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One of York's most important buildings, with its original structure dating over a millenium

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Front Facade
Inner Courts
King's Manor is another of those buildings that has been at the centre of York's history for centuries. While the oldest parts of the current building date from the 15th century, it's thought that the original structure was constructed nearly a millenium ago! Back then it was part of the nearby St. Mary's Abbey, and it provided accommodation for the abbots, and other religious leaders.

Nearby St Mary's Abbey
But everything changed when Henry VIII came along in the 1500s, and declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. He began closing down monasteries, nunneries and friaries all over Britain, taking control of their income and assets. This included St. Mary's, so the old abbot's house became the property of the King.

The entrance to the King's Manor
He soon instated it as the home for his Council of the North, which helped to organise and govern the entire Northern region while Henry himself stayed in the South. But of course, when royalty did decide to leave the comfort of London and visit Yorkshire, the house would provide their accommodation. King's Manor has hosted several rulers, including Henry VIII, James I, and Charles I. The latter, Charles Stuart, liked the building so much he had his coat of arms placed above the main entrance. Although, if you look carefully, you can see that the letter N in the accompanying Latin enscription is backwards - perhaps the stonemason wasn't concentrating on that day!

Steps in the inner Courtyard
The Council of the North was dissolved in 1641, and this began a period of neglect for the Manor. It became a battleground in the English Civil War, and was subsequently leased out and converted into apartments. Its time as a royal residence was over.
However, the building still had a part to play in York's community. In the 19th century it was turned into the Yorkshire School for the Blind, and then in the 1960s it carried on as a centre for education by becoming part of York University. In the present day, King's Manor still hosts the Archaeology, Medieval Studies, and 18th Century Studies departments - and although the building has been upgraded to include all sorts of modern conveniences, such as hi-tech computer rooms and lecture halls, it has never lost sight of its past. Rooms built up to five centuries ago are still used today, including the actual main chamber of Henry VIII's Council of the North - which is now the Refectory, meaning that you can go and have a cup of tea in the same place that Yorkshire's noblemen used to govern the entire top end of the country!

Figure cast by the main door
King's Manor is one of York's most important buildings, and it seems appropriate that a building with so much history is now used to teach people about the past.
Visitor Information
King's Manor is open daily. Entry is FREE. The King's Manor Restaurant serves lunches, snack and hot & cold drinks, Mon to Fri, 9am - 3.30pm. Tel: 01904 432030

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