Court House built in 1773-77 to the designs of John Carr. The rear was altered and a new range added in 1818-21 by Peter Atkinson junior and Matthew Philips with the interior remodelled and a podium added circa 1835 by GT Andrews and PF Robinson. A further rear extension was built in 1870 and an extension was added to the right end in 1937. The building was restored in 1991 and is now in use as the Crown Court. The Court House was constructed from sandstone ashlar on a part limestone basement. The rear range is of brick rendered in Roman cement, with Roman cement mouldings. The hipped roofs are of slate.


Grid reference SE 6049 5139 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

Court House, now Crown Courts, and railings attached to front. 1773-77; rear altered and new range added 1818-21; interior remodelled and podium added c1835; further rear extension of 1870, and extension at right end of 1937. Restored 1991. Original design by John Carr; rear extension by Peter Atkinson junior and Matthew Philips; 1835 work by GT Andrews and PF Robinson. MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar, part on limestone basement; rear range of brick rendered in Roman cement, with Roman cement mouldings. Hipped roofs of slate with brick, rendered and stone stacks; cupola roofs of lead. Podium of dressed stone with painted cast-iron railings. EXTERIOR: front of 2 storeys with 1-storey extension at each end, on low podium; pedimented tetrastyle portico 'in antis' flanked by 4-bay ranges with distyle in antis end bays, and single bay extensions; portico and columnated bays in giant Ionic order break forward slightly. Broad flight of steps up to podium; second flight of steps to raised podium before portico. Basement openings sunk in podium behind iron grilles have flat chamfered lintels. Central double doors within portico, flanked by round-headed radial-glazed sashes, beneath radial fanlights and arcaded hoodmould on moulded impost band. In returns, additional glazed panelled doors with wrought-iron grilles and festooned scrolled overthrows, beneath tall radial-glazed fanlights, in round-arched openings of radiating voussoirs. 3 radial glazed oculi in moulded surrounds to first floor, above band of guilloche moulding. Ground floor windows in flanking ranges are round headed and radial glazed, those in end bays stepped back beneath moulded round arch on moulded imposts. On first floor, windows are of 6 panes, and in end bays, radial glazed oculi. First-floor band of guilloche moulding runs across facade, continuing behind attached columns in end bays. Moulded modillion eaves cornice, beneath balustraded parapet supporting a lion and unicorn couchant on either side of pediment. Pediment tympanum encloses relief carving of crossed fasces and staff bound with laurel, and crowned with the figure of Justice bearing scales and spear. Parapet terminated by pedestal blocks carved with garlands and supporting garlanded urns. Left extension has double doors of 8 flush panels in architrave with moulded cornice hood, and plain parapet broken by blind balustrade. Right extension matches, with 24-pane sash window beneath cornice in place of
door. Rear: basement and 2 storeys; 12-bay main range, with full-height polygonal bays in centre and at right end; further right, 1-storey, 3-window wing on basement; to left, 2-storey 2-window extension. Right end of main range obscured by 1-storey 7-bay extension on basement. In main range, basement is blind except for barred door in centre polygonal bay and 6-pane sash windows in right end one. On ground floors of polygonal bays windows are 15-pane sashes, and on first floors 12-pane sashes. To left of centre bay, ground floor windows are 12-pane sashes, and on first floor 16-pane sashes; to right, on first floor, 12-pane sashes. Wing at right has barred lunettes in basement, and 15-pane sashes on ground floor. Extension at left has blind basement and 2 sash windows in shallow architraves on ground floor. Front extension has rusticated quoins, barred round-headed windows in basement beneath arcaded hoodmould of keyed arches on moulded impost band, and 12-pane sashes on ground floor. Windows throughout have raised architraves beneath floating moulded cornices: on both floors sill bands, stepped down beneath taller windows, with moulded sill blocks on ground floor, without sill blocks on first floor. All parts have a moulded cornice below low plain parapet. INTERIOR: basement has re-used cell doors of wood strengthened with cast-iron plates. Entrance hall and flanking Court Rooms rise through 2 storeys. Side and front walls of entrance hall arcaded on ground floor with lunettes beneath continuous round-arched hoodmould on moulded imposts. Upper part lit by oculi in moulded surrounds. Frieze of lion masks set in marigolds alternating with triglyphs below dentil cornice enriched with band of flutes and roundels. Inserted single storey screen concealing staircases has central opening between sunk-panel pilasters with paired console capitals, and flanking arcades of round-arched windows, surmounted by balustraded gallery. Staircase is combination of dogleg and flying staircases with slender cast-iron balusters and moulded ramped-up handrail. At rear of stairhall, two inserted doors in architraves with moulded dentil cornice hoods. Court I, to left. Lower part of walls covered in raised and fielded panelling, the upper part behind bench in moulded plaster panels. 12 Corinthian columns, painted to resemble marble, carry dome lit by radial glazed lantern. Dome entablature has frieze of alternating foliar paterae superimposed on crossed fasces and falchions, and triglyphs, and enriched dentilled cornice. Dome has plaster moulded panels between rib bands of guilloche enclosing rosettes. Bench flanked by doors of 6 raised and fielded panels in architraves with fluted friezes and dentil cornice overdoors. Fluted frieze continues across gallery fronts beneath cast-iron balustrades of crossed fasces with lion mask medallions. Main gallery has side balustrades of slender bobbin balusters and newels, frieze and cornice similar to
that in entrance hall and circular windows at rear in moulded surrounds. C19 court furniture and benches, and on bench canopy carved Royal Arms of 1840, initialled IW for John Wolstenholme. Court II, to right. Decoration and fittings largely repeat those of Court I. Variations include dome entablature with frieze of festooned pelta and torch standards, and dentil cornice enriched with egg-and-dart. Dome ribs are bands of guilloche enclosing palmette decoration, terminating in rosettes; edging of fans and festoons: gallery balustrades of bulbous balusters: 4 original 6-panel doors recessed in deep panelled reveals beneath fluted friezes and enriched dentil cornice overdoors, one with rosette paterae. Doors are of 2 or 3 panels, with deep reveals on outer side, flush panelled. Room in centre of main rear range has moulded dado rail and panelled window cases, one of which is altered to doorway; plain marble fireplace with panelled pilaster jambs and cast-iron basket grate by Carron. Passage to rear is divided by two screens of plain pilasters with grooved console capitals, sunk panel friezes and dentil cornices; doors are half glazed and panelled, between glazed side lights, all with embossed glass. Doorways off passage have panelled reveals. High Sheriff's Room has two marble chimneypieces with plain surrounds and mantelshelves on console brackets; panelled window reveals; deeply coffered ceiling with beam soffits moulded in bands of pierced guilloche enclosing rosettes, pierced foliate bosses and foliate central rose. One room retains fireplace with fluted surround and angle roundels. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 82-85).
Listing NGR: SE6051751399

