Cumberland Street-George Street
The old Thursgail, first recorded c. 1200 and meaning
'giant's lane', later known as Thrusgate, Thrush Lane,
or from c. 1560 as Middle Water Lane, was renamed in
1880 when it was shortened by the formation of
Clifford Street and widened on the S.E. Drawings by
Cave, Nicholson and others show its former picturesque
but squalid appearance, with many timber-framed and
jettied houses almost meeting across the lane. One
house had a stone ground floor and decorative timber-work above, probably of the 14th century; its appearance from 1778 to its final demolition after 1850 is
recorded (Plate 3. See also YAYAS, Procs. 1950–51,
Plates 2, 3).
Davygate runs from St. Helen's Square to St. Sampson's Square, inside and parallel to the S.W. wall of the
Roman fortress and overlying its barrack blocks. It
takes its name, as did Davy Hall, from the family of
David, king's larderer in the Forest of Galtres. The site
of Davy Hall, a prison and liberty purchased by the
Corporation in 1729 and demolished in 1745, is now
occupied by St. Helen's burial ground (20), Cumberland
Row (287) and the N.E. end of New Street. Until the
removal of St. Helen's churchyard in 1745 and creation
of the square, Davygate ran to the end of Coney Street.
The S.E. part was widened soon after 1891, and nearly
every building in the street has been erected since 1900.
(152) House, No. 20, of brick, heightened, extended and
refitted in the late 19th century when the front elevation was
set back, incorporates the N.W. side wall of a three-storey
early 18th-century building which bounded part of St. Helen's
burial ground (20).
Dean's Park (Monuments 153, 154)
Dean's Park, so named c. 1910, previously the Deanery
Gardens, is an area of lawns and trees to N. of the
Minster, occupied in the Middle Ages by the grounds
of the Archbishop's Palace. At its S.W. corner stood
the chapel and college of St. Mary and the Holy Angels
or St. Sepulchre's, founded in 1179 and dissolved in
1547. In c. 1620 Sir Arthur Ingram built a new mansion
in the W. part of the palace site and laid out elaborate
gardens. The remains of this house and of the great hall
of the palace, used in the 18th century as a riding school,
were demolished in 1814–16. The Deanery of 1940 has
replaced the New Deanery of 1830, which stood S. of
the surviving chapel of the palace, now the Minster
Library, and had itself replaced the Old Deanery, S. of
the Minster. A road linking its garden with Lord Mayor's
Walk was proposed in 1832 but not constructed. Large
static water tanks were excavated in the park during
the Second World War.
(153) The Lodge, to W. of the Minster, designed by
Richard Allen, Clerk of Works at the Minster, in 1845
(YML, (B4), 1845 General Repairs Time Sheets, April
and May), formed part of the buildings of the Minster
Stone Yard (OS 1852) and courses through with the
yard's boundary wall, most of which has been retained
as a boundary to the Purey-Cust Nursing Home forecourt, which replaces the stoneyard, but the shields-of-arms flanking the four-centred archway from Precentor's Court are late 19th-century. The elevation to
Dean's Park is in Gothic style, with rectangular windows
and a shoulder-headed entrance door piercing the
magnesian limestone wall, which is treated as a stepped
boundary wall surmounted by a parapet, and conceals
the lean-to pantiled roof behind. The two-storey rear
elevation is unpretentious, divided into three sections
by chimney-stacks, and lit by Yorkshire sashes. The
side and rear elevations are of stone where they might
be seen from outside, and of brick below.
(154) Purey-Cust Chambers (Plate 152) were built,
as the New Residence, in 1824–5 to designs by R. H.
Sharp to provide accommodation for the Canons
Residentiary who had previously occupied Monument
(277). In September 1823 the Chapter had recommended that at some future date a new Residence house
and Deanery house be built on the N. side of the
Minster, and in July 1824 it was resolved that the former
be built at a cost not exceeding £3,600 (YML, H10(1),
ff. 230–1; A Guide to the City of York (after July 1838),
published by J. Glaisby). Unsigned designs for the New
Residence almost exactly as built, probably from the
office of Atkinson and Sharp, are preserved in the
Minster Library, together with a series of alternative
schemes by Watson and Pritchett (M/P Y/R 1128, 1–3,
5, 8, 9).
