ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
What really makes York Mansion House unique is the people who have walked through its doors.
Our HLF funded oral history project, carried out by Van Wilson and members of the York Oral History Society, has recorded the memories of more than 30 people associated with the house over the years.
Some lived ‘upstairs’ as Lord Mayors or Sheriffs; some worked ‘downstairs’ as cooks, butlers and drivers, or in the nearby Guildhall, organising the diary of engagements for the civic party.
Others have vivid recollections of visiting the house on a special occasion, or of playing there as children or grandchildren of the Lord Mayor.
Yvonne Bellamy, was a Cook, known as a Hospitality Assistant and worked for around 10 years from 1990.
‘So I walked into this kitchen and as you can imagine it was an absolutely wonderful place, it really was. I was blown away with the size and that massive table in the middle of it and when I got down the stairs, there’s this lady and she was making cups of tea. And she said, “Are you the new cook?” And I says, “Yes”. And I looked at her and I said, “Are you one of the staff?” And she said, “I’m actually the Lady Mayoress”. So that was my first introduction to the Lady Mayoress at the time. It broke the ice.’
Evelyn Dobson, was a maid in the 1920s.
‘I was up just before seven and I would do the servants’ fireplace. Sally the parlour maid would be down and make a cup of tea, then she’d go and do the bedrooms. And she used to do little bits of cooking for us. I would do the dining room fires, clean them out and then laid breakfast for us. With the fires we had to rake them all out, the cinders and everything. They had this wooden box and it had a shelf, with a little hand brush. I used to put cinders in the bottom and then put the shelf back. A man came and swept the outside passage and I’d come and fill the coal buckets for him. I had to do all the front steps, there was a big passageway and large black and white squares. They used to look lovely when they had been washed.’
We plan to publish a book, written by Van Wilson and based on these recordings and illustrated with photographs and mementos kindly loaned or donated by the interviewees.
But the project does not stop there!
We welcome all contributions to the history of York Mansion House.
Do you have any memories or photographs of the house?
Did you know someone who lived or worked there?
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org