been dismantled. One other example recorded, a mere fragment at No. 8 High Petergate (320) (Fig. 6b), is in an apparently secular context, though the proximity to the Minster may be significant. Scissor-braced rafters also occur in the roof over the chapter-house vestibule of the Minster, built in the early to mid 14th century.

The most common type of roof truss used in York in the 14th and 15th centuries has a crown-post supporting a collar-purlin. Nearly all the posts are braced downwards to the tie-beams on which they stand, and have upward longitudinal braces to the collar-purlins. The posts are always of square or rectangular section; the octagonal form with moulded base and capital and four-way upward braces, common in S.E. England, does not occur in the city. The earliest crown-post is at Lady Row, Goodramgate (222), of c. 1316; the latest cannot be precisely dated but is probably of the early 16th century. The early examples are relatively thin, about 6 in. square in section or slightly less, and have unjowled heads. They occur at Lady Row (Fig. 6c), Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291) (Plate 135; Fig. 6d) of 1337, Nos. 56, 58 Stonegate (471) and No. 45 Walmgate (530) (Plate 135). Another example is known from an old photograph (YAYAS, Report 1949–50) to have stood in College Street. At the Red Lion p.h., Merchantgate (519) (Fig. 6e) is an unjowled crown-post of rather broader proportions, perhaps akin to the tapered example at No. 103 Micklegate (York III, Fig. 61). The common late 14th and 15th-century form of the post is generally 9 to 10 in. broad and has a jowl large enough to embrace the collar-purlin and be double-tenoned into the collar above; Nos. 16–22 Coney Street (130) (Fig. 6f) is typical. In some 14th-century examples the braces meet the crown-post below the jowl but usually they are fixed into the jowl on the angled face of the enlargement. The early unjowled posts have relatively thin, short and fairly straight braces; at Lady Row they have a slight curvature inwards towards the foot of the crown-post. Later, in the main period, the braces are rather broader, usually 10 to 12 in. across. An archaic feature used at Lady Row and also the demolished house in College Street is an outer straight brace from tie-beam to rafter.

In addition to the collar-purlin many crown-post roofs also have side-purlins supported by raking struts, usually curved, which are halved across the crown-post braces. The earliest of this type is of 1337 at Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291) (Fig. 6d). The head of the strut is jowled to enable it to support the purlin and be tenoned into the rafter; in the Newgate building the enlargement is on the upper side of the strut but in every other example it is on the lower. The feet of the struts sometimes meet the tie-beam close to the base of the crown-post but usually they are some distance apart. The side-purlins are generally braced longitudinally to the purlin-strut, to which the braces are often fixed only by nails and not tenoned, probably because the struts are not thick enough to contain pegged mortices. Crown-post roofs with side-purlins date from the same period as those without; the side-purlins are usually introduced in wider roofs and though this is not an absolute rule it is noteworthy that at No. 111 Walmgate (537) (Plate 129) the hall roof, spanning 19 ft., has side-purlins whereas in the contemporary cross-wing with a span of 15 ft. they are absent. In addition to the Walmgate house, the best examples of the fully developed type with braced collar and side-purlins are at Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151) (Fig. 6h), No. 44 Fossgate (174) (Plate 133), No. 35 Stonegate (488) (Plate 131) and Nos. 44, 46 Stonegate (467) (Fig. 6g).

In some roofs of the late 15th and early 16th centuries the crown-post is dispensed with and there are side-purlins only, as at No. 20 Ogleforth (299) (Fig. 6l); in the trusses the purlin-struts usually have a short brace below them, similar in appearance to the lower part of the crown-post braces noted above. Some trusses include crown-posts even where the collar-purlin is absent, e.g. Nos. 41, 43 Low Petergate (353) (Fig. 6k); this residual form of the post only occurs in closed trusses and gable-ends and usually retains the now functionally useless jowl. Nos. 41–45 Goodramgate (193) (Plate 131) is an example of the combination in a single roof of this form of closed truss and of open trusses without crown-posts. Conversely, other roofs, with true crown-posts and collar-purlins but without side-purlins nevertheless retain raking struts in closed trusses, as at No. 19 Grape Lane (229) (Fig. 6j); at Nos. 16–22 Coney Street (130) (Plate 119) they are used in the gable-ends facing the street but not in the internal open trusses (Fig. 6f).

In halls where the height is sufficient, open trusses usually have large arch-braces below the tie-beam and meeting at the centre, as at Nos. 35, 36 Shambles (436); the braces were quite often removed in later alterations as they were too obtrusive when intermediate floors were inserted, but long mortices in the tie-beams and posts, as at Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151), are evidence of their former existence. In some examples there were spandrel ties connecting the back of the arch-braces with the heads of the posts.

In the 14th century tie-beams were relatively thin and straight but much more substantial and cambered in the 15th century, the camber being most pronounced in open trusses. At Nos. 28–32 Coppergate, an extreme example, the tie-beam is over 2½ ft. deep at the centre.

The larger public buildings have roofs of more ambitious design than those mentioned above. Archbraced collar-beam trusses in combination with scissor-braced rafters are found at the Bedern Hall (33) and the Merchant Taylors' Hall (38) (Plate 74) though in the latter they were subsequently rebuilt with inserted tie-beams. In both these roofs the arch-braces do not touch the rafters but are connected to them by short struts. In the later 15th-century roofs at St. Anthony's Hall (39) and St. William's College (34) there are principal rafters to which the arch-braces are themselves tenoned. At the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37) (Plate 73) of 1358–60 there are side-purlins supported by kerb-principals extending from tie-beams to collars and alternate trusses have braced crown-posts. The S.W. part of the roof at St. Anthony's Hall, of c. 1450, also combines crown-posts and kerb-principals. At the two merchants' halls and the Bedern Hall there are collar-purlins which are supported, except in the crown-post trusses of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, by duplicate collars placed below the normal ones in each truss.

Fig. 6. Roof Trusses.

a. (276) No. 2 College Street. Early 14th-century.

b. (320) No. 8 High Petergate. Early 14th-century.

c. (222) Nos. 60–72 Goodramgate. 1316.

d. (291) Nos. 12–15 Newgate. 1337.

e. (519) Red Lion p.h., Merchantgate. 15th-century.

f. (130) Nos. 16–22 Coney Street. 15th-century.

g. (467) No. 44 Stonegate. 15th-century.

h. (151) Nos. 28–32 Coppergate. 15th-century.

i. (485) No. 2 Coffee Yard. 15th-century.

j. (229) No. 19 Grape Lane. 15th-century.

k. (353) Nos. 41, 43 Low Petergate. Early 16th-century.

l. (299) Nos. 16–20 Ogleforth. 16th-century.

Fig. 7. Roof Trusses.

m. (194) No. 49 Goodramgate. Early 16th-century.

n. (364) No. 79 Low Petergate. Mid 16th-century.

o. (480) No. 23 Stonegate. Late 16th-century.

p. (363) Behind Nos. 75, 77 Low Petergate. 16th-century.

q. (247) King's Arms p.h., King's Staith. Early 17th-century.

r. (536) No. 77 Walmgate. Late 16th-century.

s. (177) Nos. 53, 54 Fossgate. Early 17th-century.

t. (161) Nos. 5, 6 Fossgate. Early 17th-century.

u. (345) No. 64 Low Petergate. 1743.

v. (493) No. 49 Stonegate. Early 17th-century.

w. (312) Lady Peckett's Yard. Late 17th-century.

x. (115) Nos. 15, 16 Colliergate. Early 18th-century.

One exceptional 15th-century roof is at No. 2 Minster Court (270) (Plate 134); now partly obscured by inserted floors and partitions, it must originally have covered an open hall. It has three open trusses with moulded arched collar-braces springing from extended sole-plates and is decorated with carved bosses. Closed trusses at each end have parallel diagonal framing akin to that occurring in West Yorkshire though without the king-posts characteristic of that area.

Kerb-principal trusses in lesser buildings appear to be of later date than in the large halls, being generally of the 16th century and occasionally of the early 17th. The earlier examples are slightly curved, rather like braces, and only touch the rafters at the point where the purlins are notched into them, as at No. 49 Goodramgate (194) (Fig. 7m). Later they are straight with the rafters lying on their backs more truly like the lower parts of principals, as at No. 23 Stonegate (480) (Fig. 70), probably of 1590, where there are two purlins to each side. In two houses in Low Petergate, Nos. 79 (364) (Fig. 7n) and 83 (366), are kerbprincipal trusses combined with collar-purlins clasped by duplicate collars.

From the later 16th century onwards it became general to include attic floors at tie-beam level in order to provide habitable lofts; in these conditions it was necessary to have roof trusses without any members which would unduly obstruct the interior space. Trusses with side-purlins clasped between the upper sides of collars and common rafters were used in the later 16th and early 17th centuries. When two purlins were needed on each roof slope, the lower one was usually clasped by a short horizontal member supported by a thin vertical post, as at the King's Arms p.h. (247) (Fig. 7q), but a truss incorporating both claspedpurlins and kerb-principals was also used, e.g. at a building behind No. 75 Low Petergate (362) (Fig. 7p), and both types of truss are found at Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311). A single example of a semi-attic with soleplate trusses has been noted at No. 49 Stonegate (493) (Fig. 7v); it probably has kerb-principals though the form of the truss above the collar cannot be ascertained. After the early 17th century simple trusses of principal rafters supporting tenoned butt-purlins became usual (Fig. 7s). They sometimes had high collars which might be quite sharply cambered to allow maximum headroom, as at No. 33 Stonegate (487) where the rafters are tapered towards the apex. At Nos. 5, 6 Fossgate (161) (Fig. 7t) the principal rafters are thinned back considerably above the level of the upper purlins to the scantling of common rafters. At Nos. 15, 16 Colliergate (115) (Fig. 7x) there are quite exceptional trusses consisting of cranked principals extending down below the wall-plates in the manner of raised crucks; the principals, which support butt-purlins, rise only to collar level above which there are separate short common rafters. After 1645 principal-rafter roofs continued to be used in brick-walled buildings until well into the 18th century, the front range at No. 64 Low Petergate (345) (Fig. 7u) built in 1743 being one example, until superseded by king-post trusses derived from pattern-books.

Assembly Marks

Assembly marks, in the form of incised Roman numerals, have been noted in many timber-framed buildings and roofs. They occur in some of the earliest timber construction surviving in the city, such as the roof of the N. nave aisle of the Minster and in the roof of the Bedern Hall (33) where the rafters are all numbered. They were most often used in the numbering of roof trusses, early examples of this having been noted at Nos. 54–60 Stonegate (471) of the early 14th century and Nos. 12–15 Newgate (291) of 1337. In this context, apart from the intrinsic interest as evidence of assembly methods, assembly marks can also be very useful for determining the original length of a range which has been partly demolished, as at Nos. 28–32 Coppergate (151). Several different members in any one truss may be similarly numbered except for one or two extra strokes added for difference. Floor joists are sometimes numbered but wall studs very rarely.


