We went to find out what’s ACTUALLY in Heslington Hall and it felt so illegal
We got escorted out of the building lol
Heslington Hall is a landmark building on the Uni of York campus. First built in 1565, the grade two listed manor house has a long and interesting history leading it to its current place as part of York’s campus. Despite its clear importance to the university, many York students have grown frustrated that one of the prettiest buildings on campus appears off limits to your average student, with most of us left asking what do they ACTUALLY do in there?
We went to answer this question, and to give students the inside look at what’s actually hidden behind Heslington Hall’s red brick walls. This is what happened when we went to investigate, as well as everything we found while inside (spoiler alert: we got escorted out).
As far as we’re aware, there are not actually any restrictions on students going into Heslington Hall since there are offices in there that students sometimes have to visit. That said, just walking in felt so illegal. There was no clear entrance, and all the doors around the back had big key-card locks on them, so the vibes really weren’t very welcoming.
We ended up going in through the side door opposite Derwent. Despite the locks on the doors, nothing was actually locked, and so just like that, we were inside Heslington Hall. Even though we could see people in an office through a window, it was literally silent, which didn’t help us feel like we weren’t trespassing.
The first corridor we went through was the Human Resources department, making up the bottom floor of the right side of the building. Everything was behind doors, and out of fear that someone who worked there would question why we were wandering around we decided to avoid confrontation at all costs and just carry on through the empty corridor.
Walking through HR, we then went through a door that led us to the main courtyard of Heslington Hall which can be seen from the front of the building. We were behind the gates, we’d made it. I’ve said it before but I will continue to stress just how illegal this felt.
Main entrance and fancy reception
Having made it to the courtyard we made our way up those big fancy steps and through Heslington Hall’s main entrance into the main reception area. I will apologise, I didn’t manage to get any decent pictures of this room because there was a receptionist at the desk and I was scared she’d see me taking pictures and think I was weird or start asking me why I was there (my bad).
From what I can remember, the main desk was to the left, as was a MASSIVE fancy wooden door which I regret not trying to investigate (again, I was very scared of getting questioned). There were corridors to the right of and in front of us, as well as a big staircase that was marked by a “staff only” sign. Concerned that we probably wouldn’t pass as uni staff, we moved ahead down a random corridor marked “planning” or something.
Out of sight of the receptionist we took a second to laugh off how awkward we felt. It was still super quiet in there and, aside from us, we’d seen like max four other people. Because of how empty it was we decided we needed to proceed with purpose to avoid suspicion. I don’t know what we thought the consequences would be for being in a building we pay 9K a year to have access to but the fear was real and we went into full spy-mode.
Feeling illegal aside, we were in the building, and we were already lost. We’d turned right and ended up at some really fancy looking stairs which were surrounded by more really unwelcoming-looking doors.
LOTS of corridors and offices (something to do with finance and planning)
By this point I’d lost track of where we were or how we got there, so to answer the question “what’s in Heslington Hall”, the best answer I can give is a fuck tonne of corridors and a pretty big finance and planning department (which makes me want to know what they’re planning).
Confused and still full of fear, we started wandering through one of these corridors. It was narrow and twisty and lined with offices and meeting rooms. We got pretty deep into the maze of finance and planning before we saw another human being, so the vibes were a bit dodgy.
Even when we did start seeing people, it was still very quiet in there. But so far, we’d covered quite a good bit of ground without being questioned or even looked at funny. This filled me with confidence and I was excited to see what else we could uncover about this mysterious campus landmark.
Getting kicked out lol
My confidence was incredibly short-lived. Just as we were getting comfortable wandering around somewhere we had no reason to be, we heard footsteps. Shitting ourselves for some reason, we tried to run away, hoping we could lose whoever was behind us in the maze of finance and planning. At this point, the twists and turns stopped and we basically hit a dead end. We’d been cornered.
I can’t actually remember exactly what he said but the staff member (I assume anyway) that had come up behind us basically just asked if we were ok. He was quite nice to be fair but it did make it clear that we looked at least somewhat out of place. In a panic, we just said that we were lost and didn’t know how to get out, which wasn’t actually a lie – I had no idea where we were any more.
It would’ve been a pretty solid cover story had we not just walked past a sign that pointed the other way as the way out, but that didn’t seem to phase the mystery staff member. While making jokes about how easy it is to get lost in there in an attempt to appear naive and innocent, we started to be escorted out of Heslington Hall, away from uncovering anything else about the building (for now).