Former WMC, and Tuke family home

June 2011

Former Lawrence St WMC, and Tuke family home, June 2011

I’d forgotten all about this building on Lawrence Street, and it seems I’m not the only one. It looks generally forgotten. Its rather desolate appearance confronted me as I left the churchyard of St Lawrence’s. I’ve recorded it on camera a few times when passing in recent years, as the buddleia growing out of its brickwork grew bigger. When I started this website, this building was in the local press as the Lawrence Street Working Mens’ Club, who were using it, had found it too big – and presumably too costly to maintain. They’ve moved now, and it seems to be empty, though like most empty buildings it did have people making use of it for a time (see links below).

Former home of Samuel Tuke and family, later WMC premises, October 2004

(In the 2004 archive, see York Walks /4: Lawrence Street.)

I’ve only recently realised that this isn’t just any old house, it was occupied by an important local family – the Tukes – who founded The Retreat. It was Samuel Tuke’s home from 1822 until his death in 1857, and the artist Henry Scott Tuke was born here.

The collection of old photographs of York at has several of this house and its garden when it was the Tuke family home.

The central part of the house was built in the late 18th century, with the wings added during Samuel Tuke’s ownership. As might be expected, it has been ‘drastically altered internally’ (RCHME).

This year the building was included in the ‘at risk’ register published by Save Britain’s Heritage (


  1. Charles Stuart

    I have owned Bishophill House in Bishophill Senior for 36 years now and I know the Tuke family occupied it. I wonder if they had it built. Parts of it date back to 1740 I think. Do you know where I would get more information? Sincerely, Charles Stuart

  2. Hello Charles, there’s some information about your house and a brief mention of John Tuke on this link:

    – it’s a long page but if you scroll down just past half way to number 38, it should be highlighted in green.

    Hope that’s helpful,

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