Building record MYO1869 - Bishophill House


Town house built in the early 18th century, extended in 1740; extended further in the late 18th century, and altered in the early 19th century; used as a school 1834-50; renovated c1980, following fire. Plan: original plan L-shaped, with extensions to left and left rear. Exterior: 3 storeys and attic; 5-window front. Converted to a hotel and now used as flats.


Grid reference Centred SE 6006 5152 (28m by 24m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

Formerly known as: No.13 Bishophill House BISHOPHILL SENIOR. Town house, now hotel. Early C18, extended in 1740; extended further in late C18, and altered in early C19; renovated c1980, following fire. Pink mottled brick in Flemish bond, on chamfered brick plinth at front; painted stone doorcase and timber eaves cornice; slate roof with brick stacks. PLAN: original plan L-shaped, with extensions to left and left rear. EXTERIOR: 3 storeys and attic; 5-window front. Pedimented Ionic doorcase with attached shafts on stone bases, pulvinated frieze and modillion cornice; double doors, each of 8 fielded panels, beneath radial fanlight, in round arch on pilaster responds with moulded imposts. All windows are 1-pane sashes with painted stone sills, those on second floor squat; all have flat arches of gauged brick, those on first floor painted and keyed. Raised brick bands at first and second floor levels. Fasciated eaves band beneath plain cornice on heavy carved brackets, returned at each end. One gabled dormer in attic. Rear: on first floor, semicircular bow window with bronze frame and glazing bars. INTERIOR: entrance hall retains original stone-flagged floor, moulded cornice, and doorcases with pulvinated frieze and dentil cornice. Round stairhall arch on fluted Ionic pilasters with panelled reveals, moulded imposts and egg-and-dart enrichment. In ground floor flanking rooms, window surrounds are reeded with angle blocks. Rococo plaster ceiling from the Saloon reinstated at Peasholme House, St Saviour's Place (qv). Remaining fittings and staircase, as described by RCHM, destroyed in fire. (City of York: RCHME: South-west of the Ouse: HMSO: 1972-: 59-61).

Listing NGR: SE6007551507
Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

Bishophill House was built in the early 18th century on an L-shaped plan with a front four bays wide. In 1740 the house was acquired by Richard Dawson (1696–1762), a prominent merchant and the wealthiest parishioner, who on 6 May 1740 advertised his house in Trinity Lane as to let from Michaelmas (York Courant). Dawson enlarged the house by the addition of two further bays to the N.W. and built the present staircase in the re-entrant angle of the original house. He remodelled the front elevation, framing the present entrance, and refitted much of the interior. The house was subsequently tenanted by Lady Gascoign and was sold in 1764 on the death of Dawson's eldest son Thomas, a Portugal merchant of London; it was advertised as including 'a handsome large Drawing-Room, hung with India Paper, two Parlours fronting a pleasant Garden, belonging to the House...', (York Courant, 10 April 1764). The property passed to James Fermor, esq., who in 1771 married Mrs. Henrietta Standish, a widow, upon whom he made a large settlement including Bishophill House (Borthwick Inst., York Wills Reg. 128, f. 10).

It was probably when Fermor took over the house that Dawson's addition was extended N.E. to allow the formation of a large Saloon with a semicircular bay at the N.E. end, and the fine plaster ceiling, so close in style to Francesco Cortese's work of 1764–5 at Newburgh Hall, was inserted. After Fermor's death (1783) his widow married in 1785 William Carr, nephew of John Carr the architect (York Courant, 18 Jan. 1785); William Carr lived in the house during his uncle's life, but about 1811 sold the property to John Tuke, who by 1825 had converted it into three tenements (YCA, E.97, ff. 96, 208). This remodelling is evidenced by the refitting of several rooms and the alteration of windows, including the two N.W. windows of the main front. Further alterations were made when the house was bought by Mrs. Sarah Preston, who was living there in 1828–30 (Directories), but soon afterwards leased it to the Misses Lucy and Eleanor Walker, who used it as a girls' boarding school from 1834 or earlier until c. 1850 (Directories; Tithe Map of 1847). In the course of the 19th century plate glass was put in all windows; it is probable that the cornice and roof are also of the second half of the century.

