Barley Hall in Coffee Yard off Stonegate in York is a reconstructed medieval townhouse and was originally built in about 1360 by the monks of Nostell Priory, a monastery near Wakefield.
The Exterior and the Great Hall
Thomas de Dereford, Prior of Nostell from 1337 to 1372, arranged for the building of a hostel in York. It was later extended in the fifteenth century. In the mid fifteenth century it was, for at least 20 years, the home of William Snawsell goldsmith, Alderman and Lord Mayor of York.
The property slowly deteriorated and by the twentieth century had reached a poor standard of repair. It was in an unsafe condition and been hidden beneath the relatively modern facade of a derelict office block. Only when the building was going to be destroyed was the fascinating medieval building discovered and its history uncovered. The building was purchased by the York Archaeological Trust in 1987, renamed Barley Hall, and heavily restored to form a museum.
The Great Hall and the Steward's Room
A full archaeological investigation of the interior of the hall revealed the remains of the floor of the Great Hall and, in the courtyard, the remains of the exterior stairway to the Great Chamber on the first floor.
The reconstruction of Barley Hall, which began in 1990, proved controversial. Only around 30% of the wooden timbers could be salvaged and in addition the building had been greatly altered since the medieval period.
A decision was reached to reconstruct the building as it might have appeared in 1483, it was named Barley Hall after the Trust's chairman, Professor Maurice Barley. The post-medieval fabric of the building was largely demolished and a new timber frame was built. It has been decorated to replicate what it would have looked like as the Snawsell home around 1483. Furniture and fittings are based on an inventory made in 1478.
On the ground floor, Barley Hall comprises a number of rooms. The store room, which is used as an admissions area, contains a large quantity of original 1360 woodwork, which leads onto a second store room, now called the Steward's room. At the heart of the building istands the Great Hall, a 1430 construction, decorated on the basis of equivalents elsewhere in York The building also includes a pantry and a buttery. On the first floor is the parlour, which overlooks the hall, a gallery and several bedchambers.
At Barley Hall visitors can experience what life was like in a fifteenth century house in York and are encouraged to touch and pick up exhibits.Costumed guides escort groups through the hall, or alternatively, visitors can take an audio tape tour. At weekends in the summer, special period events, such as mystery plays and medieval markets, are held.