FANTABULOUS! That was the Archbishop of York’s reaction to a £2.2 million restoration of one of the city’s medieval guildhalls and its gardens.

Dr John Sentamu was speaking after officially reopening St Anthony’s Hall in Peasholme Green, which has undergone a major refurbishment since being bought from City of York Council by York Conservation Trust in 2006.

The project included the underpinning of two walls of the hall, but also involved a £260,000 project to create a colourful sensory garden below the city walls, with full disabled access and suitable for the blind and partially-sighted.

Dr Sentamu said: “It’s fantastic and fabulous, or to combine the two – fantabulous.”

He earlier told guests that York was fortunate to have such a trust to ensure so many beautiful and ancient buildings were being restored and maintained.

He said St Anthony’s had a long history since being built in the 15th century for the social and religious guild of St Anthony.

“The way it has been used over the centuries reminds us of the story of people’s lives in our great city and God’s own county of Yorkshire,” he said.

Former uses for the buildings include a chapel, a workhouse for the poor, a place of detention for minor criminals, the Blue Coat School and then home to the University of York’s Borthwick Institute For Historical Research.

The complex is now the base for several organisations, including the Quilt Museum and Gallery, and the York Archaeological Trust.

The gardens, created to a design by students at Bishop Burton College in Beverley and open free of charge to the public, include a woodland area just below the walls.

The Trust says the plants are intended to stimulate the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, ranging from tactile plants such as downy Lamb’s Ear to the scents of lilac, lavender and thyme.