Building record MYO987 - St Anthony's Hall


Originally built as a Guildhall for the Guild of St Anthony constructed between 1446-53. It was subsequently refaced in brick and remodelled 1655. Further alterations were carried out in 1828 and 1839-50, including re-roofing. The building was renovated 1952-53. It was previously used by the Borthwick institute to store archival material and provide reading and research facilities. Alterations and conservation works were carried out in 2008 as part of the works to create a museum for the Quilters Guild. The building is owned by the York Coinservation Trust. It is now home to the Quilters Guild and a Church,


Grid reference SE 6073 5199 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (13)

Full Description

Guildhall; now Institute of Historical Research. 1446-53; refaced in brick and remodelled 1655; alterations of 1828 and 1839-50, including re-roofing. Renovated 1952-53. Original building for the Guild of St Anthony.

MATERIALS: timber-framed: ground floor of magnesian limestone on two sides, ground floor elsewhere and first floor of red brick in irregular bond; moulded stone first floor string and moulded brick dressings; slate roofs in 3 parallel ranges, with brick stacks. Undercroft with chapel and hospital; 9-bay aisled hall on first floor.

EXTERIOR: Peasholme Green: 2-storey 4-window front on chamfered and moulded plinths. Chamfered doorway to left of centre, with flush panelled double doors, beneath cross-glazed oeil-de-boeuf. To left, 4-centred window opening blocked by paired 30-pane sashes; to right, three restored square-headed windows with similar sashes; all window openings are moulded and all openings have coved hoodmoulds with shield stops. First floor windows are of 3 transomed lights with large-pane casements. Cogged brick eaves. Rear: one barred prison window survives on ground floor, beneath later pent canopy roof. Blocked first floor window at right end retains wide segmental brick arch.

Aldwark front: 2 storeys, 3 gabled bays, centre bay higher, on chamfered and moulded plinths. Left bay has doorway with 4-centred head, now blocked by 12-pane sash window; on each side, round-headed niches with square hoodmoulds, beneath decayed stone panels. Centre bay has original window of 2 cinquefoiled lights in square head between later inserted windows, one similar, one a single top-opening light. Windows on first floor are of 3 lights beneath moulded brick pediments; window to left has moulded mullions and transom, centre one 2 tiers of 20-pane lights, right one as on Peasholme Green front: oeil-de-boeuf with crossed glazing bars in double chamfered brick surround in centre gable apex. Two rainwater heads, one box-shaped, enriched with winged cherubs and dated 1771, one inverted bell. At left end of ground floor, cast-iron boundary marker for ST SAVIOUR'S PARISH 1842 fixed to masonry.

Right return to garden: as Aldwark front, on chamfered plinth. Glazed and panelled door beneath tall 16-pane overlight to left of central canted bay window with pulvinated cornice and 24:42:24-pane sashes. On either side, tripartite windows with 12:30:12-pane sashes in chamfered surrounds. First floor windows have moulded brick pediments. Centre oeil-de-boeuf and two winged cherub rainwater heads, dated, 1771 as on Aldwark front.

INTERIOR: ground floor: little framing survives. At Aldwark end, braced wall posts and moulded corbels support moulded beams. Cross passage ceiling carried on 2-centred chamfered arches springing from moulded corbels. Open string staircase with cast-iron stick balusters and turned newel. At foot of stairs, blocked doorway in chamfered surround. First floor: hall roof carried on 3 crown post trusses with moulded ties and kerb principals at Aldwark end, continuing on 6 arch-braced collar trusses springing from demi-angel corbels. Arcades now closed beneath embattled plates. Aisle roofs ceiled with 4-centred plaster vaults between arch-braced moulded ties with renewed centre bosses, on angel corbels at post heads.

HISTORICAL NOTE: the Guild of St Anthony was dissolved in 1627, after which the building served a number of purposes, including that of military hospital and prison in C17. From 1705 to 1946, it was occupied by the York Blue Coat School.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 91-93). Listing NGR: SE6073451996

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

St. Anthony's Hall, now the Borthwick Institute, stands on the corner of Aldwark, facing Peasholme Green. It is a two-storey building of 15th-century origin; the ground floor is built of stone on two sides, the other two sides and the upper floor being of 17th-century brick, replacing timber framing. The historical background is complicated and obscure; it is dealt with in J. S. Purvis, St. Anthony's Hall York (1951). This was reprinted in 1953 with the addition of an architectural history, which has been repeated in subsequent publications including the VCH, City of York, and The Noble City of York, but which needs some modification.