Decorative carving is now a rare feature in secular buildings in York. The most outstanding example displaying it is St. William's College (34) of c. 1465, which is an exceptional building in several respects. It has carved standing figures on the curved brackets of the cove beneath the first-floor jetty (Plate 198) and other carvings, mostly of paterae, punctuating the moulded bressummer. At Jacob's Well in Trinity Lane (York III, (125) 109) are two carved brackets, removed from the demolished Old Wheatsheaf Inn in Davygate, supporting a door canopy. One similar bracket was recorded at the Queen's Head p.h. (174) in Fossgate before demolition and other examples of this distinctive late mediaeval feature are known to have existed in York, some of them very ornate (YAYAS, Report 1949–50, 1950–51). One small timber carving internally was a lion's mask used as a terminal feature to a bracket supporting an arch-brace in the first-floor hall at the Fox Inn, Low Petergate (346), demolished in 1957 (RCHM, Monuments Threatened and Destroyed, 77). There are late 16th and early 17th-century barge-boards carved with vine-trail ornament at the N.E. addition to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37), Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311) and Nos. 17, 19 Stonegate (478); the last two also have carved fascias on the jetties.


Several mediaeval doorways have survived in timber-framed houses. At No. 52 Stonegate (470) there is an ogee-shaped door head, now partly cut away, formed of two pieces of timber; probably of the 14th century, the arch appears to have been fairly steep. A much lower ogee-arched and cusped door head survives at No. 37 Shambles (437) (Plate 200). 15th-century door heads with four-centred arches cut from single blocks of wood have been recorded at No. 2 Coffee Yard (485) (Plate 200), No. 12 Shambles (424) and No. 32 Shambles (434). The larger doorway at the Merchant Taylors' Hall is partly restored but retains the original battened door complete with wicket (Plate 158). One unusual doorway, at No. 34 St. Saviourgate (413), has an ogee-shaped head formed of plaster, possibly not an original feature.

Only one example has been recorded in the central area of a late mediaeval canopied doorway with carved brackets, a type which once must have occurred frequently in York. Only one bracket survived at No. 44 Fossgate (174) before demolition in 1964, when it was taken to the Castle Museum. A much more ambitious porch with a canopy in the form of a rib-vault stood at the George Inn, Coney Street (142), and was engraved by Cave (Plate XXXI). The components are now at the Yorkshire Museum.

Heating and Fireplaces

Surviving evidence of heating arrangements in mediaeval buildings is minimal. There is some indication of provision for a louvre in the roof of the Bedern Hall (33), thus implying an original open hearth, but nothing similar has been identified in other open halls. Roof timbers in Nos. 35, 36 Shambles (436) had heavy soot deposits, but this was in a first-floor hall and heating must have been by braziers. Little smokeblackening of roof timbers has been observed in York. The only mediaeval fireplace recorded is at No. 10 Precentor's Court (378); now blocked, it has a moulded and carved stone overmantel. The contract of 1335 for St. Martin's Row (139) in Coney Street refers to louvres (luvarium), and in 1425 there was a dispute in York between carpenters and house tilers over the manufacture of louvres (SS, cxxv, 173–4).

The introduction of brick fireplaces and chimneys into timber-framed buildings seems to have begun in the 16th century, though precise dating is generally impossible. At the Merchant Adventurers' Hall a new chimney was referred to in 1574–5; this may be the group of four fireplaces, each with a four-centred arch, intruded into the undercroft. Most fireplaces of the 16th and earlier 17th centuries have four-centred arches of brickwork, as at the Fox Inn, Low Petergate (346) (Plate 174), and in the kitchens at St. William's College (34); sometimes they are covered with plaster, and examples of this have been recorded at the White Rose Cafe, Jubbergate (240), and No. 40 Stonegate (465). There is a large ground-floor fireplace with a stop-chamfered timber bressummer at No. 3 High Petergate (326).

In some houses, chimneys were added at the rear, immediately outside the framing and there are examples of this type in Stonegate at Nos. 44, 46 (467) and 54–60 (471). More often they were inserted within the buildings, necessitating removal of some floor joists. They were usually positioned so that roof trusses did not have to be disturbed, though collar-purlins were sometimes partly cut away. At Nos. 56–60 Low Petergate (343) are chimneys inserted in this manner. A few stacks are formed of several square shafts set diagonally at the top of the chimney, such as at No. 10 High Petergate (321), No. 55 Low Petergate (356) and Nos. 44, 46 Stonegate (467).


Windows in mediaeval timber-framed buildings in York have nearly all been lost. They were usually replaced in the Georgian period by sashes, which were generally larger and so removed all traces of the original windows. The original positions are sometimes still apparent and marked by sills or heads identifiable as horizontal timbers which do not form part of the normal wall framing. A few mediaeval windows were later blocked leaving mullions still in position and have been uncovered again during demolition or restoration. Before the 16th century mullions were usually square in section but set diagonally, sometimes being referred to as 'diamond' mullions. Examples survive at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, No. 64 Low Petergate (345) and Nos. 35, 36 Shambles (436); others in recently demolished buildings were at No. 66 Low Petergate (346), No. 32 Shambles (434) and No. 45 Walmgate (530). St. William's College, of c. 1465, is exceptional in the city in having moulded timber mullions; they have nearly all been restored but one original window survives (Plate 78). In the late 16th and 17th centuries mullions have ovolo-moulded sections; a good example is at No. 23 Stonegate (480).

Windows in multi-storey framed buildings generally occupy positions in the upper half of the wall of the relevant storey, extending from a window-sill to the top-plate of the wall; only rarely is there a member forming a separate window head below the top-plate. Perhaps the best and most typical window surviving is at Jacob's Well in Trinity Lane, illustrated in York III (Monument (125), Plate 191). Several original window openings exist at Patrick Pool (307) and though the mullions are all lost their number and spacing can be determined from the small mortices in the wall-plates and sills. On the ground floor a three-light window was 2 ft. wide and one of four lights was 3 ft. wide; on the second floor two five-light windows were 4 ft. 6 in. and 4 ft. 10 in. wide with sills 3 ft. 9 in. above the floor. A good early 17th-century mullioned and transomed window is at No. 23 Stonegate (480) (Plate 184); it projects a few inches, though hardly enough to be considered as an oriel, and immediately to the right is a blocked three-light window above transom level which is fitted within the wall-plane.

Windows in open halls are of greater height and usually disposed above and below a middle rail. The head is marked by a horizontal member a short distance below the wall-plate. A good though completely restored example of the arrangement is in the rear wing of No. 51 Goodramgate (Plate 123) where there are three windows each three lights wide, two of the windows being adjacent and only separated by a post. No. 45 Walmgate (530), now demolished, had a hall window four lights wide, and three-light examples have been recorded at the Red Lion p.h. (519) and No. 32 Shambles (434).

It is now difficult to determine how many of the lost windows may have projected, but there were certainly oriels at St. William's College. Those in the stone-built ground storey were of timber construction, though supported by moulded stone corbelling; on the framed upper storey they were supported by shaped brackets with plastered infilling between to form coving. The oriels are slightly canted and the lights originally had delicate tracery in the heads. There are rather simpler oriels in the late 16th-century heightening at Nos. 17, 19 Stonegate (478); they have shaped brackets below each end of the plank-like sills with plastered coving between, and the side faces of the oriels are solid.

There are a few mediaeval stone windows in secular buildings. The Norman House, Stonegate (469) has a well-preserved late 12th-century two-light window (Fig. 142), though the original exterior is unfortunately not visible. Also of the 12th century is a round-headed single-light window at Gray's Court (35). At No. 6 Newgate (289) is an early or mid 14th-century window of two lights with shouldered heads (Fig. 106) and at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (c. 1348) (Plate 183) is a series of single-light windows of stone, though set in a brick wall.

In the central area there is very little evidence of early glazing that can add significantly to the discussion of the subject in York III (p. lxxviii). In framed buildings before the early 16th century windows with diamond mullions were not glazed and must have had wooden shutters though none of these now remain. There may have been glazed windows in a few major buildings such as St. William's College but the windows there are so restored that this cannot be confirmed. The Merchant Adventurers' accounts record the making of glass windows in the great hall in 1477 and 1504. In the 16th century the use of glass became more common and there are references to it in houses in St. Michael's parish in 1526, 1534, 1537 and 1594 (Churchwardens' accounts) and at Walmgate Bar in 1596/7, 1610, 1613 and 1638 (YCA, c8, f. 51; C13, f. 46; C15, f. 34v; C22, f. 32). There is leaded glazing with small rectangular panes in an oriel window dated 1574 at Nos. 17, 19 Stonegate which may be original, but where it is now to be seen in many other timber-framed houses in the city it is usually modern restoration.


Houses and Public Buildings 1600–1800

During the first half of the 17th century, most buildings in York continued to be of timber-framed construction, the exceptions being mansions such as Buckingham House, Bishophill, and Sir Arthur Ingram's house near the Minster, both now demolished, and additions to the King's Manor (York IV, (11)). In the central area, the Treasurer's House (35), though greatly altered, retains much of the original stone and brick structure of 1628–48. After the Civil War, brick was the usual building material. The Dutch House, No. 2 Ogleforth (297), probably dates from c. 1650; though it was mostly rebuilt in 1958, considerable care was taken to reproduce the array of curved and triangular pedimented windows, some with carved or moulded brick transoms and mullions (Plate 185). The dormered attics with Dutch gables appear to have been added later. The rebuilding of the upper walls of St. Anthony's Hall (39) (Plate 75) in brick, with pedimental-headed windows, is firmly dated to 1655.

The central area of the city is noted for the survival of timber-framed mediaeval buildings, but many good Georgian houses occupy the sites of earlier structures in the ancient thoroughfares and, as was observed in Micklegate (York III), many mediaeval houses were refronted in Georgian brickwork or partly rebuilt, incorporating parts of the earlier structures. Many of the Georgian house facades have been mutilated by conversion to business uses, with the insertion of shop fronts and the removal of partition walls and fittings from the ground-floor rooms, and many of the upper floors have been reduced to use for storage or left unoccupied and neglected.

Some of the larger town houses have, however, been successfully adapted for offices and other purposes with minimal alterations: Cumberland House (249) (Plate 138), No. 23 High Petergate (334) (Plate 147), Nos. 25–29 High Petergate (335) (Plate 5), No. 18 Blake Street (77) (Plate 146), Castlegate House (89) (Plate 109), and Peasholme House (417) (Plate 112), which was restored by the York Civic Trust in 1975. Probably the most important mansion, Fairfax House, Castlegate (82) (Plate 101), built by John Carr in 1755–62, awaits a similar scheme of restoration by the owners, the City Corporation.

