John Carr - Architect

John Carr 1791 by Sir William Beechey (c) National Portrait Gallery

1723AD - 1807AD

‘Carr of York’ is a label attached to some of the city’s finest buildings: Fairfax House , Bootham Park Hospital (formerly the county lunatic asylum) and the County Court House to name three.

John Carr was born near Wakefield and his father was a mason-architect.  He went into the family business, and succeeded his father as joint county surveyor for the West Riding.

Taking up the same job in the North Riding brought Carr to York and put him into contact with the county’s magistrates.  Several became his patrons.  He was popular with the Whig establishment, most notably the hugely wealthy Marquis of Rockingham.

As he became one of York’s wealthiest citizens himself, Carr took up civic duties too, becoming a magistrate and twice serving as Lord Mayor.

He designed buildings and bridges across Yorkshire and the North of England.  In York itself, he was also responsible for the grandstand at the racecourse, now gone, and Castlegate House.  He didn't design the building the but created the interior of Fairfax House.

Many of his private houses can still be admired today, including elegant homes on Bootham and Micklegate.  Carr lived in York but his own house on Skeldergate was demolished in 1945.

He had an excellent grasp of geometry and proportion, and an eye for detail. He paid meticulous attention to every stage of the construction, no mean feat for such a prolific architect, and made sure each project was built to last.

Carr retired to his estate at Askham Richard, near York. He died on 22 February 1807 at his home, Askham Hall, and was buried at Horbury church.