On August 21st we welcomed Richard Pollitt the curator of the Mansion House, St Helens Square, York.
With a real passion for his subject he gave a detailed and most interesting account of the Mansion House’s biggest restoration project since it was built in 1725.
The Open Door Restoration Project was made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund and funding from the City of York council amounting to £2.6 million.
Whilst the project involved restoring the building to its former glory it also allowed for an authentic Georgian kitchen to be put back in place as well improving displays and access to the largest civic collection of gold and silver any where in the UK. The most expensive and challenging task was to replace the crumbling state room ceiling with 12 massive steel girders.
During the restoration builders made some interesting discoveries hidden in the walls and ceilings.
These included a mummified cat, a ladies shoe and masses of graffiti dating back to the
16th century , historically put in place to ward off evil or act as a lucky charm to protect the building.
Most interesting when returning the façade to its original colour, restorers removed 47 layers of paint.
The colour scheme in the 1820's
Finally there is no doubt that under Richards stewardship and thanks to the very dedicated and skilled staff the Mansion House will be a historical gem and iconic building in the City of York for many years to come.