The building was described in 1838 (Glaisby, op. cit., 97) as
being in 'a plain style of Tudor architecture' and has moulded
labels to the windows, decorative buttresses and pointed
gables and, to the main S.E. elevation, a door with four-centred arched head and a first-floor oriel window. Inside, the
doorways have four-centred arched heads (Plate 163), as do the
fireplace openings; the staircase has foliated terminations to
the square newels and columns with shaped bases which serve
as balusters (Plate 194).
Duncombe Place (Monuments 155, 156)
Duncombe Place, running from Blake Street to Petergate, is the former Lop Lane, perhaps named from
fleas or spiders, and first mentioned in 1346. Some
houses of the former lane remain on the N.W. side. It
was also known c. 1800 as Little Blake Street. The very
narrow lane was widened in 1785 to 15 ft. between
buildings; in 1859–64 it was enlarged to its present
width of over 100 ft. and renamed after Dean A. W.
Duncombe. The most prominent building is the Roman
Catholic church of St. Wilfrid, built in 1864 to designs
by G. Goldie as the pro-cathedral of the Beverley
diocese, near the site of a chapel opened in 1760. The
dedication recalls the mediaeval church which lay
between Blake Street and Lendal.
(155) Houses, Nos. 4, 5, 6, are contained in two mid
18th-century buildings incorporating earlier timber
framing which were divided into three separate houses
in the early 19th century and have recently been converted to a single property. The larger mid 18th-century
house, represented by Nos. 4 and 5, was of five bays,
with an axial entrance leading to a transverse staircase,
and with hung-sash windows, brick bands between the
floors, and a tiled roof. No. 6, of one bay, had an off-set
entrance leading to a transverse staircase; it has windows
and brick bands matching the larger house. The
windows at the rear had segmental arched heads. In the
early 19th century Nos. 4 and 5 became separate houses,
each with its own staircase, with coupled doorways
beneath rectangular fanlights with marginal lights. The
first-floor front room of No. 5 was given a large bay
with a tripartite sash window, and the fenestration at
front and rear was much altered. Coupled brackets
supported the moulded cornice of Nos. 4 and 5. Recent
alterations have eliminated the entrance and passage of
No. 6, moved the ground-floor front room window in
line with those on the upper floors, and replaced the
doorways of Nos. 4 and 5 with a single entrance. The
mid 18th-century staircase of No. 6 has an open string
below the first floor and a close string above, turned
balusters with square knops, and a moulded ramped
handrail with spiral terminals; it is approached from the
entrance hall through an archway with flanking
pilasters. Early 19th-century fittings include cornices,
fireplaces, and doors of six fielded panels. Largely
rebuilt in 1976–7.
(156) The Red House (Plate 139; Fig. 78), a stone
and brick house of two storeys with attics and cellars,
was built in the early 18th century for Sir William
Robinson, Baronet (Drake, 337), Lord Mayor in 1700
and M.P. for York from 1697 to 1722. The site belonged
to York Corporation, which had bought the Mint
Yard from George Savile, Viscount Halifax, in 1675
for £800, and a house on it was leased to Robinson for
the first time in 1701 (YCA, M31/152). He rebuilt this
house, probably incorporating the lower portions of
the earlier stone building. The designer may have been
William Etty, who was later in charge of building
Robinson's country house at Newby, now called
Baldersby Park, begun in 1718 to a design by Colen
Campbell. The lease of the York house was renewed
for 21 years in 1723 (YCA, E101) and in 1725 York
Corporation asked Robinson whether he would surrender the house for the use of the city (YCA, B42, f.
58). The request was presumably refused, because the
present Mansion House (44) was subsequently built.
On Robinson's death at Baldersby on 22 December
1736 the house passed to a relative, Richard Elcock. A
20-year lease 'of Sir William Robinson's house',
granted to Dr. John Burton in 1740, was renewed for
a further 21 years in 1761 (YCA, E101). Burton, the
Dr. Slop of Sterne's Tristram Shandy, was proposed as
a freeman in 1754 but was not admitted; he was buried
in Holy Trinity, Micklegate, in January 1771. Later
occupants include Dr. Baldwin Wake, physician to
Bootham Park Hospital, York, from 1815–39, who
took the lease in 1835 (YCA, E79).
