Hall histories: The butcher, the baker… and not quite the candlestick maker

bakerWith this month’s edition of Hall Histories, it’s time to return to the early 20th century. We’re discovering the businesses that called Bedern Hall home.

1918. The bakery firm, G.E Bartons has taken over Bedern Hall and made a fair few alterations. What was once an elegant Medieval dining room and a disease-ridden slum has become a hive of industry. A coach house for the horses delivering grains and bread now stands near the Minster yard. The entrance from Goodramgate is covered though- a passageway built to the 16th century gatehouse still stands. If locals milling around town don’t smell the bread, they might not realise Bartons is there.

Horse-drawn cartThe building has been converted to include vehicle and pedestrian entrances.  What was once a closed room has been opened to the elements. There’s also a new joiners’ shop and store on the first floor. With all these changes, it’s no longer the peaceful monks’ retreat that it once was as home of the Vicars Choral. It’s noisy, dusty and very much a practical premises rather than a beautiful room to entertain.


There’s a bakery on every street corner around the city of York so Bartons has plenty of work to do. The 1901 directory sees G.E. Barton resident in Pavement so perhaps the city’s demand for fresh loaves has lead them to move to a larger site. Here in Bedern at the centre of the city, they’re still in prime location to feed York’s hungry mouths.


Food’s in demand all over York it seems. Terry’s Chocolate is now known throughout Britain and its restaurant and chocolate shop in St Helen’s Square is proving immensely popular. They’re even thinking of moving to a new factory on Bishopthorpe Road.


Back in Bedern, the area is no longer a filthy slum that gave it it’s questionable reputation in Victorian times. That said, it’s still far from a well-regarded place in the city to while away an afternoon.

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Fast forward 35 years and Bedern Hall remains a hub of food production. This time, it’s home to Mr William Wright’s Pork Butchers. Known for their famous sausages and pork pies, Wright’s has popular shops across the city. In order to start preparing meat here, they’ve filled in the entrances and holes made by Bartons with brick. Even when the hall is eventually restored to its Medieval beauty, these patches will still be visible as a reminder of Bedern’s industrious past.

Untitled design - 2019-08-29T161201.444It would be the last use of Bedern Hall before it was taken over by York City Council in 1971. From refectory for the Minster’s Vicars Choral to Victorian tenements to butchers and bakers. Bedern’s history is rich and varied. Perhaps it’s 21st century use as a community and event space will bring us a much-anticipated candlestick maker! We’ve been know to hold craft fairs after all…


If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to take a look at our other Hall Histories here.