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'Opening Doors' Restoration Project



The third in our series of video diaries shows Karen Morrissey, of Messenger Building Conservation, talking about the paint layers on the facade of the Mansion House.



Here is the second edition of our video diary.  Architect Jose de Matos Ryan explains some of the work carried out and features revealed to date, while Exhibition Designer Becky Jarvis-Stiggants talks about her involvement in the project.


Follow our video diary here.  In the first edition, Mansion House Manager Richard Pollitt introduces the project and guides you around the Mansion House shortly before its closure.

After a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Mansion House has obtained a grant of £1,198,700, plus £400,000 investment from City of York Council, to embark upon a project that will increase public access to the building and its heritage, display its collections and carry out essential restoration work.

This project, called Opening Doors, will focus on four key areas:

 1. Restoring the Mansion House kitchen area, to create a fully working 18th century kitchen that will help to illustrate three centuries of eating in the house and interpret and explore the lives of those who have worked there.  There will also be a modern kitchen area, to ensure that the tradition of catering to civic guests and hirers of the house can continue into future years.

 2. Displaying the gold and silver collection, including improved interpretation, conservation and access, which will in turn provide the means to learn more about the people behind the objects - York silversmiths, donors and patrons.

 3. Developing an integrated environmental and conservation plan covering the contents and structural requirements of the Mansion House, including the installation of an effective heating system that will minimise long-term damage to the contents and fabric of the building and reduce its carbon footprint.  The house will also be re-wired and a new fire alarm system installed.

 4. An oral history project. collecting memories from people who have been associated with the Mansion House in a variety of roles, whether it be butlers, cleaners and cooks, or past Lord Mayors and Sheriffs.

Opening Doors will literally throw open the doors of the Mansion House more often and to more diverse groups of people, including schools and adult learners, as well as improving the conservation and maintenance of the building and its collections and achieving long term financial sustainability.

 By increasing and enhancing public access and community involvement, improving interpretation of the history of the house and developing greater educational provision, we aim to develop the Mansion House into a leading local and regional centre for learning and discovery about civic democracy and local history. 


Activity Plan

 Our Activity Plan sets out in detail the objectives of Opening Doors and how we will achieve them. To view the full document, please see below.


Memories of the Mansion House

Our oral history project, an important part of the ‘Opening Doors’ restoration, is now nearing completion. It is being led by Van Wilson, of the York Oral History Society, who is a well known local historian and published author in her own right.

We've been looking for memories of the Mansion House from people associated with the house over the years, especially those who worked at the house or are related to someone who did. Photographs of the house, revealing glimpses of life ‘behind the scenes’, are also an important part of the project.

Van has now interviewed enough people to complete the project and will soon be moving on to the next stage, leading to publication.  Many thanks to all those who have contributed.

If you have any more stories or pictures that you'd like to share, you are still welcome to contact us at or by phone on 01904 551027.