WE have the potted history of a building for you this week. It's not a particularly famous building: but it is very distinctive.

It's that little row of medieval church cottages that stands next to All Saints Church, as No 31 North Street.

According to volume 3 of 'An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York', published by the HM stationery office in 1972, the cottages date from the late 1400s, so very roughly the time of King Richard III.

We don't know much about the cottages for most of their history. But by the 1920s the building on the corner housed a shop belonging to one Arthur Hemmens: there's a wonderful photograph from that period showing a group of children looking longingly into the shop window.

It seems to have remained a shop for many years - right up until the 1960s, we believe.

But by the beginning of the 1970s the building was in a bad way. A Press report of May 10, 1973, records that it had been 'standing empty for many years' - in fact, since it closed as a shop about seven years earlier.

Then along came Lord Esher. In 1969, he published a ground-breaking report on the future of York city centre. Once of the things it called for was the conservation of York's historic centre - as well as the provision of more 'living accommodation' within the city walls.

Work began on restoring the cottages on North Street, and returning them to a 'habitable condition', presumably with a view to killing two birds with one stone. That work was completed by March, 1974. The buildings were owned by the All Saints Trust: and the first tenant of the end cottage, No 31, was a Miss Doreen Robson.

She was delighted with her new home, and seems to have been keen to show it off to friends. "They have done a wonderful job, renovating the cottages," Dereen said. "Mine has made a very cosy home."

We have a couple of other photos for you as well, today.

One, which dates from 1984, shows a small building that, at one time, had some claims to being the 'smallest house in England'. It was, apparently, next to All Saints - you can see the stonework of the church, and also a small gravestone, to the left of the photograph.

The AA Touring Guide apparently listed it as 'England's Smallest House' - though no-one seemed to know much about it, not even the York Tourist office,.

The Press eventually contacted the Rev Alban Howard, who had until recently been the Vicar of All Saints.

He scoffed at the idea. "It is a great red herring," he told The Press. The 'house' had been built in the early 1900s, and had in fact only ever been used as a store, Rev Howard said. "I would call it a folly."

And finally we have a photo from Explore York's wonderful Imagine York archive. It shows North Street (still cobbled) in the 1890s. You can see the whole of All Saints and, at the far end, the church cottage with which we began...

Stephen Lewis