The Front Elevation, facing S.W. on Bishophill, is of two builds, the original S.E. part being in good stock brick, Flemish bonded, with fine brick dressings to openings, band and quoins. The three-course plinth, with chamfered weathering was originally returned round both ends, and so was the string course. The imposing entrance, roughly central, has round Ionic columns to the jambs, a pulvinated frieze to the entablature; a moulded, modillioned cornice and pediment; and a semicircular fanlight over a heavily moulded and fielded eight-panelled door (Plate 62). Beneath a four-course band, at ground floor, are two sash windows with ashlar sills and flat rubbed-brick arches. The first floor has two original window openings with ashlar sills and stuccoed flat arches with keys; two windows have been removed and a window has been inserted in the blocking immediately over the entrance; dressings of the former openings are visible. To the second floor are four sash windows, almost square, with stone sills and flat arches of rubbed bricks. About half-way up these windows, the character of the brickwork changes at the level of a timber plate one course deep. It is likely that the upper part of the wall was rebuilt when the structure was re-roofed and the pre-existing cornice was replaced by the present one. The front of the second build to the N.W., in pale red stock brick in Flemish bond, with good quality red brick dressings, has to the ground floor two large early 19th-century sash windows, with stone sills, carried up to the brick band and without arches. On the first floor are two sash windows with narrow stone sills and stuccoed arches with key-blocks, and on the second floor smaller sash windows matching those further S.E. The same change of brickwork and timber occurs half-way up the second-floor windows. The eaves are supported on shaped brackets, those to the S.E. build being in pairs, the six to the N.W. being almost evenly spaced. The Rear Elevation has a projection on the S.E. 3–4 ft. deep, and formerly provided with a shallow segmental bay (OS 1852); the original wall remains above a modern warehouse extension. In the middle of the house, above a single-storey addition, large semicircular arches with rubbed brick voussoirs remain over the openings for two windows lighting the staircase, one above the other. To the N.W. a wing projects approximately 20 ft. and has on the first floor a large semicircular bay window now under-built; it has stucco dressings and bronze frames and glazing bars; a similar bay on the second floor has been removed and the wall built up flush.

Inside, the Entrance Hall has a moulded and enriched cornice and skirting. In the S.E. wall is a doorway with moulded entablature with dentil cornice and pulvinated frieze. To the N.E., opening to the stair hall, is a large archway with panelled reveals between Ionic pilasters. The room to the S., with moulded cornice and skirting, has a reeded surround to the doorway in the N.W. wall; in the N.E. wall is a chimneybreast between a segmental-headed recess (to S.E.) and a blocked doorway retaining its door with six fielded panels; the windows have reeded surrounds with plain angle pieces. In the stair hall, which has a moulded and enriched cornice and skirting and a floor laid with diagonally-set limestone flags, the Staircase rises to the second floor in five flights with two landings and three half-landings, with a solid mahogany moulded rail curving round the angles, but no string; it has strongly cantilevered treads with recessed panels under them and moulding on the edges, all of soft wood. The heavy balusters have graduated bases stepped like those at Micklegate House and Nos. 134, 136 Micklegate. The newel and spiral rail at the foot have been removed. The side wall has a rising boarded dado and a moulded dado rail and skirting. The window in the N.E. wall lighting the stair consists of two sashes placed together which have heavy ovolo-moulded glazing bars and a moulded surround. Doorways in the N.W. and S.E. walls of the stair hall have or had moulded entablatures with dentil cornice and pulvinated frieze.

A large room to the W. has a moulded cornice and skirting of c. 1820–30. On either side of the chimney-breast is a deep segmental-headed recess. The doorway has moulded jambs and lintel, square angle-pieces with handsome foliated paterae (c. 1820–30), and a reused door with six panels, fielded on the outside. The two S.W. windows have handsome moulded surrounds and the reveals have small elegant panels with applied moulding; there is similar panelling under each window. To the N. the Kitchen is entered from a rear passage. On the N.W. is a large chimney-breast containing an open fireplace with a great segmental-headed arch, like the kitchen fireplace at Micklegate House. In a recess to S.W., above a doorway, is a window with six panes and heavy ovolo-moulded glazing bars. Between the S.W. wall and the chimney breast is the springer of an arch, probably cut away to insert this window. The central Cellar, under the entrance and stair halls, has barrel vaults of brick rising from walls with two large attached piers. Two compartments have vaults at right angles to the rest and two others, belonging to the earlier build, have plastered ceilings.

On the First Floor, the landing, with plain walls and a moulded plaster cornice enriched with egg and dart and dentils, has four doorways serving the rooms, the one in the N.W. wall being like that on the ground floor with eared surround and pulvinated frieze. The E. room, redecorated with Regency fittings, has a reeded plaster cornice, with formalised flower paterae to the angles; in the N.E. wall is a 19th-century sash window with narrow lateral sashes. In the completely panelled N.E. wall of the S. room is a fireplace with an overmantel with moulded and eared surround of c. 1740. The W. room has in the N.E. wall a doorway opening to a small landing leading off the main landing and giving access to the main saloon to the N.E. The main feature of the Saloon is the plaster ceiling, possibly the finest example of rococo plasterwork in York. The bay window has bronze bars to the sashes. On the Second Floor, over the stair well, is a moulded plaster ceiling, and the landing has a moulded dado, skirting and doorways with simple doorcases. One of the rooms has a simple late 19th-century cornice. Damaged by fire. Staircase and many fittings destroyed.

'Secular Buildings: Miscellaneous', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 3, South west (London, 1972), pp. 48-68 (Monument 38)

NMR Information
BF060371 BISHOPHILL HOUSE, YORK File of material relating to a site or building
613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey

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Record last edited

Jan 24 2020 5:05PM


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