De Grey Rooms
1841AD - 1842AD
A fine example of early Victorian architecture, the De Grey Rooms are built to a neo-classical design. The Rooms were paid for by public subscription in 1841-2 and were designed by the architect George Townsend Andrews.
Famed for his work on George Hudson’s railway buildings, Andrews was one of the main architects of York Railway Station. Hudson himself was instrumental in construction of the De Grey Rooms and they were used for many of his railway company meetings.
Originally used as an officer’s mess for the social events and meetings of the Yorkshire Hussars, the Rooms are named after Thomas Philip de Grey, who was the 2nd Earl de Grey and colonel-commandant of the Yorkshire Hussar Regiment.
Later on, the Rooms became a venue for social entertainments of the non-military sort: balls, concerts and parties. During the Second World War dances were held, providing a little relief for the people of York more familiar with air-raids and ration books.
Dancing continued to be an important aspect of post-war social life in York. One York musician recalled: “radio had got stale, television hadn’t really come on the scene, and so dancing was life. That’s how the girls met the lads; the meeting place was the dance hall.”
The building is now owned by the York Conservation Trust. For several years it housed the Tourist Information Centre but it is now let to the Theatre Royal. The ballroom has been restored and is once again used for dances and events.