Archbishop of York Opens New Nursery and Early Years Facilities at Historic School


The Archbishop of York has today [Wednesday 6 September] officially opened the Minster School’s newly converted nursery and Early Years facilities, housed in a Grade II listed building in the shadow of York Minster.

The new facility will house the choir school’s nursery department, offering indoor and outdoor play environments, as well as new junior music rooms and other facilities to support the school’s infant provision for children aged three to seven years.

York Minster’s Surveyor of the Fabric, Andrew Arrol, designed the new structure, which has involved refurbishing the Georgian town house at number 7 Minster Yard, known locally as the White House, and adding a new oak and glass extension. 

The main house was built in 1730 and has been used as a nun’s house, headmaster’s house and one-time art gallery during its near 300 year history, but research by York Minster’s Cathedral Archaeologist Stuart Harrison shows the story of the building dates back around 500 years, with the remains of a medieval timber framed hall discovered during the conversion work.

Elements of this structure have been left exposed to view in the new renovation.

Children, staff and parents from the nursery and pre-prep departments gathered in the new playground to watch the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, open the new facility, following the school’s annual Eucharist service at York Minster to mark the start of the new term.

Archbishop Sentamu said, “I am delighted to be able to officially open this facility today. The Minster School has created a space that is sure to enhance and excite learning in the youngest of students.  It was also wonderful to share in the first school Eucharist Service this term in the Minster with all the staff and pupils. What a start to the new school year!”

Alex Donaldson, who has been headteacher at the independent day preparatory school since 2004, added: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Archbishop to open the new infant facilities for us. It’s a beautiful piece of work and should provide our youngest learners with an inspirational place to start their school career right in the lea of York Minster.”

The Minster School was founded in 627AD by Paulinus, the first Archbishop of York, for the education of boy choristers. Since 1987 the school has been a fully co-educational preparatory school with pre-prep department, adding nursery facilities in 1996.

It is now home to 180 pupils, aged 3 to 13, including the 40 boy and girl choristers of York Minster.

The main school buildings date from 1832, with the pre-prep department housed at number 6 Minster Yard, known locally as the Red House, and the new nursery and facilities situated next door in the interconnected White House.

The new facilities include free-flow access to gardens, mud kitchens and an outdoor covered classroom area, which complement the Forest School activity sessions offered to children by the school in nearby woodland.

Fees are competitive and parents can use their government child care provision towards costs, as well as any ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme that their employer may offer. The nursery is a flexible start to life at the school with parents opting into the number of sessions that work best for them.

For more information about the school and admissions, visit or call 0844 939 0000.