The fascinating history of one of York's oldest gift shops

0
Have your say

It was in 1969 when the National Trust first opened a gift shop in the shadow of York Minster.

The building had been donated to them around 40 years earlier along with the Treasurer's House, which today is a popular visitor attraction in the Minster quarter.

1 College Street has been a National Trust gift shop and visitor centre since 1969

1 College Street has been a National Trust gift shop and visitor centre since 1969

It's got an intriguing history - it adjoins the last remaining archway into the Minster precinct, which has timbers dating from the 12th century. There were originally four of these medieval entrances.

Spooky CCTV footage of 'ghost child' filmed in historic York pub
York's 'railway king', businessman George Hudson, lived upstairs in the early 19th century when he arrived in the city to be apprenticed to a draper who traded in the building. He would later take over the business and move it to larger premises.

The conservation charity claims that very little has changed externally since they took possession of the building in the 1930s. It opened as a shop in 1969, and there have been some subsequent internal alterations, including a spiral staircase installed in the 1970s.

Parts of the first floor have since been converted into one of York's most unique holiday lets. There are now two self-catering apartments, both with original features and views of the Minster.

Frank Green and the Treasurer's House bequest

Frank Green was a York industrialist who was well-known for his lavish entertaining. He bought the Treasurer's House - a residence built for the Treasurer of the Minster, who controlled its finances - in the late 1890s. It had been owned by Archbishop Robert Holgate in the 1500s (its original role was abolished after the Reformation) and was later occupied by several other prominent families but fell into disrepair and was eventually subdivided into tenements. Green restored it to its former glory.

Plans to reveal Roman gateway buried for 800 years under York's city walls
During Green's renovations, four Roman column bases were uncovered beneath the site - the house had been built over a Roman road to the north.

In the 1950s, an apprentice plumber working in the cellars claimed to have seen the ghosts of Roman legionaries emerging from a wall along with a cart horse.

Frank Green donated the house to the National Trust in 1930, when he retired and left York - he died in 1954. It was the first fully-furnished property ever bequeathed to the charity.

The gift shop building was also included in the bequest, as were several other properties in the vicinity.

Following in the footsteps of the railway king: George Hudson's legacy in Yorkshire
He also bought and restored St William's College, a medieval building on College Street that had originally been the living quarters of priests training at the Minster. It had also deteriorated and was used as slum housing before Green's purchase. He sold it back to the Church in 1902 and they still own it today. It is used as an events venue and cafe.