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The finest Georgian townhouse in England, with a great collection of Georgian furniture

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In 1762, a man called Viscount Fairfax was very excited. He was a very distinguished member of Yorkshire society, and happily, his daughter was getting married. As part of her dowry, he employed the area's most famous architect, John Carr, and built her a house. The resulting building quickly became known as one of the most attractive in the county.

The front of Fairfax house
In the following years, Fairfax House was bought and sold dozens of times, before being converted into a Gentlemen's club. In the early 20th century, it was transformed again, into a cinema and dance hall - which quickly became known as one of the best entertainment venues around. It remained popular for years to come, and was still hosting famous bands in the 70s. But it wasn't to last, and in 1980, financial trouble forced the owners to sell the building back to the council.
By this time, people were aware that Fairfax House was worth preserving. The York Civic Trust took charge, and set out on a huge reconstruction project. Once again, they employed the area's most famous architect, Francis Johnson, who proceeded to enlist England's best craftsmen. This included roofers, woodworkers, decorators, stoneworkers, and countless others. After all, the house wasn't in great condition, and there was a lot of work to be done - for example, one room's ceiling was so badly damaged that it caused leaks from the men's toilets upstairs!
The work took several years, and a lot of meticulous attention to detail. But it all proved to be worth it, because when the completed building was opened in 1984, it quickly became known as the best example of a Georgian townhouse in the entire country. Fairfax House's ensuing success as a museum also owes no small thanks to its choice of decoration. It is filled with dozens of pieces from Noel Terry's famous furniture and clocks collection, which was described as the best collection of Georgian furniture I've ever seen in one space, by Paul Martin from the BBC's antiques show Flog it!
In addition to the permanent collection, Fairfax House always has something else going on. This includes guest exhibitions, samples of 17th century food, and screenings of some of the old films which were shown in the house, during its period as a cinema. There are also lectures, art displays, guided tours by candlelight - and incredibly, sometimes they even throw Edwardian house parties! All this ensures that whenever you visit, there'll always be something interesting to see.
Visitor Information
Fairfax House is open Mon to Thu & Sat, 11am - 4.30pm, and Sun 1.30pm - 4.30pm. Entry costs around £6. Tel: 01904 655543

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