Clements Hall was originally built by public subscription and opened in 1933 as the parish hall for St Clement's Church further up Nunthorpe Road. The Hall and its adjoining Georgian house are listed buildings, and over the years they had a wide range of uses, including dances, amateur theatre, rehearsals, dog training, and sales of work. There was a live-in caretaker and among other functions they housed the wardrobe of York Light Opera.
However, the Hall gradually fell out of use, and the reduced income was not enough to repair the building, which started a downward spiral of neglect and dis-use. As the church no longer needed it, they put it up for sale, and the St Clements Hall Preservation Trust was set up by a number of local people to try to save it for the local community, although they could never afford the price being sought by the church.
After being closed for some years, and after the Hall had changed owners, it came into the possession of City of York Council in a land swap. Though it was vandalised and nearly derelict by then, in late 2008 they began to re-build it with a substantial grant from the Government, with the Trust as partners, and the refurbished building finally re-opened to the public with the Trust as lease-holders in 2010. The building is now at the heart of the community, open to all.
The Hall sits within Micklegate Ward, just outside the city walls. Micklegate itself has had a chequered history. The Romans used it as their civil town; the Vikings named it the Mygla Gata (‘great street’), and it became a prosperous quarter in medieval times, as well as a centre for a myriad of local industries from tanning to comb-making. For centuries, because it opened on to York’s widest street, Micklegate Bar was the traditional entrance used by the reigning monarch on their visits to the city. Just inside the Bar was originally the great monastery of which Holy Trinity is the merest remnant. Just outside it was built the Bar Convent, a fine building and the centre of the international IBVM movement. In the 18th century Micklegate reached the height of its fame, becoming one of the most fashionable and wealthy quarters of York, but declined during the Victorian age with the coming of the railway: a new road to the centre was built, the new grand houses were on the Mount and beyond, and Micklegate itself faded from importance.
The Micklegate Ward of York and the area around Clements Hall is a vibrant mix of people from all classes and backgrounds. Straddling the city walls to the south west of the centre, the area boasts the highest number of York residents in professional occupations and the greatest concentration of 25-44 year olds in the city, also with a large population of students. Being so close to the city centre, many people can walk or cycle to work easily. The railway station is also within easy reach, making Micklegate an ideal place to live for those working outside the city.
But the area is also a very traditional one and much of the older population has been resident in their houses for many decades. The housing stock is older than many other parts of the city – a significant proportion of it was built to house workers first for the railways, then for the famous Terry’s chocolate factory, originally on Clementhorpe, then later at its Bishopthorpe Road site. Micklegate also has one of the highest proportions of terraced houses and flats in the city.