Building record MYO1655 - St William's College


College for chantry priests built 1465-7 for the priests of York Minster, dissolved in 1548. Alterations of various dates, including frontispiece and staircase extension of mid-17th century to north range; east range sub-divided and remodelled with entrance extension in the early 18th century; south range converted to commercial use in the late 18th and early 19th century. Substantially restored in 1902 by Temple Moore. Exterior: street front: 2 storeys and attics; 10 bays: first floor has coved jetty between moulded wallplate and moulded bressumer, and exposed timber-framing: at right end, 2-storey 1-bay extension


Grid reference Centred SE 6045 5220 (48m by 38m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (10)

Full Description

College of the Chantry Priests of York Minster. c1465 with alterations of various dates, including frontispiece and staircase extension of mid C17 to north range; east range sub-divided and remodelled with entrance extension in early C18; south range converted to commercial use in late C18 and early C19. Substantially restored 1902 by Temple Moore.

MATERIALS: magnesian limestone ashlar on chamfered plinth, timber-framed first floor with plastered infill and coved plaster eaves; north end of west range rebuilt in orange-brown brick in random bond; underbuilding in red brick in English garden-wall bond on courtyard side of south range. Staircase extension of orange brick in English garden-wall bond. Right return cement-rendered, rusticated on ground floor, and entrance extension of orange brick in random bond; coved timber eaves cornice. Roofs of pantile with tile verges in places, and brick stacks.

EXTERIOR: street front: 2 storeys and attics; 10 bays: first floor has coved jetty between moulded wallplate and moulded bressumer, and exposed timber-framing: at right end, 2-storey 1-bay extension. Entrance in centre of original building flanked by side standards with crocketed pinnacles has panelled double doors in 4-centred moulded arch of 3 orders with shafted jambs. Above, in canopied niche beneath crocketed ogee hood, carving of St William flanked by armorial shields. On each side, coved jetty timbers carved as figures.

To left of entrance is a 16-pane sash window with sunk-panel shutters: further left, paired 6-panel doors with small-pane overlights between small-pane bow windows with dentilled cornices and panelled shutters. To right of entrance, two shopfronts beneath continuous modillioned cornice have glazed and panelled doors and radial fanlights in doorcases of sunk-panel jambs, one with applied ornament, fluted necking and friezes, and paterae: windows are small- pane bows. Further right is a 4-light window with 12-pane casements and shutters of raised and fielded panelling. Extension has altered 6-panel passage door. On first floor are 5 renewed oriel windows with traceried lights; four 2-, 3- or 4-light mullioned windows, one with transom; and C18 oriel with tall 12-pane sash windows: 12-pane sash over gateway.

Attic has gabled and raking dormers with 2-light windows. Rear: 2 storeys and attics, with altered irregular fenestration: 2-storey staircase extension off-centre to right; left end obscured by later building. Extension has rectangular and oval windows with moulded brick hoods. To left, traces of two full-height windows with 2-centred heads remain, one behind extension blocked with brick. The other, with stone blocking, retains original double hollow chamfered jambs, badly decayed, and sloped sill: on ground floor, 3-light window is of re-used C17 casements beneath timber lintel; on first floor, paired 12-pane sashes. Further left, is restored 6-light mullioned window with coved hoodmould on ground floor, and 4- and 3-light mullioned windows on first floor.

To right of extension, fragments of 4-light mullioned window and slit light to right survive: at right end, former window with double chamfered jambs now converted to door: other ground floor openings altered. First floor windows are 1- and 2-light casements, and three 12-pane sashes. Portions of coved eaves survive. Left return: west range has exposed timber-framing and timber mullioned windows of 2 and 3 lights on first floor. Right return: east range of 2 storeys and attics; 9 bays: left end bay extended forward to provide entrance. Centre left door of 6 raised and fielded panels on H-L hinges, to left of tripartite 4:16:4-pane sash window: glazed door beneath divided overlight at centre right. Windows are 12-pane sashes on ground floor, with 8-pane sash at right end: 18-pane sashes on first floor, with 12-pane sash at right end: all windows have raised surrounds, those on ground floor rusticated. Coved eaves cornice. Hipped dormers have 2-light windows.