The chief architectural events of the city's Georgian life before 1750 were the building of the famous Assembly Rooms (45) in 1730–5 to the design of Lord Burlington based on Palladio's Egyptian Hall (Plate 98), and of the Mansion House (44) (Plate 93) in 1726–32; this was also in the Palladian style and no doubt designed by someone in the Campbell-Burlington circle well aware of the engraved illustration of the Queen's Gallery at Somerset House (Plate 93) in Vitruvius Britannicus, 1, 1715.


Unfortunately, survivals from the 17th century are so fragmentary that no general remarks can be made about plan forms of that period.

House plans of the 18th century vary according to the size and setting of the building, and the house types can be divided into three groups. The first group consists of mansions built on cleared or virgin sites, in many cases of very considerable extent. From Castlegate, the gardens of Castlegate House reached down to the Ouse on one side, and the gardens of Fairfax House to the Foss on the other. Peasholme House was described as having gardens and orchards. The second group consists of houses built on smaller plots, along the thoroughfares and streets, and sometimes incorporating earlier structures. The third group is the smallest and includes speculative development of pairs or rows of buildings.

Group 1 normally has a rectangular block plan, with a symmetrical front elevation, central entrance passage opening out to the main staircase hall beyond and rooms to either side at the front and rear: the secondary staircase is situated to one side, between the front and rear rooms. This plan arrangement is well illustrated by the Mansion House (Fig. 55), Castlegate House (Fig. 67) and Peasholme House (Fig. 135). A variant is to place the main staircase transversely between the back and front rooms, as at Fairfax House (Fig. 65), and the secondary staircase in a projecting rear wing. Invariably these main staircases provide access only to the first floor, to the chief rooms for the entertainment of guests, such as the saloon and drawing room.

The Judge's Lodging (250) (Plate 113; Fig. 92) is unique in York in having a piano nobile with access to the large central entrance hall from an external stone staircase, and internally the main staircase is set transversely to one side of the hall and rises up to the first floor. Access to the basement and all floors is provided by the secondary staircase at the other side of the house. Cumberland House (249) (Plate 138) is another mansion with an unusual plan (Fig. 91), due to its position on the river frontage and the ever-present threat of flooding. The open basement allows no accommodation but provides for flood-water to ebb and flow beneath the high-set ground floor. The entrance is set at the side, at the highest point of the steeply-rising ground, and steps are placed within the entrance passage to reach the ground floor.

Group 2. Most of the houses come into this group and the majority are sited on long curtilages, replacing mediaeval structures. Such restricted plots for the average town house limited the ground plan to one room to the front and one to the rear, and a side entrance passage with the staircase beyond and a rear door to a yard (see Figs. 132, 143); sometimes the staircase is set transversely between the rooms, as in Nos. 12–16 Castlegate (85), which are typical of this type (Fig. 66).

Group 3 is particularly small, as few sites offered the possibility of terrace development within the central area of the city. An opportunity did arise following the devastation by fire in 1694 of some thirty houses in High Ousegate. Three pairs of large houses were constructed on part of the site (Plate 144). Each pair had asymmetrical front elevations, with an entrance to a central passage giving access to the house on either side. It would seem from the illustrations to the margin of John Cossins' map of c. 1727 that the properties of Mr. Buxton (now Nos. 11, 12 High Ousegate (233)) and Mr. Scott (now Nos. 13, 14 High Ousegate (234)) were provided with shop premises at the ground floors when they were built. Samuel Buxton (grocer, Sheriff 1696/7) bought his site c. 1704 and presumably built the pair of houses as a speculation, occupying one himself. It is very probable that all these developments were financed in this way. The buildings have been greatly mutilated by modern alterations, and one pair of houses has been mostly demolished. Another pair of large houses was built in Lendal (Nos. 10, 12, 14 (254)) (Plate 6) on the site of the Augustinian Priory and replacing part of the 17th-century Lendal House (see No. 8 Lendal (252)).

A more modest row of tenements was constructed in Precentor's Court (375) (Plate 137; Fig. 124) early in the 18th century. Cumberland Row, New Street (287) (Fig. 105), a row of well-fitted houses, built in 1746 by the carver Charles Mitley and joiner William Carr, has survived with little alteration, but No. 1 and the adjoining house at the corner of Davygate have been rebuilt. Each house has a side entrance passage giving access to the transverse staircase placed between the front and rear rooms. Nos. 16–22 St. Saviourgate (409) (Plate 4; Fig. 131), erected c. 1740, have the alternative plan arrangement of this type of house, the entrance passage widening out to a staircase flanked by front and rear rooms as in Group 2.

Basements for the kitchens and other domestic services appear in a few major houses, the best examples being the semi-basement to the Judge's Lodging in Lendal (250) (Plate 113), of early 18th-century date, and the Mansion House (44) (Plate 93) where, due to the fall of the ground towards the river at the rear, a full basement storey is contrived for the kitchens and other services. Castlegate House (89) (Plate 109) has the whole of the service quarters in the semi-basement, the larders and storage closets at the front lit from a narrow area before the house, and a full basement storey is achieved at the rear by excavation of the ground near to the house.

Many houses were provided with cellars and often there were kitchens in these ill-lit and poorly ventilated compartments. Invariably these cellars are no longer used for such purposes, either because kitchens have been formed at ground-floor level, or the property has been converted to business use and any living accommodation has been restricted to the upper floors.

External Features

Bands. Heavy plat-bands and moulded string-courses incorporating moulded bricks were a feature of a number of buildings of the late 17th century; that to the house at the S. end of Lady Peckett's Yard (312) is the finest example, and a simpler version is to be seen on No. 1 Coffee Yard (484), where the band rises up and over a window-opening, although the original window has been replaced by a hung sash (Plates 7, 185).

Bands of oversailing brick courses are common to houses of the first half of the 18th century, varying from three to seven courses in depth, as also are plain bands of stone like that to the front elevation of the Red House, Duncombe Place (156) of c. 1722 (Plate 139), but the moulded stone string-course to the main riverside facade of Cumberland House, King's Staith (249) (Plate 138) is rather exceptional. Several houses have the distinctive Palladian feature of a broad band to the first floor with a subsidiary band above serving as a continuous sill-band to the first-floor windows. Peasholme House, St. Saviour's Place (417) of c. 1752 (Plate 112; Fig. 135) and Fairfax House (82) (Plate 101) have a continuous sill-band to the ground-floor windows also, whilst Castlegate House (89) has the same arrangement to both lower storeys, with the addition of recesses with balustrading beneath the windows (Plate 109). No. 23 High Petergate (334), built in 1779, has the double bands noted above (Plate 147) and the same feature was used even later by John Carr's partner, Peter Atkinson, for the facade of No. 18 Blake Street (77) of c. 1789 (Plate 146).

Brick-work. Elaborate walling survives in the stretch of rusticated brickwork to the side of No. 8 Lendal (252), similar to that at Nos. 64, 66 Clifton (York IV, (76)). Accomplished brickwork occurs throughout the Georgian period, mostly laid in Flemish bond. Usually a good-quality warm brown brick was used for the street elevations, and a less uniformly-coloured paler stock brick for the less important frontages, often with red brick dressings. This treatment is also used for the rear elevations of some major houses, such as Castlegate House (89) (Plate 109).

Cornices. Most 17th-century eaves cornices have been replaced, but a fine example remains on the house in Lady Peckett's Yard (312) where massive carved wooden consoles support the moulded eaves cornice (Plate 7). Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark (61) (Plate 138) has a boldly-projecting eaves cornice with modillions, typical of its early 18th-century date. Fairly substantial moulded eaves cornices with modillioned supports are used throughout the first half of the century and many survive, though others have been replaced by less imposing ones of the later 18th or 19th century. A dentilled and modillioned cornice to No. 24 St. Saviourgate (410) (Plate 141), of c. 1763, is typical of the period, but soon after that time cornices were decreased in scale and projection, as typified by those of No. 23 High Petergate (334), of 1779, and No. 3 St. Sampson's Square (397), of similar date (Plate 147).

Entrance doorcases. A heavily-restored Jacobean entrance gives access to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37) (Plate 71), but the two-storeyed stone frontispiece entrance to the Treasurer's House (35) (Plate 83), dating from the second quarter of the 17th century, with flanking Doric columns and Ionic pilasters above, is the most imposing example of the period. The stone entrance to the N. range of St. Williams' College (34), with the broad entrance flanked by Ionic pilasters and a broken curved pediment, originally dated from the third quarter of the century, but was all renewed by Temple Moore in the early 20th century, retaining the original decorative plasterwork above. All three entrances have had the doors replaced. No original entrances to smaller late 17th-century houses survive, but there is a wealth of examples of the Georgian period.

The pedimented entrance to Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark (61) (Plate 159), with its moulded architrave, triple key-block, pediment and rustication, is the only example in the city of a door-case following a design popularised by James Gibbs. More typical of the early 18th century are those to Cumberland House (249), of c. 1710, and to No. 13 Ogleforth (296), both with bolection-moulded architraves (Plate 159). Doorways of the mid 18th century at Castlegate House (89) (Plate 109), of 1763, and at the recently-restored Peasholme House (417) (Plate 112), of c. 1752, illustrate entrances to mansions, and that to No. 29 St. Saviourgate (407) (Plate 160) is typical of the smaller town house of the period.

A great number of good late Georgian doorcases survive, mostly reflecting the influence of the Adam style. Examples are at No. 23 High Petergate (334) (Plate 160), of 1779, with its applied composition enrichments, and the entrance to No. 4 Minster Yard (275) (Plate 160), of similar date and type, which replaced the original early 18th-century one. One of the most elegant entrances is that to No. 18 Blake Street (77) (Plate 146), of 1789, designed by Peter Atkinson senior. Many Georgian porticoed entrances along busy thoroughfares were replaced by more modest doorways in the early 19th century, probably due to road widening to relieve traffic congestion. None of the doorcases of Cumberland Row (287) (Fig. 105), of 1746, is contemporary with the building, and Nos. 16–22 St. Saviourgate (409), of c. 1740, also have poor 19th-century entrances (Plate 4).

Gables. Dutch gables first appeared on the cross-wings of the Treasurer's House (35) of 1628–48; those to the front elevation are of stone and have flat tops (Plate 82), while those to the rear are of brick with stone dressings to the triangular pediments (Plate 83). The latter type was the more usual and was still being constructed in the early years of the 18th century, as on the rear elevations of Nos. 25–29 High Petergate (335) of 1701 and Nos. 13, 14 Fossgate (164) (Plate 136). Dutch gables were formerly more common and are known to have existed on the demolished Buckingham House, on Tower's Folly, Trinity Lane, on a warehouse in Skeldergate (York III, (129) and (29)), on three adjoining houses in Bedern and on the watch-house of 1645 beside Walmgate Bar (York II, Plate opp. p. 149).

