Guildhall, and guild chapel, also hospice, built in the later 14th century on earlier foundations, restored in the nineteenth century. Plan of hall and undercroft of 8 unequal bays in 2 parallel ranges. South-East chapel, North-East entrance extension of 3 bays in parallel ranges. L-shaped Governor's parlour wing South East of the entrance extension. It is a largely intact example of a 14th century major public building of that date; and it is one of the earliest examples of the use of brick as a building material in England since the end of the Roman period. The massive building comprises, a (mainly) brick undercroft; a timber-framed hall above; and a stone chapel, situated at the south-east end of the undercroft. The York merchants’ involvement with the site began in 1356, when a handful of merchants bought a block of land on Fossgate from the Percy family. Detailed accounts still held by the York merchants show that much building work took place between 1357 and 1361, and tree-ring dating indicates that the timbers in the hall were felled in 1357. It is likely that most of the existing building was standing by 1361, although the accounts record repair work taking place at regular intervals, and two annexes have been added to the building since the medieval period (INTERIM 1995).


Grid reference SE 6054 5171 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (19)

Full Description

Hall, undercroft and chapel; attached entrance extension and Governor's Parlour wing. Hall and undercroft 1357-61, partly rebuilt with inserted stack in late C16; hall refenestrated c1720. Chapel c1410, refitted 1667, re-roofed and gable end partly rebuilt in early C20. Entrance extension c1600, partly rebuilt and restored in 1935. Parlour wing c1950. Major restorations with some rebuilding 1927 and 1935 and later. For the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York. MATERIALS: undercroft of magnesian limestone and rose wall tiles, right return rebuilt in red brick in irregular bond, left return of mottled brick in stretcher bond. Hall of exposed timber-framing with rendered infill panels, framing in left return renewed. Chapel of magnesian limestone and orange-red brick. Entrance extension of orange brick in English bond on ground floor, right return of red brick in irregular bond; upper floor timber-framed with rendered infill panels; timber doorcases. Parlour wing in orange brick in stretcher bond with moulded brick dressings. All roofs of tile with rebuilt brick stack. PLAN: hall and undercroft of 8 unequal bays in 2 parallel ranges; south east chapel; north-east entrance extension of 3 bays in 3 parallel ranges; L-shaped Governor's Parlour wing attached to south-east of entrance extension.
EXTERIOR: ENTRANCE FRONT TO FOSSGATE: triple-gabled 3-bay extension of 2 storeys with attics: 2-storey Governor's Parlour wing to left. In left bay, restored doorcase of tapering Ionic pilasters raised on pedestals carved with fretwork ornament, with moulded cornice over jewelled frieze of arabesques and lion masks, and replacement geometric-panelled double doors. First floor entrance in centre bay between storeys, approached by flight of steps to C20 panelled double doors. Ground floor windows are of 2 brick mullioned lights; on first floor, 3 transomed lights with horizontal sliding sashes. Attic windows are of 2 lights with ovolo mullions and frames. Gables finished with restored bargeboards carved with vine trails, terminating in Tudor flower stops and shaped pendant finials. To left of entrance extension, behind Governor's Parlour wing, 2-storey 4-bay hall and undercroft front. Undercroft has blocked doorway in 2-centred chamfered arch and low recess beneath depressed pointed arch with indecipherable black letter inscription: above, two inserted lights. Towards left end is square-headed window of 2 cinquefoiled lights and second similar window now altered to doorway. On hall floor, windows are 18-pane sashes,
one in left end bay altered to doorway. PICCADILLY FRONT: 2 storeys 8 bays. Inserted panelled door in 2-centred brick arch at left end of undercroft. At right end, altered window of 2 lights, with double hollow-chamfered timber surround and mullion with moulded base, reversed and reset. Remaining windows are trefoiled single lights in stone surrounds, one beneath tall pointed arch of blocked former doorway. At far right, chapel has square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights in chamfered surround. On hall floor, windows are 18-pane sashes. LEFT RETURN: 2-bay twin-gabled front to hall and undercroft on moulded double chamfered plinth: left bay jettied within chapel. Undercroft has angle buttress to right and restored inserted window of 3 cinquefoiled lights. Chapel has similar 5-light window in chamfered surround and moulded and chamfered plinth: in gable end, blind recess beneath flat arch of rubbed brick, round-arched in centre. RIGHT RETURN: 2-storey return to entrance extension, to left of 2-bay twin-gabled hall, both parts jettied. Extension has inserted 2-light timber mullion window on ground floor and blocked 3-light window to left of restored 2-light timber mullion window on first floor. Undercroft has 8 narrow rectangular windows in hollow chamfered brick surrounds. Hall has 4-light window with diamond mullions in each gable. Windows except those to hall have square or diamond lattice glazing.
INTERIOR: ENTRANCE EXTENSION: C20 staircase with moulded close string, pilaster balusters, heavy moulded handrail and carved square newels with shaped finials. Ground floor: restored brick fireplace with 3-centred brick arch; huge board listing Benefactions as at 'Midsummer' 1849. First floor: first room to left has stone fireplace with crocketed Gothick panel jambs and frieze carved with foliage and masks: to right, plank cupboard door and further right, 3-panel door on butterfly hinges. Second room to left has fireplace in chamfered 2-centred arch. Room to right entered through 3-panel door: fireplace with timber lintel to left of panelled cupboard door on butterfly hinges. Roofs have principal rafter trusses with butt purlins. UNDERCROFT: entered from extension through 2-centred arch, chamfered externally, rebated internally beneath chamfered segmental rere-arch; central arcade of 7 square chamfer-stopped posts with enlarged heads braced to axial and transverse beams: outer ends of transverse beams tenoned into shortened posts, most raised on corbels, some on re-used upturned moulded capitals. Massive bank of four chimney stacks in chamfered surrounds with 4-centred arches. Some windows retain shutter hinges. HALL: entered from extension through round door arch on incised panel pilaster jambs and 8-panel double doors with semicircular head; central arcade of 7 chamfered posts with attached cornice capitals and enlarged heads braced to axial
and tie beams. Dais end of east aisle lined with run-through panelling: west aisle fitted with panelled triple Stall of round-headed alcove seats with desks set within pilastered Ionic screen beneath pedimented entablature with pulvinated frieze and modillion cornice. Above, painted carving of the Arms of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York. Chimneypiece of Doric pilasters supporting moulded cornice has cast-iron grate within eared architrave of timber beneath 3-centred stone lintel with keyblock, and painted overmantel panel recording repairs of 1849. Cupboard doors of fielded panels flank chimneypiece. Side walls lined with C17 wooden benches on Tuscan column legs. Wall above main door retains two 4-light windows with diamond mullions, now blocked: adjoining one window is panel with stencilled decoration of rosettes. Committee Room partitioned off hall, entered through 6-panel door in fluted doorcase with angle roundels and cornice head. Similar cupboard door to left of rebuilt brick fireplace: moulded ceiling cornice. Roofs of kerb-principal trusses, 4 with crown posts, 3 collared. CHAPEL: 4-centred entrance arch of 2 continuously moulded orders filled with restored screen of trefoiled lights with mouchette tracery and C20 tympanum of arched lights: central double gates of tapering turned balusters, ramped-up at outer ends. Two tiers of benches with desks of moulded panelling arranged in collegiate form, rear benches fixed to similar wall panelling beneath moulded dado rail, bench ends carved with volutes. Box pews flank sanctuary, one incorporating the Governor's Seat with turned legs and shaped arms, and dado rail enriched with consoles. Octagonal pulpit of two tiers of shaped and moulded panels. Communion rails of slender turned balusters, moulded rail, and central gate between square posts with ball finials and shaped brackets at the foot. Wall below window fitted with run-through panelling. Boards: paired round-headed panels with ball finials for the Lord's Prayer, Creed and Decalogue; Royal Arms with C2R cypher, dated 1669; Arms of the Merchant Adventurers of England dated 1765. Carved and painted mace rest, dated 1707 and 1801. Stained glass c1910 depicting two medieval seals of the Company. GOVERNOR'S PARLOUR: reset chimneypiece with fire surround of sunk-panel pilasters and 2-panel frieze carved with dragons: massive overmantel between Ionic pilasters supporting elaborate moulded cornice and panelled frieze. Overmantel carved with pedimented Arms of the Company and spandrels filled with birds and beasts in scrolled foliage. Late C19 stained glass panels depict merchant shipping. (City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 82-88; Sellers M: A Short Account of the ... Company of Adventurers of York: York: 1921-).
Listing NGR: SE6054651716

