Building record MYO1822 - 51 Bootham and Bootham School Block to rear including John Bright library and attached railings


Front block at Bootham School built circa 1800. The architect, was Peter Atkinson. It is constructed of brick with stone dressings. It has 3-storeys, with 5 sash windows in moulded architraves, those to the lower storeys have light cornices.


Grid reference Centred SE 5995 5244 (57m by 110m)
Map sheet SE55SE
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

House, now part of school. Nearing completion in 1804. Designed by Peter Atkinson senior for Sir Richard Vanden Bempde Johnstone, Bart. Brick in Flemish bond with painted stone dressings. Hipped slate roof.

EXTERIOR: symmetrical, of 3 storeys with attics and cellars and 5 bays. The windows are sashed with glazing bars and are set in moulded architraves; those on the ground and first floors have cornices, and the ground-floor windows have a sill band and fluted friezes. The central windows of the upper storeys are tripartite, and that on the 1st floor has Ionic mullions and jambs and a segmental pediment. A balcony of trellis ironwork extends across the whole front at 1st floor level. The attic is lit by 3 round-headed dormer windows. The central doorway has sidelights, a door with 6 raised and fielded panels, a fanlight, and a portico with 2 pairs of Doric columns with pilaster responds, supporting an entablature with a bucrania frieze. Modillion gutter cornice. Chimneys to left and right, and 2 chimneys near centre of ridge.

To the rear a Library and classroom block added to the designs of WH Thorpe and F Rowntree. 2 storeys. Red brick with terracotta dressings. South-east entrance front has projecting central doorcase with Ionic columns supporting a pediment, segment-arched opening with double doors and fanlight. To the left 2 glazing bar windows. To the right a 2-storey block of 3 windows with chamfered single bay window. North-east front has a 3-window, 2-storey bay at left then a recessed 4-window wing with 4 segment-headed glazing bar sashes on the ground floor, and 4 narrow sashes above, and 2 through-eaves gabled dormers above again. To the right a projecting library block, 4 windows with basement. This facade is articulated with pilaster strip balusters and 4 tripartite sashes on the ground floor with, above, 4 shallow curved bow windows with iron frame cross casements. The block is topped by an octagonal wooden cupola.

INTERIOR: of No.51: elegant hall with good stone staircase set between fluted columns and having iron balustrade; several good fireplaces. Interior of Library and classroom block: panelled classrooms on the ground floor. A stone stair with Art Nouveau iron balustrade. Upper corridor has dado panelling. Library or former Assembly Room has wainscot panelling with built-in book
shelves, and a bronze plaque to John Bright and another Second World War Memorial plaque. Proscenium arch at north-west end, curved wooden roof trusses supported on stone corbels. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the front area has plain wrought-iron railings which extend in front of the portico where they have a central gate.

(An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: Outside the City Walls: London: 1975-: 60). Listing NGR: SE5996952435

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

Bootham School was founded in 1823 by the Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends. Initially it was housed in a dilapidated house outside Walmgate Bar but in 1846 the house now known as 51 Bootham was purchased and the School moved to its present site. Over the following 50 years the original premises were extended by purchase and development; a programme of building to the rear of the Bootham properties expanded the School into former back gardens and orchards. The number of boys steadily increased from 41 in 1833 to 83 in 1893.

At the very end of the C19 the School suffered a serious setback. In the early hours of 12 May 1899 a major fire broke out in the Schoolroom wing. Although some areas were afterwards patched up and re-opened it became clear that the fire had offered an opportunity to rebuild much of the School in line with more up-to-date ideas on education.

It is to this late C19/early C20 period of rebuilding that the earliest elements of the present Science Block belong. The Society of Friends in general sees no conflict between religious faith and science; for this reason the provision of a relatively spacious and well-equipped Science Block in a comparatively small school was regarded as noteworthy at the time. The Science School, as it was named, was therefore built well away from the older buildings towards the north east corner of the site: just outside the back fence of what was, in 1899, the Headmaster's garden.

The Science School opened in 1902. Designed by W H Thorpe and Fred Rowntree. Constructed of red engineering brick with terracotta dressings under a roof of graduated Westmoreland slates. Within the building Welsh slate in heavy slabs was used for laboratory windowsills. Joinery is of moulded softwood and the timber roof has wrought iron (or just possibly steel) ties.The plan of the 1902 block comprised a principal east/west single storey range in a balanced but not symmetrical layout. The four bays to the east contained a Chemical Laboratory; three bays to the west, a Science Lecture Room; and between them a single bay Preparation Room and Master's Room. Behind the Preparation Room was the Hall, lit by a rooflight. Interestingly the plan also shows four vents in the thickness
of the south wall, one to each bay. The principal entrance was in the west gable. Here there was a small internal porch and beyond it a passage to the Hall behind the Preparation Room.

1913 The Physics Laboratory Shortly before WW1 it was decided to put forward the school as a suitable
establishment for the First Examination for Medical Degrees. However in order to obtain recognition from the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians, improved facilities for students of Physics would be required. Physics was then, as it is now, a growth area following a massive increase in public awareness: and for this reason as well a new building was provided. The Physical Laboratory, as it was called, was opened in January 1913 by Professor Silvanus Thompson, FRS, Principal of the Finsbury Technical College and an old scholar and former Bootham School science

Mid-later 20th century changes to Science School A considerable amount of work was done in the immediate post-war period although there is very little evidence of it now. A prime need was an expansion of the facilities for Physics in order to teach the subject to higher levels. The architect, Colin Rowntree, accomplished this in about 1952 by demolishing the 1902 Open Fives Court
and sheds and building the Advanced Physics Laboratory (which included a Dark Room) on the site.

The rapid later C20 growth in the teaching of science and computing led, in 1975, to the construction of a large new two-storey Science Block which overlay the site of Rowntree's laboratory of about 1952 (which was demolished) and extended further to the south: almost to the north wall of the new Assembly Hall constructed in 1965.


(SE 59965241 - O.S 1/2500, 1962)

5343 BOOTHAM (north-east side)
No 51 (Three storey front block
at Bootham School)
SE 5952 SE 12/99 14.6.54
Grade I

Circa 1800. Architect, Peter Atkinson Sen; brick with stone dressings; 3-storeys; 5 sash windows in moulded architraves, those to lower storeys with light cornices. The central window in the upper storeys is tripartite, and that in middle storey with Ionic mullions and jambs and a segmental pediment; a balcony of trellis ironwork extends across the whole front at 1st floor level; central doorway with side lights and semi-circular fanlight within Doric portico on 2 pairs of columns, the whole with full entablature, bucrania frieze, and cornice. Plain wrought iron railings over forecourt. Interior: Elegant hall with good stone staircase set between fluted columns and having iron balustrade; several good fireplaces. (RCHM Vol IV, Monument 44) (1)

1 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest DOE (HHR) City of York N Yorks June 1983 26

2016, Bootham School HER ST (Unpublished document). SYO1877.

2016, Bootham School HER ST, p17-23 & p26-31 (Unpublished document). SYO1877.

2019, Design, Access and Heritage Statement of 51 Bootham (Unpublished document). SYO2175.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: 2016. Bootham School HER ST. p17-23 & p26-31.
  • --- Unpublished document: 2016. Bootham School HER ST.
  • --- Unpublished document: 2019. Design, Access and Heritage Statement of 51 Bootham.

Protected Status/Designation

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Record last edited

May 5 2020 4:14PM


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