Map &

Been here?
Rate it

Top Tours

City Sightseeing York Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
From GBP13.00
The York Pass
From GBP38.00
The York Pass
From GBP38.00

Shambles Tips (50)

The Shambles

The Shambles is the name of a street in the old city centre. It’s an example of the preservation of much of the city’s medieval centre.

It is well worth wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets in the area to see the old buildings. Much of the area is pedestrianised, but it can be claustrophobic on account of the tourist hordes. Early morning - 7 to 8 am in my case - is ideal. It was almost deserted, so I could move around freely and take a good look at whatever I came upon.

iaint's Profile Photo
Feb 21, 2015


The Shambles isn't named after the shambolic nature of the teetering old half-timbered buildings that cramp along the street. Despite being old - some dating back to the 14th century - they are all in excellent condition. Its original name was The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the old word for shelves, and butchers would line up their wares along this street. There were once 25 butchers known on this small stretch of narrow street, but now there are none.

In a country often ruined by German bombs or equally fascistic post-war planners, the Shambles is an excellent, if small, taste of what old England was once like.

antistar's Profile Photo
Nov 26, 2014

The Shambles.

The Shambles is a narrow cobbled street lined with unusual & interesting shops. The street is not particularly long but usually crowded with tourists in peak season. At it's narrowest point the victorian-like housing above the shops seem to fall inwards narrowing the gap between both sides of the road. The Shambles is a 'must see' for travellers in York & is reminiscent of a street in victorian England.

londontraveller01's Profile Photo
Oct 27, 2014


When visiting Yorks almost nobody misses the Shambles which is an old picturesque street with overhanging timber-framed buildings. Some of them are dating back as far as the fourteenth century.
It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles (or Fleshammels literally 'flesh-shelves'). The word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 there were twenty-five butchers' shops in the street but now there are none.

Although the butchers have now vanished, a number of the shops on the street still have meat-hooks hanging outside and, below them, shelves on which meat would have been displayed.
The shops currently comprise a mixture of eateries and souvenir shops, but there is also a bookshop and a bakery.

Among the buildings of the Shambles is a shrine to Saint Margaret Clitherow, who was married to a butcher who owned and lived in a shop there.

You can watch my 2 min 51 sec Video York part 1 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.

Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
Aug 03, 2013
Sponsored Listings

Hotels Near Shambles

One Tower Street, York, North Yorkshire, Y01 9WD, United Kingdom
Show Prices
25 High Petergate, York, YO1 7HP, United Kingdom
Show Prices
North Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 6JF, United Kingdom
Show Prices
Duncombe Place, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 2EF, United Kingdom
Show Prices
9 Lendal, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 2AQ, United Kingdom
Show Prices
51 St Denys Road, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9QD, United Kingdom
Show Prices

The Shambles

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!

ettiewyn's Profile Photo
Dec 13, 2012


The Shambles is a quaint shopping street in the heart of York city centre.
The over hanging timber buildings date back to the 14th Century. The Shambles were know for the number of butchers shops that lined it, up until 1872 there were 25 butchers shops but now there are none.

alyf1961's Profile Photo
Jul 14, 2012

The Shambles

If going to York one need not to miss a small area or rather street of the city called The Shambles. Notorious are the timber houses. Some of the buildings date back to the 15th century. A long time ago the place used to be a meat market.

yvgr's Profile Photo
Apr 13, 2012


How could I not like the Shambles, even on a wet day, with water dripping on me, puddle's and people to dodge, I still fell in love with this part of York!

I think I walked through it on more than one occasion! It was so narrow, and so quaint, the building's were leaning over and some of the woodwork was wibbly, wobbly! Old too!
Voted most picturesque street in Britain, I had to agree!

Well, what is here? ........ Shop's, Cafe's, Restaurant's, Tourist attraction's and History!

An unusual name too.....!

'The Shambles' originates from the Medieval word Shamel, which meant booth or bench. The Shambles was historically a street of 26 butchers shops and houses, so livestock was slaughtered here and the meat was served over what are now the shop window bottoms, "the Shamels."
The pavements we walk on are raised up, this was done to create a channel which the butchers would wash away their offal and blood, just twice weekly.

I found many 15th century building's, I walked on cobblestoned street's, and I found it so narrow in some place's, roof's nearly touched.