The house built by Robinson had an L-shaped plan. The
ground floor was raised eight steps above ground level,
enabling the extensive cellars to be well lit by mullioned
windows, now blocked. The front block contained three
reception rooms on the ground floor, and the N. corner was
occupied by part of the kitchen, which led into the long
service wing at the back. In the second half of the 18th century,
a two-storey block was added in the re-entrant angle. Apart
from providing extra rooms, this gave corridor access from
the main staircase to the northernmost room of the original
wing. The main staircase was completely rebuilt, and extended
upwards to the attics, which had previously only been reached
by the secondary staircase in the wing. The flanking lights of
the Venetian window lighting the staircase were closed, and
the window was extended upwards to light the higher flights.
At the same time, the fenestration of the N.E. elevation was
drastically modified at first-floor level. In the 19th century,
the house was re-roofed in slate. The name of The Red House
may, by analogy with the Red Tower on the city walls,
derive from the use of brick rather than stone in an important
building, and not from the fact that the brickwork on the main
elevation has been painted dark red.
The S.E. front elevation to Duncombe Place (Plate 139),
five bays wide, has two storeys of brick, with stone dressings,
above a stone basement. A late 18th-century modillioned
cornice replaces the original deeper and bolder one. Continuous stone bands at both ground-floor window-sill and first-floor levels relate awkwardly to the stone quoins at the
corners. The taller first-floor windows have sills which extend
the full width of each bay. The sash windows have flush frames
and flat-arched heads of rubbed brickwork. Approached by a
flight of steps, the recessed entrance has a moulded architrave
surmounted by a cartouche with the City arms set on a panel
with curved pediment above and voluted drapery to the sides
(Plate 182), and a door of six fielded panels beneath a rectangular fanlight. There are early 19th-century area railings.
Fig. 78. (156) The Red House, Duncombe Place.
The S.W. elevation to St. Leonard's Place is of coursed
ashlar to first-floor level and of brick above. Each floor has
two flush-framed sash windows; those at first floor are set
beneath segmental arches with brick tympana. Above a
central first-floor window a large semicircular arch with a
key-stone links two flues into a single stack which diminishes
upwards into a reverse-curved Dutch gable. To right of the
gable is a late 18th-century modillioned cornice, and to left an
early 19th-century cornice supported on widely-spaced
brackets. The N.W. elevation, much altered and of rough
ashlar below and brick above, has a tumbled gable, as has the
N.W. elevation of the extension. The original fenestration,
which included a Venetian window, has been altered.
Original early 18th-century cornices survive in both rooms
on both floors of the main block backing on St. Leonard's
Place. Fittings include original fireplaces and panelling (Plate
178). The main staircase has late 18th-century turned balusters
with square knops, an open string with shaped cheek-pieces,
a moulded mahogany handrail and a spiral terminal. The
early 18th-century secondary staircase has turned balusters
and a close string, with a balustrade of splat balusters in the
attics (Fig. 11d, o).
Feasegate (Monuments 157–160)
Feasegate, running N. from Market Street to St.
Sampson's Square over the remains of the S. angle tower
of the Roman fortress, is first mentioned in about 1259
and was named from 'Fehus', a cow-house. Buildings
in the street are now of the 18th century or later.
(157) House, No. 1 (Plate 143), with No. 1 St.
Sampson's Square, was built in 1770 by Robert Woodhouse, replacing one bought by Thomas Woodhouse
in 1760 (YCA, E94, f. 31; E97, ff. 250v-251v); this and
the adjoining house, No. 3, are among the earliest four-storey Georgian houses in the city. It has been much
altered on the ground and first floors for use as a shop.
There are elevations of two and three bays to Feasegate
and St. Sampson's Square respectively, of brick in
Flemish bond; the windows have wide-spreading flat
arches of gauged brick, but only one retains original
glazing bars; a rainwater head bears the date of erection
and initials REW. Inside, only a few original fittings
survive on the upper floors; the staircase, from second
to third floors only, has slender turned balusters and
square, fluted newel-posts.
