A SIGN hand-painted on the front of one of York's oldest buildings has sparked a one-man protest. 

The Old York Tea Room opened back in February in Our Lady's Row in Goodramgate.

Run by Tony and Thomas Vickers, the pair have transformed what was a former candle shop into an inviting tea room with space for 14 customers on the first floor.

But it's not what's inside the tiny tearoom that's caused a stir, but rather a seemingly innocuous sign on the front of the building. 

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York Press: Tony Vickers under the sign on The Old York Tea RoomTony Vickers under the sign on The Old York Tea Room

The Ghost of William Etty - a group formed back in the 1990s to help save York stone pavements from being pulled up in city streets - has objected to the sign saying it is vandalism of a Grade 1 listed building.

One of the group's founders, Gordon Campbell-Thomas, is on a mission to get the sign removed, saying the owners put it up without getting planning permission. He will be staging a protest today (August 15) outside the tearoom.

He said: "The building dates back to 1316 and is a Grade 1 listed, meaning it's of similar importance to York Minster, Clifford’s Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral, or even Buckingham Palace.

"Not only has the café business scrawled the words The Old York Tea Room; it has a large brown teapot in the process of appearing to pour tea."

York Press: Gordon Campbell-Thomas outside The Old York Tea RoomGordon Campbell-Thomas outside The Old York Tea Room (Image: Supplied)

The couple behind the tearoom said: "Following advice we decided a few weeks ago that the signage for 72, Goodramgate will be removed and replaced with a different type of signage installed in its place.

"There is currently an application in progress for planning permission for the current signage. A decision has not been made on this yet. We have agreed with the relevant bodies to withdraw the application once the work is complete. The work to remove this has been in set in place for a while and should be completed within the week if everything goes to plan. The relevant people have been informed and we have been in constant contact with them.

"We would like to make it clear that the unpleasant actions of this individual have in no way impacted our decision which was made before his actions.

"We are so proud of what have achieved at The Old York Tea Room and the support from the local community has been overwhelming.

"We love the building and are fully committed to protecting and preserving its history. It’s a privilege and an honour to occupy it."

York Press: Inside The Old York Tea RoomInside The Old York Tea Room

Duncan Marks, the Civic Society Manager at York Civic Trust, said: “This is one of the oldest buildings of its type, not only in York, but in the country and, as such, we are likely to object to the use of the permanent advertising in the middle of its historic frontage.

“When you think how many of the hundreds and hundreds of people have occupied this building since it was built in 1317; we welcome the use of the building as a tearoom, but we can’t accept the signage as it is.”

York Press: Dr Duncan MarksDr Duncan Marks

The Ghost of William Etty is so called as York artist William Etty spearheaded a campaign in the 1830s to save the city walls from being pulled down and specifically Bootham Bar. His statue stands in Exhibition Square in front of Art Gallery.

York Press: The William Etty statue in Exhibition SquareThe William Etty statue in Exhibition Square