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Our visit to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York

We share all about our visit to this gorgeous old building...

On a grey August Saturday, with the rumble of thunder in the air, we decided to visit the Merchant Adventurers' Hall...

We've been here several times before, but usually in connection with a fayre, or other event - this is the first time that we've visited purely as tourists, and taken a tour of the Hall...

UPDATED JULY 2013 - NEW 'Battle of Towton' exhibition at the Hall (likely now over)

I find the Hall to be one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in York...

Me in front of the Merchant Adventurer's Hall in York, England

It has a pretty and tranquil garden, which you can stop in, and enjoy, for free - but it's well worth taking a look inside this impressive old building, too...

History of the Hall

The Merchant Adventurers' Hall is incredibly old - ancient, in fact - dating from 1357 at the earliest...

...and it's thought to be one of the finest and best-preserved Medieval Guildhalls in the whole world!

It is actually a Scheduled Ancient Monument!

The Merchant Adventurers Hall in York, England

The Hall is one of 4 remaining Guildhalls in York, from Medieval times...

(The others are the Merchant Taylors' Hall, St Anthony's Hall and the main Guildhall...)

There were actually many different 'Guilds' or 'Fraternities' in York, in Medieval times - almost like 'unions' today. They were formed to protect the interests of tradesmen and workers in the different trades.

Anterooms in the historic Merchant Adventurers Hall in York, England

The Merchant Adventurers' Hall is the very fine building belonging to the Guild of the 'Merchant Adventurers' - who were originally known as the 'Mercers'...

The Merchant Adventurers were merchants (tradesmen or entrepreneurs) who 'adventured' their money in overseas trade...

The impressive sign for the guild of the Merchant Adventurers in York

They became very rich and powerful in York - hence this very fine building, which is actually the largest timber framed building in the whole city...

...and one of the largest buildings of its age in the whole of England!

The interior of the Great Hall of the Merchant Adventurers Hall in York, England

The Hall has been in constant use for more than 650 years. And it's still owned by the original 'Guild of Merchant Adventurers'. It is now used as a museum (as well as for conferences, parties and private hire).

Visiting the Hall

Visit the lovely and peaceful garden of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall - York, England

Enter the Merchant Adventurers' Hall through its beautiful and serene gardens - stop a while and enjoy them, or head straight for the entrance...

To get the most out of your visit, I recommend the short, but interesting, Guide book (£2.50 at the dates of our visits: August 2011 & July 2013) and to take the free audio tour...

You are free to wander around the Hall as you please, looking at what you wish, and listening to the info on the audio tour.

The Hall is a very impressive and beautiful building...

The stunning Great Hall inside the Merchant Adventurers' Hall


  • The main hall with timbered roof
  • This, called the Great Hall, was incredibly impressive - large, with all genuinely old roof-beams and timber structures...

    Admire the timber roof of the Great Hall - Merchant Adventurers Hall, York, England

  • Smaller committee rooms, anterooms and parlour
  • Very fine paintings of the city of York, and local dignitaries
  • Beautiful historic furniture

  • Nice old wooden chests at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York England

  • Silver and treasures
  • The Undercroft - which usually holds an exhibition
  • The beautiful Chapel

Beautiful stained glass at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York

Stunning Stained Glass

York stained glass at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall

The audio tour is very interesting as it takes you through all parts of the building and explains the significance of everything...

Ian listening to the audio tour in the Merchant Adventurers Hall, York, England

I loved the smaller rooms, with a proper 'old' feel, lovely old floors and heavy, medieval furniture.

beautiful beams abound at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York

The Undercroft

Go downstairs, to the 14th Century Undercroft (underneath) of the Hall.

You can also see here:

  • Chapel
  • York's Pancake Bell (which was rung every Shrove Tuesday to signify the start of much pancake-based merriment!)
  • Silver and other treasures
  • The Guild's banners
  • Any exhibitions - the exhibition for 2013-14 was about the 'Battle of Towton' (which took place during the Wars of the Roses, close to York)

    The Undercroft is a large vaulted room, that used to be used as an Almshouse and Hospital.

    Thirteen poor and infirm men and women were cared for here by chaplains funded by the Guild.

    The Undercroft at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York

    You can see the original floor level of the Undercroft, which was considerably lower than it is now, in days gone by...

    Look down to see the original floor level of the undercroft at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    You can also see the banners hanging from the rafters - these are the original banners from the 1909 York pageant, and represented coats of arms presented to the guilds of York in the past.

    banners from the 1909 York pageant still hang in the Merchant Adventurers Hall

    Merchant Adventurers' Hall Chapel

    On this lower level, don't miss the beautiful and peaceful little chapel - which dates back to 1420.

