Early Victorian mansion with important, contemporary civic role.
Built on Bootham, an ancient term for “at the booths” that probably refers to booths erected near Bootham Bar, which were used for a weekly market held by the monks of St Mary's Abbey. Bootham Lodge was constructed on open land in 1840 for Thomas Walker, a local solicitor, at the same time as its neighbour no. 54 Bootham.
An early Victorian mansion style built for the aspiring middle classes, the house has three-storeys and three bays built in plain red brick with a simple open porch in Roman Tuscan style. The porch supports a balcony for the window above, decorated with a fine wrought iron balustrade of a wheel-shaped pattern supplied by the renowned John Walker foundry on Walmgate. The design appears in Walker’s pattern book, which you will find in York’s Castle Museum. Similar balconies appear on either side and, whilst all the windows have bold painted surrounds, the two on the ground floor and the one in the centre, are enriched with simple pilasters.
At ground floor level you’ll find the railings have rare, shaped finials. It is difficult to determine exactly, under the many layers of paint, but they seem to have an organic design. The pattern for casting is carved with clustered leaves enclosing seeds or berries and capped by a splayed spear top. Normally, these railings were conceived as a bundle of ancient spears fixed in a row, as a protective barrier for the property (as seen next door on no. 54). This more complicated pattern breaks that simple rule and may have been inspired by the architect Decimus Burton who, whilst working for Walker, designed the gates for Kew Gardens in London.
On the inside the entrance passage opens onto a hall where a monumental Georgian style ebonised fireplace takes centre stage. This, and others on the ground floor, were apparently moved from the rooms above. The face of Bacchus dominates the frieze, set between scrolling panels of raffle leaf, whilst the enriched overmantel is flanked by female depictions and hanging margettes of fruit and flowers.
Leading off the hall, the main staircase is decorated with elaborate wrought-iron balusters, again supplied by the Walker foundry.
Another ebonised fireplace is now located in a small room at the foot of the stairs, this time carved in anticipation of the Arts and Crafts movement with foliate panels featuring the faces of the ‘goodmen’ of York.
At the rear, the principal room has a richly decorated ceiling cornice and the overdoors feature composite urns and festoons supplied by the carver Francis Wolstenholme of York.
Bootham Lodge was acquired by the Trust in 2003 and the ground floor is currently leased by York Registry Office. Providing a key service to the populace of York for the registering of births, deaths, arranging civil partnerships or marriage ceremonies, more recently a new marriage room was built to the rear. The garden has also been landscaped and is now a charming backdrop to the many vows taken by couples here every year.
The first floor offices are leased to Drivers Solicitors. A long-standing York legal firm, Drivers act for York Conservation Trust in property and related lease work.
Discover more about Bootham Lodge
Ground floor: York Registry Office
First floor: Drivers Solicitors
Historic England Grade ll listing building