In 1446 a group of citizens obtained from Henry VI a charter for the foundation of a guild of St. Martin on the site of an older chapel of St. Anthony. In 1450 Archbishop Kempe issued a licence for mass to be said in the hospital chapel of the guild, and the chapel 'newly-built' was consecrated in 1453. Building work was still going on in 1455. The stone walls which enclose the lower storey on the S. and W. are all of one build, but the completion of the timber-work was carried out in two stages, the W. third being completed first. The E. part followed, with a different roof design. A boss carved with a Tudor portcullis may indicate that the E. part was not finally completed till after 1485, but the boss is one of a series carved by John Wolstenholme in the 19th century and whether or not it reproduces an original form is unknown. The main hall was on the upper floor and the hospital below; the chapel may have occupied the W. part of the ground floor, but the building has been much altered, especially in the lower storey, so that the original arrangements can only be conjectured. If the suggested interpretation of the lower storey is correct, the relationship between hospital and chapel would have been very unusual.

Although a declining force, the Guild survived the reforms of 1545 and was not dissolved until 1627. An order of 1554 regularised the use of the hall by all the guilds in the city without a hall of their own. In 1567 arrangements were made for the building to be used as a workhouse where the poor would be put to weaving; the hall was also used for archery practice. A school was set up in the chapel in 1579 to teach French. During the 17th century the building was used variously as an arsenal, a military hospital and a prison. In 1655 the whole of the N. and E. outside walls and the upper parts of the S. and W. walls were rebuilt in brick; new walls were also added inside. In 1705 the Bluecoat School was established here and eventually occupied the whole building; the hall itself was used for teaching, and the children slept in one aisle and ate in the other. The ground floor was occupied by kitchens and service rooms, the prison cells being done away with. In 1828 repairs and alterations were put in hand; a headmaster's room was formed on the ground floor with a bay window to the E., and many other windows were refitted. The roof of the hall was damaged by a storm in 1839, and repairs were not finished before 1850. Additions around a courtyard to the N. consist of a two-storeyed range on the E. side designed by J. B. and W. Atkinson in 1870, a two-storeyed 18th-century house on the W. side remodelled and heightened by Demaine and Brierley in 1887, and a N. extension of the latter, with a lower range closing the N. side of the court, by the same architects in 1901. The building was vacated by the school in 1946 and was restored in 1952–3 to become an archival and historical centre, the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, now part of the University of York.

Architectural Description. The building is of two storeys, with walls partly of 15th-century stonework and partly of 17th-century brick, replacing timber framing; the roofs are now slate-covered, but were formerly tiled. The W. elevation rises to a central gable with a lower gable to each side. The lower storey is of limestone ashlar with moulded plinths and one buttress. Above the ashlar is a 17th-century moulded stone string-course with brickwork above. The plinth is interrupted towards the N. end by a large opening, now blocked, flanked by niches with two-centred heads and square labels and, at a higher level, by two carved stone panels; one is a modern restoration, the other shows an armed man, badly weathered. In the middle part of the wall are three windows, of which only the middle one is original; it has two cinque-foiled lights in a square head. The others, of similar design, are modern. On the first floor, three windows are set in 17th-century openings under moulded brick pediments, and in the central gable is an oeil-de-boeuf.

The S. elevation continues the ashlar and brick walling of the W. end. Near its W. end a large window with four-centred head and continuous casement-moulded jambs is partly blocked and contains 19th-century sash windows. Three smaller windows to the E. are of 15th-century origin and originally had cusped lights; that to the E. was formerly blocked and partly replaced by a doorway. Further E. again was a fourth window, for which no visible evidence now remains. In the middle a doorway and oeil-de-boeuf above represent early openings remodelled in the 19th century. The upper storey has three windows, set in regularly-spaced 17th-century openings, and a fourth inserted in 1886. The E. end of the building has a plinth and string-course of stone, with a brick wall, all of 1655; the lower storey has a central bay window of 1828 flanked by doors and windows of the same date or later. In the upper storey are three windows under brick pediments and an oeil-de-boeuf as on the W. end. Evidence for original close-studding in this wall remains internally in the tie-beam. The N. elevation is largely masked by additions and much of the string-course has been cut away. In the lower storey is a small barred window, now blocked, to a cell. To W. is a round-headed opening, formed of moulded brickwork, now containing a small modern window. There are some traces of the jambs of 17th-century windows, but all the existing windows are 19th-century or modern.