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

NMR info:

The Assize Court
SE 6051 SW 21/11414.6.54
SE 6051 SE 22/114


1773-7. Architect: John Carr. The building stands on a terrace and is approached by a broad flight of steps. Ashlar; 2-storeys with a full height Ionic portico in the centre repeated by pseudo-porches at either end, dentil eaves cornice and pediment (with trophy in the tympanum) crowned by a figure of Justice, and the lion and the unicorn at cornice level. The roof balustrade terminates over the porches in a blind parapet with swags. Eleven windows, round headed in the ground storey, square headed above. Good interior with domed and galleried Crown Court and Civil Court. C19 additions at rear, the earlier by Atkinson. (1)

Court House built in 1773-77 to the designs of John Carr. The rear was altered and a new range added in 1818-21 to the designs of Peter Atkinson junior and Matthew Philips with the interior remodelled and a podium added in circa 1835 by GT Andrews and PF Robinson. A further rear extension was added in 1870 and an extension was added at the right end in 1937. The building was restored in 1991 and is now in use as the Crown Court. The Court House was constructed from samdstone ashlar on a part limestone basement. The rear range is of brick rendered in Roman cement, with Roman cement mouldings. The hipped roofs are of slate. (1-3)

1 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Default value used to record large numbers of archive items which are not separately catalogued. See Monument Recording Guidelines for details of use. 134-6 1112-1 City of York, 14-MAR-1997
2 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences
2 copies. 1972 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England 82
3 Yorkshire : York and the East Riding 1995 by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave 191

NMR Related objects:
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BF061945 York Castle, Castle Precinct, York Includes guidebook photography of the castle and related buildings. Report BF061945/1 was written for The Law Courts of England Project - EHC01/048 and photo job 95/02032 was referred to by the Architectural Investigators during the project.
EHC01/002 EH Architectural Requests

FL01196/03 York Castle - Female Prison, Debtors Prison and Assize Court Sub-file containing a set of 13 photographic prints and 3 postcards. The views are of the Assize Court, Debtors Prison and Womens Prison of York Castle. All are part of the Y series numbering scheme and are captioned on the reverse.

IC121/005 Reconstruction illustration showing an elevation of the grand east facade of the Assize Courts at York Castle, as it is likely to have looked after it was built in 1777
NMR06 NMR Measured Drawings This material has not yet been fully catalogued. As a result copyright and date information may be incomplete or inaccurate.

PSA01 Property Services Agency Coverage : Construction and maintenance of "the Government Estate". Civil and military buildings including dockyards, airfields, court buildings, ministries, telephone exchanges, GCHQ, Post Office sites, civil defence sites, etc. Negative collection carries on where the MPBW collection stops in 1947.

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Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Feb 10 2022 3:13PM


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