Merchants and Treasurers in York (OP2)

Hello fellow travelers!

York is filled with medieval history. It’s history and vibrancy add to the character of the city. After spending three days in this beautiful city, I have gathered a better understanding of the history within its walls. While we mainly observe castles and cathedrals, as the blog announces, today, we explored two different historically significant buildings that while not connected directly to either a cathedral or a castle, still play important roles in the history of the city.

One such place is the Treasurer’s House. The building itself was built in the fourteenth century and has gradually changed its uses over time. It started off as its namesake suggests, the treasurer’s house who ran the treasury for York Minster. This remained its purpose until the dissolution and Henry VIII. It was, then, turned into a house and passed from person to person until 1897 when it was purchased by Frank Greene, an industrialist from Yorkshire. His wealth and fascination with art and antiques brought the house into an eclectic place of art appreciation. Styles present in the house include Baroque, Regency, Victorian, and early twentieth century styles. Greene was very meticulous about the placement of his things, and it is said that he haunts the house due to the rearrangement of “his things” by the National Trust when it was given custody of the house by Greene in 1930. Everything inside the house was given to the National Trust, providing a wealth of history within its walls. Today, tours are given throughout the house, a café is located in the basement, and historical information on the structure and furnishings are provided, adding more character to the large amount of history found in York.

Another place of historical significance is the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall. The hall was built between 1357 and 1361. Its purpose was to house a meeting are for all of the trade guilds in Britain. Over time, it changed to include charity work, medical attention to the sick and wounded, house prisoners, and celebrate apprenticeship and academia. The members included masters of many trades and areas, creating a powerful group that at one point, controlled a monopoly over other traders. The tradition continues today, but the hall is also used to hold events such as weddings, providing many services to the community. The building, itself, has remained restored to its fourteenth century roots with arching timber beams, wooden plank floors, and plaster work on the walls. Paintings throughout the centuries and period furniture help to transport the visitor to a medieval York. The under croft provides an excellent view of medieval architecture with a combination of timber and stone as well as its medieval stained glass. Today, the chapel is often used for weddings and events. It’s rich historical significance provides insight into the life of a merchant throughout history, adding its place within York’s history. 

Both of the aforementioned historical sites provide insight into the lives of the people of medieval York to the present day. Each plays an important role in telling the history of York, and both continue to remain spectacular sites for visitors to explore that part of York’s past.

Until next time, happy traveling!

Ashley H.


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