Building record MYO1154 - 5 Minster Yard


House constructed during the 19th century, incorporating a 14th century timber framed house. Inckludes front garden railings


Grid reference SE 6041 5220 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

House, originally part of a longer range of tenements; attached front garden railings. Early C19, incorporating part range c1300, possibly C15 range, and c1600 wing; later C19 alteration. All parts timber-framed; entrance front of render incised to resemble panelling; street front part coursed limestone, part buff-orange brick in Flemish bond. Tile and pantile roofs with brick stacks.

EXTERIOR: entrance front: 2 storeys; 3 gabled bays, left bay angled, right bay has attic. Right bay contains door of moulded geometric panelling beneath canopy hood, with 12-pane sash window to right: first floor window is 16-pane sash, attic window 2-light casement with square lattice glazing. Middle bay has small window with decorative glazing on ground floor, 16-pane sash on first floor. Left bay has 16-pane sashes on both floors. All windows have painted stone sills. Raised first floor string course. Rainwater goods on fleurs-de-lys clamps have moulded hoppers enriched with winged cherubs at roof valleys. Street front: 2-storey bay to left; 3-storey 1-window bay to right. 2-storey bay has square oriel window on first floor with St Peter's keys and date 1891 carved beneath, and small window to right. 3-storey part has 6-panel passage door to right of paired 4-pane sash windows; one 4-pane sash on first floor, and on second floor, 2x4-pane Yorkshire sash. Remainder of range incorporated into No.2 College Street (qv).

INTERIOR: fragments of timber-framing survive throughout the house. Entrance hall: re-arranged staircase, rising around open well to first floor, has moulded close string, bulbous balusters, square newels with attached half balusters and flat handrail. Wing to left has exposed heavy scantling ceiling joists on ground floor; first floor room retains dado panelling and bolection-moulded fireplace. Wing to right has rooms on ground and first floors lined with square panelling incorporating panelled chimneypiece on ground floor. Brick chimney hood survives. In attic room part of passing-brace roof truss visible.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: garden railings are square in section, standards turned with urn finials, gate posts have bell finials.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: LXVIII; 162). Listing NGR: SE6041952204

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

Houses, No 5 and No 2 College Street, appear externally as two separate dwellings of the 19th century but encase remains of late 13th or early 14th century two storey timber framed building, five bays long, which lay parallel to College Street. Parts of three trusses of a roof of passing brace contruction survive, two of them bearing assembly numbers II and III and another presumably IV to E. of which a post exists at ground floor. In the second bay of the roof, a rafter with a timber morticed into it suggests a scissor braced construction.

In c,1600 a large chimney stack was inserted to the secibd bay from E., with a a staircase to N. andpresumably a passge or lobby to S.: a two storyed timber framed addition was also buit to N.of second and third bays. The building was divided intotwo dwellings c.1700: the E. part was rebuilt in brick but the original roof was retaine, and a new staircase formed.

The W. part was rebuilt with a stone S. façade and an oriel to the first floor bearing the date 1891. The W. gable end was also probably rebuilt at this time, as the 1852 OS map shows a different alignment of the W, bay, and considerably alterations were made internalluy, including the formation of an entrance hall and a stairvase made up of balbous balusters of c.1700. The W, end room contains a good fireplace, surround and overmantel of c.1600, and most of it is lined with reset panelling of the same period. The N. side wall was removed when the entrance hall was formed, and replaced by a partion of panelling. A small two storey timber framed block at the N. was joined to No. 5 at an unknown date. The E. end was heightened to three storeys in the the 19th century.

Monument 276; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981, 162

The current arrangement of No 5, may partly date to 1891 when the oriel window in the south wall was inserted standing on a dated corbel decorated with the cross keys arms of the cathedral. The
western part of the south wall is ashlar faced and very thick at ground level. It tapers back at first floor level on the exterior and thins considerably internally as well. This part of the wall is curved gently to the western corner. The RCHM entry made much of the fact that the wall is shown as being straight on the 1852 OS map and suggested a later rebuilding and realignment. Yet the internal plan
profile repeats exactly that of the exterior and tends to suggest it has always been of the current arrangement. Unfortunately old photographs shed no light on this issue because of the angle of view. The eastern part of the joint frontage with No 2 is Georgian brick and has been raised a storey in height. The RCHM suggests the upper storey was a Victorian addition and there does seem to be
slight differences in the brick type used and bricklaying pattern.

