Building record MYO1204 - 39-41 Micklegate


A three storey, 3 window, symmetrically fronted mid 19th century dark brick townhouse with a basement and slate roof. A large store-room and and warehouse were added to the rear in the later half of the 19th century with further alterations and subdivisions in the 20th century. The building has historically served both residential and commercial purposes now used as a shop, offices and flats.


Grid reference SE 6002 5161 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

House and shop, now shop, offices and flats. 1835. By JB and W Atkinson for Mr Varvill. Dark mottled brick in Flemish bond on rusticated ground floor and plinth of painted stone; painted timber eaves cornice on grooved consoles, returned at each end of slate roof; brick stacks. EXTERIOR: 3-storey 3-window front. To left, recessed upper floor entrance door of 4 moulded panels beneath margin-glazed overlight, approached by three steps, in plain pilaster and cornice doorcase. 12-pane sash window with slender glazing bars and painted sill to right. Further right, shopfront of plain pilasters with moulded imposts and plain cornice: glazed double doors to right of 3-light shop window with moulded glazing bars over sunk panel risers. On first floor, windows are 12-pane sashes, two of which have 1-pane replacement lower sashes. On second floor, to left, one original unequal 9-pane sash; to right, C20 replacement casement windows, all with painted stone sills. Raised first floor sill band. First and second floor windows have flat arches of gauged brick. From 1837 to 1851, No.39 was the office of JB and W Atkinson, architects. INTERIOR: not inspected. (City of York: RCHME: South-west of the Ouse: HMSO: 1972-: 126).
Listing NGR: SE6002251620

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

The building sits on the southern side of Micklegate, semi-detached to no.39 (part of Listing) with the western outer wall forming part of the boundary to the neighbouring property, St Martin’s Church (Grade I listed), which lies approximately 2m away.

The building is listed Grade II and it is located within the Central Historic Core conservation area. It comprises an early 19th-century townhouse-like structure over three floors, with further attic, basement (accessed via external stair), and large central staircase. The ground floor consists of commercial space (1 shop) while the upper floors are in residential use (4 apartments). A large single volume late 19th-century rectangular outbuilding (constructed between 1853 and 1890) which comprises warehouse/storage space is attached to the rear of the property via a contemporary linking lean-to corridor – this also features a WC and kitchen area – but sits within the curtilage of the listing, rather than directly part of it.

Although the Listing suggests the building (reference is to both 39 and 41) was designed as a pair of houses in c.1835 by J.B. & W. Atkinson – Atkinson architects’ offices were situated at no.39 from 1837-51 (Pevsner and Neave 2002, 224), while no.41 itself housed the Post Office between c.1891 (perhaps earlier although the earliest cartographic evidence of 1852 does not make this clear – see below) and c.1963 (again, it is unclear as to when the Post Office moved out to no.95 but at least the late 20th century). It is suggested that no.41 was built for Mr Varvill who owned Ebor Works (YAYAS 1996/7, 19-20). As such, and as can be seen below throughout the history of the properties, it would appear that they were built as joint commercial and residential properties, rather than simply as two houses.

For no.41 specifically, the 1829 York Directory of Trades and Professions states that Matthew Skelton, a stone and marble mason, inhabited the property. Then, in 1830 and by the time of the next directory in 1840, 41 was inhabited by William Creaser, a gardener (White 1830; 1840, 739). The 1911 census return notes that it was split into two units: one was inhabited by insurance offices (Britannic) and the other was a tenement inhabited by a Mr Palliser and his wife, Eliza. However, it also suggests that it was still the Post Office, so it would appear Mr Palliser was the postmaster and he lived above the shop premises. Britannic Insurance was still at the property in 1917 and 1924 (BNA).

In Kelly’s Directory of 1913 the property was then inhabited by Henry A. Foster, a district superintendent for Britannic Assurance Co. Ltd. (Kelly 1913, 86). He was also still there, alongside a Mr T.A. Smith, in 1917 (BNA). More recently, the shop has featured businesses ranging from a dance shop, an architects’ offices, Money Shop and clothing boutique – the storage building to the rear has remained surplus to requirements for many years.

The building is Grade II Listed and the architectural character of the collective properties makes reference to the 19th-century date, Flemish bond red brick (some of which is gauged), rustication, modelled cornice, console brackets, sashes and slate (and pantile for warehouse) roof. There are 4, 9 and 12 pane vertical sliding sash windows, the majority of which are original or early 20th century.

In general the buildings are in a good state of repair (the basement and linking corridor being more moderate), having been largely in use or simply redundant/used as storage for many years. The interiors of all areas are largely bare shells; the warehouse and shop floor are technically unoccupied and, therefore, where features or furniture survive, these have been retained and remain structurally sound (these are discussed further below).

Without further building recording, it would appear that nos. 39 and 41 Micklegate were built in 1835 by J. B. & W. Atkinson as symmetrical pairs with doorways at the outer ends of the front (RCHME 1972) and as combinations of domestic dwellings with commercial space at ground floor level, with additions in the late 19th century (the gradual development of the southern extensions and outbuildings). Beginning as a symmetrically-fronted early Victorian townhouse bordering Micklegate, the building has since grown with additional extensions to the south along the property boundary plot, which was likely originally a medieval burgage. The plan therefore grew around a single rectangular site nestled inside a courtyard and rear (south) open area of land which became smaller over time as the further extensions were constructed/developed. In general, the earliest and residential part of the main building relates to the north, with the later additions developing further south as storage areas and outbuildings.

The building is discussed in three separate phases explained below:

First phase: The main building, as established from the cartographic analysis, was built in 1835 according to documentary sources but also, given its architectural style, one can also make this assumption. The main house comprised the first phase of building. It is typical of the 19th-century early Victorian style (thus the first few decades of the 19th century which again confirms the 1830s date): a brick built symmetrical building of three storeys and cellar featuring sash windows, gauged brickwork, dentillated cornice, doors set to the side of each house, rustication on ground floor and 12-light sashes. The house is built of locally produced brick laid in Flemish bonding which is again typical of the first half of the 19th century, while the warehouse building appears to be stretcher bond – the other outbuildings are a mix of the two. Thus, this phase of construction comprised the main rectangular part of the property, with a small outshut at the rear (likely a coal hole, ash house, WC and/or similar outbuildings). Although the original internal arrangement of the house is somewhat difficult to ascertain given the several successive developments, it is suggested that, as the property was built as equally commercial and residential, the lower ground floor was entered in a similar manner as today, i.e. From the northwest-side entrance door into a small corridor which allowed access to the front commercial space and continued into the residential property. The front commercial space was a square room. To its rear (southeast side) was a door which entered into a small corridor, and which led to the rear room – the second commercial space. From this rear room, there was a door to the back outshut and rear basement steps – these basement steps led to the rear basement area, which was allocated to the south retail unit and residential property. The other basement stairs, the stone steps which are still extant in the centre of the basement, are original and provided further access to the ground floor, but these would have come out within a space somewhere underneath the main central staircase area, near the corridor which allowed access from the front to rear commercial rooms (there are signs of an enclosed corridor in this area as two doorway-sized holes have been blocked up with breezeblocks in the now concealed area under the main stairs. These stairs would have been for the north retail unit – thus, the front business had basement space, as did the rear business area, with both having their own separate entrances. The front commercial space of 41 was likely completely separate from the residential space and thus rather than it having access to the main staircase, there was instead a corridor which ran to the east of the main stair hall.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to confirm the exact arrangement but it is clear that the central section of the house was used to accommodate access up and downstairs. Likely part of the basement space was also used as service areas while both retail rooms featured fireplaces on their eastern walls.Returning to the rear commercial unit, this would have been connected to the residential accommodation above. Access to the accommodation would have been via a door in the northern wall of the rear room (just east of where the new proposed opening is to be), allowing access straight onto the main central stairs. It would appear that the current staircase originally continued further south towards the south wall. A further, lower flight would have been in this area, which connected to the bottom flight extant today. It is likely then that the service area of the residential accommodation (i.e. Kitchen) was on the first floor, along with the living area, with the sleeping accommodation and bathrooms above. As such, the floor level of the entire ground floor, including the staircase, would originally have been one level and so the front steps from the corridor into the stair hall area are not original.

The northern façade of no.41 features two 12-pane and two 4-pane windows while the western elevation has a mix (including a pair of two panes) but there is one visible 12-pane vertical sliding sash although these all appear to be 20th-century additions. The rear elevation (south) features 4 and 12-pane sashes. The stucco covered brickwork for rustication on the north elevation and gauged brickwork headers above each window opening are also very typical stylistic details of the later Regency style house.

The main front door (north) and shop front appear to be a mix of late 19th century and early 20th century styles - i.e. The round-headed windows yet Doric pilasters and large semi-circular fanlight. The roof is a low-pitched hipped, of Welsh slate, with an inserted chimneystack towards the northwest side – this was likely included for further heat in the very top rooms which were prospective servants rooms (the attic) It would appear that the roofline has been altered in this area to accommodate this – perhaps the stack was added and the roof increased to provide better quality accommodation in the roof. This is likely to have taken place in the late 19th century, essentially phase 2.

Second phase: This second phase of development comprises the most significant. It included the erection of the large storeroom or warehouse structure to the rear, along with the lean-to corridor which linked the main property to it. This large rectangular brick-built structure was constructed between 1853 and 1890 according to the cartographic evidence. It would appear that, given the Post Office was resident at no.41 by the later 19th century, the large open structure was constructed as a sorting office/storage space for the mail. The open, linear plan of the building also serves to confirm that it was such a storage area. This structure also features several small rooms – these were likely originally a separate office section or other room to the main warehouse. As a result of the new warehouse and corridor, the outbuildings at the rear were built upon and some of the cellar space was reconstructed in the area of the rear stairs including the blocking up of a window in the basement but it did not make much of an impact on access to the basement from the rear. By this time, the late 19th century, the courtyard areas between no.39 and 41 had become separate, with the wall of the rear, outer staircase acting as the boundary. An examination of this eastern wall also suggests that the most northerly section is the original boundary, but there is clear quoining showing that the southerly section is an infill. This section was likely bricked up but originally housed a gate which allowed access to the rear of the property.

There is a small issue with regards to the rear courtyard development as on the 1891 OS map the external rear stairs are not represented. No.39 is show with rear stairs but no.41 appears to be an open courtyard. An assessment of this area shows a further blocked doorway on the north wall of the basement of the warehouse linking structures (i.e. Underneath the kitchen area) and the basement stairs appear to be a later insertion here as they abut and thus block off the semi-circular header of this doorway. It is suggested therefore that the steps, where extant, are a slightly later addition (very late 19th century or early 20th century), and that the original access to the basement was via stairs slightly further south to where they currently are sited – thus through the doorway which is now blocked up. Unfortunately none of the later maps depict any sort of stairs in the courtyards of no.39 or 41 due to the scale represented so it is impossible to confirm this change in position.

Third phase: The third phase of development comprises a series of subsequent changes. This phase is related to the history of the site post OS maps. Firstly, it appears, from an analysis of the style, that the central open well staircase was either altered or simply updated in the 1930s as it mirrors a somewhat Art Deco design with the thin yet simple balusters, the moulding of the handrail and the closed string. Moving on into the late 20th century, more significant alterations were made in 1983 throughout the ground floor when the shop and residences above appear to have replaced previous office use and a new access was introduced in the west wall off the graveyard. This latter alteration caused the floor to be raised in the stair-hall, the bottom flight of stairs to be renewed and the basement access (from the main part of the property) to be blocked. It is also likely that there must have been a corridor originally leading to the stairwell from the front of the building, but this was likely removed in 1983 at the same time the churchyard doorway was formed, so as to create more retail space at the front of the building. Following this, in 1998 the ground shop was changed to the use of financial services and in 2006 part of the retail shop was changed into residential use for flats. A further amendment some time after 2011 led to subdivision of the front compartment of the building to enable continued use of the flats above via reinstating the original front corridor which allowed access from the front door to the stair hall when the right of way over the graveyard appears to have ceased. Thus, this change effectively returned this area to its original plan form.

Essentially, overall, the plan form of the remaining structures and their exterior features as mentioned above are what remain of interest throughout. The courtyard area to the south of the main house can only be accessed via the main property; however, the warehouse building can be entered from the rear (south), via a gate just off St Martin’s Lane.

Information is derived from the Heritage Statement for Application 15/02693/FUL for No. 41 Micklegate - Added 6/4/2017

As regards No. 39 Micklegate it is a listed, early Victorian property adjacent to George Hudson Street. The property extends over five storey which, includes a basement. Elevations to the property are solid brick, apart from the lower third of the front elevation which is cladding painted white.

Information derived from Design Statement for Application 06/02006/LBC for No. 39 Micklegate - Added 6/4/2017

Lawrence Hannah & skelton, 2006, Design Statement for Change Application to 39 Micklegate (Typescript). SYO1954.

2015, 41 Micklegate HERITAGE STATEMENT (Unpublished document). SYO1784.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unpublished document: 2015. 41 Micklegate HERITAGE STATEMENT.
  • --- Typescript: Lawrence Hannah & skelton. 2006. Design Statement for Change Application to 39 Micklegate.

Protected Status/Designation

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Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Feb 14 2020 11:02AM


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