York's Historical Architecture (Self Guided), York

With stunning architectural sites such as the Crown Court, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, Thomas Atkinson's House, St. William's College, the Treasurer's House and the King's Manor, this city has much to offer. Take the following tour to discover York’s vast array of medieval and neoclassical buildings.
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York's Historical Architecture Map

Guide Name: York's Historical Architecture
Guide Location: England » York (See other walking tours in York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: val
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • York Crown Court
  • Merchant Adventurers' Hall
  • Thomas Atkinson's House
  • St. William's College
  • Treasurer's House
  • The King's Manor
  • York Theatre Royal
  • York Assembly Rooms
  • Mansion House
  • York Guildhall
  • York Railway Station
York Crown Court

1) York Crown Court

At the end of the 18th century, three new buildings forming a U shape were constructed south of Clifford's Tower, the only surviving part of York Castle. The Assize Courts, on the west side, was one of them. Designed by John Carr, it now houses the York Crown Court. The Assizes were criminal courts used in England and Wales until their abolishment by the Courts Act of 1971. Since then, the criminal justice system has been under the jurisdiction of the Crown Court.
Merchant Adventurers' Hall

2) Merchant Adventurers' Hall (must see)

This guildhall in the city of York was one of the most important buildings in the medieval city. The majority of the Hall was built in 1357 by a group of influential men and women who came together to form a religious fraternity called the Guild of Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The main part of the building consists of the Great Hall and the undercroft, which was originally a hospital or almshouse for poor people of York.

The Great Hall is the largest timber-framed building in the UK still standing and used for its original purpose. The roof of the hall is of two spans supported by a row of large central timber posts. It includes complex crown posts and is held together by wooden pegs. The undercroft, like the Great Hall, is divided in two by its supporting row of timber posts. The undercroft also provides access to an attached chapel built for the use of the ill and poor in the hospital as well as the members of the Merchant Adventurers' Guild. It is still used for worship.

Why You Should Visit:
Excellent standard of preservation & interpretation, glorious gardens, good café & shop, and the staff is among the most welcoming in York.

Admission costs £6.50 but you can enjoy the outside and the discreet café for free (or no more than the price of a coffee).
The informative printed guide (there is also the option of an audio guide) for each of the rooms is recommended.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Fri: 10am–4:30pm; Sat: 10am–1:30pm
Last admission 30 mins before the Hall closes
Sight description based on wikipedia
Thomas Atkinson's House

3) Thomas Atkinson's House

Thomas Atkinson, an 18th century English architect, is famous for remaking the Bishopthorpe Palace in York in the Gothic Revival style. Though a rather influential figure of his time, very little is known about Atkinson's private life. His house, located at 20 St. Andrewgate, is one of the sparse evidences of his life in York.
St. William's College

4) St. William's College

Named after Saint William of York, an English priest and archbishop of York in the 12th century, St. William's College was built in 1461. It was home to the Chantry priests. Recently, this historic building was restored and nowadays functions as a visitor center, a conference hall, and a restaurant offering a true medieval dining experience.
Treasurer's House

5) Treasurer's House (must see)

In the care of the National Trust since 1930 (it was one of its first major properties), and tucked away behind the Minster, the Treasurer's House has both a lovely garden and fascinating collection of art and antiques.

The name derives from it being on the site of the medieval house of the Minster's Treasurer, a post abolished at the Reformation. The present building dates from the 17th century, but had been added to with various accretions and was actually three separate houses when in 1897 it was bought by Frank Green (1861-1954).

He was the son of wealthy Wakefield entrepreneurs and used his considerable wealth and educated taste to restore the house to what he thought it should look like in its heyday, albeit with a central great hall which was entirely of his own imagination.

He was an early collector of antiques, and his aim was not to deliver a home so much as a showcase for his collection of furniture, paintings and other treasures, with great attention to paid to the detail of their presentation. Each room was designed in the style of a different period, the better to show off the collection.

He was famously fastidious – not to say fussy – and the house abounds with notices telling the staff what to do and how to behave, and metal floor studs to indicate the exact position of the furniture. It is said he even wandered around to check on things at night! A bachelor, he gave the house to the Trust in 1930, while he moved on to Ashwick House in Somerset.

Visitors can wander on their own, and there is an audio guide available on request, as well as braille and large print guides. In each room, there is a separate guide to the paintings on display. Afterwards, the gardens (free entry) make a great place to escape the touristy bustle of the city.

To reach the cellar and attic you need to go on an accompanied tour: the cellar tour is mainly of interest to ghost enthusiasts (there are still people who claim to see them!), while the attic tour gives a great insight into the servants' lives. You can also have a wander round the very pleasant, photogenic garden (the wall is wide enough for a person to climb and look down on it – a nice feature for a photographer) and go down in the basement to find a reasonably priced tearoom and toilets.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am–4:30pm
The King's Manor

6) The King's Manor

The King's Manor, a Grade I listed building, is part of the University of York. King's Manor was built to house the abbots of St. Mary's Abbey in the 11th century. When the abbey was dissolved in 1539, Henry VIII instructed that it be the seat of the Council of the North. It performed this role until the Council was abolished in 1641. The building housed private residents until the 19th century, when it was taken over and expanded by the Yorkshire School for the Blind. The principal’s house, now home to the University's Centre for Medieval Studies, was built in 1900.
Sight description based on wikipedia
York Theatre Royal

7) York Theatre Royal (must see)

The York Theatre Royal was built in 1744 on the site of the medieval St. Leonard’s Hospital. Parts of the old hospital can still be seen, including archways and walls. Under the stage lies a well, which is believed to be from the Roman era. Under the direction of Tate Wilkinson, it attracted many of the finest actors of the period, including John Philip Kemble and his sister Sarah Siddons, Dorothea Jordan and Elizabeth Farren.

