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The King's Manor

The Department is situated in the King's Manor, a complex of medieval buildings in the centre of York. This off-campus location is unique within the university, and contributes to the individuality of our department. We are a friendly department with a strong sense of identity and community; we get to know our students individually and encourage them to make the most of their time here. As an undergraduate, you won't be kept separate from the staff and postgraduates. Instead, you're considered an integral part of the departmental research community, and are encouraged to join in the internal and external lecture series and activities offered in the department.

The King's Manor houses lecture and seminar rooms, two computer suites, conservation and bone laboratories, and a darkroom. We also have further specialist laboratories on campus, where we work closely with the Biology Department. The King's Manor also has its own library, common room, and refectory, and provides a unique learning and social environment. We encourage you to visit and see for yourself on one of our open days.

History of the King's Manor

Originally King's Manor was the Abbot's House of St Mary's Abbey circa. 1270. Today it overlooks the abbey ruins and adjoins the rear of the Yorkshire Museum. The manor is entered on the east side from Exhibition Square, but originally the entrance faced the Abbey. This panorama shows King's Manor in its present setting.

Please find an infographic showing a brief history of King's Manor here: A History of King's Manor (PDF , 3,958kb)

The Abbot's House

Little evidence remains of the elevations of the thirteenth century Abbot's House. However, late thirteenth century plinth mouldings still exist and suggest the building was U-shaped and had the same plan as the later Tudor Abbot's House. Most of the remaining features date back to the 1560s.

Kings Manor


The Manor was retained by the crown following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and allocated to the Council of the North. It became the official residence of the President of the Council in 1561 and was gradually enlarged and extended westwards. Much of the building work was carried out during the reign of Elizabeth I.

In the late sixteenth century, the Earl of Huntingdon, President of the Council, ordered residential wings and service buildings to be added. During the time of the Stuarts a new U-Shaped building created the irregular courtyard that exists today.

In 1641 the Council was abolished and building work halted. After 1688 the Manor was leased out, divided into apartments and gradually declined.

Yorkshire School for the Blind

Bike shed at King's Manor

In 1833 the foundation of the Yorkshire School for the Blind marked a new phase in the development of King's Manor. During the 1870s the Manor was gradually restored and enlarged by the architects JB and W Atkinson and W Brierley. In the 1890s a gymnasium and a cloister were built to create the present courtyard. Subsequently, the Manor was acquired by York City Council and leased to the University of York from 1963.

The modern tutorial block now occupied by the Department of Archaeology, replaces an 1880s school room which had been demolished by Feilden and Mawson.

The Principal's House

Although the building looks to be from the post-medieval period it was constructed in 1900 by Walter H. Brierley. It was used as the Principal's House and originally connected to the Manor by a single-storey gallery, but this has since been removed.

Kings Manor External with Tania walking past