Built between 1357-1361, this wonderful building has all the features you want a medieval building to have, including half timber, leaning corners, various additions throughout history and so on. It's funny name comes from the fact that three merchants were granted the land by one of the lords Percy (a famous land owning family in the north of England) and "Merchant Adventurers" were merchants who risked their investments by travelling to do business abroad too. These three merchants joined a local Christian guild whilst building and expanding their masterpiece. One of the first things to be built was a hospice and the house was in fact used as a hospital until well into Victorian days! Once the hospice was built, a Great Hall was also created and this is where much of the merchants' business took place, as well as celebrations when times where good. Today, all this is very well kept and you can visit it any day of the week apart from in winter when it is closed Sundays.
The Merchant Adventurers' Hall is a grade 1 listed building and scheduled ancient monument. It was built between 1357 and 1361, before most of the craft or trade guild halls in Britain, this makes it one of the largest buildings of its kind and date in Britain. It is very unusual to be able to see a building the 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. In 1357 a number of important men and women joined together to form a religious fraternity and to build the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. By 1430 most members were mercers, and alongside the fraternity they set up a trading association or guild. They used the Hall to transact their business affairs, to meet together socially, to look after the poor and to pray to God. The Merchant Adventurers Guild controlled the northern cloth trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Today the Guild (or Company as it is now called) is not a trading association. It holds the Hall in trust, administers charities, operates the Hall as a museum and it plays an important role in the civic and business life of the City of York. The Company uses its guild hall for meetings and events and holds services in its chapel.
Many portraits hang on the walls of the Hall, many of them of Governors of the Company; others are of royalty or of benefactors of the Company; and there are portraits of women and families related to Members. There are a number of other oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints to be seen in the Hall. Many depict views of York; some include the River Ouse, which was a vital link with Hull and the Continent for the Company's overseas trade. The Company's prints and watercolours are valuable records of York in the past two centuries. They show daily life, buildings and improvements, such as the new walk along the Ouse.
The Company owns some interesting pieces of furniture and furnishings. The oak 'evidence' chest dates from the early 1300s, making it one of the oldest pieces in the collections. In it were stored the title deeds to the many properties which the Company once owned. There is a hospital used by the guild until 1900 and a chapel under the Great Hall.
The gardens around the Hall were formed as a Rest Garden for the people of York after World War I.
The lower part of the Hall is constructed mainly of bricks. They are the earliest to be made in York since the Romans left England almost 1,000 years before the Hall was built.
The decorations on the barge-boards on the front of the Hall are scrolls of vines with bunches of grapes. At the point where the gables meet is a diamond carved with a large Tudor or double rose. Similar decoration is found on the York building in Pavement known as the Herbert House.
Until granted their own Coat of Arms in 1969 the Company used that of the Merchant Adventurers of England. A fine example of this is found above the Fossgate entrance. It was made about 1850 by M N Hassey, who also carved the bust of Shakespeare at the Theatre Royal and a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Bar Convent.
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
The Hall is closed between Christmas and New Year and every Sunday in winter.
Constructed during the mid-14th century, this Guildhall is the finest building of its type. For centuries, it was where local courts met, business was transacted, and social events took place. Now, it's a museum. Inside are displays of local history, arts, crafts, and much more. But it is still available for weddings, receptions, business meetings, and other special events.
This hall is an excellent example of a medieval guildhall and was built between 1357 to 1361. The upper floor is in its traditional form and as a result you feel as though you have to watch your every step. The ground floor used to be a hospice for the poor. Now in the building you will find exhibits of paintings, silverware and furiture.
The hall sometimes hosts antiques shows for which a separate charge is made.
IThe Hallis open daily and inside the Great Hall with its splendid timber arcades can be seen. The undercroft below has ancient stone windows. The adjoining chapel is unique for a guild hall too.