Shambles, York

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 Reviews

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  • tim07's Profile Photo

    Medieval Street

    by tim07 Written Aug 20, 2009

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    The Shambles is a beautifully preserved medieval shopping street. It was home in medieval times to the cities butchers. Shambles comes from the Saxon word "Fleshammels". This means "the street of the butchers".

    Today most of the street is made up of cafes & gift shops. As you walk down the narrow street, try to imagine it in medieval times. The street would be awash with waste from the butchers & domestic waste thrown from the overhanging windows.

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  • markwalk's Profile Photo

    The Shambles is a must. A...

    by markwalk Updated Nov 2, 2008

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    The Shambles is a must. A small street of butchers, well it was, althouth now touristy full of little shops including one that sells Whitby Jet, you can still get a feel of what is was like in its previous existence.

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    Shambles

    by Ricmenoli Updated Sep 2, 2008

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    The Shambles is the oldest street in York and stretches from the Pavement nearly to Low Petergate. This narrow and short medieval street is best characterized by its very picturesque timber-framed buildings with some of the oldest dating back as far as the 14th century. The street name derives from its original activity as an open-air slaughterhouse where butchers used to slaughter livestoch and sell its flesh to the local population. The blood and other waste were washed away by a runnel running along the street extension which still can be seen today as the pavements on either side of the street are raised up creating a depression in the middle used to wash away the waste. Today, the street is populated with shops and restaurants and is a York must-see being one of the most visited streets in Europe.

    Shambles Building in the Shambles

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    The Shambles

    by margaretvn Updated Apr 27, 2008

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    This is a few cobbled streets with overhanging Tudor buildings. The Shambles is a really busy area of York, it is the most visited street in the UK and it has a good selection of shops, restaurants. You can take a ghost walk or an historical tour through the Shambles. The 15th century buildings lean into the middle of the streets and that means that the roof almost touch. The Shambles is Yorks oldest street, it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. That makes it more then 900 years old. It is thought to be Europes best preserved Medieval street

    The name Shambles comes from the Saxon word "shamel" which means "slaughterhouse". In fact the street was historically a street of butchers shops – records from 1872 show that there were 26 butchers on the street. Animals were also slaughtered on the Shambles.
    If you look you can see that the pavements are raised up on each side of the street. This was done so that a channel was made through which the butchers washed their wash away.

    The Shambles The Shambles The Shambles
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  • Britannia2's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by Britannia2 Written Mar 29, 2008

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    What can I say about the Shambles that has not already been written about? Here is one of Englands narrowest streets that thankfully survived the Baedecker air raids of 1942. On first impressions it is a fairly long street but once you get to walk down it as many times as I do it really is quite short. Thankfully not turned in to a Disney style fun medieval street and although the shops in the street are mainly tourist oriented they do retain a sense of realism. My tip for this street - go by all means through the day but for real atmosphere walk down it on a wet winters night when there will be few people in the street.

    The Shambles

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  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo

    Shambles

    by Ben-UK Written Oct 15, 2007

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    Over 900 years old, Shambles is York's oldest street -- as you can see from my photo the buildings lean towards each other and it really gives the feeling of being transported back in time to the 15th century or something like that. Of course the usual novelty shops but lots of normal shops as well where you can buy food or drinks etc -- it's only a small street but you must go and see it.

    The Shambles, York

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by Dabs Updated Jun 7, 2007

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    Don't miss visiting the Shambles, even if it's the most touristy street in York. The narrow street, at one spot you could literally reach across the street and join hands on the upper floors, with darling old medieval shops is now converted into shops selling gifts and sweets.

    The name "Shambles" comes from the Saxon word "Fleshammels" or street of the butchers, this was where York's butcher's market was located.

    A couple of items to note, look for the wide window sills of the houses where the meat for sale was displayed and also for the hanging meat hooks.

    Also the home of Margaret Clitherow, arrested in 1586 for harboring Catholic priests and condemned to death by pressing (crushing beneath a heavy weight-yikes!). She was later canonized and her home is now a shrine.

    The Shambles The Shambles The Shambles Meat hooks Sills for meat

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    Yarn!

    by ChartIt Written May 14, 2007

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    The best local Yarn shop on the Shambles is called Sheepish. This is the "designer" street of local touristie stuff. You can get the tradtional butchers, there are numerous chocolate shop, and a coin shop. There is a place for dramatic photographs, and wood workers too. It is the oldest medieval street in the city. And it feels like it. It is a lovely lane to enjoy and central enough to everything!
    For a pint, or a visit to the"most haunted carriage inn" at the Golden Fleece. Having a Cheap tea at a charity shop in a Church, accross the street.
    There are several pasty places to be found here as well.

