Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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

York (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 60536 51369



SE6051SE CASTLE PRECINCT 1112-1/22/132 Castle Museum: The Debtors' Prison 14/06/54 (Formerly Listed as: CASTLE PRECINCT The Debtors' Prison (The Castle Museum))


Formerly known as: The Old Prison CASTLE PRECINCT. County Gaol and Debtors' Prison, now museum. 1701-1705; altered during extensions of 1824-35; modified for conversion to museum c1950, and pediments rebuilt and strengthened in 1966. Possibly by William Wakefield. MATERIALS: front of limestone ashlar, with ashlar parapet and pediments reinforced with concrete. Rear and returns have upper storeys faced in red brick, returns in Flemish bond, rear in English garden wall bond, on ashlar ground floor; pilasters, entablature and dressings of ashlar; parapet of brick with ashlar coping. Roofs of lead and slate, and ashlar clock turret with timber cupola. EXTERIOR: 3-storey, 3-bay central range, flanked by projecting 3-storey 5-bay wings. Ground floor to all parts is rusticated on chamfered plinth, and forms podium to giant Roman Doric pilasters rising from raised first floor band to entablature with prominent moulded cornice. In centre bay, rusticated central round arch with dropped double keystone is flanked by coupled rusticated pilasters carrying triglyph frieze. Plain entablature to wings, beneath massive segmental pediments. Centre range has central door of 6 incised panels in stepped surround with keyed lintel: at each end are original bolection moulded doorways with dropped keyblock lintels, altered to 2-light barred windows. Original ground floor windows, stepped back beneath flat arches of radiating voussoirs, survive to fronts of wings and return of left wing. In right wing return parts of two original bolection moulded doorways remain, and one original 2-light barred window. Chamfered plinth band forms window sill band, stepped up over door openings. First floor windows generally 2-light small-pane cross windows, with one 24-pane sash in centre of right wing front, and one 18-pane sash in wing return: centre window in centre range has sunk-panel apron. Second floor windows are squat, of 2 lights, some sashes, some casements, centre one in centre range round-arched with radial glazed head. All windows have bolection moulded architraves with dropped keyblocks and moulded sills, extended to form sill band interrupted by pilasters, on wing fronts. Centre range surmounted by square clock turret and octagonal cupola flanked by volutes. Surround to clock face is moulded, and cupola is arcaded with keyed round arch on imposts to each

face: dome above moulded cornice is finished with ball finial and weathervane. Plentiful rainwater goods, with inverted bell hoppers embossed with winged cherubs, and fleur-de-lys clamps. Rear: 3-storey 9-window front. On ground floor windows are 2x6-pane fixed lights behind massive iron grilles, over chamfered sill band. On first floor, former doorway at left end, originally approached by external stair, altered to 24-pane sash; other windows are small-pane cross windows as on front. On second floor, 7 windows are 2x8-pane fixed lights, with, towards right end, two altered to sashes. All first and second floor openings have plain keyed surrounds with moulded sills. Plain first floor band. 7 sets of rainwater goods as those on main front. Left return: 3 storeys, 5 windows arranged 2:1:2. Rusticated ground floor on chamfered plinth, with raised first floor band at base of giant pilasters clasping outer angles and flanking centre bay. Ground floor openings altered, but at left end original door and window openings survive, detailed as on main front. First and second floor windows repeat those on main front, in plain keyed surrounds with moulded sills and aprons. Moulded cornice over first floor windows breaks forward and incorporates window keyblocks. Entablature has moulded cornice beneath parapet, interrupted by ashlar pedestals over pilasters, with moulded coping. Right return: 3 storeys, 5 bays, with irregular fenestration. On ground floor, heavy nail studded door with original door furniture, in raised tooled surround, in centre: altered windows generally small-paned, behind iron grilles, some in chamfered surrounds. On first floor, blocked former doorway in hacked-back surround at left end; windows are mainly of 2 lights, generally cross, in plain raised surrounds with keyblocks, some retaining moulded sills. Second floor largely obscured. Raised first floor band. Entablature returned from main front and rear but interrupted across return. INTERIOR: 2 early C18 staircases survive, one in east wing from ground to second floor, second in centre range, from first floor to clock turret: both have close string, thick column balusters, square newels and flat moulded handrail. Lower stair in centre range is cast-iron, with thick square section balusters and flat moulded handrail. In west wing, inserted staircase from ground to second floor has stone treads, turned balusters, newels and swept handrail of cast-iron. Ground floor passages and cells are vaulted and groined. Doorways are chamfered in tooled surrounds, many retaining original doors. Fittings in the condemned cell retained, comprising plain stone fireplace with tooled shelf and cast-iron grate, iron bed frame raised on stone blocks and stone table with charcoal cooker hole. Several heavy iron grille doors survive in passages. In wing to right, the stepped and moulded cornice of former 2-storey chapel is visible on second floor. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 78-82).

Listing NGR: SE6053651369


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

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Books and journals
An Inventory of the City of York II Defences, (1972), 78-82


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

End of official listing

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Date: 22 Aug 2006
Reference: IOE01/15829/20
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr David Robson. Source Historic England Archive
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