Within the kitchen of No 5 can be seen a single stud from an internal partition wall which may relate to the original building. Within the eastern stairwell of No 5 can be seen another three ground floor and first floor wall studs of the original rear wall. On the rear elevation some of the timber framing of the first floor over the kitchen can be seen. It has a corner post with curved diagonal braces rising to support it on the east side. To the south is another brace but this has been cut to insert a window. There are several thin studs rising from the first floor rail beam to the eaves. The rail supporting the studs has a series of blocked mortice holes in its face and this might suggest that it is a reused timber. The north wall first floor level retains only the brace to the corner post and any other surviving beams have been rendered over. In the gable the framing is visible with a tie beam that is curiously stepped. This seems to have been for the framings on the underside where studs may be covered over or have been removed. On the upper side the studs remain but the beam also has steppings in its outline. This framing can also be seen through a loft doorway and has a mixed brick and stone infill between the timbers. The roof in this area has an intermediate truss with a collar and appear to be in oak and largely original. Some common rafters of the main house roof can also be seen through the loft doorway and they are also in oak and look original. The framing technique with rising braces to the posts seems to have become common in York in the 15th century. This addition may therefore have been made in the late 14th-15th century.

The timber framing of the kitchen extension to the original house is different from the main range. Andrew Arrol photographed the main range framing in the bathroom before a shower was installed that effectively then concealed it. It shows a north-east corner post with braces rising from it to support the eaves beams of the side walls. A wallplate beam in the north wall and the tie beam of truss IIII of the east wall. The tie beam shows the foot of a passing brace lapped into it with a peg fastening. The walls themselves have regularly spaced thin studs.

The arrangement of braces to the posts is fundamentally different from the technique employed in the first floor walls over the kitchen range with braces rising from the post to the eaves. A similar post supporting a curved brace and with two sockets where others been removed can also be seen in the attic staircase wall on the western side of the bathroom. This evidence shows that this post was an intermediate one in the wall and externally would have shown the post with a rising brace at each side. Internally there was originally another brace rising from the post to support the roof truss tie beam. The socket in the tie beam cannot be seen but the peg securing the missing is visible. There is no sign of a strut on the tie beam or exposed section of passing brace but this may be further along the tie beam and therefore hidden. There may have been a partition wall on this alignment and the line of this is perpetuated by a step in the ceiling of the front bedroom that adjoins the bathroom. The room ceiling has a central longitudinal beam which is showing signs of minor distress where the partition crossed it at right angle; on present evidence, not clear if this beam is an original feature of the room.

In the western half of the house there is a cupboard, housing a hot water tank, that retains traces of more studded walls on the same rear wall alignment and the adjacent doorway gives access to a staircase to the western attic bedroom. Within the stair lobby is another corner post with a part brace in evidence, sited against the west door jamb; it appears to be another original first floor partition. It appears to have been truncated by the insertion of the large brick chimney stack, the north side of which can be seen in the staircase area. Against the chimney is another wall post at the end of the truncated partition. In addition the truncated brace and two large patches of render suggests the presence of a blocked up doorways into the bedroom on the west side. on plan it becomes apparent that there is evidence for three first floor partition walls dividing the area into equal sized rooms. Notably these divisions do not follow those suggested for the ground floor. The removed middle partition was carried by the now eccentrically set ceiling beam in the Book Room below and that suggests that it was carefully planned and inserted to support the partition when the ground floor was rearranged.

two attic rooms each with a staircase. That on the west side is a single room that has been contrived in the roof space by plastering over the rafters and boarding ceilings in at collar level. The RCHM suggested that the roof was late thirteenth or fourteenth century and of passing brace construction. That is a roof truss that has principal rafters and parallel to them a second set that are positioned a foot or more inside the roof- the passing braces. These are strutted from the tie beam and higher up there is a collar. What we can see is the passing brace which has been truncated and the strut. Both have carpenters’ marks showing II. On the left, north side, there is just an angled strut, but the passing brace may still remain behind the plaster. Notably this roof truss is sited immediately over the line of a partition identified on the first floor below it and the north end of the tie beam must be supported by the post in the attic stairwell.

The second attic room is accessed by another turning staircase that is set in a stairwell. It is in this same stairwell in which we have pointed out evidence for a wall post and removed partition wall. It is adjacent to the bathroom and turns anticlockwise. On the east side there is an exposed tie beam and angled rafter framing- a passing brace in fact. Both timbers are marked III. Most importantly the joint between the passing brace and tie beam is an open notched lap. There is no sign of a strut to the passing brace. The tie beam has been reinforced with a wrought iron strap stapled and nailed to it; Notably the truss is on the line of the original partition, mentioned above, that has been removed. In the attic room, against the west wall, can be seen part of the upper section of the great chimney stack tapering as it rises upwards. In this area the roof was raised in height to accommodate the upper rooms and this was done completely on the south side but on the north pitch, as mentioned above, the lower area retains sections of the original roof. Besides the tie beam and rafter framing mentioned above, in the west side of the staircase well there is another larger timber rafter. Only the end of a joining timber can be seen but it was probably this that prompted the RCHM to suggest the presence of a scissor braced roof frame within the main roof.

