Shambles, York

4.5 out of 5 stars 45 Reviews

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  • Balam's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by Balam Written Jul 7, 2010

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    The Shambles is a great lane that was once the home to the City's Butcher's were the annimals which would have been kept at the back of the shops would be slaughtered and cut up and sold. The wide gunnels in the road would once have been full of the waste as the blood and offal be thrown into the street where mixing with other waste and water to run away. The street is said to be Europes best preserved Medieval street and it was even mentioned in the Doomsday book.
    It now houses some great chocolateas well as other specialist shops.

    Halfway down is a shrine to Margeret Clitheroe who was a Butchers wife and a Roman Catholic at the time when Catholics were persecuted for their faith. She was arrested and tried for sheltering Jesuit priests and fior celebrating Mass. She was executed in 1586 on the Ouse Bridge by being crushed to death under a door with heavy boulders placed on it.

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  • nhcram's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by nhcram Written May 21, 2004

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    The Shambles is the oldest street in York and is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Many of the lovely buildings are over 600 years old.
    It was originally a street full of butchers and at one point in time there were as many as 26 butchers in the street.
    Visitors flock to the street, which is now full of olde worlde shops. It is narrow and many of the top storeys of the shops overhang the Street.
    It is very close to York Minster and is great for finding that unusual present or keepsake

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    The Shambles

    by Goner Updated Apr 28, 2004

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    The Shambles

    Walking through The Shambles takes you back in time. It?s often called Europe's best preserved medieval street, of course that includes the surrounding maze of narrow, twisting lanes and alleys. The street itself is mentioned in the Domesday Book, so we know that it has been in continuous existence for over 900 years.

    The name "Shambles" comes from the Saxon "Fleshammels", which means, "the street of the butchers". Look up and you'll see the wide window sills of the houses that were used for displaying meat for sale. The butcher's shops have now been replaced with shops catering to visitors, including jewelry and antiques - the favorite shopping area in York.

    The Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York offer two hour free walking tours every day (except Christmas Day). Walks start at 10:15 am and gather at the Art Gallery in Exhibition Square. Additional walks in the summer months start at 2:15 and 7:00 pm. No booking required.

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    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.

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    The Shambles

    by lou31 Updated Jun 18, 2005

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    The Shambles

    Of course a trip to York wouldn't be complete without a visit to this little street. "Cute" doesn't even come close to describing it. The houses and shops are tightly packed and jostle for space on either side. Just walk up or down it and you'll see what I mean.

    It has been in existence for 900 years and is suppose to be Britains best preserved Medieval street.
    Translated " The Shambles" means "Street of the Butchers." It was once where local butchers did their trade and the wide windowsills were used to display their goods.

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  • margaretvn's Profile Photo

    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.

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  • JennEph's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by JennEph Written Sep 2, 2004

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    All the buildings are built on an angle leaning inward toward each other. This was done as originally this street was the meat market and so once the animals were killed in the front of the shops and all the un-used animal parts flooded the streets, the leaning of the buildings shaded the meat from the sun. Of course, now it is cleaned up and the very tiny and narrow streets offer shops that even my 5'3" stature had to duck my head to go into!

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  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by ettiewyn Updated Dec 13, 2012

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    The Shambles are York's most famous street and one of its foremost attractions, so if you have done any research about York at all or already visited the city, you will have heard of them! I did not really know what to expect, and when we visited during our VT meeting in the afternoon, I did not really know what the fuss was about. The street was totally crowded, and yes, the buildings looked old and nice, but there was no atmosphere at all.
    Fortunately, the next morning I had a feeling that I should just walk there again, and so I did - it was about 8.00am, and nobody was there except me and another tourist couple. I just walked along the street in the quiet, and now the situation allowed me to have a proper look at the buildings, and to really look up and see their features. Suddenly I really liked The Shambles, and in this quiet atmosphere it was easy to imagine this street several hundred years ago, it felt really, really old and I was fascinated by the buildings. In the end of the street the upper fronts are so close together that you could shake hands across the street!

