We spent a weekend in York last July (a great time to go!), during which time we enjoyed adventuring around the Harry-Potter inspired streets otherwise known as “The Shambles”. What an iconic place to visit!
About The Shambles
- The Shambles’ is sometimes used as a general term for the maze of twisting, narrow lanes which make York so charming. At its heart is the lane actually called The Shambles, arguably the best preserved medieval street in the world.
- It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086.
- Many of the buildings on the street today date back to the late fourteenth and fifteenth century (around 1350-1475).
- The Shambles was a street of butchers’ shops and houses, many complete with a slaughterhouse at the back of the premises, ensuring a ready supply of fresh meat.
- The meat was hung up outside the shops and laid out for sale on what are now the shop window-bottoms. It is still possible to see some of the original butcher’s meat-hooks attached to the shop fronts.
- Lacking modern-day sanitation facilities, there was a constant problem of how to dispose of the waste produced by the slaughter of animals in the city.
- The pavements are raised either side of the cobbled street to form a channel where the butchers would wash away their offal and blood twice a week.
- In some sections of the Shambles it is possible to touch both sides of the street with your arms outstretched.
- York has, since Roman times, been defended by walls of one form or another. To this day, substantial portions of the walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England.
- The original walls were built around 71 AD, when the Romans erected a fort (castra) occupying about 50 acres or 21.5 hectares near the banks of the River Ouse.
- The name is thought to derive from ‘Shammel’, an anglo-saxon word for the shelves which were a prominent feature of the open shop-fronts.
Things To Do In York
- Clifford’s Tower
- York Castle Museum
- The York Dungeon
- Guy Fawkes Inn – where the famous conspirator Guy Fawkes was born
- Ghost Tour