York was a city built from chocolate and some of the industry’s most well-known names began their life in York.
Today, visitors have the chance to discover a lot of interesting facts about chocolate and enjoy a wonderfully indulgent experience on the Chocolate Trail. The trail retraces a vital part of York’s past, present and future and introduces visitors to this sweet and fascinating history. It is a mouth-watering wander through time, packed full of chocolate, pioneers and famous confectionery.
The journey begins at the Visitors Information Centre, with splendid views of York Minster (the Minster was the only free trade area in the city in the 18th Century and drew many international confectioners to this area) and continues to York Cocoa House, a loving recreation of York’s Chocolate Houses, where guests will find unique chocolate combinations, recipes and chocolate demonstrations.
Strolling across to St Helen’s Square explorers will see what was an elegant Terry’s Chocolate Shop and Tea Room. Continuing this chocolate journey, visitors will arrive at The Mansion House, where in 1914 the Lord Mayor (who was the Sheriff of York four times) sent a bar of Rowntree’s chocolate to every York soldier fighting in the Great War. In Coney Street stands York’s renowned Castle Museum, which exhibits many of the brand names that made York world famous for confectionery.
Situated on Terry Avenue is Rowntree Park, a gift to the City of York by Rowntree’s in 1921 as a memorial to the cocoa workers who fell during the First World War. Listed gates were added to the park in memory of those who died in the Second World War.
To reach the next stop in the trail visitors must cross back over the river and return to the city and on to Fairfax House, which houses the exceptional Noel Terry collection of English furniture and clocks from the family home on Tadcaster Road. The collection was given to York Civic Trust in 1980 following his death – Noel was the great grandson of Joseph, founder of the Terry confectionery Business.
Next, a visit to All Saints Church on Pavement is recommended to gaze at the stained glass window commemorating Mary Craven of confectionery fame and paid for by her ancestors. To the right, is the JORVIK Viking Centre, located in Coppergate on the original spot of Mary Craven’s factory.
Onto Walmgate, where Mary Tuke’s original grocer’s shop once stood and where the Rowntree dynasty was based when apprentice, and Mary’s fellow Quaker, Henry Isaac Rowntree acquired the Cocoa business from her descendants. Today Fossgate is choc full of confectioners, delis and restaurants. Here you will also find the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall which is home to The Company of Merchant Adventurers, which controlled a great deal of trade and industry in York.
As a woman, Mary Tuke could only join the guild as the daughter or widow of a member. Mary was neither and therefore fined and threatened with court action. Mary was having none of it and instead went on to be one of the founding figures of York’s chocolate industry.
Continuing along the Route, walkers stop at 28 Pavement, the place where Joseph Rowntree Senior established the Rowntree’s store. Finally, the route goes through the Shambles past Chocolate Heaven, specialising in high quality exclusive chocolates with a luxurious taste, and ends in King’s Square at York’s Chocolate Story, a new attraction for visitors. It’s an entertaining and informative guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate making families and their finest creations.