York – the Treasurer’s House


The Treasurer’s House is a National Trust property standing almost in the shadow of the Minster. It stands on the site originally occupied the official residence of the Minster’s treasurer, although the current building is quite different to the original. It’s actually three separate houses that were joined together to create a single property when they were bought by Victorian millionaire Frank Green in 1897.

Green inherited his wealth – his grandfather made his fortune when he invented the economiser, which made steam engines operate more efficiently, and established the family firm. It seems that Frank green didn’t have much ability as an engineer or industrialist and  was more interested in collecting antiquities and remodelling the house in styles spanning several centuries.

Externally the building appears Jacobean with Dutch style gables, but there are some inconsistencies – in particular the neo-classical front door. And inside the rooms are arranged and decorated in line with Green’s interpretation of different historical periods. It’s a real mixture and it’s very much how he felt they ought to look rather than a true reflection of the different styles.

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So, in the middle house he created his interpretation of a Tudor great Hall, which reminded me of the one in Rufford Old Hall, one of our local NT properties. But he’s used classical Doric columns to support the gallery which would never have been found in a real Tudor mansion where wooden posts would probably have been used.

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He remodelled the interior, removing a floor to create the great hall and installing and removing partition walls, according to whatever fancy took him.

The ceiling in the dining room is a good example of Georgian stucco work and seems to have been in the house when he bought it. It is thought to have been created by Giuseppe Cortese, who is also believed to be responsible for the stucco work in Fairfax House. Photos aren’t allowed there, but I was able to take one of the ceiling in the Treasurer’s House. Even though it’s not a great picture (taken with my mobile phone) it gives an impression of the grandeur and intricacy of his work.

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There’s a very pleasant, relatively small garden at the front of the house, which overlooks the Minster.

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The Trust recently opened the attics that used to be used as the servant’s quarters, to visitors. Unlike the rest of the house, access is by guided tour only. Unfortunately we’d arrived too late in the day so missed out.

The Treasurer’s House is very much a creation of one of the idle rich from the Victorian period. According to the National Trust

The house was never intended to be a cosy home and was used instead as a canvas for Frank’s creative ambitions.

Green, who inherited his wealth, seemed to have so much money he didn’t know what to do with it. One tale we heard from one of the room guides was that he used to send his washing by train to London every week! He never married and didn’t have any children (that we know of) so gave the house to the National Trust in 1930 when he moved away from York. He made it a condition that the rooms would be kept exactly as he intended.

Following our day out, browsing on the Internet, I discovered that another blogger, Eirene of A Place Called Space, had been in York the same day and had also visited the house. She’s written a post about it here. Her blog is well worth a visit.


8 thoughts on “York – the Treasurer’s House

  1. Thank you for your kind words and the link.

    It is interesting how differently we wrote about the Treasurer’s House. I enjoyed reading your post.

    • You’re welcome Eirene. I don’t know whether my link will result in any views on your blog but I’ve enjoyed reading it – and it does look like we have similar tastes and interests.

      • I enjoy reading your blog too, at the moment I am doing a page a day. And yes, I agree we do have similar tastes and interests.

  2. Have you been to burton Agnes hall yet? We went a couple of weeks ago and were blown away. Thankfully we aren’t alone as Simon Jenkins gave it ***** too. Def. the best Yorkshire house I’ve seen. Will post soon: job for the weekend.

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