    The lovely little chapel at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, England

    It is painted in its original color scheme - this was probably the nicest bit of the whole Hall for me.

    the gorgeous tiny chapel in the Undercroft at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    Don't miss the 'Holy Trinity' sculpture (on your right as you enter) which dates from the 15th Century.

    The Holy Trinity Sculpture from the 15th Century in Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York

    It is on long-term loan from the Holy Trinity Church in Micklegate, who have commissioned a modern interpretation of the piece, which is on display in that church and which is interesting to see in its own right, too.

    Battle of Towton Exhibition

    Battle of Towton exhibition at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    In one corner of the Undercroft you can visit the Battle of Towton exhibition (included in your admission) (Valid for my visit in 2013, likely now over).

    This recounts the history of the the bloody Battle of Towton, which took place close to York in 1461, between the Yorkists and Lancastrians, as part of the long-lasting 'Wars of the Roses'.

    Exhibition about the Battle of Towton at the Merchant Adventurers Hall in York

    The York-side won the battle and proceeded to York, where Edward IV took down Richard, the Duke of York's, head, from Micklegate Bar, along with the heads of other Yorkists - you can find out more about this at Micklegate Bar Museum.

    The exhibition explains the situation leading up to the battle, and the events of the battle itself, as well as its aftermath and the importance of the battlefield near York, today.

    The Battle of Towton exhibition York 2013-14

    The exhibition is only quite small, but it does also include a video-showing of an informative programme about the Battle of Towton, to sit and watch, too...

    Watch the show about the Battle of Towton at the Merchant Adventurers Hall

    Getting Interactive!

    Before you leave, don't miss the two interactive areas (just near the stairs) - you can find out more about the Merchant Adventurers' Hall...

    Interactive info point at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall

    Or play at being a merchant adventurer yourself - it's good fun - have a go! I even managed to earn some money as I went adventuring and trading! (only virtual money, sadly!)

    Play at being a Merchant Adventurer - in York

    I really enjoyed this visit to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall - it's a beautiful building, and standing in it you can really feel the history...

    Me and a 'friend' from the Merchant Adventurers Hall in York, England

    You can go around as quickly, or as slowly, as you like - on average, allow about 1 hour for your visit.

    The Merchant Adventurers' Hall on the Map

    Find the Merchant Adventurers' Hall on both Fossgate and Picadilly (entrances from both roads)...

    Enter down steep steps into the beautiful gardens from Picadilly

    From Fossgate look out for the entrance down an alleyway next to the 'Hairy Fig' delicatessen and cafe.

    The entrance to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, England

    The Entrance is up steps, but there is a wheelchair accessible entrance from Fossgate, too.

    This map is interactive.

    • Just use the + and - buttons in the top left corner of the map to zoom in and out.
    • Use the arrows to move about the area.

    The Merchant Adventurers' Hall
    YO1 9XD

    Tel: 01904 654818

    Visit the official website, here...


    • March to October
      • Mon-Thurs: 9am-5pm
      • Fri-Sat: 9am-3.30pm
      • Sun: 11am-4pm
    • November to February
      • Mon-Thurs: 10am-4pm
      • Fri-Sat: 10am-3.30pm
      • Sun: Closed
    • Closed over Christmas and New Year period. May also close, on occasion, for private functions or maintenance work.


    • Adults: £6
    • Concessions: £5
    • Under 16s visiting with family: Free

    Above information correct at the date of our visit: July 2013.

    Guided Tours are available for groups if booked in advance.

    Toilets are available inside.

    Outdoor refreshments in Summer (ask at the 'Hairy Fig' on Fossgate (leave via the passage directly opposite the Merchant Adventurers' doorway - The Hairy Fig is directly on your right).

    Outside refreshments are available at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall from the Hairy Fig on Fossgate

    This is a lovely, and really special building - incredibly old and very impressive.

    Ian enjoying a warm day and ice cream in the garden of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, England

    I fully recommend a visit inside, but at least take a few minutes to enjoy the peaceful gardens and admire this beautiful old Hall - a very important building in the history of York!


    Find lots of places to eat on Fossgate including the Red Lion pub just around the corner

    Through Coppergate (just opposite, through M&S) is the lovely little Castle Tearooms on Castlegate

    Things to Do in York Nearby

    To learn more about the history of York why not try the Yorkshire Museum?

    More ideas for things to do in York, here...

    Have you been here? What did you think? Where's your favourite place to visit in York? Tell us, here...

    More ideas for places to visit at the Yorkshire coast

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