In the late 1800s, it was refurbished in the Victorian style, including the addition of a Victorian Gothic frontage, which is decorated with carved heads representing Elizabeth I and characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Following a £6million redevelopment, the theatre reopened in April 2016 with a new roof, an extended and re-modelled front of house area, a refurbished and redecorated main auditorium and with major improvements to access and environmental impact.

Why You Should Visit:
While the entrance is modern and functional, the theatre itself has maintained all of its historic charm and the variety & quality of shows for children as much for adults are excellent.
The new café created downstairs, with glass windows looking out through the gothic arches, offers the expected cakes and drinks at very reasonable prices.

If you only do one pantomime performance, make sure it is the one here – quite unique and an experience you won't forget.
Sight description based on wikipedia
York Assembly Rooms

8) York Assembly Rooms

The York Assembly Rooms, a Grade I listed building, was originally a place of leisure for the upper class. Built in the early 18th century, it is one of the earliest examples of neoclassical design in Europe, part of the city’s new wave in architecture, replacing the dark Gothic style. Currently, it serves as a restaurant.
Mansion House

9) Mansion House

The Georgian style Mansion House is the home of the Lord Mayor of York. Located on St. Helen's Square, at the intersection of Coney and Lendal, its foundation was laid in 1725, with the building being completed in 1732. Its architect is unknown. The house was restored in 1998 by the York Civic Trust. It exhibits a large collection of silver, antique furniture and paintings, including York's Great Sword of the State, from 1416, which once belonged to the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.
Sight description based on wikipedia
York Guildhall

10) York Guildhall

The York Guildhall has served many purposes throughout its long history, and has even been the scene of many Royal visits. It was the venue of Margaret Clitherow's trial, Richard III was entertained here in 1483, and Prince Albert was a guest of honor at a Royal banquet here as well. Because of damage sustained during an air raid in 1942, the present Guildhall is a rebuilt version of the 15th century building, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1960. The original stone walls, however, remain intact, as well as the Inner Room and its paneled walls, masons' marks, two hidden stairways and decorated ceiling.
Sight description based on wikipedia
York Railway Station

11) York Railway Station (must see)

Take a ride on the rails of yesteryear when arriving at the York Railway Station. Established in 1841 but relocated and rebuilt several times, this final location opened in 1877 with 13 platforms and was considered the largest rail station in the world. Used in many movie backdrops, platforms 9/10/11 are under the large curved glass and iron roof. Still functioning as a major rail station, the York Railway Station (station code YRK) is well worth the visit to arrive by rail and enjoy the ambiance of bygone rail travel not found anywhere else.

Try book rail travel in the UK as far in advance as possible – you'll save a fortune. Also, look for specials and off-peak travel.
If you are visiting the National Railway Museum, there is a direct pedestrian route via the footbridge inside the station.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in York, England

Create Your Own Walk in York

Create Your Own Walk in York

Creating your own self-guided walk in York is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Pubs of York

Pubs of York

York Brewery has produced award-winning beers. In 2002, Centurion's Ghost Ale was the winner of the Brewing Industry International Awards. Its other year round beers are Yorkshire Terrier, Guzler, Constantine, as well as several marvelous seasonal beers. Take this tour to discover York’s finest pubs, where you can enjoy any one of these beers.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
York's Old Town

York's Old Town

Start your tour of York’s Old Town at the Museum Gardens. Walk along Shambles, a medieval street and see its narrow houses, pavements and its famous Snickelways. Climb the spiral staircase of Clifford's Tower for a great view of the town. Take this tour to experience the history of this very old city.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
York Introduction Walking Tour

York Introduction Walking Tour

Established by the Romans as early as the 1st century AD, the walled city of York breathes history. York Minster, the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, Jórvík Viking Centre, and the National Railway Museum carry much legacy of the city's turbulent past, while the Stonegate street reveals York the way it is today. Follow this orientation walk to explore York in its variety.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
York's Haunted Houses Tour

York's Haunted Houses Tour

Undoubtedly, York is the most haunted city in the UK. Meet phantoms of Roman soldiers at the Treasurer’s House. Drop in at the York Arms to see the nun's ghost looking for her baby. Solve the mystery of the vanishing ballet slippers at Thomas's Hotel. At Yorkshire Terrier, discover the ghost of the old gentleman who is watching for burglars. And finally, enjoy the art of intimidation...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
York City Wall Tour

York City Wall Tour

York’s city wall has remained intact since the Roman occupation. The city was named Eboracum by the Romans and referred to as Eoforvic by the Angles. To the Vikings, it was Jorvik and the Normans gave it the name York. Take this tour to discover the attractions along York's ancient city wall.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
York's Medieval Churches

York's Medieval Churches

By 1330 there had been around 45 parish churches in York. Twenty of them survive, in whole or in part, and they are amazing. Today, twelve of the surviving churches hold services. Take this tour to become acquainted with these magnificent sacred places.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles