Building record MYO1632 - Mansion House


Mansion House, and railings and gas lamp standards attached to front. Built in 1725-33, with alterations of 1884. Possibly by William Etty. Exterior: 3-storey 5-bay front. Ground floor rusticated and arcaded with openings stepped back beneath keyed round arches of radiating voussoirs with moulded impost band.


Grid reference Centred SE 6014 5192 (23m by 23m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Mansion House, and railings and gas lamp standards attached to front. 1725-33, with alterations of 1884. Possibly by William Etty. MATERIALS: front has basement of painted stone; upper floors of painted brick in Flemish bond, with raised chamfered quoins and dressings of painted stone; rear of pink and cream mottled brick in stretcher bond, with orange-red gauged brick window arches; right return partly rendered, partly as front. Double span roof of slate, with brick stacks, right ones rendered. Wrought-iron railings on stone plinth, and cast-iron lamp standards.

EXTERIOR: 3-storey 5-bay front. Ground floor rusticated and arcaded with openings stepped back beneath keyed round arches of radiating voussoirs with moulded impost band. In centre, double doors of raised and fielded panelling beneath radial-glazed fanlight, and at right end, round-arched through-carriageway: windows are radial-glazed sashes. Quoined upper floors form pedimented temple front articulated by Ionic pilasters. First floor windows are 12-pane sashes in eared architraves with aprons beneath moulded sills and alternately triangular and segmental pediments. Second floor windows are squat 6-pane sashes in raised architraves. Dentilled cornice is sharply moulded beneath plain parapet. Pediment tympanum contains a cartouche moulded with the arms of the City of York, between palm fronds. Rear: to left, round carriageway arch of voussoirs with triple keyblock and impost blocks. Round-arched staircase window in centre. Raised brick bands to each floor. Detailing of right return repeats that of front, with blocked window openings. Flat parapet masks roof valley.

INTERIOR: ground floor: paved floors to entrance and stair-halls. Entrance hall has panelled dado and enriched ceiling cornice. Rooms to left are panelled in two heights and have moulded cornices and marble fireplace surrounds. Stairhall approached through keyed round arch with panelled reveals, flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters, with winged putti heads in the arch spandrels. Main staircase has open string, turned tapering balusters, two to a tread, and moulded serpentine handrail wreathed at foot. Staircase wall panelled beneath ramped-up dado rail. Staircase window has moulded round arch on pilastered jambs between fluted Corinthian pilasters. Secondary staircase screened off to right of stairhall retains original flight to basement, with close string, column balusters and square newels. First floor: enriched cornice to stairwell ceiling. Arched doorway similar to stairhall arch leads to the State Room.

State Room lined with full-height panelling between fluted Corinthian pilasters carrying enriched cornice. Above cornice, attic is panelled and pilastered beneath coved ceiling divided into geometric panels by raised ribs with guilloche mouldings. Panelled double doors, painted with arabesques, in moulded architrave beneath frieze moulded with a female head between cornucopias. Doorcase forms shallow Corinthian portico of detached fluted columns and entablature which forms parapet of small musicians gallery above. Fireplaces at each end of room have moulded marble surrounds and overmantels, and are flanked by paired fluted pilasters surmounted by pediments: one has the Royal Arms carved above overmantel; the other, the City Arms over a crossed sword and mace surmounted by the Cap of Maintenance.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: front railings: on low plinth, swept up flight of stone steps to door. Railings are square section with bottom band of palmette, leafy scrollwork between the bars, and top band of scrolls. Gas lamp standards, flanking foot of steps, are turned and fluted, and have moulded crossbars on foliated brackets, and tapered lanterns with lion finials.

HISTORICAL NOTE: the Mansion House was built as the residence of the Lord Mayor of York, predating any other Mansion House in England, and still used for its original purpose.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 96-97). Listing NGR: SE6014551921

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

Mansion House (Plates 93–95; Fig. 55), built as the residence of the Lord Mayor of York, occupies the site of the mediaeval Common Hall gateway and St. Christopher's chapel. It is of three storeys with attics and basement, and built of stone and brick, partly stuccoed, with stone dressings. The roof is slated. Proposals for its erection had been discussed for some time before the appointment of a building committee in 1724 (T. P. Cooper in AASRP, xl (1931), 271–92; VCH, York, 543–4) which unsuccessfully sought possession of the Red House, Duncombe Place (156), before ordering work to commence in 1725. The building was sufficiently advanced for meetings to be held in it in 1726, but it was not ready for the Lord Mayor to reside in until 1730, and the State Room, then called the Great Room, was not fitted out until 1732–3. The building committee at first paid craftsmen directly, and consequently few are known by name before 1729. The original railings, however, appear to have been made by John Beadale, smith, who was granted his freedom in 1726 for 'making the Iron work at the new house at the Common Hall', i.e. the Mansion House (YCA, B42, f. 76v). Significant later payments are to Henry Thirsk for four Corinthian capitals, and to Christopher Banks for '1172/3 yards of Bellection work with Raised Pannells', both in 1729. Work in the State Room in 1732–3 was supervised by Francis Bickerton and carried out by John Terry, carpenter, and Richard Nelthorpe, plasterer. The City's and the King's arms there were carved by Mr. Harvy, presumably Daniel Harvey. The architect of the building is unknown, and its attribution to Lord Burlington is without foundation. The front elevation may well have been inspired by that of the Queen's Gallery at Somerset House (Plate 93), illustrated by Colen Campbell in Vitruvius Britannicus, 1 (1715). The internal arrangement of the building is described in detail by Hargrove (425–31).

