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History of Treasurer’s House

Sepia image of a stone house and lawn with statues in the garden
The external building hasn't changed too much over the years | © National Trust Images / Francis Frith Collection

This picturesque townhouse nestling in the centre of York has many tales to tell, including celebrity parties, workmen who wore slippers to keep the noise down, and a promise by its former owner to return to haunt the building if anything was changed after his death.

All about Mr. Frank Green

Sitting on a Roman road with layers of history to share, step inside to uncover the story of Frank Green through 13 period rooms around the house.

Mr. Green was a wealthy industrialist from Wakefield, director of the family company and a passionate collector who renovated Treasurer’s House to showcase his collection in historical surroundings. He donated Treasurer's House to the National Trust in 1930. It was the first to be gifted to the charity complete with its collection.

An exacting man. A man with standards. A man with a vision. A man who saved several historic buildings in York.

An everlasting presence

When Mr. Green gave the house to the Trust it was under the condition that the rooms would be kept exactly as he intended. If any changes were made, he vowed to return to haunt the building.

Today, if items in the house have been moved or changed for conservation reasons, some of the spooky occurrences are said to be an angry Frank Green fulfilling his promise.

A firm set of rules

Frank Green liked things just so and had signs around the house to keep people in line, from slippers on workers to newspaper wrapped around the pieces of coal to prevent unnecessary noise.

One story says he emptied a full cutlery drawer out on the floor because it was too messy.

An entertaining man

Frank Green became known as a great host, perhaps to help firm his standing in society but also because he enjoyed the finer things in life.

From royal visitors, who still have rooms named after them, to the leading actors and actresses of the day, he put on grand, lavish affairs with staff and guests dressed up and musicians playing from the Minstrels’ Gallery.

Black and white images of well dressed men and women in front of a grand door
A royal visit was a proud moment for Frank Green | © National Trust Images

Re-imagining the house

Treasurer’s House has long been one of the most prestigious properties in York. Completely rebuilt in a fashionable style in the late 16th century, it even hosted a visit by James I in 1617. Over later centuries, the house passed through many owners and residents, including the famous writer and literary hostess Elizabeth Montagu and the astronomer John Goodricke.

It was this rich heritage that Frank Green valued and bought in 1897.

Three became one

Over the years the sprawling house had become divided into a complex set of apartments. Green bought four of these over a 6 month period and worked with the owner of the fifth (neighbouring Grey’s Court) to reshape the house into two separate residences. Working with architect Temple Moore, the interior was transformed as features were revealed, removed or introduced according to Green’s vision.

Largely completed by 1900, Treasurer’s House became a showcase for Mr Green’s evolving collection of historic furniture, objects and art; an expression of his taste and interests.

Preserving history

Treasurer's House is one of eight buildings in York Mr. Green gifted to the National Trust charity. Others include the corner plot not far from from the house where you will find the National Trust shop and holiday apartments on the first floor.

With so many antique pieces of furniture, art and textiles, conservation is an important part of the work at Treasurer's House. Many hours are spent caring for the building, collection and garden to ensure they last for many more years to come.

It's thanks to members, visitors and other supporters that we are able to look after these fascinating buildings and the collection at Treasurer's House.

View across a historic room with a woman decorating a Christmas tree

Discover more at Treasurer's House

Find out when Treasurer's House is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Christmas at Treasurer's House 

Discover beautiful and unique decorations, twinkling lights and all the warmth of the festive season at Treasurer’s House in York as we share stories of Frank Green's travels, 13 November - 17 December, Saturday - Wednesday. Head downstairs to the café serving seasonal treats and the shop around the corner to complete your visit.

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Things to see and do in the house at Treasurer’s House 

Explore this hidden gem in the heart of York. A unique building filled to the brim with antiques and art and made to one man's exacting standards. Meander with the house decorated for Christmas or join a tour April - October.

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Treasurer's House's collection 

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Treasurer's House on the National Trust Collections website.

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The ghost stories of Treasurer’s House 

Uncover some of the tales of spooky goings on at Treasurer's House. Many people have heard of the Roman soldiers walking through the cellar walls, but there are other more recently sighted spooks. Old ladies, cats and Mr. Frank Green, the last owner, make up more regular visions and smells. Read on to make up your own mind.

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Eating and shopping at Treasurer’s House 

Enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack in the café downstairs at Treasurer’s House or grab a new read from the second-hand bookshelves. The café is open April - December in line with house opening times. Head around the corner the shop for a large range of National Trust goods including home ware, books and locally sourced food. The shop is open all year round.

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Talks service 

Discover more about the talks service in the East and North of England, offering a variety of interesting talks to groups on a number of National Trust related topics.

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Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.