    The Shambles were already mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, so yes, this street is indeed medieval! Most buildings are several centuries younger, though. The name derived from the fact that in the past, this was a butcher's street and there were many butcher shops selling meat here, with slaughterhouses at the back. The Anglo-Saxon word "shammel" was used for a shelf on which meat was stored and presented to customers. You can see that the pavement is raised on both sides, this allowed the blood to flow down into the space in between and run down the street. Well - it is obvious that back then, The Shambles were not as pretty as today! Another architectural feature connected to the use of the street are the upper fronts that are overhanging - they gave shade to the meat that was kept outside. Another reason is that like this the wattle and daub was protected from the weather.

    Today The Shambles are a beautiful and fascinating street - particularly when the shops are not yet open, the day trippers and busses have not yet arrived, and the crowds have not come. If you are rather interested in the architecture and the buildings, and not the shops, I recommend to visit The Shambles early in the morning!

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  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    .and it comes in all sizes, with a tragic footnote

    by iandsmith Written Dec 26, 2005

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    Yes, that's jewellery in the window
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    The name "Shambles" comes from the Saxon "Fleshammels", which means, "the street of the butchers", for it was here that the city's butcher's market was located. Notice the wide window sills of the houses; the meat for sale was displayed here.
    While you're strolling down the street, try to imagine all the blood and rubbish that used to accumulate and end up running down the drains. Hygiene was not an essential part of mediaeval life. Disease a constant threat.
    The butcher's shops have now been replaced with shops, with a little more emphasis on cleanliness, catering to visitors (see pic 2), including jewelry (see pic 1) and antiques; indeed, the Shambles is now one of the premier shopping areas in the city of York.
    One building of note in The Shambles is the home of Margaret Clitherow. She was arrested in 1586 on the charge of harbouring Catholic priests. To make matters worse, she had regular Masses said in her house and hid clergy vestments there.
    The authorities condemned her to death by pressing (crushing beneath a heavy weight). Gives a whole new meaning to having a burden in life. How ghastly. Margaret Clitherow was canonized in 1970, and her home is now a shrine.

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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.

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  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo

    A Great Historic Street...

    by Myfanwe Written Jul 17, 2010

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    The Shambles is a fantastic Medieval street, dating from the 14th Century. It has been mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086. The name means 'street of butchers'and is derived from 'fleshammels' which were ledges outside the shops for displaying meat. The close overhanging houses provided shade to prevent the meat from going off. Nowadays you'll find a wonderfull variety of independant shops from Jewellers to a lovely looking Chocolate shop.

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  • Orbital_'s Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by Orbital_ Written Mar 7, 2004

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    The Shambles busy on an average Saturday

    It's about as close to Harry Potter's 'Diagon Alley' as you're likely to get anywhere within the 'muggle' world. Within these narrow streets buildings overhang you at precarious angles yet somehow they still remain standing. The place does pander unashamedly to the tourist-trade (gift shops galore) but it's still worth a meander around for the olde-worlde atmosphere.

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  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by spidermiss Updated Mar 20, 2011

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    The Shambles

    I came across a placard just before we began wandering down The Shambles and quotes:

    "The ancient street of the Butchers of York, mentioned in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror. It takes its name from the word, 'shamel'. meaning the stalls or benches on which the meat was displayed - later versions of which can still be seen. It was rebuilt about 1400, when it assumed its present character"

    The Shambles is one of the oldest streets in York. It was once know as "The Great Flesh Shambles" adopted from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels meaning meat shelves that butchers used for hanging their meat. The street was once dominated by butchers but nowadays it is full of independent and souvenir shops.

    Look out the St Margaret Clitherow shrine, who married a butcher who owned a shop on The Shambles. There are the old meat-hooks hanging outside a number of shop; there are snickelways that lead off from The Shambles and the street's cobbled street.

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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    The Shambles

    by HORSCHECK Updated Jun 25, 2004

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    The Shambles

    The Shambles (the street of the butchers) is the oldest intact medieval street in Europe and it was the home of York's butchers. The timber-framed old houses date back to the 14th and 15th century.
    Today the narrow street Shambles is one of the premier shopping area for tourists in the city of York.

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  • londonlover's Profile Photo

    Cute, historic market street

    by londonlover Written Jul 8, 2004

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    The Shambles

    The Shambles is an ancient, narrow street in York, famous for its sloping buildings that allow one to practically lean across from one building to shake the hand of a person in the store across the street!

    The buildings are well-preserved and now filled with cute shops of various varieties, but the attraction is more the street itself than the shopping.

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