Interior. The ground floor is divided into two areas by a N.–S. through-passage, with a W. wall of 17th-century date and an E. wall of the 18th century. The area W. of the passage may represent the mediaeval chapel lit by the big arched window in the S. end; it is divided into seven bays by moulded cross-beams, supported by wall-posts and braces, and the ceiling of each bay was sub-divided by moulded beams into four compartments. The two N. bays, entered from the W., may always have been screened off, on the line of the present 17th-century S. wall, to form an antechapel entered by a large doorway in the W. wall. The rest of the lower storey is presumed to have been the hospital, and was divided into four aisles by three rows of timber posts supporting the arcades and the floor of the hall above. A number of these posts have been removed; those that remain are embedded in later partition walls, mostly of the 18th century.

On the first floor is the great hall of nine aisled bays. The three W. bays are of earlier construction than the rest; this was the high-table end. The roof trusses have moulded tie-beams carrying crown-posts with a high collar-purlin, and kerb-principals with side-purlins. Between the trusses are moulded beams to carry a ceiling. The tie-beam of the E. truss is moulded on both sides, and has mortices, never used, for ceiling beams continuing to the E. This part of the hall is separated from the aisles by 17th-century walls. The remainder of the hall to the E. is built in six bays. The main trusses are carried on octagonal oak posts and are of arch-braced collar-beam construction with moulded purlins; the braces spring from demi-angel corbels of which two (E. end, S. side) are original. Of the others, some are of early 19th-century plasterwork and the remainder are mid 19th-century wooden replacements. A break in the ridge and associated mortices suggest that there may have been a louvre over the third bay from the E. The wall-plates to the aisles are housed into the main posts at corbel level, and there is framing between them and the wall-plates of the hall roof, but below this level the aisles seem to have been open to the hall, except in the E. bay and perhaps the three W. bays. Additional strutting has been introduced where posts have been removed from the floor below. Various mortices indicate that the E. bay was separated off by a screen, and over this screen was a gallery which extended into the second bay. Access to the E. bay from below was by a staircase in the E. end of the N. aisle. Wooden bosses in the roof were carved by John Wolstenholme, whose initials with the date 1850 appear on one boss, and the family crests represented all refer to civic dignitaries of c. 1850. Other subjects include a centaur and St. Anthony's pig. The aisle roofs have four-centred barrel vaults, formed in plaster between the curved braces under the tie-beams. Each brace rests on an original angel-corbel. Carved bosses include representations of heads, foliage, fleurs-de-lys and royal arms.

Monument 39l 'St. Anthony's Hall', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 5, Central (London, 1981), pp. 91-93.

2007-8 Watching brief, excavation and building recording summary - York Archaeological Trust

Watching brief and excavation was carried out during the works to unerpin the south- west (garden) and south eastern (Peasholme Green) facades as well as underpinning of the principle timbers of the undercroft. Removal of plaster was monitored and exposed architectural infromation was recorded. Scaffolding for work on the main hall allowed for a photographic survey of the timbers of the main hall and access was possible into the two side ailse roof spaces.

The earliest activity recorded was a tile drain beneath the south-east elevation, and dump deposits dating to the 2nd- 3rd centuries AD and probably relating to Roman features identified in the hall garden in 1970. The dump deposits on the north-east side of the hall possibly fill a glacial valley leading towards the River Foss. Little else is known until the medieval period when a chapel to St Martin, mentioned in 1275, stood on the site. In 1446 it became the site for the hall of the recently founded guild of St Anthony. Parts of the chapel were found beneath the north-east foundations for the timber piers of the present hall. This consisted of a robber trench, at the base of which were the remains of limestone rubble foundations, and a sequence of floor surfaces aligned north-east-south-west; this is not the same alignment as the present hall. This was sealed by construction deposits associated with the 15th century hall. A fragment from a doorway, stylistically late 12th-13th century, recovered from rubble spreads on the north east side of the hall, may have come from the chapel and fragments of 12-13th century glazed floor tile recovered from the robber trench give an indication of the appearance of the chapel.

