Fairfax House Conservation Management Plan

In 2023 York Civic Trust and York Conservation Trust commissioned a conservation management plan for 25 and 27 Castlegate, collectively known as Fairfax House.

The overarching conclusion of this work identified a need for carefully managed change at Fairfax House, in order to broaden participation in our shared heritage and support the long term sustainability of the museum, including its place as a functioning work and volunteering environment. This information to be used as the foundation for the development of any future capital works that seek to address concerns related to access and inclusion, or broader operational issues.

The report was written and prepared by Page\Park, an architectural practice undertaking work across the UK from studios in Glasgow and Leeds. Page\Park have undertaken conservation assessments and capital development projects in the historic environment for over 40 years, with experience working with exceptionally significant buildings and scheduled monuments. The report was led by Specialist Conservation Architect John Brown, and written by architect Vicky Mitchell.

Number 25 and 27 Castlegate, now known collectively as Fairfax House, are together an exceptional example of a Georgian townhouse. Dating from the mid-18th Century, Fairfax House is a Grade l listed building located in the historic heart of York. The building is currently a Georgian House Museum, managed by York Civic Trust and owned by York Conservation Trust.

Since its inception in the 1740s, the building has had several uses in response to the changes that have taken place in the surrounding urban fabric. York Conservation Trust and York Civic Trust are working together to define the next chapter of change for the House, which will be centred around access and inclusion, as well as redefining the stories told about the House and its history. To begin this journey of change, a conservation management plan has been commissioned. The document provides the guiding conservation principles to help to inform the next chapter in the building’s story.

Working together with both Trusts, this conservation management plan is informed by extensive research, interviews and a literature review. The plan is structured in a logical manner: first introducing the context for the plan and relevant stakeholders; understanding of the building, looking at its place within its surrounding urban context and throughout history. Three layers of history are significant to the story of Fairfax House: an 18th-century townhouse; a cinema and dance hall, then dance school; and then as a restoration Georgian museum by York Civic Trust. Each layer of history underpins the chapter structure of this report, culminating in a significance assessment to substantiate the heritage value, supported by a full room gazetteer.

The second section of the plan takes cognisance of the first and uses this information to identify the risks and opportunities of Fairfax House moving forward. This concludes with the definition of specific policies to support the long-term sustainability of the museum, as well as guiding the organisations ambitions for transformational change.

Discover the Plan and a rich resource of information on the history and current status of this extraordinary Georgian building.

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