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Castle Hotel
Castle Hotel, York in 2018
General information
Architectural style Victorian Georgian and Federation Filigree
Location 31°53′24″S 116°46′06″E / 31.8899°S 116.7682°E / -31.8899; 116.7682
Address Corner of Avon Terrace and South Street
Town or city York, Western Australia
Construction started 1853
Completed 1905
Design and construction
Architect William George Wolf
York municipal inventory

The Castle Hotel in York is reputedly the oldest inland hotel in Western Australia. It was constructed and owned by the Craig family for 137 years.

The hotel was constructed in three stages, the old section on Avon Terrace in 1852, extended in 1862.

The 1905 corner addition is in Federation Filigree style. The architect was William G Wolf, a several times bankrupt American architect who had been designing buildings in Melbourne and Sydney and had just completed the design and construction of His Majesty's Theatre (1902 to 1904).

The key authors on Australian architectural style describe the Castle Hotel as “a corner pub screened with loggia-like verandah” and they included the hotel as an exemplar of Federation Filigree style.


The Crown Grant for the land on which the Castle Hotel stands was originally granted to John Henry Monger on 3 November 1852 for £11. He also took a grant of the property to the rear for £11. Monger built a small hostelry on the site and leased that to Samuel Craig, who appears to have been trading as early as January 1852. On 8 May 1852, Samuel Craig was granted a liquor licence for a hotel called the "Agricultural and Commercial Hotel". By September 1853, Craig was trading as the Castle Hotel and the York Agricultural Society held a meeting there.

The original part of the current building which is called the Castle Hotel (right hand side on Avon Terrace) was constructed in 1853 by ticket-of-leave men from the York Convict Hiring Depot.

Title was transferred from John Henry Monger to Samuel Craig in December 1853 for £20. Monger remained the owner of the property to the rear though it is now part of the hotel site.

Samuel Craig announced the opening of the old section of the Castle Hotel on 1 November 1854, promising “the largest and choicest selection of wines, spirits, etc ever brought over the hill”. From that time on, all the meetings of the York Agricultural Society were held at the Castle Hotel and it became their unofficial headquarters.

An advertisement dated 20 December 1855 published on 23 January 1856 promotes “excellent beds. Good Stabling, and an ostler always in attendance. Private upstairs sitting and bedrooms. Superior wines, spirits, cordials, ale and porter etc, kept in a spacious, cool cellar, always on hand. Commodious stockyards and enclosures.”

Praise was given to Samuel Craig in a newspaper of the day in September 1856:“Mr Craig has deserved well for the way in which his rooms, and especially the bedrooms, are arranged for light, air, and cleanliness; and although the other hotel-keepers re not chargeable with any want of the latter, they do not keep pace with the times; there is a visible want of progress about them in comparison with the Castle Hotel.

The old part of the hotel was extended in 1862, and the building survived the flood of July 1862 when the water was three feet deep in the cellar.

In 1863, Samuel Craig announced his intention to retire “solely in consequence of ill-health” and put the hotel up for sale.

In 1864, the Craigs lost their liquor licence, a cause of some public debate given that the hotel was considered the “best appointed house in the Colony”. It seems that the problem was overcome by Joseph Monger temporarily holding a licence for the Craigs.

Samuel Craig died at the Castle Hotel on 12 December 1869. The business continued under the reins of his widow Mary Craig, who was referred to as the “hostess” of the Castle Hotel. She handed the business over to her son James and his wife Emily. Emily continued to run the hotel after James' death and constructed the 1905 addition. Emily handed the hotel over to her son Basil, after the first world war.

The Craig family continued to own the hotel until 1990, extensively restoring and enlarging the hotel. Only the stables were damaged in the 1968 earthquake.

The Royal Coat of Arms

The royal coat of arms was painted on the wall of the dining room of the Castle Hotel at some time. This insignia was revealed during 1989 renovations to the hotel when one of the walls was stripped of its old paint. The coat of arms was probably painted on the wall for a visit or stay of a Governor. A likely occasion for this was when Governor Sir Frederick Weld visited York and stayed at the Castle Hotel on 21 October 1869. For 600 yards (metres) from the north of the main street to the Castle Hotel, Avon Terrace was festooned with streamers. A number of buildings displayed flags, and a triumphal arch was erected at the entrance to the town. On that side of the arch facing the street was a crown and V.R. and a black swan, and the words “God Speed You”. On the opposite side were the words “Welcome over the Hills” and the Red Ensign supported with streamers. There were other visits by Governors but none so momentous.


On 29 January 1888, a Mr D’Elmaine was staying at the Castle Hotel and went out onto the balcony for some fresh air. A draft came in the door and blew flames from a candle onto the things on his bed which caught alight. The fire was put out but the whole of his bedding was burnt.

Heritage registration

  • York Municipal Inventory, 31 December 1995
  • Classified by the National Trust, 5 March 1985
  • Register of the National Estate Permanent, 21 March 1978

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