Clements Hall
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Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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Famous people in Bishophill

We have identified some celebrated people living locally or visiting, but there will be many more:

  • Nicholas Blakburn, 14c lived in All Saints Parish area, a powerful merchant family. He became Admiral of the North.

  • Architect John Carr built his own house in Skeldergate. He was the foremost architect of the Georgian period in Yorkshire, and was an architect of national standing, much admired by his national contemporaries. YCT plaques at Castlegate House and Fairfax House

  • Joseph Hansom who later invented the Hansom Cab, lived at 114 Micklegate in 1803

  • Diarist Anne Lister (1791-1840) used to visit 58 Micklegate, to stay with friends, the Duffin family, and to visit her first lover, Eliza Raine. (This is now the offices of Hudson Moody).

  • George Hudson, the Railway King

  • Daniel Defoe described the Ouse Bridge (see River theme)

  • Thomas Fairfax, famous Civil War General built his house in Bishophill

  • George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628-87), a powerful courtier and politician during the reign of Charles II. Part of the Cabal Ministry. Spent time in the Tower. Built the Cliveden estate. He married Fairfax’s daughter and much later spent time at the Fairfax house in Bishophill, later known as Buckingham House. He tried to make gold in his workshop, in what became the Cock and Bottle. Nell Gwynn was one of his mistresses (see

  • John Snow see public health

  • James Backhouse (1794-1869) was a Quaker missionary, botanist and nurseryman. In 1815 he moved to York where he and his brother, Thomas, purchased the York nursery business of John and George Telford, at Toft Green. Some of our members are now exploring the Backhouse history.

  • Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, came to York in the 19c, and was said to have been inspired by the remains of a sperm whale displayed locally

  • Hans Hess was a German refugee, who stayed in Bishophill in the 1940s, at Lady Anne Middleton's Hotel, along with friends such as Benjamin Britten, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine. Hess was director of York Art Gallery in 1947 and also famous for reviving the York Mystery Plays.

  • From around 1670-1709, at the time of the Enlightenment, a group of men, The York Virtuosi, met at a salon at Henry Gyles' house at 68 Micklegate (now a hairdressers' shop). Gyles was a glass-painter who lived all his life here (1640-1709), and is buried in the nearby St Martin-cum-Gregory Churchyard. The men included Ralph Thoresby, brewer Sam Smith, French artist Jacques Parmentier, architect John Etty, Dutch woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, sculptor Samuel Carpenter, London art dealer Pierce Tempest, local artist Francis Place, Parliamentary leader John Lambert and translator William Lodge. Scientists who came included mathematician Thomas Kirke, Dr Martin Lister, who conducted the autopsy on Charles II and Geoffrey Copley, who left money to the Royal Society to fund the Copley Medal.

We’re also keen to investigate black lives, for example the Roman Emperor Severus was the first African Roman Emperor, and he may have been based in Bishophill during one period.


See also York: a Walk on the Wild Side, by Paul Furness and the York Alternative History Group