The (former) York Dispensary and solicitors' offices, Duncombe Place, York, designed in Jacobethan Revival style by the Liverpool architect Edmund Kirby (1838-1920). Kirby was originally commissioned by Messrs Gray, Dodsworth and Cobb to build their offices, and when the adjacent land was acquired for the dispensary, Kirby was tasked with designing the other building too, with its very different purposes, in a matching style (see "York Dispensary," 14). Built 1897-99, the Grade II listed dispensary and offices are both in "red brick with moulded brick dressings ... turreted and gabled, with brick stacks; terracotta and wrought-iron finials and snake weathervane" (listing text).

The "York Dispensary" sign (a stone panel, with relief carving) and the city arms, still in place over its entrance.

Left to right: (a) The patients' entrance, also with its overhead stone inscription intact. (b) The main entrance. (c) An intricate terracotta frieze of moulded brick travels across and unifies the whole building over the second storey.

Left to right: The tall pyramidal corner turret. (b) Terracotta finial on the large front gable, with decorative chimney stack behind. (c) Finial of the first of the paired gables (above the sign, "Gray's Solicitor" over the ground floor).

This handsome two-storey block with basement and large attic storey makes a real statement with its scale, detailing, and varied windows and roofline. The way the listing text describes it (as Jacobethan Revival) is perhaps more accurate than the first part of David Neave and Nikolaus Pevsner's description of it as "an elaborate Gothic creation of moulded red brick in the Waterhouse style" (216) — although Alfred Waterhouse certainly does come to mind here. But, however it is categorised, few would disagree with the latters' verdict that the former dispensary is "the most striking building in the street (216).

Related Material

Photographs by Rita Wood 2020 and 2021, and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web project or cite it in a print one.]


"Number 8 and Gray's Dispensary." Historic England. Web. 5 March 2020.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, and David Neave. Yorkshire: York and the East Riding. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

"York Dispensary." York Herald. 20 May 1899: 14 (Issue No. 14960). BritishLibrary Newspapers. Web. 5 March 2020.

Last modified 2 June 2021