York hotel rips up ‘offending fountain’ – and might stick to a bird bath in future

Can you spot where the fountain used to be? Photographs: Richard McDougall
11 Mar 2018 @ 7.04 pm
| Environment, History

It was a water feature designed to add something extra to the garden of one of York’s most beautiful hotels.

But now the Grays Court fountain has been ripped up and discarded after planners came down on it like a ton of bricks.

We reported last month that Grays Court Hotel had attracted criticism after installing the 3.5m fountain in its grounds.

The owner Helen Heraty hadn’t realised that she needed planning permission to install it.

When she applied for retrospective permission, the City of York Council planning committee refused.

Waiving any right to appeal, Helen has acted ‘as a responsible citizen and business owner’ and had the fountain removed.

Quick to accept decision

How the fountain looked before its removal

Grays Court Hotel is a Grade I listed building on Ogleforth, next to Treasurer’s House in the York Minster Cathedral Precinct. It recently topped the list of the Independent‘s ten best hotels in York.

Its rear garden is viewable from the city walls.

Planners called the fountain “jarring and inappropriate”, adding: “The location, design, materials and scale of the fountain harms the setting of the host listed building and those adjacent as an alien form in an otherwise open lawn.”

Helen, who has invested a great deal of time and money beautifully refurbishing Grays Court, was quick to abide with the planners’ ruling.

“As a responsible citizen and business owner, who has utmost respect for City of York Council and the decisions of the planning committee, I felt that it was incumbent on me to remove the offending fountain,” she said.

The fountain was installed in summer

No more live streaming from the Grays Court fountain

But she made the point that the building, parts of which date back to the 1100s, has changed many times over the centuries. She said:

Having taken this action I would like to note, that as a historic building, Grays Court has evolved over the past 900 years, with significant alterations and extensions in the 17th, 18th and 19th century’s that create the building that exists today.

I had hoped the addition of the garden feature would add a small touch to the history of Grays Court and bring pleasure to our guests and visitors.

In future I will restrict my flights of fancy to something more restrained, such as a bird bath.