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
An audio tour in English which comes free with admission plus written guides in foreign languages are also available
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".
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.
This medieval guild hall was built in the 14th century and didn't change much since then. Merchants conducted their affairs in the timbered Great Hall and in the Undercroft people took care for the poor. You can see illustrated panels about guilds and trade, furniture, paintings, silver, weights and measures.
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'.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.