It is very old, mentioned in the Domesday book (making it date over 900 years), the Shambles is York 's oldest street, and Europe's best preserved Medieval street.
It really is a very wonderful place, especially for women!

balhannah's Profile Photo
Jan 30, 2012
Britannia2's Profile Photo


"York - potential capital of the north"
View Member
ettiewyn's Profile Photo


View Member
barryg23's Profile Photo


"The Old Capital of the North"
View Member
leics's Profile Photo


"History and shopping."
View Member
Balam's Profile Photo


View Member

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.

spidermiss's Profile Photo
Mar 20, 2011

Not such a shambles really.

In English, a shambles is a generally disorganised mess, as in my late Mother's eternal lament to the teenage planxty, "Clean up your room, it's a shambles." Far from being the admittedly untidy disaster that constituted my portion of the house, the Shambles in York has recently been voted "Most picturesque street in Britain" by no less than the Google Street Team, and who am I to argue with them?

There is dispute about the actual derivation of the word "Shambles" but it is agreed that they were effectively open-air slaughterhouses and butcheries. Sadly, no butchers now grace the street, having all been replaced by, frankly, twee tourist shops but it is still well worth a visit to view the architecture, some of which dates to the 14th century. You will be in good company as you will be jostled at every step by tourists. Perhaps they should rename it Kodak Alley.

planxty's Profile Photo
Dec 22, 2010

Shrine of St. Margarte Clitherow

In the shambles there is a small shrine deidcated to St. Maragaret Clitherow. She was a marytyr of the catholic church who harboured catholic priests in times when they were persecutioned. On Good Friday 1586, she was sentenced to death and died in a horrible way: She was crushed to death by a door on which a heavy stone was placed. Two sons a a daughter became catholic clerics after her death. In 1929, shea was beatified and canonised in 1970. The shrine in the shambles was the houses where she lived and was also one of the two houses where she harboured the priests. It is not only a place of prayer, but you can also learn about the life of Margaret Clitherow. Admission is free, but a donation of 1GBP is expected.

For more information about St. Margaret Clitherow, see the link below

Airpunk's Profile Photo
Sep 03, 2010

The Shambles

The Shambles are well-known as Europe’s best preserved medieval street with many half-timbered buildings. The narrow street was already mentioned in the Doomsday Book and was the place where the butchers had their shops. With some fantasy, you can imagine how it smelled some hundred years ago… The name comes from the anglo-saxon word fleshammels which can be freely traduced as butchers. Despite being famous as a medieval street, most of the buildings preserved today are from Tudor times. Even in 1872, still 26 butcher shops were counted in this street. Today, it is a street full of souvenir shops, cafés and other tourist-oriented venues. Even though its touristy and full in summer season, it is definitively worth a visit.

Airpunk's Profile Photo
Aug 31, 2010

Things To Do Near Shambles

Things to Do

Past Images - CLOSED

Why don't you commerate your visit to this city by posing in medieval wear for a picture to show the folks back home, or in our case, to show the folks of VT ;-) It was a sweltering 30C in York the...
View More
Things to Do

Shrine of St. Margaret Clitherow

The shrine of Margaret Clitherow is in the Shambles York ,she is an english saint and martyr of the roman catholic church.. Born in York in 1556 her father was of the english church.She married John...
View More
Things to Do

Gert and Henry's

Gert & Henry's is the name of a Restaurant that is near the Market. The building is an old Tudor House, built in 1600 and restored for use as a Restaurant in 1929. It is a two-storey, gabled and...
View More
Things to Do

Shambles Market - Newgate Market

I was surprised! EVERY DAY THEY HOLD A MARKET IN YORK, and even on a cold and wet day, the Market was being held. Early morning, and people were setting up in the rain, I really felt sorry for...
View More
Things to Do

Roman Bath Inn

The Roman Baths Inn is situated in a lovely position overlooking Samsons Square in the centre of York. In 1930 it was discovered that the site of the Roman baths was in the foundations below the Pub....
View More
Things to Do

Merchant Adventurers' Hall

I saw Theatre in the Mill's Jekyll & Hyde at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall undercroft (Please read my review here) in March (2015). The Merchant Adventurers' Hall, built in 1357, is a medieval...
View More

Getting to Shambles


We don't yet have an address for this Things to Do. Help us improve our info!


  • Sunday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Monday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Tuesday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Wednesday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Thursday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Friday 10:00 to 17:00
  • Saturday 10:00 to 17:00