Municipal Offices and Council Chamber and Guildhall Annex


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Coney Street (west off), York


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Statutory Address:
Coney Street (west off), York

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Municipal Offices and Council Chamber, annex built for the Post Office. 1889-91 by E G Mawbey and Alfred Creer, City Surveyors. The architect of the early C20 annexe is unknown.

Reasons for Designation

The Municipal Offices and Council Chamber of 1889-91 by E G Mawbey and Alfred Creer, City Surveyors, and the riverside block of the Guildhall Annex built in the early C20 for the Post Office, are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Interior: the comprehensive fitting out and decoration of the Council Chamber in a romantic Gothic style by the reputable firm of Kendal, Milne and Co has resulted in a notable civic ensemble; * Craftsmanship: the many timber elements of the Council Chamber, including the embellished timber roof. traceried panelling, impressive chimneypiece, architraves and doors, and fixed furniture, demonstrate a high degree of skilled craftsmanship in their execution; * Civic identity: the Gothic styling and medieval layout of the Council Chamber clearly references the close physical and functional proximity of the medieval Guildhall and thus the continuous thread of York’s civic identity on this site; * Architectural interest: the primary river facades of the Municipal Offices and Council Chamber and the Guildhall Annex are designed to sit sympathetically alongside the medieval chamber range of the Guildhall and early-C19 Atkinson Block, using similar limestone ashlar, with massing and rhythm respecting that of the earlier buildings and creating a continuity of vision; the new Council Chamber with its impressive double-height Perpendicular windows is reminiscent of a medieval hall; * Aesthetic value: the main outward-looking façade of this constricted site fronts the river, presenting an impressive composition rising directly out of the water, the quality of design and use of limestone ashlar for the entire composition reiterating both its individual importance and providing a visual link in a wider context with the city walls, the towering York Minster, and towers and spires of numerous urban churches, together forming some of the city’s most important historic buildings and structures; * Group Value: the Municipal Offices and Council Chamber have a close functional value as a civic group with the medieval Guildhall and chamber range and early-C19 Atkinson Block (Grade I), and the early-C18 Mansion House (Grade I) fronting Coney Street with a through-carriageway in its northern bay by which the former buildings are approached.


On 18 October 1889 the foundation stone was laid for a new building containing a large Council Chamber and offices for Corporation officials on the north side of the medieval Guildhall and Chamber Range. The design was by E G Mawbrey and Alfred Creer, City Surveyors. It was built in a Perpendicular Gothic to be in keeping with the Guildhall, and contained a council chamber, committee rooms, and offices for the town clerk and city accountant, and various inspectors. The Council Chamber replaced the smaller Upper and Lower Council Chambers in the building designed by Peter Atkinson the younger and built in 1808-10 on the south side of the Guildhall (now known as the Atkinson Block). The 1:1056 Ordnance Survey Town Plan published in 1852 shows that when the Municipal Offices were subsequently built the medieval river-frontage chamber range was kept. Two small rooms behind, on the north side of the Guildhall, latterly used as magistrates’ and surveyors’ offices, were demolished to allow the new building to directly abut the Guildhall, thus allowing direct access between the two. The Council Chamber was decorated to a high quality by Kendal, Milne and Co of Manchester in the early 1890s, who also decorated the entrance hall and corridors. It is known that in 1887 Kendal, Milne and Co was acting as the Manchester agents for William Morris (Morris and Co) although the length of this arrangement is not known.

Between 1901 and 1903 an extension was built at the north end of the Municipal Offices for use by the General Post Office which had been built in 1884 on Lendal. The 1853 map shows that the original post office had been located behind other buildings fronting Lendal and reached by an alleyway off the street. This access point remained so the new building (now known as the Guildhall Annex) was designed with a tower on the river frontage and a narrower range to its rear running east-west with its main access on the north side. It was first shown on the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map published in 1909. The building contained a large letter-sorting room 124ft long by 28 ft wide (37.8m x 8.5m), with a large room beneath for the telegraph linesman, a battery room, and shelters for parcel trucks and mail carts. There were also a series of retiring rooms for sorting clerks and postmen in the upper storeys of the tower. At this time the Office of Works generally designed larger post offices nationally. Between 1898 and 1913 Sir Henry Tanner was the principal surveyor; he had been employed by the Office of Works since 1871 and had designed the General Post Office on Lendal. Tanner had been a pupil of Anthony Salvin, and it is likely that he had an involvement with the extension, with the river frontage designed in a careful contextual manner to respect the pre-existing buildings.

By the mid-C20 the first floor had become a sports hall for use by Post Office employees. In the late C20 it was fitted out as additional office space to the Municipal Offices.


Municipal Offices and Council Chamber, annex built for the Post Office. 1889-91 by E G Mawbey and Alfred Creer, City Surveyors. The architect of the early C20 annexe is unknown.

