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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.