Leadwork (Plate 181). Many houses retain lead rainwater heads and fall-pipes, most of them dating from the City Corporation's Order of 2 May 1763 (YCA, m17), which stated '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 and by Consent and approbation of the Alderman Wardens of the Ward in which such houses and places respectively are situate'. The finest type has a tapered angular form incorporating classical mouldings, with the centre breaking forward and often bearing the initials of the owner and date, the earliest example being of 1743. A simplified version, without the projecting central section, appears as early as 1732 and as late as 1789. A plainer design of head, with an inverted bell-form, is used during the second half of the century, and the design is further simplified to a fluted bowl-form in the early 19th century.

Pargetting. Little evidence remains of decorative pargetting to the facades of timber-framed buildings in York, but Henry Cave's etchings in his Antiquities of York, 1813, show several examples existing at that time. No. 33 Stonegate (487) was very richly decorated but no trace of the early 17th-century enrichment remains. Part of the George Inn, which formerly stood in Coney Street (142), was of the same style and period; it also had imitation masonry such as still exists on the rear elevation of No. 5 Minster Yard (276).

Windows. The Treasurer's House (35) has a number of its original windows to the front elevation (Plate 82), but most of the transoms and mullions are reproductions, replacing sash windows inserted in the 18th century. A reproduction transom and mullioned window to the rear elevation is illustrated in Plate 185. To the rear of No. 38 Goodramgate (216) (Plate 184) a two-storeyed canted bay retains the original window forms to the sides, with their moulded or rubbed brick surrounds, though the openings are blocked; they are similar to those on the facade of Nos. 64, 66 Clifton (York IV, (76)). No. 1 Coffee Yard (484) has a moulded brick string-course breaking over the former window opening (Plate 185), which may well have had mullions of brick such as remain to a blocked three-light window preserved at the rear of No. 2 Coffee Yard (485) (Plate 184). At the rear of No. 6 Goodramgate (207) is a damaged three-light window with hollow-chamfered surround and retaining one brick mullion. Curved and triangular pedimented window heads with blocked openings below, or with sash windows inserted later, are found on a number of houses, as those to the rear of Nos. 23 and 25 Walmgate (527, 528) (Plate 185). Contemporary with these forms are three-centred arched heads formed with brick headers (Figs. 8a, b). On the house in Lady Peckett's Yard (312) (Plate 185) the brickwork round one of the windows projects slightly; the window has a flat arch of gauged brick and a wooden frame divides the glazing into three lights, the central one being round-headed; a heavy band breaks up over the window as a hood mould.

Fig. 8. Window Heads.

a. (527) No. 23 Walmgate. Late 17th-century.

b. (528) No. 25 Walmgate. Late 17th-century.

c. (275) No. 4 Minster Yard. Front. Early 18th-century.

d. (275) No. 4 Minster Yard. Back. Early 18th-century.

e. (117) No. 19 Colliergate. Front. 1748.

f. (117) No. 19 Colliergate. Back. 1748.

g. (293) Nos. 3–7 Ogleforth. Front. c. 1830.

h. (293) Nos. 3–7 Ogleforth. Back. c. 1830.

An oeil-de-boeuf window in the same building is blocked but a glazed example remains to the staircase wing at the rear of St. William's College (34) (Plate 78). This wing, of 17th-century construction, also has elaborate brick hood moulds over wooden-framed windows; to the W. side is an oeil-de-boeuf window below a brick hood mould with simple return stops. The Bagnio, built in 1691 on a site behind No. 12 Coney Street and demolished in 1924, had three oval windows or recessed panels above the main rectangular windows, and also curved pediments to the doorways.

In the 18th century, sash windows to front elevations generally have flat arches of gauged bricks, while the less important elevations have segmental arches to the windows. Early in the century, the flat arches are shallow, three courses deep, and the segmental arches are formed with brick headers (Figs. 8c, d). Figs. 8e and fillustrate the heads of windows to No. 19 Colliergate (117), dated 1748, where the flat arch is increased in depth and incorporates a stone double key-block; the single brick voussoirs with saw-cuts simulating joints have a wider spread than the earlier examples. At the rear the windows have simulated joints to the alternating bricks of the segmental arches. The later 18th-century windows do not vary greatly from these examples, but key-blocks are omitted from the fronts. By the early 19th century, windows are not generally of such a high quality; the arches are of common stock bricks with a slightly segmental form, but some to the front elevations have cement or stucco applied in imitation of stone voussoirs or key-blocks (Figs. 8g, h).

Internal Features

Doors and Doorcases. The Black Swan, Peasholme Green (317), has fine fittings of the late 17th century, including doorcases with heavy bolection-moulded architraves and moulded entablatures (Plate 188), and the Queen's Head, Fossgate (174), demolished in 1964, had a door-case with a pulvinated frieze and broken pediment of a similar date (Plate 162).

Multiple-panelled doors of late Stuart times, as observed at Middlethorpe Hall and the Queen's Hotel, Micklegate (York III), are not found in this part of the city, but the alternative type of three panels formed with raised mouldings is well illustrated by the door to the saloon of No. 4 Minster Yard (275), with bolection-moulded architrave to the door-case and adjacent boldly projecting panelling, all very typical of the early 18th century (Plate 162). No. 23 Colliergate (121), of c. 1700, has a heavy bolection-moulded door-case (Fig. 9a), and the door is of two large panels and a smaller narrow central panel, all formed with applied raised mouldings. In the Georgian period, bolection mouldings gave way to simpler moulded architraves (Fig. 9c-m) and the doors have six recessed and fielded panels (Plate 163). Fairfax House (82), of c. 1755–62, and Castlegate House (89), both to the designs of John Carr, contain many fine enriched doorcases (Plates 107, 111). Some of those in Fairfax House may be the work of Daniel Shillitoe, who is mentioned in the accounts. Rococo motifs are present on the friezes to two of the doorcases there. The influence of Robert Adam by the later 1760s is well illustrated by the refitting of the first-floor rooms of No. 10 Lendal (254); the entrance to the saloon (Plate 163) has transverse flutings and angle paterae to the architrave, which are repeated on the sunk panels of the mahogany door, and the entablature is enriched with motifs from the Adam repertoire.

Fireplaces. Many mediaeval houses had brick fireplaces and chimney flues inserted in the 17th century. The Fox Inn, No. 66 Low Petergate (346), probably built in the second half of the 15th century but mostly demolished in 1957, had a great chimney-breast inserted c. 1600 which, with the N.E. end bay, still survives as part of the adjacent No. 64 (Plate 174).

The finest Jacobean fireplace is that in the first-floor room of the Herbert House, Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311) (Plate 175), with enriched oak surround and overmantel. The fireplace opening, with a three-centred arch, is of brick, recently painted to simulate stone. The panelling and overmantel to the first floor of No. 23 Stonegate (480) also date from the early years of the 17th century (Plate 175).

A kitchen fireplace, of brick, with chamfered jambs and a four-centred arch, is in the S.E. cross-wing of the Treasurer's House (35), of the second quarter of the 17th century (Plate 174). During the latter part of the 17th century bolection-moulded stone fireplace surrounds were introduced, as in a ground-floor room of The Black Swan, Peasholme Green (317) (Plate 170), where the overmantel has a painted canvas panel flanked by stumpy pilasters with sunk panels and an overall moulded cornice. A similar surround and overmantel, around an earlier fireplace, is in the Court Room of the Treasurer's House.

Typical fireplaces of the late Stuart type, with bold bolection-moulded stone surrounds, remain in a few houses; the best examples are in Cumberland House (249) (Plate 178). It is probable that the fine enriched overmantel in the first-floor front room of the Red House, Duncombe Place (156), had a similar bolection-moulded surround to the original fireplace. Very popular during the second quarter of the 18th century were the simple stone or marble fireplaces with fielded panels to the jambs and frieze and enriched key-blocks and without mantelshelves. The shelves were often added later, as in the saloon of No. 45 Stonegate (492) (Plate 180), whilst at the first floor of No. 10 Precentor's Court (378) the simple fireplace is transformed by the addition of fine but incongruous carved and moulded woodwork of a later date (Plate 180). A more modest example, situated at the second floor of No. 9 New Street (287), of 1746, has incised decoration with a Gothic flavour (Plate 180). Palladian stone fireplaces are well illustrated in Burlington's Assembly Rooms (45), of 1730–5 (Plate 99). It is probable that the great number of fireplaces of the mid century in the Palladian style is due to the availability of builders' pattern books, and none was more widely used than Batty Langley's The City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Design, published in 1745. The fireplace at No. 70 Walmgate (516) is based on Plate LXXX of Batty Langley, and Plate LXXXVI is the inspiration for the saloon fireplace of No. 19 Colliergate (117), of 1748 (Plate 177); it is possible that the fireplace in the Drawing Room of the Treasurer's House (35) is based on the same design (Plate 87).

The brief popularity of the rococo style is not developed in its full exuberance in York, but some rococo motifs are incorporated in arabesque embellishments to a number of fireplaces such as that in the South Bedroom of the Treasurer's House (Plate 85), and on the first floor of No. 3 Stonegate (472) (Plate 179), both of the 1750s. Nos. 3–9 New Street (287), firmly dated to 1746, retain many original fittings, including fireplaces with overmantels (Plate 176). The decoration of chimney-pieces with carved arabesques gave way to the more delicate neo-classical enrichment of the Adam style in the late 1760s. A probable Adamdesigned white marble fireplace, said to have come from the Adelphi Buildings in London, is installed in the Mansion House at York (44) (Plate 179). In the saloon of No. 18 Blake Street (77), of 1789, is a simple elegant fireplace (Plate 179), which is very similar to one in Bootham Park Hospital (York IV, (21)), and is in contrast to the enriched fireplaces of the period.

During the later part of the 18th century, house interiors were being embellished with composition ornament derived from the neo-classicism of the Adam brothers' style. The Wolstenholme family of carvers and gilders of York provided much of the applied ornament to be found in a number of houses in the city (York IV). At the end of the 18th century and during the early 19th century, John Staveley, a carver and gilder, occupied No. 31 Stonegate where the shop front and first-floor front room are lavishly enriched with applied ornament, presumably made by John Staveley (free 1776) and his partner William Staveley (free 1781); Plate 163 illustrates the applied decoration to the doorway of the first-floor room and Plate 180 that to the fireplace. No. 4 Minster Yard has a fireplace with enrichments from similar moulds (Plate 179).

Fig. 9 (opp.). Doorway and Window Architraves.

a, b. (121) No. 23 Colliergate. c. 1700.

c, d. (407) No. 31 St. Saviourgate. 1735.

e, f. (409) No. 18 St. Saviourgate. c. 1740.

g, h. (409) No. 22 St. Saviourgate. c. 1740.

i, j. (287) No. 9 New Street. 1746.

k. (117) Nos. 18, 19 Colliergate. 1748.

l, m. (76) No. 25 Blake Street. 1785.

n, o. (404) Nos. 1–7 St. Saviourgate. c. 1840.

