Merchant Adventurer's Hall, York

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 21 Reviews

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  • Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    by balhannah
  • Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    by balhannah
  • Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    Merchant's Adventurer's Hall
    by balhannah
  • Drever's Profile Photo

    Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    by Drever Written Mar 6, 2014

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Exterior
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    Set in beautiful gardens in the centre of historic York, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall is a medieval guildhall and was one of the most important buildings in the medieval city. It is open for public use as a fully functioning museum, wedding and hospitality setting and meeting place. There are three main rooms in the Hall where the medieval merchants gathered to conduct business and to socialise.

    A society built the Hall to provide a building for charity use, warship and business on the banks of the River Foss. The timber-framed Great Hall opened in 1368. It is the largest remaining timber-framed building in the UK used for its original purpose. The roof of the hall consists of two spans supported by a row of large central timber posts. Like the Great Hall a supporting row of timber posts also divides the Undercroft - formerly an almshouse to help the sick and the poor. It provides access to an attached chapel built for the use of the ill and poor as well as members of the society.

    By 1430 most members were mercers who set up a trading association or guild. They used the Hall to transact their business affairs, to meet socially, to look after the poor and to pray. Queen Elizabeth I granted the guild the status of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York in the 16th century. They attempted to control all trade and nobody could open even a shop without their permission. Not everybody was happy to comply.

    The Company of Merchant Adventurers still exist as a charitable membership group. They have an extensive set of records, with documents dating from the 13th century and accounts dating back to 1432. The Hall is home to many remarkable collections including silver, furniture and paintings, which provide a glimpse into the rich history of the Hall and the people associated with it. The building is open every day during the summer months and is accessible to all from the Fossgate entrance.

    Today the Guild holds the Hall in trust, manages charities, runs the Hall as a museum and plays an important role in the civic and business life of the City of York. Also it hosts meetings and events and holds services in its chapel.

    While in York also take in nearby Barley Hall a stunning medieval house, once home to the Priors of Nostell and the Mayor of York. Until the 1980s the house remained hidden but protected by the facade of a derelict office block. During the demolition of the office block the medieval building came to light and its history uncovered.

    The restored building now displays its original splendour with stunning high ceilings, beautiful exposed timber frames, and possibly the only horn window in England. Decorated to reproduce what it would have looked like as the Snawsell home around 1483, it boasts a magnificent Great Hall. Visitors to Barley Hall can make themselves at home and sit on the chairs and handle the objects and experience what it would have been like to live in Medieval England.

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    Merchant Adventurer's Hall

    by ettiewyn Updated Dec 13, 2012

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    The Merchant Adventurer's Hall was an attraction I really enjoyed, and I recommend it to everyone with an interest in the Middle Ages!

    The grade I listed building was constructed in 1357, therefore it is more than 650 years old!!! When I heard about this building, my first question was what a Merchant Adventurer was, as I had never heard this term before. The Merchant Adventurers were a guild of merchants who did "adventures", engaging in overseas trading and risking their money on expeditions and audacious actions. They were founded in 1357 as a fraternity and became a guild in 1581. They became a very influential group of citizens in York, and many of them were very wealthy. Their aim was to have a centre in the city where they could meet and worship, but also to do charity work and business. In fact, the guild still exists today.
    The building is therefore still actively used as a meeting centre, but it can also be hired for functions and moreover, it is a wonderful museum. When I entered, I just loved the big medieval hall, the walls just whispered and breathed history! Apart from this hall, there is a chapel and an undercroft, and also several smaller rooms that were used for meetings and business. The undercroft was used as an almshouses and carried out its work until the year 1900. There are many items exhibited, such as furniture, silver, seals and other items connected to overseas travel and business. I highly recommend the audio tour to understand what all this was about and what the different rooms were used for.

    My last picture shows a statue in the chapel.

    Admission fee: Adults £6,00, concession £5,00, children free
    Opening times: Easter to October 09.00am to 05.00pm monday to thursday, to 03.30pm friday and saturday, 11.00am to 04.00pm sunday. October to March 09.00 to 04.00 monday to thursday, to 03.30pm friday to saturday, closed sunday

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    Medieval architecture marvel

    by Landotravel Updated Apr 15, 2012

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    Get inside
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    This unique building is remarkable for many things, since its old combed timber frames to its marvellously preserved wooden roof. It´s a medieval oasis in the middle of the city surrounded by a narrow green square all around.

    Since XIVth century this building has been active as it is today. It was intended to provide charity and help for those who risked in overseas trading -Merchant adventurers- and soon became the most powerful guild in York, increasing its responsibilities. It helped to set up businesses, to train apprentices, to monitor the appropriate trading standards at the time or to intermediate in legal affairs. It works now as a Chamber of Commerce and, of course, as a museum and exhibition hall, proud to show its collections and heritage.

