Since its Roman foundation, York had been a city of soldiers. And by the end of the 18th century its status as a garrison town had been largely restored.
The rise of Napoleon in France in the 1790s created widespread concern in England. In 1794 a body of infantry was raised in York, with the corporation donating £500. Two years later the first permanent cavalry barracks were built south of the city at Fulford. They were constructed as part of a campaign by the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, to prepare the country for a French invasion and war.
Conditions inside York Garrison were basic. A married solider had a corner of a hut for himself, his wife and his children. Blankets hung like curtains offered the only privacy. Rules were later drawn up limiting one wife per room of 12 soldiers, and she was required to cook, clean and sew.