Quadrangle fronts: 2 storeys with cellars and attics; chamfered cellar openings, mostly blocked, in plinth: timber-framed upper storey jettied as street front. 11 coved jetty timbers carved as figures and west range bressumer carved with rosettes and masks. Entrance passage opening is chamfered arch with angels bearing shields of arms carved in bressumer on either side. Frontispiece in north range has panelled double doors in keyed fasciated architrave recessed within doorcase of Ionic pilasters, entablature with pulvinated frieze, broken segmental pediment. Overdoor has oval sunk panel between squat pilasters over recessed shaped apron. Traces of original doorways with hollow chamfered jambs and 4-centred heads survive elsewhere. Windows are restored or reconstructed oriels or inserted casements with leaded lights; one original oriel, now blocked, survives in east range, of paired lights with traceried heads, carved base panels and moulded mullion: in south range, one Venetian window with radial-glazed centre sash, one boarded side light, and fitted flush panelled shutters; also, two 12-pane and one 18-pane sashes.

INTERIOR: SOUTH RANGE: ground floor. Moulded spine beams and wall-plates survive in most rooms. Eastern end: early C20 dogleg staircase to attics with close string, open splat balusters, square newels with ball and pedestal finials, and heavy moulded handrail. Two rooms retain fireplaces with basket grates, one in plain surround, one in timber chimneypiece with panelled overmantel and moulded cornice supported on fluted Composite pilasters on pedestals with
fretwork panels. Western end: room to left of entrance passage has blocked fireplace with segmental brick arch between two moulded stone doorways, one with 2-panel door to stone newel staircase.

First floor. Landing has moulded cornice and eared bolection moulded doorcase to right of stairs. Eastern end: one room has panelled chimneypiece with hob grate in plain surround; adjacent room has bolection moulded fireplace with moulded shelf and overmantel panel. South-east room fitted with bolection moulded panelling, to full height on chimney wall and incorporating fireplace with overmantel between sunk-panel pilasters, and moulded cornice: 3-panels doors, one on H hinges, one on cockshead hinges, flank fireplace: panelled oriel window framed in keyed segmental arch on panelled pilasters with prominent moulded imposts. Western end: first room has moulded stone fireplace with quoined jambs, moulded spine beam and eared doorcase. South-west room has exposed framing and plaster infilling painted with flower and foliage trails: fireplace has moulded stone surround and shallow 4-centred head. Attic: centre room has fireplace inserted in chimney hood, with timber lintel and moulded stone shelf.

NORTH RANGE: ground floor. Hall in centre has renewed coffered ceiling and chamfered plastered fireplace. Main staircase at rear rises to first floor, with close string, open splat balusters, square newels with shaped caps and heavy handrail. Second staircase to attics, towards western end, has moulded close string, turned balusters, square newels with attached half balusters, and heavy moulded handrail. First floor. Landing has coffered ceiling. Maclagan Hall, largely reconstructed, retains various re-used fragments of wainscotting and panelling: one original open collar truss with moulded arch braces survives. Two hatchments commemorate Memorial Services in York Minster, for Queen Victoria, 1902, for Edward VII, 1910. Bishops' Chamber lined with re-used and reconstructed panelling with reeded Ionic pilasters and moulded cornice: coved ceiling coffered with plaster moulded beams: fireplace in stone bolection moulded surround.

WEST RANGE: ground floor. Chimney breast towards southern end has bolection moulded fireplace with moulded mantelshelf on one side, hob grate in fasciated surround with pulvinated frieze and dentilled moulded cornice shelf on the other. Brick fireplaces with arched heads survive at north end in outer wall. Staircase in north-west corner rises to attic, and has close string, twisted balusters, square panelled newels and heavy moulded handrail. First floor. Attic floor survives over north end only: room below has moulded stone fireplace with 4-centred head, square panelling, and moulded cornice. Remainder of range open to roof, retains two chimneybreasts, one with chamfered opening in plastered hood, the other fitted with raised and fielded panelling carved with early C19 graffiti.

