To explore the interior of the house, a fee is payable (or a valid National Trust membership is required). However, during the property's opening hours, the garden and the basement tea rooms are normally open to the public without payment of an entrance fee. For further details, please refer to the property's own website via the URL in the 'External Links' section below.
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The Treasurer's House in York is a mostly 17th century building (now a National Trust property), but its story extends from Roman times to the 21st century.
A brief history of the site
The site now occupied by the Treasurer's House and Gray's Court has a long and varied history.
During Roman times, it lay entirely within the walled enclosure of the Roman fortress of Eboracum. In the basement of the southeast wing of the Treasurer's House (twelve feet below the level of the current ground surface), the base of an in-situ Roman column and a section of Roman era cobbled pavement have been found. The pavement is believed to be associated with the Via Decumana, i.e. the main road from the Roman Principia (central headquarters building) to the northeast via the Porta Decumana (the north-eastern gateway through the fortress wall).
From the late 11th century until 1547, the site formed part of the official residence of the Treasurers of York Minster. (During this period, the Treasurer was responsible for the Minster's finances and for entertaining important guests, so the incumbent held a great deal of power and prestige.)
On May 26th, 1547 the site was surrendered to the Crown as part of the Reformation of the English Church. Edward VI granted the site to Edward Seymour (Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England) who quickly sold it to Robert Holgate (the first Protestant Archbishop of York) for the princely sum of 200 marks.
The site subsequently passed through numerous owners including Lord Fairfax (one of the key participants in the 1644 siege of York).
The Gray family occupied all or part of the site from 1788 until 1945 (hence Gray's Court).
As indicated by a plaque on the boundary wall beside Minster Yard, the young mathematician and astronomer John Goodricke (1764-86) made some of his most important observations from a window on the second floor of the Treasurer's House. In 1783, Goodricke was awarded the Royal Society's Copley Medal for his observations and resulting theories.
In 1897-8, Mr. Frank Green of Nunthorpe Hall purchased three separate dwellings on the site, then undertook a major restoration project with his architect Temple Moore. This project reunified and remodelled the building now known as the Treasurer’s House.
In 1930, Frank Green bequeathed this much-altered building (along with its contents and garden) to the National Trust.
The Grade 1 listed building is now a popular museum / visitor attraction.
The building we see today
In simplified summary:
- The northwest wing (left in Image A1) was constructed during the early 17th century, although the basement is believed to date from the 14th century.
- The Great Hall (centre) has an early 17th century facade (facing Minster Yard), with a 16th century fireplace and rear wall (facing the courtyard, partly visible from Chapter House Street).
- The southeast wing (right in Image A1) is also mainly 17th century, although the single-storey brick-built side extension (extreme right) dates from circa 1898. (The side extension now forms the main entrance from Chapter House Street - see Images B3 & B4.)
- The delightful walled garden was created by Frank Green as part of his remodelling project.
The interior of the Treasurer's House is used primarily to tell the story of Frank Green and to house his extensive collection of "antique furniture, ceramics, textiles and paintings".