MATERIALS Municipal Offices and Council Chamber: magnesian limestone ashlar to the river front, cream brick in English bond elsewhere, octagonal stone stacks on tall pedestals, some conjoined, with coved cornices, slate roofs. Annex (known as the Guildhall Annex): magnesian limestone ashlar to the river front and return, north elevation, red brick in English bond to the rear elevation, the roof is of slate.

PLAN: the Municipal Offices and Council Chamber abut the north side of the Guildhall and Chamber Range. Built over a basement with a main, rectangular range running approximately north-south with spine corridors on the ground and first floors and a double-span roof, double-pitched to the west, river side and hipped to the east side. The west, river side has ground-floor offices with a double-height Council Chamber above; the east side has offices on ground and first floors with a flat on the third floor. There are angled, single-storey and double-storey link bays at the east end with an external doorway on the east side adjacent to the large, main staircase and internal links to the Guildhall and Chamber Range. At the north end is the Guildhall Annex. The west, river end has a three-storey block with a square, outer corner tower.

EXTERIOR MUNICIPAL OFFICES AND COUNCIL CHAMBER (1889-1891): the primary elevation is the west, river front. It is a three-storey, four-bay block over a basement, attached to the early-C20 Guildhall Annex to the left, and with a two-storey link bay over a basement at the right-hand end abutting the medieval Guildhall and Chamber Range. The elevation is built of magnesium limestone ashlar with a crenelated parapet above a moulded eaves string, with string courses below the ground-floor and first-floor windows, (carried across the Guildhall Annex also). The ground floor has windows in four-centred arches with four trefoil-headed lights in the first and fourth bays and paired three trefoil-headed lights to the centre, all with leaded glazing. The four upper-floor windows lighting the Council Chamber rise through two storeys with two tiers of cinquefoil-headed lights beneath panel traceried square heads and hood moulds; the windows have coloured and leaded glazing. The ground floor of the link bay has two four-light mullion and transom windows, while the first floor has a single six-light mullion and transom window, with leaded glazing. The basement has two-light, square-headed windows with coloured and leaded glazing, and a segmental-headed doorway onto the terrace at the right-hand end with an adjacent two-light window with segmental heads and leaded glazing. The terrace corresponds to the basement level of the adjacent medieval Chamber Range. It has an outer, stone balcony wall with steps at the right-hand end down to a lower staith for the Watergate arch of Common Hall Lane, which runs beneath the Guildhall and Chamber Range. At the left-hand end is an archway through to the Guilldhall Annex terrace.

The east elevation of the Municipal Offices and Council Chamber is built of cream brick. At the left-hand end is a single-storey, two-bay link block with a hipped, slate roof with roof lights. It has two segmental-headed windows, the left-hand window converted from a doorway. The window frames are three-over-three pane sashes. To its right is a two-storey staircase block with a large central, Perpendicular style eight-light mullion and transom stair window with leaded lights containing stained glass, a four-centred head and a hoodmould. Below, at ground-floor level, is a doorway to the left and two small rectangular windows to the right containing coloured and leaded glass. On the right of the staircase is a three-storey, eight-bay block. The windows have segmental heads, stone sills, and three-over-three pane sashes.

THE GUILDHALL ANNEX (early C20): to the left is the Guildhall Annex with a three-storey, three-bay block with a gabled attic and a four-storey tower to the left-hand outer corner. The elevation is built of Magnesium limestone ashlar with a crenelated parapet and string courses below the ground-floor and first-floor windows (carried across the Municipal Offices and Council Chamber also). The ground floor has three segmental-headed windows of three mullioned lights beneath an arcaded hood of ogee arches rising to boss-like finials moulded with lion masks. The first-floor and second-floor windows are four-light mullion and transom windows closely flanking central six-light mullion and transom windows; the windows on the two floors are separated by a frieze of panels enclosing moulded blind quatrefoils. Over the second-floor windows is a continuous square-arched hood mould stepped up over the central window to enclose a triple cartouche with the Post Office emblem. The tower has windows of four or two lights to the lower stages; the third stage is set back over a corbelled offset, with angle buttresses rising from corner gargoyles, and a single-slit window overlooking the river. It is surmounted by a pierced parapet with winged lions holding blank shields at the corners.

The north elevation of the Guildhall Annex has a return stone ashlar elevation for the riverside block with a clasping buttress with a pierced parapet to the left-hand corner, a central gabled attic, and the tower at the right-hand corner. The rear, east elevation is of red brick with a wide doorway with timber double doors, an adjacent blocked window, a wider blocked window above and two segmental-headed stair windows with one-over-one pane sashes and a long roof light.

