Common Hall

Venue Type & Location


Site Name: Common Hall
Location: York
County: York (city-county) in Yorkshire
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Performance Spaces


Located on the N side of the River Ouse, the 15th c. magnesian limestone guildhall is now approached from Coney Street through a passage leading into St Helen's Square.

Although the outer walls of the building remained largely intact, most of the interior fittings and roof were destroyed during an air raid during World War II.

Performance History

As the seat of civic government and centre for festive occasions, York's common hall was probably the venue for most performances by touring entertainers before the mayor and city officials before 1642.

Current Status

Open to the public at stated times. Now known as the Guildhall, it houses the Council Chamber, Committee Rooms and the Chief Executive's department of the City of York Council.

History of the Venue

By 1256 First guildhall mentioned in a charter.

1445 Agreement by the city council and the guild of St Christopher to rebuild the guildhall, with a chamber at the W end, a cellar under the E end, a pantry and a buttery. The guild's chapel was opened nearby by 1448.

1549 City council took over the common hall property after St Christopher's Guild was stripped of its assets.

ca. 1725 Screens passage gallery at the E end removed. The guild of St Christopher's chapel, subsequently an alehouse known as the Cross Keys, was demolished to make way for the Mansion House.

1760 Hall repaired and glass windows put up in place of louvres.

later 19th c. 14 stained glass windows installed depicting events in the history of York.

29 April 1942 Almost destroyed by incendiary bombs during the Baedeker Raid on historic English cities awarded 3 stars in Karl Baedeker's tourist guides. The shell of the building remained although the roof was destroyed.

1960 Faithfully restored according to the original plan and reopened.

Record Source

REED York 1

Bibliographic Sources

  • Braun, Georg, and Frans Hogenberg. Civitates orbis terrarum. 6 vols. Cologne: Georg Braun, 1572–1618.
  • Cooper, T.P. The Ancient Guildhalls of the City of York. York: Corporation of York, 1909.
  • Halfpenny, Joseph. Fragmenta vetusta; or, The remains of ancient buildings in York. York: Joseph Halfpenny, 1807.
  • Harvey, John. 'Some Notes from the York Guildhall.' The Builder (31 Aug. 1945): 165–6.
  • Hussey, Christopher. 'The Halls of York – I. The Guildhall and the Merchant Adventurers' Hall.' Country Life 50 (5 Nov. 1921): 578–85.
  • McMillin, Scott, and Sally-Beth MacLean. The Queen's Men and their Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, and David Neave with contributions from Susan Neave and John Hutchinson. Yorkshire: York and the East Riding. 1972. The Buildings of England. London: Penguin Books, 1995.
  • Royal Commission on Historical Monuments England. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: The Central Area. vol 5. London: HMSO, 1981.
  • Wood, G. Bernard. 'Restoration of York Guildhall.' Country Life 129 (16 Nov. 1961): 1190–1.