The front elevation is of five bays. The ground floor is rusticated and arcaded; the N. arch is open to a throughcarriageway, and the central bay contains the entrance doorway. In the other three bays, large round-headed windows, made in 1783, replace the original smaller square-headed windows illustrated by Drake (330). On the upper storeys the three central bays are defined by Ionic pilasters under a pediment; the entablature continues, with a small set-back, over the end bays which are bounded by rusticated quoins. The first-floor windows have eared architraves and pediments, alternately segmental and triangular. The die of the pedestal under the central window formerly bore the inscription 'Haec maenia surgunt— in honorem civium Eboracensium 1726. Samuele Clarke Majore' (Drake, ibid.). The second-floor windows are square, with moulded architraves. Within the pediment, which rises through a blind parapet, is a shield-of-arms of the City. The present late 19th-century area railings are of a different design from the original set which now, with later additions, separate the forecourt of the King's Manor from Exhibition Square.

The treatment of the N. elevation, which is cement-rendered with an E. end returned in similar character to the front elevation, dates from 1884 when an adjoining building was demolished (YCA, BB21, f. 227). The S. side is masked by an adjoining building. The rear elevation is of plain brickwork with plat-bands. The windows have red brick dressings and gauged flat arches, but the staircase is lit by a tall round-headed window.

Interior. The entrance hall is floored with black and white diagonal paving and has a panelled dado and enriched ceiling cornice. An archway with flanking Corinthian pilasters and putti heads in the spandrels of the arch leads to the stair hall behind. To S., the Drawing Room to the front and Dining Room to the rear, both lined with panelling rising in two heights to a moulded cornice, now form one room separated by a wide archway. The fireplaces have early 19th-century marble surrounds. To N. are three rooms intended for the use of the porter, butler and housekeeper, the latter two separated by the secondary staircase. This, now hidden by modern screening which intrudes into the main stair hall, was renewed above the ground floor in 1865, but the basement flights retain close strings, square newels and balusters in the form of columns over shaped pedestals.

The main staircase is of false cantilever construction, with turned balusters opposite a panelled dado. The stair window has pilastered jambs and moulded round head, and is flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters rising to the enriched ceiling cornice. On the first-floor landing the doorways to N. and S. have simple Regency surrounds. The central doorway to the State Room is flanked by paired Corinthian pilasters and has pilastered jambs and moulded round-arched head with putti heads on the key-block and in the spandrels. The State Room occupies the whole of the upper part of the front of the house. The walls are panelled, and each long wall is divided by Corinthian pilasters rising to an enriched entablature above which the attic storey is divided by plain pilasters. Paired pilasters flank the fireplaces in the two end walls, above which the entablature rises to a pediment. The fireplaces have simple moulded marble surrounds and overmantels; above, at the N. end, is an achievement of Royal Arms, and at the S. end a cartouche of arms of the City over crossed sword and mace surmounted by a cap of maintenance. The ceiling is coved and divided into geometric panels by raised ribs with guilloche ornament. The central doorway in the W. wall is flanked by Corinthian columns forming a shallow porch with a small musicians' gallery above. The frieze over the doorway bears a female head between cornucopias. The panels of the doors are painted with arabesques, which are all that remain of a scheme of decoration executed in the late 19th century and said to be the work of Richard Jack of York. Full-length portraits of royal and civic dignitaries now conceal some panelling.

Behind the State Room are two rooms, the larger of which has a white marble fireplace, said to have come from the Adelphi buildings in London. The attic floor, divided into bedrooms in 1830, has been modernised.

Monument 44; City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 96-97

NMR Information

Full description

(SE 60145193) Mansion House (NAT)

1. CONEY STREET 5343 (south-west side)

No 1 (The Mansion House and railings)

SE 6051 NW 28/153 14.6.54


1725-7. Probably designed by John Etty. Brick with stone dressings; 3 storeys, the ground storey of rusticated stone; 3 bay centrepiece divided by giant Ionic pilasters and with dentilled pediment with the arms of York in the tympanum; 5 windows overall; sashes with moulded shouldered architraves with triangular and segmental pediments alternating; stone aprons below 1st stoey windows; stone quoins at sides; semi-circular headed openings to ground storeys with recessed windows,
centre doorcase with radial fanlight, and with carriage arch on right-hand side; dentil eaves cornice with parapet behind. Good wrought iron railings to forecourt including sweeps at centre flanking steps up to entrance. Good richly-decorated interior.

Ordnance Survey Map. OS 1:2500 1963.
List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. p73 City of York, June 1983

613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey

BF060273 THE MANSION HOUSE, 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.

Sources/Archives (2)

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

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jun 23 2020 9:57AM


Your feedback is welcome; if you can provide any new information about this record, please contact the City Archaeologist.