About Barley Hall
Barley Hall is a good example of a medieval Town house. Built 1360 for the use of the monks of Nostell priory, near Wakefield, for when they had business in York. It was extended by a wing which was added around 1430.
For centuries, Barley Hall was lost under a series of buildings in the area. Latterly, it was covered by the red bricks of an office block. It was only when the building was about to be demolished that was rescued by the York Archaeological Trust.
It was named after the Trust’s first chairman, Professor Maurice Barley, an expert archaeologist. It was never used for storing barley.
From the middle of the 1460s to the middle of the 1480s, it was occupied by Master William Snawsell who was Lord Mayor of York.The property has been restored to reflect his social position. His family had moved to York from a village called Snowhill in Gloucestershire. Born around 1415, Snawsell’s life is well documented in the archives of York Minster.
Having followed his father in the profession of goldsmith, William bettered himself by an advantageous marriage to Joan Threng, from a noble family with firm connections with the close proximity of her home in Sheriff Hutton, close to the castle of the Neville family, who were one of the most influential families in the country. Sheriff Hutton was also the childhood home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Like most of the leading men of York, Snawsell was a supporter of Richard when he was proclaimed King in 1483, and was one of the leading citizens of York who met his death at Bosworth Field in 1485.
However, he went on to serve Henry VII faithfully until he resigned as Alderman in 1492. He had served under Henry VI Edward IV Richard III and Henry VII Barley Hall is slightly off the usual tourist route in York, but it is well documented inside and has good information on each room shown.
Only about 30% of the original wood was able to be salvaged, but careful restoration, using original methods of construction gives a real insight to how the wealthy lived in the last part of the 15th century lived.