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St Anthony’s Hall, Peasholme Green
The hall of St Anthony is one of four medieval guildhalls which have survived in the City of York – the others are the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, the Guildhall and the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. In 1446 King Henry VI granted a charter which founded the guild of St Martin. The hall and a chapel were subsequently built on the site which previously housed a chapel for St Anthony – the name was retained for the hall. The hall had a hospital chapel which was consecrated in 1453 and was used by patients and members of the guild.
By 1569 St Anthony’s was being used as a workhouse for the poor, where weaving was among the main chores of the work force. In 1586 part of the hall had been converted into a house of correction and a place of detention and work for minor criminals. In the early 17th century the hall was used as a knitting school for poor children. However, by 1655 the lower part of the hall was back in use as a house of correction and this continued until 1814. During the English Civil War (1625 – 1649) the hall was also used as an ammunition storeroom, military hospital and a prison. In 1705 the Blue Coat charity used the main hall for teaching, while using the aisles for sleeping and eating. The ground floor houses kitchens and service rooms. The Blue Coat charity occupied St Anthony’s hall up until 1946. In 1953 York Civic Trust came into management of St Anthony’s guildhall and it was subsequently opened as the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research as part of the University of York.
It was purchased by York Conservation Trust in March 2006 and has undergone major refurbishment, including the underpinning of two sides in order to prevent further movement.
The building is of two storeys, with walls partly of 15th century stonework and partly of 17th century brick, replacing timber framing; the roofs are now slate-covered, but were formerly tiled. The west elevation rises to a central gable with a lower gable to each side. The lower storey is of limestone ashlar with moulded plinths and one buttress. Above the ashlar is a 17th century moulded stone string-course with brickwork above. The plinth is interrupted towards the north end by a large opening, now blocked, flanked by niches with two-centred heads and square labels and, at a high level, by two carved stone panels; one is a modern restoration, the other shows an armed man, badly weathered. In the middle part of the wall are three windows, of which only the middle one is original; it has two cinquefoiled lights in a square head. The others, of similar design, are modern.
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