Fig. 10. Dado and Skirting Details.

a. (36) Guildhall. Committee Room 1. 1679.

b. (375) No. 4 Precentor's Court. Ground-floor front room. Early 18th-century.

c. (35) The Treasurer's House. Drawing Room. c. 1730.

d. (35) The Treasurer's House. West Sitting Room. Mid 18th-century.

e. (35) The Treasurer's House. Dining Room. Mid 18th-century.

f. (89) Castlegate House. Saloon. 1762–3.

g. (89) Castlegate House. Drawing Room. 1762–3. a to e all include panel mouldings.

Panelling. The small panelled wainscotting of the early 17th century was installed in some mediaeval timber-framed houses, providing greater comfort through its insulating properties. Many later buildings incorporate reused sections of this type of panelling in less important rooms on upper floors.

Nos. 56, 58 Stonegate (471) has a fully panelled first-floor room with carved enriched friezes of high quality (Plates 170, 197). The Black Swan, Peasholme Green (317), contains similar panelling (Plate 170), and other fittings of later 17th-century date. The Committee Room at the Guildhall (36) has a carved overmantel, with an inscription stating that the room was refurbished in 1679 (Plate 197). The oak panels all have bolection-moulded surrounds (Fig. 10a) below a bold projecting cornice enriched with carved formalised acanthus leaves.

Cumberland House (249) has probably the finest bolection-panelled room of the early years of the 18th century (Plate 171), and a more modest example is in No. 4 Precentor's Court (375), of c. 1710 (Plate 172; Fig. 10b). By c. 1730 the projection of the panel surrounds was greatly reduced and the fielded panels were recessed, as in the Drawing Room of the Treasurer's House (Plate 81; Fig. 10c); thereafter the fielded panels were recessed but had no surrounding moulding, as in the West Sitting Room of the same building, of mid-century date (Fig. 10d). A much simpler type of panelling is employed in No. 18 St. Saviourgate, of c. 1740 (Plate 173), and in the Dining Room of the Treasurer's House, of the mid 18th century, where the panels are formed with mouldings of plaster (Fig. 10e). After this date panelling was generally restricted to the dado only (Fig. 10f), as in Castlegate House (89), completed 1763, and finally it was no longer used.

Plasterwork. A number of early 17th-century ceilings exist, some almost complete and others only fragmentary. The coved ceiling to the second floor of No. 24 Coney Street (131) has an overall geometric arrangement of moulded shallow ribs with decorative motifs in many of the compartments (Plate 164). Nearby, in Nos. 5, 7 Coney Street (137), a fine ceiling of a similar type was photographed before being concealed (Plate 164); elsewhere in the building, a highly ornamented ceiling is partly preserved (Plate 165). It has an overall decoration of formalised floral ornament, birds, grapes and strapwork, including crudely formed male and female busts with strapwork frames.

The best example of plasterwork of James I's reign in York is probably the ceiling to the ground floor of No. 2 Minster Court (270) (Plate 166). This ceiling is, sadly, very over-painted, obscuring the quality of the work. Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark (61) has a ceiling of a similar period to the ground floor which incorporates Tudor roses surmounted by royal crowns, fleurs-de-lys, and lion-masks, all finely cast from welldesigned moulds (Plate 166). No decorative plaster ceilings of the second half of the century exist in York, and only moulded cornices appear, as in the ground-floor room of The Black Swan, Peasholme Green (317) (Plate 170).

In the early years of the 18th century, the enrichment of interiors with plasterwork recommenced, though limited to modest decoration, as over the staircases at Cumberland House (249), No. 10 Lendal (254) (Plate 167), and Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark (61) (Plate 168). The entrance hall of the Judge's Lodging (250) has demi-Corinthian columns supporting a plaster entablature with an arabesque enriched frieze (Plate 115) and, over the main staircase, the ceiling has shallow ribs forming a geometrical arrangement unusually supported on groined vaulting resting on moulded and leaf-decorated corbels (Plate 114). The passage leading off the staircase landing also has groined vaulting, in plaster, supported on rather heavy moulded corbels (Plate 115). Lord Burlington's Assembly Rooms (45) (Plate 98), with its Corinthian colonnaded main compartment, has the columns formed with a stone core, cased in plaster and marbled; the fine capitals and entablature are also in plaster and possibly by John Bagnall, who received payments during the period 1731–4.

A few highly-skilled plasterers lived in York in the 18th century. Isaac Mansfield, an important London plasterer who worked for James Gibbs and for Vanbrugh at Blenheim and Castle Howard, lived in York from 1704 and became mayor in 1728–9. The York plasterer Thomas Perritt (1710–59), who employed Joseph Rose senior (c. 1723–80) as an apprentice in 1738, had an extensive practice in Yorkshire. Joseph Rose junior (1745–99), nephew of the former, became famous for his work as Robert Adam's plasterer. The Italian stuccatore Joseph Cortese (fl. c. 1725–78) lived for a time at Whitby, before moving to York, and had an extensive practice in the North, working mostly for the York architect John Carr. There appears to have been some working arrangement between Cortese and the York plasterer James Henderson (fl. c. 1755–81), who eventually became Carr's chief plasterer.

Fairfax House (82), 1755–62, built for Lord Fairfax of Elmley by John Carr, is richly decorated throughout with some of the finest plasterwork in Yorkshire, and is obviously by the hands of a master craftsman displaying his virtuosity and repertoire of design motifs, ranging from the rococo work of the entrance and staircase hall walls (Plate 105), and the coving of the ceiling over the staircase (Plate 104), to the more naturalistic forms of the Dining Room and Saloon ceilings. On the ground floor, the Dining Room ceiling has the figure of Abundantia set within an elliptical border, with adjacent naturalistic compositions of wine glasses and churchwardens' pipes, balanced by wind instruments, the whole forming a symmetrical arrangement (Plate 102). On the first floor, the Saloon ceiling (Plate 106) has a vigorous arabesque design incorporating naturalistic vines, fruit and foliage entwining a central circle. A distinctive motif is an interlace pattern formed with curling stems and interwoven with narrower linear forms; this is to be found in work by Joseph Cortese at Brandsby Hall and Newburgh Priory, North Yorkshire, and Elemore Hall, County Durham, as well as in the attributed work at Sutton Park, also in North Yorkshire. It is also present in a ceiling of No. 1 Minster Court (270) (Plate 169).

Both John Carr and Joseph Cortese were working for Lord Fairfax at Gilling Castle in the 1750s (Geoffrey Beard, Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain (1975)); it would, therefore, seem very probable that they were also working together at the town residence of the same patron. It is also significant that there are no documented works by Cortese from 1757 to 1762 (when he executed a minor work at Beverley Guildhall), the very period during which Fairfax House was being built. The only mention of payments to a plasterer in the existing building accounts is to James Henderson, on 24 May 1762, for £1. 8s. 4d., and a note of day works done by Henderson. As far as can be ascertained, Henderson never did figure work of the calibre present in Fairfax House, but it is known that Cortese did, at Gilling Castle and Lytham Hall (completed 1764).

(Jas. E.W.)

Staircases. No early 17th-century staircase survives, but those of the mid and late 17th century are commonly arranged with half or quarter-landings around variously-sized wells, although in more restricted spaces they rise in straight flights. They characteristically have close strings and square newels, the strings normally moulded and the newels, occasionally panelled and sometimes with finials and pendants of ball or other shape, almost invariably have attached half-balusters. Carved brackets embellish some basal newels, but no staircase has original dado panelling. Handrails were at first tenoned into the newels some way below their caps, but in the late 17th century the base of the ascending flight frequently runs in continuation of the moulded cap. The early 17th-century balusters reused at No. 35 Stonegate (488) (Plate 189) differ greatly from the succeeding 17th-century types, the earliest of which has a bulbous shape with moulding rings, as at No. 19 Shambles (427), The Black Swan, Peasholme Green (317) (Plate 189) and No. 64 Low Petergate (345) (Plate 189). The other types, all of which continued in use into the early 18th century, all have a bulbous form over a vase, ball or inverted bulb shape, as at Nos. 12, 14 Pavement (311), No. 9 Precentor's Court (377) (Fig. 11h) and No. 35 Stonegate (488) (Plate 189), respectively. In the early 18th century the ball form often developed an elongated neck, giving a bulb-like shape, as in the back stair at No. 26 St. Saviourgate (411). Splat balusters copying the profiles of these turned forms include those in No. 22 Stonegate (459) (Fig. 11b), Nos. 35, 36 Shambles (436) (Fig. 11e) and the back stair at the Red House, Duncombe Place (156) (Fig. 11d). The only shaped and pierced splat balusters are those in the heavily-restored 17th-century staircases at St. William's College (34) (Fig. 11a).

The early 18th century is marked by the appearance of balusters incorporating various forms of classical column. Balustrades composed solely of columns, Ionic in the main stair (Plates 114, 115) at the Judge's Lodging (250) and Roman Doric at No. 12 High Ousegate (233) (Fig. 11k), are rare, and a more common type has a column over a pedestal often incorporating one or more forms derived from 17th-century balusters. The columns are sometimes short and squat, as at Judges' Court (133) (Plate 190), at No. 35 High Petergate (337) where there are similar splat balusters, and at No. 14 High Ousegate (234) (Fig. 11i), although balusters with identical pedestals to the latter, but under more correctly-proportioned columns, occur in the main stair at No. 26 St. Saviourgate (411). Other balusters with these taller columns, but with different pedestals, include those in No. 4 Colliergate (108) (Fig. 11j), Cumberland House (249) back stair (Plate 190), Nos. 10–14 Lendal (254) (Plate 191) and No. 11 High Ousegate (233) (Fig. 11n). The balusters in the main stair (Plate 94; Fig. 11r) at the Mansion House (44) are of this type and have reverse-taper columns, an unusual column form repeated in the contemporary main stair (Plate 86; Fig. 11q) at the Treasurer's House (35) and under the bottom terminal scroll (Plate 192) at No. 7 New Street (287), built in 1746. Splat balusters are few, but include those in the back stair at Judges' Court (133) (Fig. 11e, f), the basement stair at No. 12 Lendal (254) (Fig. 11g), and some of wavy profile at Nos. 4, 4a Precentor's Court (375) (Plate 190).

The introduction, still in the early 18th century, of a knop between column and pedestal produced what became the basic form of 18th-century turned baluster. Knops, initially square in section but later also round and umbrella-shaped, were first introduced into balusters with pedestals incorporating some 17th-century derived forms, as in the main staircase (Plate 191) at Cumberland House (249), No. 31 St. Saviourgate (407) (Plate 191), No. 70 Walmgate (516) (Plate 191), No. 6 Minster Yard (277) (Plate 192), No. 19 Walmgate (525) (Fig. 11l), No. 3 Minster Court (270) (Fig. 11m) and No. 8 New Street (288) (Plate 190). The communion rail balusters at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate (2) (Plate 34), which are of this type, date from 1715 (not 1675: York III, lxxxviii).