    The Great Hall occupies quite completely the upper floor and is by far the most remarkable space here for it shows the unique feature of its spectacular wooden roof along with some features of interest: the ancient windows, the collection of paintings or the court with seales.
    Even so, this unique building has many other things to show. Going down to the undercroft there are some anterooms containing every kind of very valuable furnitures and rememberances of the Guild's history and activity. Especially remarkable is the Governor's Parlour an astounding room richly orned with its superb fireplace, paintings, table and chairs.

    The Undercroft was used as a hospital for poor people until 1900 and not being as striking as the Great Hall it's a wide stoned and wooden space were the basement of the old beams can be seen. Here you find the old Chapel, the great old fireplace and a nice friendly cafe to take a rest. When I was here there was an exhibition about ancient medicine, a very appropriate one here, sure!

    Before stepping out to the garden I realised two interesting things too: one was an ancient panel on the wall with all of the names of the Master Governors of this place since its beginnins; the other one was a real-size old cast of Napoleon Bonaparte sniffing rape with a small information sign. It seems it's the only survivor of three old marketing puppets brought from France in 1820 and were placed open-air to advertise the product. Quite a precursor!

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    MERCHANT ADVENTURE'S HALL

    by balhannah Written Jan 30, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    On alighting from the Bus I looked straight to the beautiful Merchant Adventurers' Hall. I thought, if this is York, then it is going to be pretty good!

    I didn't know it then, but it is the largest timber-framed building in the UK still standing and used for its original purpose.

    Once again, it is another medieval building with a lot of history!

    Most of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall was built in 1357, as medieval guildhall. A group of people from York, formed a religious fraternity called the Guild of Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    In 1430 the fraternity was granted a royal charter by King Henry VI and renamed 'The Mistry of Mercers', then in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth 1 granted it the status of the "Company of Merchant Adventurers of York."
    The main part of the building consists of the Great Hall and the undercroft, which was originally a hospital or almshouse for poor people of York.
    The attached Chapel is still used today!

    Nicely restored, with very nice garden's, the lucky people of York can hold their wedding reception's here.

    It is a museum
    ADMISSION IS....Adult - £6.00 Concessions(60+/Students) - £5.00 Children(16 and under) - FREE
    An audio tour in English which comes free with admission plus written guides in foreign languages are also available.
    ENTRY from Fossgate entrance.

    OPEN...March - November....... Monday - Thursday 9.00am - 5.00pm
    Friday - Saturday 9.00am - 3.30pm.......Sunday 11.00 - 4.00pm

    November - March....... Monday - Thursday 9.00am - 4.00pm
    Friday - Saturday 9.00am-3.30pm........Sunday Closed

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    A wealthy house

    by uglyscot Written Jun 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    a door
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    This large house, standing back from the road, was indeed worthy of a Merchant Adventurer.
    Entrance into the grounds is free, but to enter the house costs £6 for adults,£5 for concession , but children under 16 go free. Unfortunately I did not have time to go inside but just the exterior was impressive.

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    Merchant Adventurer's Hall

    by Airpunk Updated Apr 4, 2011
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    The Merchant Adventurers are a medieval trade guild with a caritative focus which was founded in 1357 and is still active. It was an important power in English cloth trade in the 15th and 16th century. Their hall, once used exclusively for meetings and other social events, is now a museum but can still be hired for weddings etc. It was built between 1357 and 1361 and is Grade 1 listed. A collection of paintings, old furniture and similar items can be seen during a visit to the hall. The entrance is at Picadilly, close to the bus stops. However, you can access the building also via Fossgate.

    Among the most interesting exhibits is a figure of Napoleon Bonaparte. This wooden hand-painted fellow was once used for advertising tobacco. It was stolen several times, thrown into the Ouse and has a more troublesome history than an average York resident. Now, it has found an adequate home in the museum.

    When at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall ask for the free discount card for the “hidden secrets” of York. If you pay the full price at one of these attractions, you will only pay half the price at the other four. The “hidden secrets” are Barley Hall, the Richard III museum, Micklebar Gate Museum, the Roman Bath and the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall.

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    The Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    by Balam Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Merchant Adventurers' Hall
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    What a fantastic name, The Merchant Adventurers' Hall. it certainly forms all sorts of pictures in your head, In the Middle ages great cities were controlled by the guild companys and York being a large river port had more than 50 merchant and craft guilds controlling the trade and thus the lifes of all the peoples withing the city. Of all these Guilds one of the most powerful was the Merchant Adventurers' whos controlled the trade in Cloth. Their hall was built between 1357 and 1361. The guild also helped out the poor people of the city and under the hall in it's undercroft there was a hospital for the poor.

    This fantastic hall is still owned and used by the York Company of Merchant Adventurers who built it over 650 years ago

    Adult - £5.00
    Concessions(60+/Students) - £4.00
    Children(16 and under) - FREE

    April - September
    Monday - Thursday 9.00am - 5.00pm
    Friday - Saturday 9.00am - 3.30pm
    Sunday 12.00 - 4.00pm

    October - March
    Monday - Saturday 9.00am - 3.30pm
    Sunday Closed

    An audio tour in English which comes free with admission plus written guides in foreign languages are also available

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    The Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    by joanj Updated Apr 4, 2011
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    A fine medieval guild hall still owned and used by the group who built it over 650 years ago.

