First published in Historic buildings

The Guildhall is an integral part of York's history. Built in the 15th century, it served the guilds as a meeting place.

It was these guilds that largely controlled the trade of the city, saw that their work was up to standard and also looked after the members' interests.

The present Guildhall is a rebuilt version of the 15th century building that was badly damaged by fire in the air raid on the city in 1942. The reconstructed version was opened by the Queen Mother in 1960.

Luckily the stone walls escaped total destruction and now form the frame of the reconstructed hall. Each oak pillar is cut from a single tree trunk and the original pillars came from the medieval Forest of Galtres.

The stained glass window depicts the history of York. In the tracery are men and women who helped to put York on the historical map. The five lights illustrate the different periods of York's history.

Grotesque faces adorn the ceiling in the Inner Room, which survived the war intact.

The Inner Room can be reached though a doorway to the left of the dais. It has panelled walls, masons' marks, two hidden stairways and a ceiling ornamented with old bosses.

Throughout its history, the Guildhall has served many purposes and has been the scene for many a royal social visit. It was the site of Margaret Clitherow's trial, Richard III was entertained there in 1483 and Prince Albert was once guest of honour at a Royal banquet.

It was here that £200,000 was counted before being given to the Scots in payment for their part in helping Cromwell during the Civil War.

To the left of the dais is an iron balustrade which was a gift from York's twin city in Germany, Munster. To the right of this is a bronze plaque which survived the fire.

Within the Guildhall is the Commonhall Lane, formerly a medieval alleyway, but which is now a passage underneath the Guildhall.

At this point, the Romans forded the river, with access to Eboracum (Roman York) through the Praetorian Gate which stood on the site of St Helen's Square.

Further details:

Guildhall, Behind the Mansion House, St Helen's Square, York YO1 9QN

Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm.

Admission: Free.

Facilities: Exhibitions, conferences, functions, dinners.

Disabled access: Yes, toilets.

Contact: (01904) 551049. Fax (01904) 551052.




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