Lodgings fit for a King: TV Historian, Dr Emma Wells, explores King’s Manor, York

in York

Situated to the rear of Exhibition Square in York, Kings Manor was originally constructed in the 13th century as the abbots’ residence for the adjacent monastery of St Mary’s. Once the wealthiest Benedictine abbey in northern England, it was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1539 and retained by the Crown as the headquarters for the mighty administrative body known as the Council of the North.

The building was largely redeveloped into what we see today during the reign of Elizabeth I when the Council was headed by the Earl of Huntingdon (1572 to 1595), who oversaw the building of a residential wings and a service building using reused stone from St Mary’s Abbey—though the decorative heraldry above the main entrance dates to the reign of James I.

Throughout its time, it hosted many famous guests including the Stuart monarchs when travelling on their royal progresses from London to Edinburgh. However, with the abolition of the Council in 1641, the Manor’s fate was thrust into the unknown. Building work ceased and it lay empty until being leased out at the end of the 17th century as residential dwellings. With that, decline set in.

Facing a neglected future, the Manor National School was welcomed into the south-western parts before it then passed to the Yorkshire School for the Blind in 1833—established in memory of the anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce (1759-1833) —who decided to take over the building and restore it back to its glory, with the help of local architects J.B. & W. Atkinson and Walter Brierley.

What became the Principal’s House, the freestanding building to the right, was constructed in 1900 as a pastiche to emulate the eclecticism of the surrounding historic architectural styles. After the Blind School departed in 1958, the City Council took ownership and leased it to the University of York from 1963–and it has been in their possession ever since.

Books by Dr Emma Wells

Related Accommodation

The accommodation below is nearby - and has been updated recently.

29 Bondgate

York, YO62 5EY, United Kingdom

12 Stonegate Court

Blake Street 12 Stonegate Court, York, YO1 8QF, United Kingdom

Chic one bed apartment- City Living in converted Cocoa Warehouse York PARKING

33 cocoa suites rowntree wharf, York, YO1 9AE, United Kingdom

Leave a Comment