    Opening times.:-
    Easter to September :- Mon - Thurs 0/9.00 - 17.00 Fri - Sat 09.00 - 15.30 Sun 12.00 - 16.00

    Oct - Easter :- Mon - Sat 09.00 - 15.30 Sun - Closed

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    Merchant Adventurers Hall

    by Britannia2 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Merchant Adventurers Hall

    I always realise how we in England take for granted the history and culture around for us whenever I stand in the bus queue for the park and ride bus outside the Merchant Adventurers Hall. Here I am in a bus queue and behind me is a building that was built over 650 years ago - a building that people come from across the world to see.
    This is a beautifully restored medieval building with pleasant gardens that lead down to the river that provide somewhere nice to sit on a warm day for a rest. There are three rooms serving the three functions of a medieval guild; business and social in the Great Hall, charitable in the Undercroft and religious in the Chapel. Today the hall is used for many things - exhibitions and visiting displays but there is also a permanent collection of furniture and paintings to see.
    The web site has details. Only £2.50 admittance with concessions and accessible to all from the entrance in Fossgate.

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    Medieval Guide Built in 1357-1361

    by sinjabc Updated Apr 4, 2011
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    It was incredible to see and touch this building built in 1357-1361. Originally a medieval guide hall, it is now a museum. Merchants carried out business here, social events, cared for the sick and poor, and attended Chapel services.

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    THE MERCHANT ADVENTURERS HALL

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Ancient Guild Hall of the Merchant Adventurers of York is a fantastic medieval hall that is worth a visit. The great thing is that it is free to walk through! It was built between 1357 and 1361 when Sir William Percy granted the site of the Hall to three York merchants. They and others started the Guild of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, a charitable and religious society. Major social events were held in the hall including feats, weddings and funerals. 2 decades later the Guild Guild founded a hospital (or almshouse) for poor people located in the Undercroft, which lasted until the Victorian times.

    These early members were known as mercers - merchants who traded in fine cloth. In 1430 King Henry VI incorporated the Guild as the Mistery (or craft) of Mercers of York. The Guild became a decidedly business enterprise and they became the wealthiest of York's trade and craft guilds. They used the port of Hull to conduct trade with the Low Countries and Baltic. In 1581 Queen Elizabeth I granted the company (now called the Society of Merchant Adventurers) a lucrative charter giving them a monopoly of goods imported to York, except for salt and fish.

    A Merchant Adventurer was someone who risked or adventured their own money in overseas trade. This is reflected in the composition of the Company's Coat of Arms. The wings and wavy lines represent travel over water and the motto Dieu Nous Donne Bonne Adventure (or Aventure) means 'May God Prosper Our Affairs'.

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    Merchant Adventurer's Hall

    by yooperprof Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    safe as houses?

    I like the sound of "Merchant Adventurer's Hall." It sounds so much interesting than just plain "Merchant's Hall."

    In the Middle Ages, it was thought that anyone who dared to invest money in overseas trade was at best a little bit crazy. And hence an adventurer. I have the feeling that York's Merchant Adventurers were admired by some, but most people here probably thought they were loonies.

    This is an excellent example of medieval domestic architecture: Simon Jenkins suggests that it is the best preserved collection of medieval guild buildings in Europe!

    Most of the hall dates from the Tudor period - certainly the view from Fossgate is very evocative of the era of Henry VIII! But the interior contains rooms that are even older, including a grand central hall that is from the 1300s.

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    Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    by barryg23 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Merchant Adventurers' Hall
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    Merchant Adventurers' Hall was one of my favourite buildings in York. It's the largest timber framed building in the city, and unlike most of the remaining timbered framed buildings, it's not black and white but a lovely darkish yellow and black.

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    Merchants Hall

    by iandsmith Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Colourful entry
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    The Merchants Hall was needed as York was deemed to be the second most favourable location (after London) for trade and, in mediaeval times, that was with northern Europe, often via the Hanseatic League. York had its own Hanse and, with wool the driving force, the Flemish manufacturers of the finished product were encouraged to set up shop here.
    It is, as Drake said, "a fine and spacious building" that "stands where the Ouse and Foss unite".
    The third picture here is interesting. It is a plaque set outside in the small garden that indicates the trade routes that were used at the time and the date of the building (1357) though it has undergone changes since that time as you can clearly see in the other pics.
    The timbered Great Hall was where merchants conducted their business and held their courts and social events. The Undercroft or hospital is where they cared for the poor. It's quite an interesting building and the floor is very wonky, pretty much all at an angle
    The inscription over the door translates as "God grant us good fortune".

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    Merchant Adventurer's Hall

    by sandysmith Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Guild Hall

    This beautiful timbered building is the finest medieval guild halls in Europe. It was built 1357-1361 and is the largest timber-framed building in the city of York. The gardens are a peaceful place to rest from the town too. Take a look at the little statutes in the niches of the wall around it.

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