Simpler forms of pedestal were subsequently employed. The back stair at the Red House, Duncombe Place (156), includes some of the earliest balusters with knops over bulb-shaped pedestals with upper convex mouldings (Fig. 110), a type which continued in use into the mid 18th century. Balusters with knops over bulb-shaped pedestals, in use between c. 1720 and 1760, were more popular. The earliest examples include those in the back stair of the Judge's Lodging (250) and the main stair (Fig. 11p) at Nos. 13, 14 Fossgate (164); later examples include those in Nos. 3–9 New Street (287) (Plate 192) of 1746. The main staircase (Plate 86; Fig. 11q) at the Treasurer's House (35) has balusters of this type, although they are unusual in having faceted, reverse-taper shafts and panelled, concave-sided knops.

During the second quarter of the 18th century balusters with knops over urn-shaped pedestals were introduced, and in the second half of the century they became the standard form of turned baluster. The earliest example is in the main stair (Plate 196) at No. 62 Low Petergate (344), of c. 1725, which has three balusters to each step, two with plain shafts, the other with an entwined spiral shaft (cf. No. 86 Micklegate (York III, 83–5)). Plain and twisted shafts are also found at Nos. 45, 47 Stonegate (492), although elsewhere they are normally plain. The knops are more commonly square than round, and the urns, sometimes plain as at No. 23 Stonegate (480) (Plate 192) and No. 39 Coney Street (147) (Plate 193), more frequently have the simple mouldings found in the main stair at Castlegate House (89) (Plate 110), No. 18 Blake Street (77) (Plate 193; Fig. 11u) and No. 23 High Petergate (334) (Plate 196). At Peasholme House (417) (Plate 112; Fig. 11t) the urn is more fully moulded. The staircase in No. 18 Blake Street, built shortly after 1789, has balusters and shaped cheek-pieces identical to those in the house S.E. of No. 54 Low Petergate (342), which was newly-rebuilt in 1786, and in the late 18th-century main staircase at the Red House, Duncombe Place (156), and all must be by the same craftsman. Staircases at No. 10 Minster Gates (274) and No. 3 Blake Street (70) (Fig. 11s) are unusual in having columns with swollen shafts. A small number of mid 18th-century stairs, including No. 10 Minster Yard (280) (Plate 193) and Cromwell House, No. 13 Ogleforth (296) (Plate 193), have umbrella knops over urn-shaped pedestals. In Nos. 18, 20 Stonegate (458) the knops are gadrooned, a feature repeated in the main stair at Nos. 18, 19 Colliergate (117) (Fig. 71), completed 1748, which originally had three entirely different balusters on each step. This stair is also notable for its shaped treads and their carved ends.

Fairfax House (82), which has the earliest cantilevered stone staircases, is unique among 18th-century town houses in York in having staircase balustrades which combine wrought and cast ironwork. Both were made in 1762 by the smith, Maurice Tobin, and the craftsmanship of the main staircase (Plate 108) is equal to the high quality of the other fittings in the house. The interesting wrought-iron S-scrolls of the back stair recall those in the contemporary back stair (Plate 110) at Castlegate House (89), which could also be by Tobin, who worked elsewhere for John Carr, architect of both these houses.

The 18th century saw significant developments in stair construction as well as design, and most innovations are first found in the staircases of the major early 18th-century town houses. The main staircase at Cumberland House is of false cantilever construction throughout, but in later houses, including No. 10 Lendal, Nos. 18, 20 Stonegate, Nos. 18, 19 Colliergate, No. 24 St. Saviourgate (410) and probably the Mansion House, only the flights above the first half-landing are of this construction; the first flight has an open string. One of the earliest stairs with an open string throughout is in No. 26 St. Saviourgate, although the type did not come into wider use until the mid 18th century. The stairs in Nos. 3–7 New Street, which rise to the second floors with open strings and open ramped handrails, and above this with close strings and blind ramped handrails, are typical of a number of others of mid 18th-century date which combine these methods of construction. The ramped handrail, at first blind but later open, was introduced in the early 18th century; a rare variant, the S-shaped ramp, is first found in the main stair at the Treasurer's House. Dado panelling, present in many early 18th-century houses, continued to be used into the mid 18th century, as at Nos. 3–9 New Street (Plate 192), built 1746, and Nos. 18, 19 Colliergate, completed 1748. Later houses, such as Peasholme House (Plate 112) of 1752, and Castlegate House (Plate 110) of 1762–3, only have a dado rail; others, such as Fairfax House (Plate 108), completed in 1762, have nothing. Scrolled terminals were increasingly used at the base of stairs during the century, and occasional carved brackets appear at the foot of the dado panelling, as at Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark and No. 62 Low Petergate (Plate 200).

A number of late 18th-century stairs, all originally with close strings, have Chinese fret balustrades, most frequently in the form of that in No. 82 Goodramgate (Fig. 88). At No. 37 Stonegate (490) the balustrade is a complex of sub-divided and intersecting lozenges and crosses, in contrast to the simple repeated saltire of that in No. 36 Coney Street (135). The saltire is also found in early 19th-century landing balustrades at No. 46 Goodramgate (218) and No. 65 Low Petergate (359).

Fig. 11. Staircase Balusters.

a. (34) St. William's College. Mid-late 17th-century.

b. (459) No. 22 Stonegate. 17th-century.

c. (436) Nos. 35, 36 Shambles. 17th-century.

d. (156) The Red House, Duncombe Place. Back stair. Early 18th-century.

e, f. (133) Judges' Court, Coney Street. Back stair. Early 18th-century.

g. (254) No. 12 Lendal. c. 1714.

h. (377) No. 9 Precentor's Court. Early 18th-century.

i. (234) No. 14 High Ousegate. Early 18th-century.

j. (108) No. 4 Colliergate. Early 18th-century.

k. (233) No. 12 High Ousegate. c. 1705.

a-g = Wooden splat balusters.

x = Cast-iron balusters.

h-w = Wooden turned balusters.

l. (525) No. 19 Walmgate. c. 1700.

m. (270) No. 3 Minster Court. Early 18th-century.

n. (233) No. 11 High Ousegate. c. 1705.

o. (156) The Red House, Duncombe Place. Back stair. Early 18th-century.

p. (164) Nos. 13, 14 Fossgate. c. 1720.

q. (35) The Treasurer's House. Main stair. c. 1725.

r. (44) Mansion House. Main stair. c. 1726.

s. (70) No. 3 Blake Street. Early-mid 18th-century.

t. (417) Peasholme House, St. Saviour's Place. Main stair. 1752.

u. (77) No. 18 Blake Street. c. 1789.

v. (170) No. 35 Fossgate. 1812–18.

w. (112) No. 10 Colliergate. c. 1840.

x. (26) Former Ebenezer Chapel, No. 3 Little Stonegate. 1851.

Plain, square-sectioned balusters, usually of wood, appear in such late 18th-century stairs as those in No. 11 Castlegate (81) and Nos. 91, 93 Low Petergate (369), but are most common in the 19th century. At No. 5 Stonegate (473) balusters of this form alternate with splat balusters cut in free imitation of 17th-century types. At No. 3 St. Sampson's Square (397) and No. 20 St. Andrewgate (383) two late 18th-century stone cantilevered stairs have fluted, square-sectioned iron balusters, a form repeated in the early 19th century at No. 32 Stonegate (461) and No. 58 Low Petergate (343), the latter of wood. The stair at the Purey-Cust Chambers, Dean's Park (154) (Plate 194), built 1824–5, is deliberately archaic in design and construction.

Many turned balusters of the first half of the 19th century were inspired by 18th-century types, although they are more slender and often have characteristically 19th-century multiple reeded mouldings. A common type has a slender swollen column on an elongated bulb-shaped pedestal, as at No. 35 Fossgate (170) (Fig. 11v), although at No. 7 King's Staith (248) the pedestal is urn-shaped. Balusters occasionally occur in the form of a pure column, as at No. 25 High Petergate (335), or of a column with a mid-shaft moulding, as at No. 24 High Ousegate (239), but a typically 19th-century type has a straight shaft interrupted by a series of separate mouldings, as at No. 10 Colliergate (112) (Fig. 11w). At No. 37 Stonegate (490) the shaft alternately expands and contracts between mouldings. 19th-century stairs are occasionally cantilevered, but otherwise have close or open strings, the latter usually with shaped cheek-pieces.

The second quarter of the 19th century saw a great increase in the use of cast-iron balusters, the majority cast by the Walmgate, York, iron foundry of John Walker (see Monument (514) and J. Malden, 'The Walker Ironfoundry, York, c. 1825–1923', York Historian, 1 (1976), 37–52). Walker at first worked in partnership with Joseph Gibson, and a 'Pattern Book' compiled by the firm includes several staircase balusters (Plate 195), amongst them a number from Nos. 1–9 St. Leonard's Place (395), begun 1834, where the most elaborate balustrades are the identical sets in Nos. 5 and 9 (Plate 194), and that in No. 6 (Plate 194). The stairs in Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 8 (Plate 194) are identical, as is that in De Grey House, St. Leonard's Place (394), built 1835 by G. T. Andrews and P. F. Robinson. This last stair also has the narrow balusters used by the same architects in combination with another type at No. 1 St. Leonard's Place (Plate 195) and the York City and County Bank, No. 13 Parliament Street (301) of 1835. The staircase with vine-scroll balusters in No. 7 St. Leonard's Place (Plate 195) is almost identical to that by J. P. Pritchett at No. 9 Minster Yard (279), built in 1837. G. T. Andrews used this same baluster design at the De Grey Rooms (48), built 1841–2, and No. 1 St. Helen's Square (391), 1846–7. Pritchett used cast-iron panels with Gothic tracery at No. 8 Minster Yard (279) (Plate 195) in 1837, and angular iron panels, also found at No. 20 Castlegate (87), at the Ebenezer Chapel (26) (Fig. 11x) opened in 1851. Balusters cast by Walker were used by James Simpson at the Centenary Chapel (24) in 1839, but the elaborate balustrade at the Salem Chapel (31) has affinities to those cast by Carron of Falkirk. The cast-iron balustrade at No. 23 Stonegate (480) (Plate 194) incorporates the emblem of Aesculapius.