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

NMR Information:

[SE 6054 5171] MERCHANTS' HALL [G.T.](1)

The Merchant Adventurers' Hall was built in the late 14th century upon earlier foundations. A scheduled ancient monument.(2)

A Mediaeval Hall and chapel, restored in modern times, now well maintained and open to the public.
See GP. AO/63/115/2 for S.W. aspect, and illustrations,
AO/M for north front and interior. (3)

1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) OS 1:1250 1962.
2 A history of Yorkshire: the city of York 481-2 edited by P M Tillott
4 Field Investigators Comments F1 RWE 06-JUN-63
5 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest DNH (LBS) City of York, Mar-1997, 401-4
6 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume V: the central area 82-8 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England

Architectural Survey
14-NOV-1995 - 14-NOV-1995

Related event 2016 (NMR 1614485) OASIS englishh2-287900
Remediation companies are often employed to dry buildings following floods. This process usually entails the use of dehumidifiers, air blowers and heaters, accompanied by frequent site visits to monitor progress. At some stage in the process it will be decided that the building is sufficiently dry to stop monitoring and to remove the equipment. But how accurately can this assessment be made? Following the flooding of the medieval hall in 2015, detailed records of the progress of drying were kept by the remediation company employed to carry out this task. This report presents an analysis of the data recorded, and considers the factors affecting the accuracy of moisture monitoring and assessment in such cases.
Ridout B & McCaig I/2017/An Analysis of Drying Data from a Medieval Hall after Flooding/Report No 14-2017. (not held in HER)

YAT, INTERIM 21, 20/1 (Serial). SYO2661.

YAT, 1995, INTERIM 20, 20/4 (Serial). SYO2660.

NMR, 2019, NMR data (Digital archive). SYO2214.

Historic England, 2021, Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate Oxygen Isotope Dendrochronology of Oak Timbers (Report). SYO2880.

Sources/Archives (4)

  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.
  • --- Serial: YAT. 1995. INTERIM 20. 1-4. 20/4.
  • --- Serial: YAT. INTERIM 21. 1-4. 20/1.
  • --- Report: Historic England. 2021. Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate Oxygen Isotope Dendrochronology of Oak Timbers.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Aug 16 2022 1:40PM


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