EAST RANGE: ground floor. Two staircases rise to attics: early C18 one at southern end has moulded close string, bulbousbalusters, square newels and heavy moulded handrail: northern one early C20 copy. Two 2-panel doors survive. Northern end room has restored moulded stone fireplace with quoined jambs and 4-centred head. Another room is fully panelled, with doorcase, chimneypiece and window reveal, all bolection moulded: semi-domed alcove cupboard has fasciated round-arched surround with keyblock and shaped shelves, and raised and fielded panel doors on butterfly hinges below. First floor. Landing to north has 3-panel door to sub-divided centre room. First room has blocked corner fireplace in plain surround: second room fitted with bolection moulded panelling, doorcase and fireplace with overmantel panel, and moulded cornice: fireplace has basket grate and moulded cornice shelf.

(City of York: RCHME: The Central Area: HMSO: 1981-: 62-68). Listing NGR: SE6043952197

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

St Williams College was begun c1465 as a college for chantry priests, housing 23 priests and a provost, using the sites and possibly the fabric of two prebendal houses already on the site. Pevsner’s Yorkshire: York and the East Riding notes that whilst the arrangement of the accommodation is unclear, it may have been similar to that of an Oxford or Cambridge college, with the series of doorways around the courtyard leading to staircases. After the dissolution the building was used as a private house/houses. In 1902 it was purchased for use as the meeting place for the Convocation of the province of York. It was extensively restored and re-arranged internally by Temple Moore after 1902.

The building has high historical value as an early secular building with a long association with York Minster and associations with known historical figures and with the architect Temple Moore. York’s Central Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal notes it is the most sophisticated timber framed building in York and also, as a building type - a large purpose-built accommodation for Chantry Priests - unique in the country. It has evidential value for its remaining early fabric and for the evidence contained in its fabric of the later development of the building. It has high artistic value for its architectural design, including its original and early features and also for the work of the eminent architect Temple Moore. This highly individual building has strong presence and importance in the streetscape.

(Diane Green, Historic England, Pers Comm. Sept 2018)

NMR Information

Full description

[SE 6045 5221] St. William's College. [GT].

Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.) NY 84

St. Williams College was erected between 1465 and 1467 for the Chantry priests of the minister, and is substantially unchanged. A scheduled ancient monument.

The College is in good condition and is open to the public. See G.P. AO 63/115/1 for south front and illustration AO/M for courtyard.

1 Ordnance Survey ap. 250 1961.
2 A history of Yorkshire: the city of York 1961 edited by P M Tillott p.343
4 Field Investigators Comments F1 RWE 05-JUN-53
5 Medieval religious houses in England and Wales 1971 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock p.445

Related Events
613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey
1337303 Watching Brief ST WILLIAM'S COLLEGE

Related Archives/Objects
BF060280 ST WILLIAM'S COLLEGE, YORK File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued. Copyright, date, and quantity information for this record may be incomplete or inaccurate.

OP07482 A view through the arched passage of St William's College towards College Street, with timber framing and plaster infill above. There was substantial restoration in 1902 so this photograph was likely to have been taken before that date.

OP07483 A view of the entrance into St William's College with a statue of St William in a niche above the archway flanked by armorial shields There was substantial restoration in 1902 so this photograph was likely to have been taken before that date.

OP07490 A view of the entrance to the north range of St William's College with an oval panel above it in the jettied upper storey There was substantial restoration in 1902 so this photograph was likely to have been taken before that date.

OP07569 The quadrangle of St William's College showing the timber-framed and jettied upper storey and cobbled ground surface

OP08072 Two chairs adjacent to windows with leaded patterns of octagons inset with squares, in a corridor in St William's College, York

OP08090 St William's College, York viewed from the west

People and Organisations
Compiler D SMITH 1962-12-27 Ordnance Survey Archaeology Officer 08-FEB-1960-31-MAY-1961 and 01-NOV-1966-26-JUL-1974
Compiler RICHARD W EMSLEY 1953-06-05 OS AO 22-JUN-1959 to 1973 (613)

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 (6)

Record last edited

Jun 16 2020 2:19PM


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