Houses and Public Buildings 1800–1850

In 1828 the Directory published by Pigot & Co. recorded that since the reign of George II (1727–60) the City of York had 'progressively improved; many of the streets have been widened, well paved and lighted, and a number of old houses have been taken down ... and although the city still bears the semblance of great antiquity yet it has an air of great respectability, and, indeed, is embellished with many excellent public as well as private buildings ...'. Extensive changes took place in York in the first half of the 19th century and in 1854 Robert Davies lamented that 'the medieval character, by which much of our street architecture was distinguished so recently as in the early part of the present century, is now rapidly disappearing', and that the demolished buildings were replaced by 'modern structures as trim and insipid as plain bricks and mortar, formal sash-windows, and pseudo-classic doorways can combine to make them' (Walks through the City of York, 3). These changes are recorded in considerable detail in contemporary newspaper reports, particularly in the Yorkshire Gazette, and in the records of the City Commissioners, of the Dean and Chapter, and of the Corporation.

Within the walled city there was no room for expansion of the kind noticed in the extramural areas covered by York III and IV, and improvements were thus generally confined to the rebuilding of individual houses on old sites or the clearing of whole areas for the widening of existing streets or the construction of new ones. The only large-scale building on ground then unbuilt upon was of terraced housing such as that off Walmgate in Long Close Lane, built before 1818 (Hargrove, ii, 312), and that in Tower Place (498). It was only where large areas such as that round the Minster and in Mint Yard were cleared that building could take place uninfluenced by existing site boundaries and, even where large-scale demolition was undertaken, economic considerations such as the desire for a large number of rents or the need to provide the maximum number of frontages to a commercial street resulted in intensive developments. The original plans for the laying out of St. Leonard's Place, by Peter Atkinson junior, provided for a larger number of houses than were eventually built, and even after the intervention of C. H. Elsley, who wished to live in the street himself and therefore favoured a smaller number of houses, the development there was considerably denser than that carried out in the vicinity of the Minster under Dean Cockburn. It is interesting, however, that a speculative scheme for a crescent of about twenty houses in Minster Yard, designed by Thomas Atkinson, had been proposed in 1791 (YH, 1 Jan. 1791); but it was not carried out. Here from the 1820s onwards individual buildings, such as the New Residence (154) of 1824–5 by Atkinson and Sharp, and the New Deanery, built 1827–31, and the Minster Song School (49), completed by 1833, both by Watson and Pritchett, were erected as well as the small terraced houses, Nos. 24–36 High Petergate (324).

Rebuilding within the confines of existing sites, and sometimes with the added constraint of having to set the frontages further back, produced some curious solutions in terms of internal planning. Nos. 2–8 Minster Gates and 40 Low Petergate (273), built after 1839 on the site of houses which stood forward of the present buildings, are of four storeys with shops on the ground floor and rather cramped living accommodation above as a result of the attempt to fit a large number of units on a restricted site. Nos. 8, 9 Minster Yard (279), designed by J. P. Pritchett as a Wills Office to occupy part of the site of the Old Deanery, was ingeniously converted by him into two houses when the Wills Office was transferred to London, with kitchen, scullery and offices stretching through to No. 50 Low Petergate (340) which, together with No. 48, was rebuilt at the same time and linked thereto (Fig. 103). No. 48 was a separate shop with parlour behind. The contrast between the facade facing the Minster and that facing the commercial street is marked. No. 12 Minster Yard (281), also by Pritchett, utilises a difficult wedge-shaped site. Nos. 37, 39 Low Petergate (352) (Plate 156) were rebuilt with a curved facade in 1827–8 when the corner between Petergate and Stonegate was improved, as were those on the corner of King's Square and St. Andrewgate, designed by Peter Atkinson junior in 1830; Nos. 1–7 St. Saviourgate (404) are similarly curved and have various plans to suit the restricted site at the corner of St. Saviourgate and Colliergate.

The construction of new streets and the widening of existing ones in the first half of the 19th century greatly altered the mediaeval pattern of the city. The rebuilding of Ouse Bridge in 1810–20 led to the erection of new buildings in Low Ousegate (Monuments (259)–(263)); St. Saviourgate and Spurriergate were widened and Girdlergate was destroyed and replaced by Church Street. The two most far-reaching schemes, however, were the construction of St. Leonard's Place through Corporation property in Mint Yard that was thought to be unproductive, and the construction of Parliament Street to provide a new market. St. Leonard's Place, which was thrown open to carriages in 1835, was considered to have 'introduced into our Northern Metropolis (already unrivalled for the beauty and interest of its ancient edifices), an elegant specimen of the modern style of domestic Architecture, which forms so great an Ornament to many parts of London and other Cities in the South' (YCA, B40, f. 458). Nos. 1–9 (395) (Plate 154), the elevations for which were designed by John Harper, are one of the few examples in York of a type of development more commonly found elsewhere. The construction of Parliament Street (Monuments (300)–(305)) was a major redevelopment involving extensive clearance of older properties. Surveys made before the work began show that about fifty buildings in Thursday Market (St. Sampson's Square), Jubbergate and Pavement must have been demolished. The new front elevations, though less regular than those in St. Leonard's Place, nevertheless had to conform in height and proportion to a specification laid down under the Act for rebuilding.

Architects' drawings for a number of buildings erected in the first half of the 19th century survive and, together with newspaper advertisements and features that remain in some buildings, are invaluable for the information they give about room use and about the standards of accommodation expected and provided at various levels. The majority of the records are preserved in the Minster Library, in the City Archives, and in the office of Messrs. Brierley, Leckenby, Keighley and Groom. Buildings containing shops and offices generally, for obvious reasons, had first-floor living accommodation, but Nos. 2–9 St. Leonard's Place, built mostly as private houses, also had first-floor drawing rooms as late as 1835; they also had basement kitchens. Pritchett's design for a shop in High Petergate (324) provides a basement warehouse. The designs by J. B. & W. Atkinson for a jeweller's shop in Coney Street for Messrs. Barber and North provide specialist workshop and selling areas, with kitchens in the basement, living accommodation on the upper floors, and water closets. Designs by the same architects for a public house in Spurriergate (447) and by J. P. Pritchett for one in High Petergate (324) illustrate the special problems of public-house planning; the need for an unobtrusive staircase to the first-floor living accommodation is also seen in No. 5 Walmgate (518). No. 1 High Petergate (325), the house and yard of John Tilney, marble and stone mason, is a good example in the early 19th century of a building which was devoted to commercial use and probably had a first-floor kitchen. Other special-purpose buildings of interest include No. 31 Castlegate (84), built c. 1825–6 as the office of P. F. Robinson and G. T. Andrews, where the architects went to considerable lengths to ensure adequate light, the tannery at No. 36 Aldwark (69), designed in 1829 by Thomas Pickersgill, and the King's Arms p.h. (170), Fossgate, built as an hotel in the second decade of the century.

Baths, and more particularly water closets, were by no means unusual. Thomas Laycock in his Report on the State of York (1844), 7, notes that 'houses of the higher classes and all the more respectable houses recently built' had water closets emptying into drains or cesspits and that 'some of the almshouses have been rebuilt with some regard to this important point, as Lady Hewlay's charity, Wilson's hospital &c.'. The plan for the former by Pritchett and Son, dated 1840, marks W.C.s in the yards. However, the Report also observes that there was no means of compelling builders to provide sewers for new houses and that among the cottage tenements there were from four to fourteen families sharing a privy. A large number of the drawings that survive indicate that houses were provided with internal sanitation although it is sometimes doubtful whether the device was actually a water closet. When Thomas Laycock, whose own house, Fishergate House (York IV, Monument (105)), was built with water closets, took over the lease of No. 1 New Street in 1847, the Corporation installed a water closet at no extra rent. A house lately occupied by Mrs. Robinson in St. Saviourgate had a water closet in 1835 (YG, 6 June 1835). No. 4 Spurriergate (451), designed in 1840 as a public house, had urinals and water closets, and a building on the corner of King's Square and Church Street with a shop and showrooms, a dining room, a drawing room, six bedrooms and a good kitchen, had no less than three water closets in 1847 (YG, 3 April 1847). The New Deanery, built 1827–31, had a hot bath (YG, 21 May 1831) with hot water piped from the kitchen boiler. In 1844 (Laycock, 13) there were water pipes to about 3,000 of the 7,000 houses in the city; many of these had cisterns but the smaller ones had taps only.

Another improvement which gradually became more widespread was the supply of gas. In 1823 the Royal Assent was given to the bill providing for the lighting of the streets of York by gas and the York Gas Light Company was founded shortly afterwards. The Company started supplying about 250 private consumers and the whole of the public lighting. The principal shops and streets were lighted by gas in March 1824 (York Gas Company, The Centenary of Gas Lighting in York); Lendal Chapel was the first public building to be lighted by gas (YG, 28 Aug. 1824). The York Union Gas Company was set up in 1836 and it is interesting to note that among the directors were men like C. H. Elsley and Robert Cattle who were involved with the building of Nos. 1–9 St. Leonard's Place (395), which houses would have been lighted by gas from the outset. The public buildings designed by J. P. Pritchett are noteworthy for their heating and ventilation systems.

Styles of building and fittings and the types of building materials used follow much the same pattern as those of the monuments described in York III. The majority of houses are built in a simple classical style and range in size from the small houses off Walmgate to the large houses in St. Leonard's Place. Most of the commercial buildings and banks are classical in inspiration; the Yorkshire Insurance Company offices (391) (Plate 155) of 1846–7 have as their source the Palazzo Farnese whereas some of the motifs used by J. P. Pritchett are of Greek derivation. The use of the Tudor and Gothic styles was mostly confined to buildings in the area around the Minster, although John Harper designed a 'Tudor' arcade to the Theatre Royal (York IV, Monument (31)), and Lady Hewley's Hospital (41) (Plate 152) is in the same style. Atkinson and Sharp employed the Tudor style in 1824 for the New Residence (154) (Plate 152) and its fittings (Plates 163, 194). The New Deanery, St. Peter's School, now the Minster Song School (49) (Plate 150), Nos. 8, 9 (279) (Plate 151) and 12 Minster Yard (281), all either by Watson and Pritchett or Pritchett alone, were built in the Gothic or Tudor style and in each, as was said of the New Deanery, the fittings 'have a strict regard to the general style of the building' (New Guide, 94–5); these monuments form a marked contrast to the simple buildings in Petergate and to Pritchett's classical buildings such as Lendal Chapel (29), Salem Chapel (31) (Plate 66), the Friends' Meeting House (27), the new front to the Assembly Rooms (45) (Plate 96), and the York County Savings Bank (392). An outstanding example of the facility in designing in different historical styles by this partnership is the choice of three offered in 1821 for the elevations of houses N. of the Minster. John Harper was equally versatile.

