The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall is a Grade I listed timber framed building built in around 1357 by a fraternity of York citizens as a charity and business that became the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York in the 16th century.
A merchant adventurer was someone who risked their own money in overseas trade (adventuring). The Guild at York became one of the richest and most powerful in the city – apprentices were trained, weights and measures checked and important documents for local businesses were kept here. The company is still active today though much of the business support it used to provide to the local community is now done by the city council.
The undercroft, above, was used as a hospital from 1373 to 1980. It’s an impressive space with banners on display showing the coats of arms of 22 medieval guilds.
The most impressive area by far downstairs however is the chapel. The current chapel was built in 1420 with many of the decorations removed in the Reformation in 1549, with it being refurnished in 1669. The impressive stained glass windows were installed in 1999.
Upstairs is the Great Hall, a space which lives up to its name. It is built in the double nave fashion because no timbers of English oak could be found to span the whole width.
One of the other rooms upstairs also has these really well done stained glass windows depicting ships being loaded in York.
As one of the best preserved medieval guild halls in the world it’s an interesting place to visit. I would also highly recommend the attached cafe (which you can dine in without paying to access the hall itself) – I stopped there for lunch and had some fantastic food.
You can find more photos here.