INTERIOR MUNICIPAL OFFICES AND COUNCIL CHAMBER: the entrance hall, main staircase landings, and spine corridors have bordered mosaic floors, those to the landings and entrance hall incorporating a White Rose of York motif, with a central roundel in the entrance hall containing the City Arms. The entrance hall at the south end of the building has a coffered ceiling with the main staircase on its east side, a recess on its south side, and a stone moulded two-centred archway with hoodmould to the spine corridor on its north side with the foundation stone to its right. The recess contains a central, moulded-arch doorway with panelled double doors opening into the Guildhall flanked by two smaller, moulded-arch doorways with traceried panelling. Each side of the recess contains a two-light stone mullion window, with a clerestorey band above, the windows all containing leaded glazing. The ground floor of the open well staircase has a low stone parapet pierced by ogee arches around the stairwell with an arcaded screen on the west side of four-centred moulded arches. The stone staircase has an arcaded balustrade of trefoil-headed arches with carved spandrels and a heavy, moulded marble handrail with corner gas-light points rising to the first floor. The staircase windows have coloured and leaded glass and a window on the south side incorporates a stained-glass panel of a C17 horseman presented by the City of Munster in 1969. Beneath the coffered ceiling is a painted frieze of the City Arms and Guild badges. Two two-centred arches with hoodmoulds lead off the landing, the larger opens onto the first-floor spine corridor. The archway to the left leads into the Council Chamber anteroom.

The Council Chamber was decorated by Kendal, Milne and Co of Manchester. It is a large room with a four-bay, depressed barrel vault roof of timber, coffered with moulded beams and ribs carried on embattled corbels, each coffer quartered by slender ribs with bosses at the intersections. The end walls have traceried panelling to the wallhead above a brattished and moulded wallplate. The lower walls are lined with traceried panelling beneath a brattished and moulded rail. The plasterwork above is painted with foliage and heraldic symbols. At the south end is the dais reserved for the Lord Mayor, with an elevated seat beneath a cantilevered canopy with crocketed finials and a carved City Arms, flanked by carved light brackets. At either end of the south wall are two arched doorways opening into the Council Chamber lobby and anteroom. They have decorative timber doorcases with spandrels carved with roses, brattished lintels, finials, panelled reveals and soffits, and six-panelled doors, with wide central rails. There is a similar door at the left-hand end of the east wall. There is a monumental chimneypiece in the east wall with traceried panelling, a coved overmantel incorporating an inscribed timber foundation panel, beneath a carved frieze of flowers and leaf trails, and a moulded cornice with an embattled parapet. The marble fireplace arch is four-centred with relief-carved spandrels and tiled slips depicting scenes of medieval York. The attached fender is marble, and the cast-iron grate bears the City of York shields of arms. The window cases are segmental-arched with hollow-chamfered mullions. The original fixed furniture survives including carved benches and desks of wood and leather for councillors, some curved, round a central, elongated octagonal table, and benches for the public at the north end, behind a low, carved screen. The anteroom has fitted panelled coat stands and a marble mantelpiece with a plain shelf on moulded brackets, glazed tile slips of embossed potted rosebushes, and a cast-iron grate. It has an outer door from the lobby of six panels with a wide central rail, one of the Council Chamber doors, and a door of six fielded panels opening into the upper room of the two-storey medieval chamber.

The ground-floor offices opening off the spine corridor have high, arched doorways with doors with lower panels and three-by-four pane glazing, with bottom-hinged, opening overlights of four-over-four panes. Those to the first-floor offices are similar, without overlights. The offices have coffered ceilings and most have marble mantelpieces to the fireplaces.

On the east side of the building is a second-floor flat opening off the secondary stair at the north end of the spine corridors. The flat retains timber fireplaces, the bedroom fireplaces painted white.

There is a substantial basement with rooms to each side of a spine corridor. It is accessible from both the main staircase and the secondary staircase. The walls of the corridors and rooms are entirely tiled in glazed tiles with buff tiles below a dark brown dado line with white tiles above. The floors are of terrazzo echoing the design of the mosaic floors on the upper floors. The ceilings are of concrete on rolled steel joists supported on rolled steel joist columns. The original doors are panelled and half-panelled and glazed with small pane glazing above.

To the rear of the riverside block of the Guildhall Annex is a long, attached two-storey range with a double-pitched roof running approximately east-west. This utilitarian, brick range was originally built as a sorting office.It is architecturally modest and has been altered internally. In the north-west, inner corner of the sorting office and the east elevation of the Municipal Offices is a small WC outshot built in the early C20 with the sorting office. Adjacent and running parallel to the east elevation of the Municipal Offices is a plain boundary wall of cream brick with stone coping enclosing a narrow yard with a small store at its north end. The former sorting office, WC outshot, and boundary wall and store are excluded from the listing.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the interior of the riverside block of the Guildhall Annex, external metal fire-escape balcony and ladder on the east elevation of the Municipal Offices, and inside the Municipal Offices the modern stair-lift attached to the main staircase and the modern timber and glazed door and screen inside the archway of the first-floor spine corridor are not of special architectural or historic interest.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 03 Aug 2001
Reference: IOE01/04212/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Martin Roberts. Source Historic England Archive
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