King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part I

This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 4, 2015) by Jeremy Clark. He has kindly contributed his work to be republished here.

Article Summary:

A comprehensive investigation of the history and characteristics of the house, as well as the popular belief that King Richard III stayed here during the summer of 1484.


Above: Richard III House in 1835 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Nowadays visitors to Scarborough walking along the seafront opposite the harbour will undoubtedly come across an unusual looking lopsided house, sandwiched between other buildings, but clearly much older. This is the King Richard III House, now a restaurant. It is so called because it is believed that King Richard III stayed here in 1484,when he was in Scarborough on naval business.


Above: Richard III House today (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

For fifty years King Richard III House was a museum with an antique shop next door. The building was bought in 1914 by E. Booth Jones, a Manchester antique dealer. His relative Edgar H. Burrows came from Birmingham to be manager. In fact, during the First World War on December 16th, 1914, German warships fired hundreds of shells into the town of Scarborough. Many buildings were destroyed but, fortunately, King Richard III House escaped the attack, which became known as ‘The Bombardment’.


Above: Part of a 1735 engraving of Scarborough by John Setterington. Notice the two ships on the sands reaching towards King Richard III house. The yards were still confined within the harbour piers, which provided protection from the ocean (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

The Tindall family have a long history as shipbuilders in Scarborough from the seventeenth century. When James Tindall died in 1748, the Tindall yard passed to his son John. John Tindall the elder (1722-1773) married Jane Dowker of the Salton gentry family in 1745.

They bought King Richard III house from the Cockerill family, who were also shipbuilders in the seventeenth century and owned other property in Sandside. Their ten children were born there, and when Robert Tindall was born in 1764, there were ten gallons of gin at the bed head for visitors. The house became the residence of Robert Tindall (1764-1828), then it was used has the Tindall’s office and stores, plans show the stems of ships being built on the sands opposite and reaching towards his house.


Above: The Tindall shipyard showing one of the last vessels, the barque “Thanes”, on the stocks. From 1755 to 1807, the Tindall yard produced the largest number of ships built in Scarborough. Shipbuilding at Scarborough ended in 1863 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

The poor documentation of families and owners from the Middle Ages onwards has made it impossible to compile a detailed and accurate history of families connected with the building. Nonetheless, in about 1801 the Tindalls moved and the building was occupied by William Purcell, a baker who made and sold ship biscuits or bread for every sailing tide. It next became an engineering shop owned by Thomas Varley. Some of the plaster ceiling was pulled down for shafting and machinery. It is also believed that the building was rented to a jet manufacturer.

In 1830 Mary Forrest is said to have lived in King Richard III house, until she died in 1850. In about 1852 the bay windows were removed and the stone walls were plastered over to modernise the house. Subsequently the building became a greengrocers shop and. until 1905, was occupied by varied tradesmen – mainly fruiters and greengrocers. However, in 1890 it was occupied by Lewis Plummer – a coble owner and trawl net maker.


Above: This is probably the oldest photo of King Richard III house, then occupied by Lewis Plummer (a coble owner and trawl net maker) in 1890. To the right, with a long barber’s pole, is a tobacco shop. The building to the left is the Ye Old Buoy Inn, which has steps and railings leading to a landing and the entrance door. In 1890 C. Horseman was the proprietor of the inn (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

The Seaman’s Mission Institute acquired King Richard III House in about 1908. The building was used to provide recreational facilities for boys under 16 who were considered too young to attend the main Institute. In about 1912 the mission allowed visitors to be shown around the house by the caretaker for an admission fee of 2d. The junior Institute closed sometime at the beginning of 1914, when Mr. E. Booth Jones bought the property and opened it to the public as a museum with his relative Mr Edgar H. Burrows as manager.


Above: This photograph was taken in 1892 when the proprietor was a Mr. John Wray. The steps and railing leading up to the inn have been removed and the ground levelled. It has a flat front with a sign running over the top of the ground floor window and door which reads “LATE RESIDENCE OF RICHARCH III. MAY 22nd 1484″. A table can be seen outside under the window displaying groceries and provisions with a woman sitting on a seat.

To the right is a Tobacco & Cigars Stores with a long barber’s pole. The sign along the top of the window reads “Gents Cutting & Shaving Room”. In the doorway the owner can be seen standing on the left and a fisherman on the right. To the left is the Ye Old Buoy Inn, of which C. Horseman continued to be the proprietor in 1892 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

The three storey stone building, with an attic, overlooking the harbour, dates in part to the fifteenth century. It was extended by adjoining a two storey hall on the east side and to the north with a rear range in about 1600. The original fifteenth century building then became the west wing to the much larger stone-built house. The interior would have also been refurbished at this time. The building was considerably altered in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.


Above: This was taken a few years after the previous photo. It has a flat front with the same sign running over the top of the ground floor window and door as in the above photo. Ye Old Buoy Inn to the left remains the same. To the right the long barber’s pole has been removed, although the shop remains a tobacconist, having changed hands – the new proprietor was Joseph Sinfield in 1901. (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Below: This photograph shows the house when it was taken over by the Seaman’s Mission Institute, and was taken in 1908, probably around the time the institute first opened. In front of the building is a group of junior boys. The flat front and sign running along to top of the ground floor window and door are the same as in the older photos. To the right is Cammis Fish and Chips shop, run by Benjamin Sanderson from 1905-1909 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)


Sadly the then owner Mr. E. Booth Jones was drowned on the Lusitania on May 7th 1915. The business and property from the estate was then bought by his relative and manager Mr. Edgar H. Burrows.

To be continued…


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Issue 4, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Jeremy for sharing this article! Look out for part 2, coming soon…

7 thoughts on “King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part I

  1. I am glad you have covered this as it has for a long time been a mysterious place in my memory, as in 1993 my dad and myself walked past the king Richard iii house and it was a bizarre museum which we had never been in before, even though we had been regularly holidaying in Scarborough since the 1980’s.
    We went to look round it and it was so unusual, sort of horror based or something but with an unusual mixture of displays!
    As we were leaving we commented to the lady who was working in the gift shop how we had enjoyed looking round and were surprised we hadn’t noticed it before, but she said that it was the last summer they were to be open as the current museum.
    My dad and I always commented on it years later.
    I am glad you are covering it as I was going to mention it to you!
    Warmest regards, Leonie

    • Thanks for your comment Leonie – very interested to read your memories on this. I’m wondering whether there might be some confusion here regarding dates and places – it’s my fault given that I’m publishing this article in separate parts, so I’ve not yet given the full story. At the end of the original article Jeremy confirms that the museum became a cafe in 1964. Likewise he also provides a photograph of the house as a cafe/restaurant in 1986. There doesn’t seem to be any record of a museum on the site in the 1990s. I’ll be publishing the rest of the article in two further parts soon, so maybe this will help clarify things.

      Perhaps there was an attraction close to the house that has escaped my attention so far, so will see if I can come across any further details that match the information you’ve given me.

      Best wishes,


  2. Pingback: King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part II | Stories From Scarborough

  3. Pingback: King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part III | Stories From Scarborough

  4. Pingback: King Richard III in Scarborough: Fact or Fiction? | Stories From Scarborough

  5. There was a walk through ‘Millennium’ building for a couple of years in Scarborough further down past the Golden ball around that time. I was acting at the time and did some work there. You walked through various rooms including the 60’s and the blitz, and a room with Edward II warming his naked bum by a fire depicting a history of Scarborough. Maybe this is where you went?

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