The Hospitium was built as part of St Mary’s Abbey in the medieval period.
The name Hospitium (related to hospitality) suggests that the building was used for housing guests. These would have been people such as merchants who were not allowed to stay in the main abbey with the monks.
Originally, the Hospitium would have been very close to the River Ouse and the archway that can be seen to the south east would have led to a water gate – allowing boats up very close. Being this close to the river and the shape of the building suggests that it may have been a warehouse as well as a guest building.
The stone ground floor mostly dates to the 1300s with the water gate arch added around 1500. The stone building would have been necessary given that the River Ouse would have flooded even more regularly in the past.
Since the dissolution of the abbey the Hospitium has gone through numerous stages of reuse, disrepair and renovation. In 1828, the newly founded Yorkshire Philosophical Society made significant repairs and housed their collections at the Hospitium before and after the building of the Yorkshire Museum.
The Hospitium is now a charming and very popular venue for weddings, parties and other events. For details see these pages on YorkVenues.