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).
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 www.imagineyork.co.uk 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 (savebritainsheritage.org).