First floor rooms
lead up from the vestibule to the GALLERY on the first
floor. This is part of a brick extension added to the back
of Barley Hall, probably in the late 1500s. It was probably
a goldsmith’s workshop as Snawsell was a Goldsmith and would
have had craftsmen and apprentices working for him.
The first half of the gallery is now an exhibition area. When I visited the exhibition was entitled “Power and Glory: York in the time of Henry VIII”. Henry only visited York once with his new wife Katherine Howard. There is information about Henry and some of the costumes from the iconic BBC TV series the “Six Wives of Henry VIII” as well as the more recent “The Tudors”.
The famous horn window is here. In the Middle Ages, glass was expensive and horn windows were common in many buildings and would have been readily available. Cow horns were soaked in water to soften them, heated and then cut and rolled into strips. These were not very large as only the semi-transparent centre part of the horn could be used. The horn lets through a surprising amount of light although you cannot see through it.
An open window looks down onto the Great Hall below. The Gallery is divided into two parts by a brick fireplace. The far end is set up as a tavern. On the walls are display panels about life in York and the Council of the North, the medieval guilds and the church.
There are also small display cases with coins, pottery, wax seals and fragments of medieval glass found during excavations.
Beyond is the LESSER CHAMBER which may have been a bed chamber. It now contains dressing up clothes and information panels about the Guilds in York. This leads into the timber frame GREAT CHAMBER with its shuttered windows.
There are carved stone bosses from St Mary’s Abbey.
On the table are modern examples of horn books used to teach children the alphabet and prayers. A layer of parchment was covered with a thin layer of horn to protect it. This was resistant to water and slow to burn.
A modern staircase from the Parlour leads down to the Tudor School Room, Pantry and Buttery, across the Cross Passage from the Great Hall and is the only way to access these rooms.
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