FULFORD Grange was one of the most impressive homes in York, being at the centre of a sprawling estate which today would cover the area from the Blue Bridge to Alma Terrace.

The estate has long been broken up, but the house remains - albeit in a different arrangement - and is tucked away in a sleepy cul-de-sac between Fulford Road and New Walk on the Ouse riverside.

The story of the great house maps much of the story of York, with some of the city's most prominent figures having lived there over the years. That story has been charted by the Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington Local History Society which has just published an 85-page booklet on the history of the Fulford Grange Estate.

Christopher Rainger, of the society, tells the story:

The estate was created in 1774 by a York tea merchant, John Maud, and extended from New Walk Terrace almost to Alma Terrace, and from Fulford Road to the river Ouse.

The mansion house is still there, standing grandly in the middle of Grange Garth, but its extensive grounds have been built over.

Several Lord Mayors and sheriffs of York lived there, including Richard Hobson, who was embroiled in a scandal after he commandeered stones and other materials from the old council chamber and St William’s Chapel on Ouse Bridge, when they were demolished in 1802.

Two prominent Quaker families from Bradford; the Horner’s and the Harris’s, owned the estate from 1811 to 1868.

Benjamin Horner began major changes to the mansion, building the grand Italianate east frontage and adding stables, coach houses, a cow house and other buildings. Pleasure gardens, orchards, vegetable plots and flower beds were planted, and glass houses erected for vines and other delicate fruit and vegetables.

Horner also built a new carriage drive from Fulford Road and the pretty gatekeeper’s cottage on the corner of Fulford Road, and his ‘Gothick’ style gardener’s cottage is still a much admired feature of New Walk.

York Press: The Gatehouse Lodge at the top of Grange Garth/New Walk TerraceThe Gatehouse Lodge at the top of Grange Garth/New Walk Terrace

In 1868, the Harris family sold the estate to a Shambles butchers, Ambrose and John Walker. The brothers had also bought Fishergate House, off Blue Bridge Lane, and immediately began building villas along Fulford Road and an elegant terrace in New Walk Terrace.

Ambrose Walker was the leading partner in the development and he also had contacts with other partners to run the Cattle Market and supply provisions to the Cavalry Barracks.

He never married, but he was very close to his family and friends, leaving them generous gifts in his will.

The local history society has not been able to find a photograph of him and is appealing for Press readers to come forward if they think they may have one.

Ambrose Walker also developed terraces along Fulford Road and Grange Street, creating a new entrance to the mansion.

York Press: Map showing the changes to estate made by the Horners in 1852Map showing the changes to estate made by the Horners in 1852

Ambrose Walker sold the estate to grain merchant Isaac Poad in 1876. Soon after moving in, Isaac Poad built the Priory Hotel for his daughter, and in the 1880s, football and rugby games were played in the grounds, and tennis courts were available to hire.

At the end of the century, Poad moved out of the mansion to Beechwood, now Tower Vets on Fulford Road, and he filled most of the remaining parkland with the ‘Ryedale’ terraces, named after his birthplace in Hartoft.

York Press: One of the 'Ryedale terraces' of the former Fulford Grange EstateOne of the 'Ryedale terraces' of the former Fulford Grange Estate

In the first years of the 20th century, the gardens surrounding the house were used by the new owner, Alderman Bentley, for lavish garden parties to raise money for the County Hospital and other charities. Alderman Bentley died in office in 1907 and the streets were lined with mourners for his funeral.

Alderman Bentley’s wife, Anne remained in the mansion until 1929, when it was bought by a builder Robert Pulleyn and electrician, Harold Mandefield. The mansion was extended and divided into three separate apartments, and Grange Garth was built over the gardens.

Today, the area is known as a friendly place to live.

The booklet is currently sold out, although orders are now being taken for a reprint. You can order copies via the contact us page of the FFH website: www.ffhyork.weebly.com