Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate
York Guildhall is situated on the north bank of the River Ouse, behind the Mansion House. The hall was built in 1445 for the Guild of St Christopher and St George and the Corporation and was used as a meeting place for the guilds of York. The city’s guilds largely controlled the trade within York, oversaw the quality of the workmanship within the city and looked after their members’ interests. Due to damage caused by German bombs during a Baedeker air raid in 1942 which partially destroyed the building, the present Guildhall is a rebuilt version of the original fifteenth century structure and was opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1960.
The Guildhall has been around for a large part of York’s history. The current hall dates from the 15th century but it is built on the site of an earlier “common hall” which was referred to in a charter in 1256. The hall was built in 1445 for the ‘Guild of St Christopher and St George’ and the Corporation, the cost being divided equally between them. The accounts still exist and include a record of 3 pence given to the workmen to celebrate the laying of the foundations. A council meeting is recorded there in May of 1459. The whole site was taken over by the city corporation in 1549. Council meetings are still held on the site, now in the rather grand Victorian Council Chamber that was completed in 1891. When meetings weren’t taking place, the hall was put to all sorts of uses. It was sometimes a Court of Justice, including for the infamous trial of Margaret Clitherow for practising Catholicism in 1586. She was put to death for refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the Court.
History of York