St Helen’s Square is the site of the southern gateway to the Roman Fortress of Eboracum, founded 71AD. Now it is bounded by the Mansion House (1726-33) on the south, the former Yorkshire Insurance Building (G.T. Andrews 1840) to the west and opening out onto Stonegate on the north. It is often used by street entertainers and is the site of the city Christmas Tree.
The square was repaved as part of the City’s pedestrianisation scheme in the 1980s. We felt it important that this square should be laid with natural York stone rather than artificial materials and we raised the money to make this happen.
The Trust’s offer (£34,000) was matched by English Heritage; General Accident, Betty’s Restaurant and Crabtree & Evelyn, all of whom front onto the Square, also helped. The City of York Council and British Gas provided the very attractive lamp standards. This was a good example of how partnerships can work in the city.
More recently, we have campaigned to remove intrusive and unnecessary signage in the area and most signs have now gone, greatly improving the appearance of the square.