(158) House, No. 3 (Plate 143), of four storeys, was
built in 1770. The site, together with that of No. 1, had
been bought in 1760 by Thomas Woodhouse, and the
new house was sold by his executor, James Woodhouse,
in November 1770 (YCA, E94, f. 116v). It is now a shop,
for which purpose the lower floors have been modernised, but earlier in the 20th century it was the King's
Head Hotel. The front elevation, of brick in Flemish
bond, is of three bays and has a plat-band and sill-band
at the second floor, windows with flat arches of gauged
brick, and a rainwater head with the date of erection.
The back elevation has windows with segmental
arches of common brick. Inside, the plan is unusual in a
relatively small house in having the staircase placed
centrally at the rear with small rooms to each side of it.
The dog-leg stair, with standard late 18th-century
turned balusters, survives from the first floor upwards.
There are some original fittings on the upper floors,
including a fireplace with moulded stone surround on
the second floor. Demolished 1977.
(159) House, No. 7a, built in the first half of the 19th
century, is of three storeys in brick, with a slate hipped roof,
formerly pantiled. Above a modern shop front, the walling
is in large bricks in Flemish bond. There are two large-paned
sash windows to both upper floors, with flush frames under
cambered arches of gauged brickwork.
(160) Houses and Shops, Nos. 4, 6, on a wedge-shaped
site and marked as a single property in 1851, were built in the
second quarter of the 19th century, three storeys high and of
brick with slate roofs. Porches beneath their respective left-hand windows have been replaced, and both have modern
shop fronts and fascias. The brickwork above is in Flemish
bond. Each of the two upper floors of each house has two sash
windows with flush frames under cambered brick arches.
Paired brackets carry a boxed gutter.
Finkle Street, connecting the N. corner of St. Sampson's
Square to Back Swinegate, is first mentioned in 1361 as
Finclegayle, a name perhaps referring to its position at
an angle or to an angle in this narrow lane. By 1750 it
was known as Mucky Pig Lane. Its entrance from the
square was formerly made even narrower by the protruding and jettied Black Bull Inn.
Fossgate (Monuments 161–178)
Fossgate continues the line of Petergate and Colliergate
to the river Foss, and beyond the bridge is continued by
Walmgate. Its name is first recorded in 1122–37. The
church of St. Crux, of which parish the street formed
the central axis, was described in 1420 as in Fossgate.
One mediaeval house survives and the appearance of
others at the N.W. end is known (Plate 3), but the most
important building, the mediaeval hall of the Merchant
Adventurers (37), is set back and invisible from the street.
(161) The Board Inn, Nos. 5, 6, of three storeys, had a
timber-framed front block of the late 16th or early 17th
century. It was of two bays with upper floors jettied. A third
bay at the S. end was similar and of the same date but of
separate construction. The roofs had reduced principals with
two purlins each side housed into them (Fig. 7t). Behind the
front block was a mid 18th-century brick-built wing containing a central staircase with rooms to each side, some of which
retained original panelling. Demolished 1957.
(162) Shop, No. 8, consists of two originally separate
houses, joined by a long range of later date. Facing
Fossgate is an early 17th-century timber-framed house
of three storeys and attic with its upper floors jettied
towards the street; there is only one room on each floor.
The framing includes thin studs and long thin straight
braces. In the late 17th century the back wall was
rebuilt in brick, with a first-floor fireplace, and at the
same time a new range was built at the rear. The latter
is mostly of two storeys but rises to three storeys to
accommodate a staircase with close string and bulbous
balusters against the earlier building. The rest of the
range comprises two rooms to each floor, with a central
chimney. A 19th-century continuation of this range,
probably built as a workshop, is joined to a late 17th-century brick-built house of two storeys, with two
rooms to each floor flanking a central stair hall. One
room is lined with original panelling.
(163) House and Shop, No. 10, of three storeys, is of the
late 18th or early 19th century, and has a later wing behind.
(164) House, Nos. 13, 14, of three storeys and attics, was
built c. 1720 on a large irregular plan, widening out at the back.
The ground floor has been converted to a shop. The three-bay
front elevation is plastered; the back, crossed by string-courses
at floor levels, has two half-gables with curved parapets rising
to small pediments (Plate 136). The interior is much altered but
retains a good staircase (Fig. 11p), with overlapping steps and
boldly ramped handrails and dado and lit by a round-arched
window flanked by fluted pilasters.
