Open daily for the first time in centuries: Hidden York gem launches summer café

Some of the sandwiches and cakes they serve up at Bedern Hall
31 Jul 2016 @ 12.08 pm
| Entertainment

It was once home to York Minster’s singing vicars. But you won’t need to sing for your supper at Bedern Hall today.

That’s because this hidden gem is opening a café every weekday throughout August.

Bedern Hall Open August

Bedern Hall, Bartle Garth, St Andrewgate, York, YO1 7AL

Weekdays in August @ 10am-3pm

01904 646030

Bedern Hall website

It is the first time in centuries that the historic hall will have been officially open to the public every day, says Bedern Hall director Roger Lee.

“We have hosted events, weddings and meetings here for 30 years,” Roger said.

“But because we’re so hidden away, many people still don’t realise we’re here.

“That’s why we thought we’d open every weekday throughout August, to encourage people to discover this amazing treasure for themselves.”

Café and more

The beautiful Bedern Hall, just yards from two busy York shopping streets
The beautiful Bedern Hall, just yards from two busy York shopping streets

Although bounded by two of York’s busiest shopping streets, Goodramgate and Colliergate, Bedern Hall is a haven of tranquility.

Located at the end of the Bartle Garth cul-de-sac, it is the perfect spot for a relaxing coffee, lunch or afternoon cuppa.

On a warm summer’s day you can enjoy your refreshments in the courtyard or the peaceful garden. Here the bustle of the city recedes into the distance with the loudest noise the singing of the birds.

During August, the café will be serving “simple, fresh, local refreshments” Roger said. There will be sandwiches and platters using locally-made ingredients including paté and cheese.

And the hall will be also be serving a selection of home-made cakes, alongside tea, coffee and cold drinks.

Enjoy a cuppa in the courtyard
Enjoy a cuppa in the courtyard

Explore the hall

But you don’t have to eat at the café to enjoy Bedern Hall’s open August.

Visitors are welcome simply to explore this medieval building, which has been beautifully restored.

During August the hall will be showing a short film about the renovation and putting on a display about its historic role as the home of the Vicars Choral.

History of the hall

Bedern Hall was part of the College of the Vicars Choral which occupied the area between Goodramgate, St Andrewgate and Aldwark. It dates from about 1370.

The hall was the refectory (or dining hall) for the college from the 1390s until the middle of the 17th century when it passed into private hands.

In 1644 St Peter’s School moved into Bedern, possibly after damage to their own buildings during the Civil War.

By the 1790s the hall was divided into tenements, and became badly overcrowded. The area of Bedern was a notorious slum in Victorian times, and a place where few would dare to tread.

Bedern Hall interior before restoration. Photograph: RCHM
Bedern Hall interior before restoration. Photograph: RCHM

Fast forward to the 20th century, and what is now Bedern Hall was occupied by a bakery, before being bought by Wright’s, the pork butchers.

A slum clearance in the 1970s saw many of the industrial buildings cleared to make way for modern housing, while the hall and chapel were retained.

Restoration began in 1979. Once completed the hall began a new life as the guild hall for the Company of Cordwainers, the Gild of Freemen and the York Guild of Building.

Since restoration, the Hall has been used by a variety of organisations as a venue for dinners, meetings and conferences. In 2005, it was licensed for civil wedding celebrations.