The Study shown on the ground plan of No 5 was originally a separate house. Its west wall was partly overbuilt when No 4 Minster Yard was built c.1700 and eventually it also lost its rear section, which is now the kitchen of No 4. It is now reduced to one room, the Study, which has large ceiling joists of medieval date. One has been cut short in the area just above the entrance doorway and supported on inserted cross members. The reason for this alteration is difficult to explain. The fireplace has been blocked up and was sited in the angled wall of the room. On the first floor it is noticeable that the ceiling is much higher than those in the rest of the building, again indicating its separate origin.The wall forming part of the bedroom has exposed studs and was once an external wall of the building. The wall joining to it on the south side is also studded and with an angled brace. This is part of the north gable wall of the kitchen range.

Analysis can suggest that the original medieval plan was possibly of three ground floor bays set out on the typically used perch of 16.5 feet. There may have been partition walls on these spacings and some of the present walls maintain this original division. It may be the case, however, that the different spacing of the first floor partitions was repeated on the ground floor. The ceiling beams of the first floor were set longitudinally along the central axis of the building and it looks like these may be a later introduction. On the basis of the roof truss evidence, with passing brace construction, the RCHM suggested the roof was of five trusses and they dated the building to the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century. Refinement of the dating chronologies suggested by Cecil Hewett for the use of open notched lap joints, by Dr Richard Haddlesley, suggests that they largely date before 1260. This study was based on dendrochronological analysis of the timbers of the buildings dated by Hewett. If that is a correct dating sequence it suggests that the roof of the original house and the timber framed walls date to before 1300. If it was of three bays then that would suggest a single prebendal house. If it followed the denser regular partitioning of the first floor then it may have been a row of terrace houses.

In the eighteenth century when the present brick walling replaced much of the timber-framed walls. It appears to have been coupled with subdivision of the building into three houses and a through passage for rear access. The addition of the Study probably occurred when No 4 was built. The two staircase wells in No 5 have studded partition walls of some antiquity and may be late medieval and pre Georgian in date, though recycling of medieval timbers cannot be ruled out. Doorways, now blocked up, are discernible in this partition wall and these cannot be reconciled with the present staircase arrangements. A major remodeling seems to be marked by the introduction of the large chimneystack into No 5 which seems to demarcate a major division in the range. No 5 also has extensive wall panelling distributed around several rooms and which was clearly imported from elsewhere and was installed in an ad hoc manner. Non of it appears to be original to the house. This may also apply to the Jacobean mantelpiece in the front room. The RCHM entry identifies several fireplaces etc and tries to date them but one does wonder about the accuracy of that and also of the staircase assessments. Though these various features may be original to the house they might also be a confection of imported materials.

The partial survival of the timber framing and roof trusses which may date to 1300 or earlier is a highly significant factor. What appears to be a largely Georgian building with Victorian sash windows is in fact one of the oldest houses in continuous occupation in York. The RCHM reported that three houses with passing brace roof construction are known from York and one of them has since been destroyed. The other example is 2 Minster Court where the apex of the passing braces can be seen in the loft space.

SYO1870; 5 Minster Yard and 2 College Street, S. Harrison Report

NMR Information
Full description
(SE 60425221 - O.S 1/2500, 1962)

1. MINSTER YARD 5343 No 5

SE 6052 SW 27/367 14.6.54


C19 stucco, brick and stone to earlier timber frame. With No 2 College Street (q.v) the house incorporates parts of a timber-framed house of early C14. Two and 3 storeys; 3 steep gables to
front and one shaped gable rising immediately behind; 3 sash windows; restored doorway with hood on brackets and modern door. The interior retains early features including a good fireplace
of circa 1600. RCHM Vol V, Monument 276).


1 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Intrest. City of York, June 1983.

BF060855 5 MINSTE YARD, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

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

2015, 5 Minster Yard and 2 College Street (Unpublished document). SYO1870.

Stuart Harrison, 2016, 5 Minster Yard (Unpublished document). SYO1873.

Sources/Archives (4)

  • --- Unpublished document: 2015. 5 Minster Yard and 2 College Street.
  • --- Unpublished document: Stuart Harrison. 2016. 5 Minster Yard.
  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1981. City of York Volume V: The Central Area.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jun 6 2020 10:31AM


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