Posted on 12 May 2002
The historic beauty of the main function rooms in York's Elizabethan Heslington Hall has been restored after a major renovation project.
Heslington Hall, completed in 1568 as a modest country squire's home, was enlarged in Victorian times to 109 rooms. It stood empty for 20 years after the Second World War when it was the headquarters of No 4 Group, Bomber Command, and in 1962 was converted to become part of the University. Many links with the past were retained including fine ceilings, panelling and linenfold doors.
Long associated with the Yarburgh and Deramore families, the Hall has famous associations with Vanbrugh, who stayed there whilst working on the design of Castle Howard and married Henrietta Yarburgh, and with Sydney Smith, wit, clergyman and writer, who was vicar of Heslington in the early 19th century and whose diaries contain some wry observations of the life of the local squire at Heslington Hall.
The original features of the Hall's reception rooms, previously sub-divided into small offices, can now be seen again. A team of craftsmen have restored five rooms, which have special features including the original mullioned windows and heavily decorated moulded ceilings, some of which include coats of arms of families associated with Heslington Hall.
These rooms now provide a series of meeting rooms and conference accommodation that can be booked by any member of the University - staff and students alike. The inter-connecting rooms can be used for meetings, seminars, lectures, dinners and receptions. A large modern kitchen has also been installed to provide catering facilities. Out of University term-time the rooms can also be booked by people outside the University for conferences and meetings.
Modern facilities such as a wheelchair ramp, hearing loops, and toilets for disabled users have also been included, and a lift is to be installed.
The restoration has been funded by donations from the York Alumni Fund (supported by former York students) and an anonymous local benefactor.