    Also the Shrine to St. Margert is also on the SHambles and it offeres a quiet and contemplative though sparse chapel. It is a wonderful experince

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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    THE LITLE SHAMBLES

    by DAO Updated Mar 18, 2007

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    The Small Shambles is the extremely short passageway between the Shambles and the Market. Supposedly Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate is the shortest street in York (with the longest name). Well, Little Shambles would be very close! Please read my ‘Big Shambles’ tip above for the history of both these historical roadways.

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    THE BIG SHAMBLES

    by DAO Updated Mar 18, 2007

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    To understand York you must visit the Shambles. The houses and buildings on this small street are at least 900 years old. Their timber frames have shrunk and leaned after centuries of weather, settling and not using dry timber when first built. The result? The gnarled lopsided roofs almost touch in the middle!

    This street full of butchers was mentioned in the Doomsday Book commissioned by William the Conquer when he wished to have an inventory of the country he captured in 1066. It is York’s oldest street and one of the finest examples of a medieval street left in Europe. In fact, when you look at this small time capsule, you realise just how many building of the period have not survived through the centuries due to fire, war, collapse, negligence and thoughtless developers of many a period.

    The word Shambles originates from the Medieval word Shamel, which meant bench or booth. Because it was historically a street full of Butcher Shops it was once named Flesshammel, meaning to be near ‘flesh’ or meat. In the year 1872 the City of York recorded 26 butchers!

    In the Medieval ages hygiene was not understood. As you walk along the Shambles you will see metal hooks still on the wall. Livestock were herded into the sloping street and slaughtered and hung on the hooks. Families would walk by and choose hunks of meat to be chopped off and taken home. Unfortunately the people living above would empty chamber pots out the windows and into the (still present) channel in the middle of the road. Faeces would often land on the meat. Then there was the blood and offal from the slaughter of animals that would commingled with this horrendous outpouring of toilet waste into the street. They only washed the street out twice a week. You could just imagine the smell. Then it was swept out downhill towards the rivers. You could just see how disease would have affected York for centuries.

    So when you stand in this ancient street, try to imagine the smells and sounds of a packed street of butchers and their customers

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  • jetwind's Profile Photo

    Time travel shopping

    by jetwind Updated Mar 6, 2007

    The Shambles is referred to as Europe's best preserved medieval street; although the name is also used to collectively refer to the surrounding maze of narrow, twisting lanes and alleys as well. The street itself is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, so we know that it has been in existence for over 900 years.
    Take a visit at time of day and be instantly transported back the Elizabethan period, although these days the shops tend be more to date as are the prices unfortunately.

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  • CheekyDee's Profile Photo

    Don't miss Shambles!

    by CheekyDee Written Jun 7, 2006

    Shambles is a beautiful quaint lane that has many old fashioned shops. It's kept its old world charm, it's narrow, small, and coble stoned. Take the time to walk up and down this lane and look at the unique shops that still occupy this street with their old fashioned signs. Definitely a photo op!

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  • barryg23's Profile Photo

    Shambles

    by barryg23 Updated Feb 18, 2006

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    York's most famous street is one of the best preserved medieval streets in England. The Shambles takes its name from Shamel - which were the benches where butchers once displayed their meat.

    The butchers have long since gone and nowadays most shops are aimed at tourists. Nevertheless the street still retains a certain amount of charm. The timbered houses lean inwards across the narrow street and it's not difficult to imagine how it was hundreds of years ago.

    Amongst all the souvenir shops look out for the shrine to Margaret Clitherow, who was sent to death in the 16th Century for harbouring Jesuit priests.

    Shambles History of Shambles Inward leaning houses on the Shambles Typical shop on the Shambles

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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by Tom_Fields Written Jan 26, 2006

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    The phrase "this place is a shambles" came from this narrow, winding medieval street in the center of York. In some spots, it's possible for two people on the upper floors to reach out across this street and touch each other. During the Middle Ages, this was the center of commerce.

    York's Shambles The Shambles at dusk The Shambles at night More of the Shambles
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  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Of course it's a shambles

    by iandsmith Updated Dec 31, 2005

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    The Shambles is often called Europe's best preserved medieval street, a claim that may certainly be disputed by East Grinstead and Wells. The name is also used to collectively refer to the surrounding maze of narrow, twisting lanes and alleys as well. The street itself is mentioned in the Domesday Book, so it has certainly been in continuous existence for over 900 years.
    The Shambles has the effect of a time machine, transporting you back to the Elizabethan period. The houses that jostle for space along The Shambles project out over the lane in their upper stories, as if trying to meet their neighbours opposite.
    In some places the street is so narrow that if you stand with arms outstretched you can touch the houses on both sides.
    The shot here shows the narrow entrance (right) to the area.

    What street planner worked this out?
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