Most fittings are relatively plain, with the exception of those in the monuments near the Minster described above and of a few fireplaces decorated with composition ornament. Reeded mouldings and angle paterae are the most common features and these became coarser as the century progressed. Of particular interest are the fittings in Nos. 1–9 St. Leonard's Place (395) of high quality, including some elaborate plasterwork, fireplaces from the Kendal Marble Works and cast-iron balustrades by Gibson and Walker (Plates 194, 195). Although a number of buildings can be ascribed to particular architects, decorative work which can be identified as having been executed by known craftsmen is rare. Only the craftsmen working for the Corporation or for the Dean and Chapter are well documented. However, an identifiable firm worked at No. 31 Stonegate (483) where J. and W. Staveley, carvers and gilders, redecorated the first-floor room of the 17th-century house they occupied in c. 1800 and added a shop front (Plates 180, 163).

Brick was the most common walling material although some of the 19th-century buildings in Minster Yard are of stone. The use of rendering is rare. The houses in St. Leonard's Place and the De Grey Rooms are of brick but rendered with 'Roman cement'. The only other examples of this treatment are the Institute of Popular Science and Literature (405), by J. B. and W. Atkinson, and the now demolished No. 40 St. Andrewgate (386), the idiosyncratic front elevation of which suggested that it was the work of Thomas Bennett, sculptor and monumental mason. Stucco was also occasionally used to hide alterations to earlier buildings as in No. 27 St. Andrewgate where an early 18th-century house was made fashionable with round-headed windows to the front elevation and with stucco grooved to simulate ashlar. Doorways are generally fairly plain with simple pilasters and flat hoods, although at the beginning of the period the use of composition enrichment and pediments added interest. Doors with six fielded panels continued into the century, but towards the end of the period four sunk panels or four flush panels defined by a flush bead-mould were more usual. Fanlights have glazing bars arranged in simple geometrical patterns. The position of most houses in streets and without front gardens meant that porches were rare; those in St. Leonard's Place have plain square columns. Windows are usually glazed with the formal sash windows lamented by Davies. Some stair windows are round-headed but more often they have flat or slightly cambered heads and brick arches; these were sometimes rendered and grooved to suggest stone voussoirs. Eaves gutters are generally carried on simple bearers and roofs are covered with pantiles or Welsh slate.


Building Materials


There are no quarries near York. The Romans made extensive use of gritstone from West Yorkshire but throughout the Middle Ages and until the 19th century new building stone generally used in the city was magnesian limestone from the Tadcaster area or from Huddleston near Sherburn-in-Elmet. It was used in the Minster, parish churches, the city walls and a few major buildings, such as the Guildhall and St. Leonard's Hospital; there are a number of references to mediaeval stone-built houses though little survives except for remains of the Norman House (469) in Stonegate and the ground storey of No. 6 Newgate (289). The Merchant Adventurers' Hall accounts record, in July 1358, 14 tons of stone from Tadcaster, 7s. In several parish churches, such as St. Andrew's and St. Mary, Castlegate, some gritstone occurs, probably reused Roman material. The essentially 17th-century Treasurer's House (35) has the front wall and the centre part of the rear elevation built of reused magnesian limestone, 'quarried' from demolished mediaeval buildings. In the 18th century the use of stone was virtually limited to dressings of facades, such as door surrounds, window-sills, key-stones, plat-bands and quoins. At the Castle (York II, 78, 82, 85), the early 18th-century Debtors' Prison is built of limestone, but the late 18th-century Assize Courts and Female Prison are of fine-grained sandstone, the first major buildings to use a different stone. In the first half of the 19th century several of the larger buildings were built of sandstone or gritstone from various Yorkshire quarries. Examples are Ouse Bridge (York III, (20) 48–50), the new front to the Assembly Rooms (45), the front elevation of Salem Chapel (31), now demolished, and the York County Savings Bank (392) in St. Helen's Square, where the stone is recorded to have come from Huddersfield. The last three buildings are by J. P. Pritchett, but the same architect's work for the Dean and Chapter in Minster Yard shows due respect to the Minster by being faced in magnesian limestone.


The earliest surviving bricks in York are those used extensively in the walls of the undercroft of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall (37). These are referred to in the accounts of 1358 as 20,000 'walteghill' (walltiles) bought from the Carmelite Friars for £6. The terminology may be compared with the variant forms 'walteghell' referred to at York Castle in 1364 and 'waltighel' at Hull in 1353 (Salzman, 141). At the Hall the bricks, laid in stretcher bond, are 10 in. long and 1¾ in. thick. The Carmelites owned a tile works, possibly the one referred to in 1384 in Bakeners Lane near St. Margaret's church in Walmgate (SS, cxx, 21). In the 15th century the Vicars Choral of the Minster manufactured bricks and roof tiles on a large scale from which they derived a substantial income. They had a tile works at Spitalcroft in Layerthorpe and another on the S.W. side of the Ouse between the river and Blossom Street. Purchasers of the tiles included the Minster which bought, for example, 10,300 in 1422–23 (Newsletter of University of Toronto Press, 1977, i, 1–9). 15th-century brick survives in only a few buildings, such as the Red Tower on the city wall (York II, 139–40), the King's Manor (York IV, (11) 30), and in the river wall of the Franciscan Friary (23). In timber-framed buildings, bricks laid on edge were extensively used for infilling panels in the framework (p. lxii). In the 16th and earlier 17th centuries bricks became more common in lesser buildings, being used for chimneys built as part of new timber-framed buildings or inserted into older ones. Tile pits near Walmgate Bar are mentioned in a lease of 15 January 1583 (YCA, B28, f. 84v) and brick and tile were being manufactured near Holgate Fields in 1645 and in the Bootham-Clifton area in the 18th century. The building of timber-framed houses was forbidden by the City Council in 1645 and thereafter brick was the ubiquitous material for house construction. The subsequent use of brickwork is described in York III (p. lxxx).

Roofing Materials

Pantile is the most common roof covering on houses which were built before the 18th century, though plain tiles also occur. There can be no certainty as to the nature of the original roofing material, at least in mediaeval houses. 'Thaktyles' are mentioned at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in 1432–3, but in 1459–60 there is a reference to thackboards for the repair of the roof of the hall. The accounts for the tile works of the Vicars Choral at Spitalcroft refer to 'thaktele, thakchap, thakbastards, rigg and bendetele'. There is no record of thatch being used in York.

Slate. The better grade houses of the mid 18th century had roofs of the expensive Westmorland slate. Towards the end of the century, however, increasing use was made of the purple-coloured slate from the newly-opened Welsh quarries, and this became the normal roof covering in the 19th century, as it was both cheaper and more efficient than tile.


Oak was the timber always used as the structural material in the framed buildings that were erected in York until the mid 17th century, probably obtained fairly locally in the Vale of York. The Merchant Adventurers' Hall accounts for 1357–61 record the use of timber from Bolton Percy and Thorpe Underwood. In the 18th century roof timbers were generally of softwood but many smaller houses incorporate reused oak from earlier structures, and oak panelling of the 17th century gave way to pine panelling which was always painted. Staircases of oak are to be found in the more important late 17th and early 18th-century houses, but generally they are of softwood, painted or grained to simulate hardwood. Mahogany makes its appearance in handrails to staircase balustrades of mansions built in the 1750s, such as Fairfax House (82), and Castlegate House (89) has a complete balustrade of mahogany; both these houses are to the designs of John Carr. A particularly elegant cantilevered sweeping staircase with a mahogany balustrade is in No. 23 High Petergate (334) of c. 1779 (Plate 196). No other hardwoods have been recorded in the fittings of York houses.


Architects 1700–1850

Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694–1753), architect and patron of the arts, was granted the freedom of York after designing the Assembly Rooms (45).

John Carr (1723–1807) had settled in York before October 1751, and was admitted to its freedom as a stone-cutter in 1757. He became an alderman and was twice Lord Mayor. Peter Atkinson senior (1735–1805) was apprenticed as a carpenter and worked as such for John Carr, becoming his assistant and ultimately succeeding to his practice. He served as City Steward and Husband of York from 1786–1805. His son, Peter Atkinson junior (c. 1776–1843), was taken into partnership in 1801 and succeeded to the practice on his father's death. His partnership with Matthew Phillips (c. 1781–1825) was dissolved in 1819, and from 1819–27 his former pupil Richard Hey Sharp (1793–1853) was his partner. He retired soon after 1833 and died in Calcutta. He was City Steward and Husband of York from 1805–33. His son, John Bownas Atkinson (1807–74), taken into partnership in 1831, continued his father's practice, and served as City Surveyor from 1850–4 and Sheriff of York in 1858–9. William Atkinson (1811–86), taken into partnership in 1837, continued in practice after his brother's death but resigned in favour of James Demaine (1842–1911) in 1878.

Thomas Atkinson (c. 1729–98), mason, architect and statuary, worked in partnership with Joseph Atkinson in a marble and stone business. After the dissolution of the partnership in 1765, each continued business in St. Andrewgate, York. Thomas' monument is in St. Saviour's church (15) (Monument (6)).

John Rawstorne (c. 1761–1832), a pupil of James Wyatt, practised in the Midlands and North of England. He had offices at Judges' Court, York.

James Pigott Pritchett (1789–1868) was articled to James Medland of Southwark, later worked for D. A. Alexander, and began practice in London in 1812. He moved to York in 1813 and was taken into partnership by Charles Watson (c. 1770–1836), who had moved to York from Wakefield in 1808. The partnership was dissolved in 1830, having been joined by Watson's son, William Watson, until his death in 1829 aged 24. Pritchett continued in practice alone, eventually taking one of his sons, James Pigott Pritchett (1830– 1911), into partnership.

George Townsend Andrews (1804–55), awarded a premium by the Society of Arts in 1824, entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1825. He worked in partnership with Peter Frederick Robinson (1776–1858), a pupil of Henry Holland and assistant of William Porden, and their office at No. 31 Castlegate (84) was built after the acceptance of their designs for work at York Castle in 1825. Andrews subsequently succeeded to Robinson's York practice. He was Sheriff of York in 1846–7, and was succeeded in practice by Rawlins Gould (1822–73).

John Harper (1809–42), architect and draughtsman, a pupil of Benjamin and Philip Wyatt, established a practice in York.

Thomas Pickersgill (c. 1807–69), architect, engineer and surveyor, was trained in the office of Atkinson and Sharp. He opened his practice in York in 1829 and in 1831 entered into partnership with the brothers John and Matthew Oates of Huddersfield. John died that year, but the remaining partnership was not dissolved until 1840. Both men remained in York. Thomas Pickersgill was eventually elected City Surveyor of York in 1854 and held this full-time office until his death. Matthew Oates was joined in partnership by his son, John Edwin Oates of Halifax, but the partnership was dissolved in 1850.

Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803–82), architect, founder of The Builder and inventor of the hansom cab, was born in York, becoming a freeman in 1826. He was articled to Matthew Phillips, worked for John Oates, and eventually went into partnership with his brother Charles Francis Hansom (1817–88).

The architect James Simpson (d. 1864) practised in Leeds.



  • 1. The terminology in this section is in accordance with that used in C. A. Hewett, The Development of Carpentry 1200–1700 (1969).