Folklore King's Manor

King's Manor, in the centre of the City, is one of the buildings used by the University since its early days. The first buildings on the site were for the Abbot of the nearby St Mary's Abbey, and were built in the 13th century. There was rebuilding in the 15th century, and extensive repairs by the Earl of Sussex in 1568-70 during it's use as the headquarters of the Council of the North. The Council arrived in 1539, and stayed for nearly 100 years until the Civil War. Following the war, the Manor became a girls school, an elementary school, and then flats for town councillors. From 1833 the buildings were gradually taken over by the School for the Blind, founded in memory of William Wilberforce. The headmasters house (designed by Walter Brierly in 1900) dates from this period of occupation.

The University rented King's Manor from the owners, the York Corporation, and moved in during 1964. At that time the environment was described as a ``condition of considerable squalor'' (by Lord James) and much work was needed on the fabric of the buildings. A Victorian-age addition was demolished, and the modern block of tutorial rooms were built. The following facts about the site are taken from the York Fact of the Day service:

The main building was originally built as home for the Abbots of nearby St Mary's Abbey.

Although King's Manor has never been a Royal Residence, there are records of Henry VIII, Charles I and II, and James VII of Scotland staying there. Above the main door is the Royal Coat of Arms of Charles I, who moved his court to York.

Students and visitors to King's Manor should keep watch for ghosts. Manifestations include the sound of the groans of dying Roundheads after an unsuccessful attack on the building on Trinity Sunday 1644; a woman in Tudor dress suggested to be Anne Boleyn, who formed a relationship with the manor's occupant while still married to Henry VIII; and more recently, a portrait of a Stuart nobleman in the Huntingdon Room has come to life and moved about the room.

Kings' Manor usually has a selection of sculptures on display - at the time of writing these include a calf by Sally Arnup.

Conservation and conversion work on the buildings was planned by Bernard Feilden, who later went on to supervise the rebuilding of York Minster.

In the early years of the University, King's Manor was a social focus of student life, especially the Cellars Club. There there were *rare* events in the cellars as late as 88-ish. (Probably under the name the Zwiebelkeller -- ``Onion Cellar'').

King's Manor was completely re-roofed during 1988-91, at a cost of £750,000.

The following Departments are to be found at King's Manor:

Centre for Medieval Studies
Department of Archaeology
Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies.

Centre for Medieval Studies

The grand Headmaster's House is home to the Centre for Medieval Studies, who have always had a base at Kings Manor. This item from the March 1995 issue of University Magazine:

Medieval Studies moves house.

The Centre for Medieval Studies, which has been based in the new block of the King's Manor since its inception in the late 1960s, is moving in April to the Headmaster's House on the same site. This fine building, designed in the early years of the century by York architect Walter Brierly, will house ten members of staff from Art History, History and English, along with secretary Louise Harrison. The proximity of members of the Archaeology Department, who are moving into the Centre's old premises this summer, will offer new opportunities for even closer collaboration.

The Centre for Medieval Studies was started under the motivating force of the late Elizabeth Salter, in association with Barry Dobson, Derek Pearsall, Bunny Leff, Peter Rycraft, David Smith, Karen Hodder and the late Peter Newton. It flourished in the 1970's and early 1980's, but was then affected by staff losses, by severe reductions in government funding for humanities research and by competition from other universities. Reoganisation in the late 1980's, under Alistair Minnis (English), Edward James (History) and Martin Carver (Archaeology), gave the Centre new life, and it has gone from strength to strength. Two years ago Richard Marks was appointed to the only chair in medieval stained glass in Britain. This year there are 33 MA students from six countries, and 16 graduates have registered for higher degrees since 1991/2 when the interdisciplinary MPhil/DPhil programme was started. The students run a flourishing drama group, the Lords of Misrule, which stages regular performances of medieval plays.

Altogether 28 staff from the departments of Archaeology, Art History, English and History are associated with the Centre. The current director, Edward James, is leaving to take up a chair in Medieval History at Reading University in October, and he will be succeeded by Felicity Riddy (English). In the Headmaster's House the Centre will have two new teaching rooms as well as space for specialist research projects. This more spacious accommodation will help it maintain and enhance its status as the country's most important interdisciplinary centre for medieval studies.

Related pages:

* The Kings Manor oak phone box
* University city centre buildings

* Folklore Index Page * Disclaimer
* S020 Home Page * Send us Mail