King’s Manor | Attraction Guides | History Hit

King’s Manor

United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

27 Jul 2020

About King’s Manor

King’s Manor is a stately house in York city centre that has played host to some of British history’s most important visitors. In the days before the Reformation, it was the home of the Abbot of St Mary’s, before becoming the headquarters of the Council of the North in Henry VIII’s time. The Tudor king himself stayed there, giving rise to its current name. 

King’s Manor history

Built to house the abbots of the nearby St Mary’s Abbey, the site was likely occupied from the 11th century onwards, yet the current building dates to the 15th century.
In the 1530s, during Henry VIII’s break from Rome and the ensuing Reformation, St Mary’s was dissolved and the abbot removed. The king then placed the manor as the seat of the Council of the North, which he reestablished to temper north’s persistent alignment with Roman Catholicism. In 1536, a 30,000 strong rebel Catholic army had risen up in York in what became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The king thus needed a council to re-centralise royal power in the northern counties. 

A number of monarchs stayed at King’s Manor over the next hundred years, including Henry VIII and his ill-fated fifth wife Catherine Howard, along with Stuart kings James I and Charles I.

As many of York’s historical sites, King’s Manor became a battlefield during the Civil War and suffered substantial damage.

In the 19th and 20th centuries it was taken over by number of successive schooling institutions – the Manor School, York School for the Blind, and finally the University of York.

The Manor today 

Today King’s Manor is home to the university’s Archaeology Department, and is often subject to a buzz of student activity. 

While many of its rooms have been converted to office and seminar space, and are thus not open to the public, guests are welcome to explore the inner courtyards and marvel at the building’s beautiful exteriors, as well as relax in the Refectory Cafe. 

Over the main doorway is the coat-of-arms of Charles I, installed sometime after his two visits in the 1630s, and an ornate Jacobean doorway can be found elsewhere. 

This hidden gem in York’s centre usually evades the crowds of its other attractions, and also hides a quiet pathway to the Museum Gardens.

Getting to King’s Manor 

King’s Manor is located in Exhibition Square in the city centre, next to York Art Gallery. It’s nearest pay and display carpark is Marygate, and York also operates various Park and Ride services. 

It is a 15-minute walk from the train station, and its nearest bus stop is Museum Street, a 5-minute walk away.

Featured In

Top Historic Sites in York

Discover 10 of York's best historic sites, from the breathtaking York Minster to the meandering medieval City Walls. As one of the oldest cities in the UK, York's history spans everything from the Romans to the Cold War, leaving history fans of any era spoilt for choice!