(165) House, Nos. 15, 16, of three storeys and timber-framed, was built in the late 16th or early 17th century. Each
of the jettied upper storeys has two rooms facing the street, and
a small projection behind housed a staircase. A through-passage
is entered under a late 17th-century shell-hood. A brick wing
added at the back in the late 17th century, of two storeys with
lime-ash floored attics, was formerly a separate tenement.
(166) House, No. 23, of three storeys, was built of brick in
the late 17th century. The front has been refaced and the whole
subjected to many alterations, including changes in the floor
levels, necessitating modifications to the original staircase, with
bulbous balusters, which rises round a narrow well trans
versely between front and back rooms. At the back, three-centred arches indicate the positions of original windows.
(167) House and Shop, No. 24, was built c. 1830, on an
L-shaped plan. Behind is a two-storeyed range of three
tenements, each with one room on each floor, of about the
(168) House, No. 27, of three storeys, with brick walls and
pantiled roof, was built in the late 18th century and altered and
extended at the rear in the mid 19th century. The front
elevation was rebuilt c. 1960.
(169) Workshops, about 50 yds. N. of Foss Bridge, consist
of a group of buildings on two sides of an angled yard. One, at
the N. corner, built in the mid or late 18th century and of two
and three storeys with pantiled roofs, has an irregular plan.
Another, of about the same date, No. 33, of two storeys and
attics, has a gabled end wall facing the River Foss. The other
buildings are two-storeyed and of early 19th-century date.
(170) Former King's Arms, p.h., No. 35, now used as
shops and warehouses, was built between the widening
of Fossgate in 1812 and the publication of Hargrove
(11, 287) in 1818 and was extended southwards soon
after. Before 1812 the site was partly occupied by an
earlier King's Arms. The present building is of three
storeys and irregular on plan. The front doorway, of
double width, has a fanlight with lozenge-wise glazing
bars. The main staircase has a cut string and turned
balusters (Fig. 11v). Hargrove described the accommodation as 'though not of the first rate .... very comfortable'.
(171) No. 36, of one build with No. 35, to which it forms
a N. continuation, was originally a separate house and is also
of three storeys.
(172) Nos. 37, 38, are a pair of small three-storey houses,
built c. 1830, each having a chimney and staircase between one
front and one back room. A central through-passageway leads
to the rear. The ground floor has been converted to shops.
(173) Houses, Nos. 42, 43 (Fig. 79), of three storeys,
form one block. No. 42 was built in 1825 (Merchant
Adventurers' Co. Minute Book D12), and No. 43
probably soon afterwards, but the N. half of No. 43,
which included a through-carriageway, was demolished
in 1964. A rainwater head carries the initials I N. Each
house now has a transverse staircase between front and
back rooms. At the rear is a two-storeyed 15th-century
range of two bays, occupied as part of No. 42. It has
stuccoed brick walls replacing timber framing, of which
little now remains; a central crown-post roof truss with
cross-bracing was originally closed and had a partition
below. Restored since 1970.
Fig. 79. (173) Nos. 42, 43 Fossgate.
Fig. 80. (174) The Queen's Head p.h., No. 44 Fossgate.
(174) The Queen's Head, p.h., No. 44 (Plate 120;
Fig. 80), was demolished in 1964. The front range, of
three storeys and timber-framed, was built in the late
15th century. It was originally of three bays, roofed
parallel with the street, but the N. bay was formed into
a separate tenement in the early 19th century. Behind
the middle bay was a small early 17th-century wing of
brick and timber framing; it probably replaced an
original stair-annexe. Further S. was a larger back wing
of brick added in the late 17th century. The framed
range was jettied towards the street and stuccoed. Its
roof (Plate 133) had three tall crown-posts (up to 8 ft.
long) with enlarged heads carrying a collar-purlin
between crossed-braces supporting the side-purlins and
the heads of the crown-posts. Late 17th-century fittings
in the back wing included a fragment of a staircase with
heavy bulbous balusters, moulded handrail and square
newels, and a door-case surmounted by an entablature
with pulvinated frieze and broken pediment (Plate 162).
