The first Treasurer for York Minster was appointed in 1091, but all that remains of his original house is an external wall. The Treasurer was controller of the finances of the Minster but also entertained important guests, hence why he was provided with a grand residence. The residence served in this capacity until 1547, when the Reformation of the English Church brought the job of Treasurer to an end and the house passed into the hands of the Archbishops of York. Thomas Young, Archbishop between 1561 and 1568, and his descendants are responsible for the structure of house as it is today. In the early 17th century the Young family added the symmetrical front and almost entirely rebuilt the house. In 1617 the Treasurer’s House played host to royalty when Sir George Young entertained King James I. The house then passed through a number of private owners. The house was restored to its present state by Frank Green, a wealthy local industrialist, between 1897 and 1930. The house and its contents were given to the National Trust in 1930, when its owner retired and moved away from York. The house was built directly over one of the main Roman roads leading out of Roman York to the North. During major structural changes, carried out by Green, four Roman column bases were uncovered, one of which remains in-situ in the cellar and one of which was used as a base for a modern set of columns in the main hall.
In 1953, local 17-year-old apprentice plumber Harry Martindale was repairing pipe work in the cellar, the National Trust having decided to remove the coal-fired central heating installed by Green. After about four hours of work at the top of his ladder, Martindale became aware of a musical sound, resembling a series of repeated single trumpet-like notes. The sound grew in intensity until, just below his ladder, Martindale reported that he saw a soldier, wearing a plumed helmet, emerge from the wall, followed by a cart horse and about nine or ten pairs of other Roman soldiers. Martindale fell, terrified, from his ladder and stumbled into a corner to hide. The soldiers appeared to be armed legionaries, visible only from the knees up, in a marching formation, but were "scruffy". They were distinctive in three ways: they carried round shields on their left arms, they carried some kind of daggers in scabbards on their right side and they wore green tunics. When they descended to the level of the Roman Road, on which Martindale had stood his ladder, he was able to see that they wore open sandals with leather straps to the knees. The experience so frightened Martindale that he suffered a nervous breakdown for several months and never returned to his job as a plumber. Many years later excavations in the city revealed that the descriptions of the soldiers' dress given by Martindale, at first dismissed as anomalous, in fact matched those of local reserve soldiers who took over the Roman garrison when the regular soldiers began returning to Rome in the fifth century. During the course of his long life Martindale recounted his experience many times, but never changed any of the details and always refused any payment.
Please note that currently they can’t offer Roman Ghost Cellar tours due to damage caused by flooding. Some building repairs need to occur before the cellar will be safe enough to visit. The small display room is still open, but not the cellar itself. Drop-off point with blue badge parking nearby on Goodramgate. The Grounds - level access to garden via the gate opposite the Minster. The Building - there are two steps to the entrance, ramps are available. The ground floor has three showrooms and the visitor reception. There are stairs to the other floors including bathrooms, tea room, shop and all other historic rooms. There is a touch list of objects to handle, large print and braille guides are available from reception. Adapted toilet down 14 steps in basement only. There are accessible toilets at York Minster or Monk Bar.
Location : Minster Yard, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7JL
Transport: York (National Rail) 1/2 mile. Bus routes : 12, 13, 14, 19, 180, 181 and HB1 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily 11:00 to 16:30.
Tickets : Adults £7.20; Children £3.60.
Tel: 01904 624247