Building the Georgian Townhouse

‘Last Thursday, being the Anniversary of the Birth of the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Fairfax, his Lordship gave an elegant Entertainment and a ball to above 200 Gentlemen and Ladies at his magnificent new House on the Castlehill in this City, which is just finished’.

Fairfax House was in fact the townhouse of the Hon. Miss Anne Fairfax (1724-93), gifted to her by her father Charles, 9th Viscount Fairfax of Emley (1700-72). Here, on Castlegate, one of York’s principal streets, they both lived from 1762 to 1772. Away from their country estate, Gilling Castle, this would be their town base from which they could enjoy the delights of York’s winter social season of events, balls and assemblies and in the summer the racing calendar.

The Viscount acquired the property for his daughter in 1759 and set about a radical rebuilding and refurbishment project to create out of the existing structure a new and sumptuous townhouse residence. He turned to the distinguished Yorkshire architect, John Carr, to carry out this complex undertaking.

Carr envisaged a townhouse full of rich ornamentation, classical architectural features, handsome proportions and light cascading into the heart of the building. He brought together a team of highly skilled and largely local craftsmen bring this vision into reality and over the next two years completely transformed the property.