Seven things you probably don’t know about Treasurer’s House – York’s hidden jewel

14 Apr 2017 @ 4.40 pm
| Entertainment

It is one of York’s hidden treasures.

Treasurer’s House

Minster Yard, York, YO1 7JL

Daily till Nov 5 11am-4.30pm


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But that’s not why Treasurer’s House has that name. The centuries-old town house, built in the shadow of York Minster, was home to the cathedral’s treasurer.

Its beautiful gardens, magnificent rooms, and tasty café make it this National Trust treasure worth rediscovering.

Open March to November, here are seven things you may not know about it.

1. It’s actually three houses in one

This unusual aerial view shows the rear of Treasurer’s House – and its closeness to York Minster. Photograph © Bing Maps

The Treasurer’s House we know today came to be after Yorkshire collector Frank Green bought three adjacent properties in 1897 and set about restoring them into a magnificent show-home to house his extensive collection of period antiques, art and furniture.

2. Kings would pop in

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How the King’s Room looked then and now – move the pointer to see the changes

How the King’s Room looked then and now. Move the pointer to see the changes

The house was built on such a grand scale because the Minster officials who lived there were expected to host VIP guests.

In 1617 King James I was entertained at Treasurer’s House. And in 1900, during Frank Green’s time, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited as Prince and Princess of Wales along with their daughter Victoria.

It is in their honour that the King’s Room, Queen’s Room and Princess Victoria’s Room were so named.

3. Frank was a fusspot

Frank Green on horseback, and not in the Treasurer’s House garden. Photograph © National Library of Ireland on Flickr

An eccentric dandy who modelled the house in his own image, Frank was also a stickler for precision.

His staff were expected to maintain his high standards and visitors can still see the metal studs he placed in the floor to mark the position of furniture in case it was moved.

4. The Romans aren’t the only famous ghosts

The most famous story about Treasurer’s House is the ghostly Roman legion who floated across the cellar, as witnessed by apprentice plumber Harry Martindale in 1953.

Harry was not the first to see the soldiers – that was by a party guest of Frank Green.

And Green himself may haunt the premises…

When he gave the house to the National Trust in 1930 Frank did so on the condition that the rooms were preserved as he intended – and he vowed to haunt the building if any changes were made.

Since then items in the house have been moved or changed for conservation reasons – and some of the spooky occurrences are said to be an angry Frank fulfilling his promise.

He’s not the only dead owner said to revisit its rooms: the spectre of George Aislaby, head of the house in the 17th century, has also been seen. He died from a wound suffered in a duel he fought in 1674.

5. It hosts fascinating exhibitions

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The Great Hall then and now. Move the pointer to see the changes

The current exhibition, Restoration & Demolition, is a fascinating look at what Frank Green changed at Treasurer’s House – alongside the fate of some other great houses of Yorkshire.

Having preserved Treasurer’s for future generations, Frank Green’s mansion and its collection provide the perfect foil for the exhibition as visitors reflect upon those houses which have stood the test of time to those that were left behind or destroyed.

6. The garden is free

Sit in the garden and admire the beauty of house and Minster. Photograph: Chris Lacey / National Trust

One of the surprises of Treasurer’s House is the small but perfectly formed garden, three times winner of gold in the Yorkshire in Bloom competition.

Set in the shadow of York Minster, the garden is free for people to enjoy on open days. It’s a wonderful spot for your lunchtime sandwiches or for a tranquil break from the bustle.

7. It has a café with a twist

Inspired by a French chef – the Below Stairs Café. Photograph: Cathy Thornton / National Trust
People often forget there’s a café at Treasurer’s House. And the menu is a French-Yorkshire mash-up.

When Frank Green lived here, he demanded the best, especially when it came to entertaining. So he hired a top French chef – Monsieur Viande – for his dinner parties.

Taking this as inspiration the café serves tasty meals that Monsieur Viande would have been proud of, with a bit of a Yorkshire twist.

And even by the National Trust’s high standards, their scones are renowned – try the seasonal flavours including the Christmas pudding scone in winter.