Our Hall Histories series is back with Bedern’s return to Medieval splendour. We explore the work of York Archaeological Trust in the 1970s and Bedern Hall’s restoration.
1971. After almost 20 years as the home of Wright’s pork butchers, Bedern has been singled out for development. The City of Council has decided that it’s time for the industrial buildings to go and York’s history to be uncovered.
Lord Esher, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, has published a landmark planning report outlining significant changes for the city. It was such big news that the major newspapers got caught into a heated battle to publish the outcome first.
The fumes and fires of the warehouses and industrial works near the city walls are soon to be stopped. It’s been getting increasingly foggy and polluted around the main thoroughfares of the city, and it’s time to make the city centre a fantastic place to live once more.
Bedern, as we’ve long known, has lacked the glamour of other areas of the city. It’s been a site of controversy since Medieval times when the Vicars Choral from York Minster were resident there. Victorian times brought swathes of immigrants into unfit crowded living conditions where disease and disgrace were rife.
Now it’s time to remove the shadows from the Bedern quarter to make the area near to the Minster a sought-after centre for modern communities.
Luckily, Bedern Hall and chapel are saved from the demolition that nearby buildings face and York Archaeological Trust are invited to see what they can find. Will the college of the Vicars Choral be a central feature of York once more?
Amongst the rubble, they uncover stunning features including a fan-vaulted roof, reminiscent of York Minster. This, along with smaller discoveries of such as Roman remains from a legionary fortress, marked Bedern out as an important site to dig.
Watch this video about York Archaeological Trust from Yorkshire Film Archive showing Bedern undergoing excavation. 15:00-23:00 shows Bedern being discussed, investigated by archaeologists and researched in the Minster Library.
8 years down the line and it’s time to begin Bedern’s Restoration. Years as a factory for bread and then pork has meant its condition leaves something to be desired.
Garish green glazed tiles are peeled back from the floor and replaced with York stone. Worn-away roof timbers are reconstructed with modern oak and softwood.
What hasn’t changed though is the original tracery from the medieval period which remains proudly intact in one window on the north-east front of Bedern Hall. There’s a distinctly ancient atmosphere to the building. The historic stories of Bedern’s many varied residents, of course, remain among the walls.
Would you like to see how Bedern has been restored? Our beautiful 14th century hall now stands in all its glory down a snickleway from Goodramgate in York city centre. We’d love you to come and visit us!
If you enjoyed this edition of Hall Histories, be sure to read the rest in our series on our blog…