Clifford Chambers and the Grand Opera House, York. Only the entrance and foyer of the latter can be seen here, the bulk of the building being visible from smaller streets at the side and rear. These streets once bordered an earlier Victorian complex: the Corn Exchange and warehouse which John Priestley Briggs (1868-1944) amalgamated in 1902, to create the auditorium. "The rear wall of the auditorium on King Street is actually that of the original warehouse of 1868 and the rear wall of the stage on Cumberland Street still retains the arched windows of the original Corn Exchange Hall" ("Theatres and Halls"). However, Lancashire-born Briggs, who had been in the office of well-known theatre designer Frank Matcham, cleverly incorporated the entrance and foyer into Nos 2-10 Clifford Street, as seen below right, making its main point of access much more impressive. This block is on the south side where the numbers on Clifford Street are even. The much less showy entrance to York Chambers is on the right.

The Clifford Street frontage, as a whole, lacks the presence of some of the other major buildings here. Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave dismiss it as "mundane, of polychrome brick with bands of round-headed windows" (214). Nevertheless, the Opera House itself is Grade II listed, perhaps largely for its historical interest, and its interior. It was restored and re-opened in 1989.

Photographs by Rita Wood 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. Click on them to enlarge them.


"Grand Opera House" Historic England. Web. 18 April 2020.

"John Priestley Briggs." Accrington Web. Web. 18 April 2020.

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

"Theatres and Halls in York, North Yorkshire." Arthur Web. 18 April 2020.

Created 18 April 2020