This Georgian merchant's house in Yorkshire is open to the public for just one weekend each year

Fancy seeing inside one of the most historic buildings in Hull's Old Town?

Blaydes House in Hull's Old Town
Blaydes House in Hull's Old Town

This weekend Blaydes House is open to the public for the only time in 2019.

The 18th-century townhouse has a fascinating history that is intrinsically linked with Hull's seafaring past.

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It's now owned by the University of Hull, and is usually only accessible to students and staff. Hull Civic Society are offering guided tours to visitors on Saturday and Sunday (September 14 and 15) from 10am-4pm as part of the annual Heritage Open Days festival.

Blaydes House was the seat of the Blaydes family, who were prominent shipbuilders, merchants and political leaders in Georgian Hull. They owned two shipyards, one of which built the vessel that later became HMS Bounty, scene of the most notorious naval mutiny in history.

The house would have been at the centre of the family's business life, and they would have used it to entertain clients. It was built directly in front of the quay where the Blaydes ships docked as a symbol of their might and influence.

But their fortunes waned during the 19th century, and their businesses were wound up. The family left Hull and the house passed through a number of owners before ending up as offices.

The house survived the Hull Blitz almost unscathed, although a neighbouring building was completely destroyed.

After the war, it began to decay, and suffered from vandalism. There was a partial restoration in 1973, but it became derelict once again until the Georgian Society of East Yorkshire stepped in to save it during a period of disuse. In 1999 the university bought the building and began a major renovation programme.

The drawing room became a lecture theatre and the servants' quarters are now a maritime history library. Blaydes House hosts public lectures and lunchtime concerts, but it remains a private building and there is no general visitor admission.

Around £500,000 was raised by supporters who donated towards the costs of the refurbishment, including £100,000 from an anonymous benefactor, following an appeal by the university. Another donor was Hugh Blaydes, a descendant of the family now living in Australia, who travelled to Hull to see the building unveiled in 2001.