Preserved in the Castle Museum is a large bracket which
formed one side of the original front entrance; it is
carved with a Tudor rose and stylised foliage. Demolished.
(175) House, Nos. 50, 51 (Fig. 81), was built in the late
18th century. It was three-storeyed, of brick, with a front
five bays wide between end pilasters but incorporated fragments of a timber-framed building, probably of late mediaeval
date and comprising two parallel ranges, gabled to the street,
each 12½ ft. wide and three bays deep. The interior had been
much altered and divided into two shops. Demolished 1964.
Fig. 81. (175) Nos. 50, 51 Fossgate.
(176) House, No. 52, of three storeys and attics, was built in
the early 19th century. It has been converted to a shop and
(177) The Blue Bell, p.h., No. 53, and House and Shop,
No. 54, were built in the early 17th century as two parallel
three-storeyed ranges, gabled to the street, with the upper
floors jettied to front and back. Early in the 19th century the
front jetties were cut back and a new brick wall erected. Most
of the timber framing is concealed or replaced. The roofs have
trusses of tie-beams and principal rafters only, and buttpurlins carry the common rafters (Fig. 7s). The roof spaces
have lime-ash floors.
(178) Houses, Nos. 55, 56, and No. 30 Pavement, form a
three-storey brick building, standing on a very shallow site,
which may originally have formed three shops with living
accommodation over but has been converted to a single shop
with storage space. A rainwater head bears the initials T W
possibly for Thomas Williams, documented in Pavement in
1798 (Directory), and 1796, probably the date of construction.
The front to Fossgate, of six bays, has single hung-sash
windows to four bays between triple windows in the end bays.
Friargate now runs from Castlegate to Clifford Street
but, as Hertergate or, from c. 1560, Far Water Lane,
originally continued down to King's Staith. Its name,
meaning 'Hert's street' or possibly 'Hart street', is first
recorded in 1175. The boundary of the Franciscan
Friars' property, which in 1280 and 1290 had already
engulfed one or more, perhaps parallel, lanes, was
extended in 1314 'from their middle gate by the head of
the chancel of their church to the lane which is called
Hertergate' (CPR, 1313–17, 166). In 1808 the lane was
renamed after the former Friary. The first burial ground
of the Society of Friends lay beside the lane, although
not used after 1671. Lower Friargate, beside the Law
Courts on the S.W. side of Clifford Street, is 60 ft. S. of
the line of the old Water Lane.
(179) House, now the rear part of No. 9 Clifford Street, was
built in the late 18th century. It is of four storeys and has a
narrow frontage, one bay wide. The interior was altered in
the later 19th century.
George Street (Monuments 180–182)
George Street was formed from two mediaeval streets.
Nowtgail, meaning 'cattle lane' and first recorded in
1405, later Nowtgate Lane, ran S.W. from Walmgate;
its continuation, the wider Fishergate, ran S. through
Fishergate Bar and continued outside the defences. The
name, from fishermen, is recorded in 1070–88. By the
17th century there were few houses along either street,
except at the Walmgate end, and two churches, St.
Stephen's near the Piccadilly end of the present Dixon
Lane, and St. George's, of which the churchyard (19)
remains, had become disused by 1400 and 1644 respectively. In c. 1810 Fishergate within the walls was
renamed St. George's Street and the name was later
extended to Nowtgate Lane and shortened to George
Street. In 1844 the street was widened from 11 ft. to 30 ft.
(180) Houses, Nos. 1, 3, built as a pair c. 1840, are of two
storeys in Flemish-bonded brickwork and have sash windows
with flat arches of cut common bricks. A through-passage
divides them and the entrance to the larger house, No. 1, is
within this passage.
(181) Terrace, Nos. 9–17 (odd), is composed of small
two-storey houses (Plate 149; Fig. 82), built on ground
acquired in 1842 (YG, 22 Jan. 1842). A map of 1844 (YCA,
Dwg. 142/2550) shows Nos. 9–13 already built. They had
shops at the front, of which some of the timber flanking
pilasters and fascia board to the shop windows remains. Each
has a central transverse stair, a back room and a kitchen
projecting to the rear. Nos. 15, 17, built by 1850 (OS), had no
shops, and the stairs rise parallel to the party walls in the back