Two phases of construction were indicated for the 15th century hall. First, the south-west facade was constructed cut back into the natural slope still visible in modern Aldwark. The area behind the wall was then filled with earth to level the surface, although the sequences along the inner face of the wall were heavily disturbed by a 19th century cistern and drain pipes. As the ground sloped to the north-east the foundations compensated for this with one end built directly on the clay sub-soil, the other on substantial cobble, clay and timber piles (set in a quincunx pattern). Built into the foundations was a stone built drain (possible modified in the 18thor 19th century) and removal of plaster at the southern end of this façade confirmed the position of a blocked doorway shown on early drawings. Second was the north-east wall, which was not tied into the south-west wall, but built to rest on the stepped rear face of the south-east walls foundation. The south-west wall was built in a broad foundation trench. Also on this façade immediately below the bay window a brick lined cistern was recorded probably dating to the 17th or 18th century.

Removal of the rotten wooden floor in the room on the south-west side of the hall with a bay window and associated reduction of levels for a new floor showed the continuation of the original medieval limestone footings across the back of the bay. These footings contained numerous architectural fragments likely derived from the demolition of the chapel. The ground reduction exposed a possible base for a stylobate which was abutted by brick footings of c.17th or 18th century date suggesting an earlier arrangement of space on the ground floor of the hall. The location of a door and window in the south-west elevation was also confirmed. Throughout the building floor levels were raised in the 18th- 20th centuries.

Removal of damaged plaster in the north-east south-west aligned through passage adjacent to the supposed chapel showed evidence for timber framing infilled with brick. Re-exposed medieval timber framing elsewhere on the ground floor showed it had been cut back to respect the 17th or 18th century wall lines. Removal of plasterboard and timber boxing on the ceilings revealed further evidence for the timber frame with evidence for the position of now lost timbers. In situ limestone stylobates with tooled surface survive under all the principle uprights exposed during the work.

Examination of the aisle roof spaces showed the presence of extensive reused timber, perhaps derived from the upper portion of the hall which was known to be timber framed before being refaced in brick in the 17th century. Many timbers had been split to reduce widths or had new joints cut to form the rafters, but there was extensive evidence for mortice joints and chamfer stops associated with the previous use of the timbers. Dendrochronology samples were taken through the course of the work of principle roof timbers which indicated that they were felled as part of a single programme of work. This indicates that the reused timbers in the aisles roofs were of similar date supporting the idea that these may have been reused from an earlier phase of the hall. Overall, the timbers in the hall date to c1435-59 and are likely assciated with the primary construction of St Anthony's Hall, which was built between c.1440-1455. The work challenges the RCHME conclusion that little framing survived at ground floor level, when in fact much is hidden behind plaster and later lowering of ceilings.

Gareth Dean, Field Officer, York Archaeological Trust 2008

NMR Information

Full description
[SE 6073 5199] St. Anthony's Hall [G.T.]

St. Anthony's Hall, recently restored, was built c. 1446-53. A scheduled ancient monument.

The Hall is constructed mainly of brick, but incorporates original stonework in the lower courses of the south and west walls. It is now used by York University as an institute for historical research.
See GP. AO/63/115/4 for southern aspect.

2 VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION Victoria County History York City, 1961, p482-3, (Allison)
5 Field Investigators Comments F1 RWE 05-JUN-63

613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey
1508880 Dendrochronological Survey ST ANTHONY'S HALL, PEASHOLME GREEN

BF060278 St Anthony's Hall, Peasholme Green, York The file contains the following photographic prints mounted on card: YC854 - 7, YC970, YC2803 - 8, YC2872, YC2978 - 3004, YC3006 - 7, YC3009, YC3648 - 86; a photograph of a drawing from the Evelyn Collection, negative number 1295; BB66/01047 - 01057, BB67/04677, BB69/02739.The file also contains the following miniature format film prints mounted on card: YG230 - 4, YG239 - YG243, YG263 - 4, YG(M)82, YG(M)85 - 7, YG(M)110

RCHME, 1981, City of York Volume V: The Central Area (Monograph). SYO65.

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

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jun 10 2020 11:59AM


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