The Shambles

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The Shambles are known to be the best preserved medieval street in the world. Walking around The Shambles I could see why. In my opinion, The Shambles also has to be one of the best attractions in the City of York which has so many wonderful attractions.

A maze of very narrow winding streets in the centre of York are what locals loosely term The Shambles. In the middle of these streets is a lane called The Shambles.

The Shambles are mentioned in the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror in 1066. The buildings which house the shops which are there today, date back to the 14th and 15th century and are so wonderfully preserved. They are tightly packed together in the narrow street. It has been said that in some parts of The Shambles if you outstretch your arms you can touch both sides of the street.

The pavements are slanted because when the streets were built there was no sanitation and the butchers needed a channel to wash away waste from their slaughter houses which were often at the back of their shops.

I asked a shop keeper why the street was called The Shambles. He said the name came from the anglo saxon word Shammel which means shelves. The shelves being on the open shop fronts of the time.

When we visited, it was a very rainy afternoon, even the rain did not take away the pleasure of walking around this fascinating area. Shopping in the tiny shops dating back centuries I thought to myself if these shops could talk what would they say? If the original shopkeepers could see their shops. the shopkeepers and customers of today what would they say?

If you like history and love shopping it is an ideal place to visit, the variety of shops is extensive, there are jewellers, clothes shops, tea and coffee merchants, chocolate shops, food shops, cafes, the list is endless.

Beside the Shambles area is York’s open air market. Close by is the modern Coppergate Shopping area.

Despite the rain we had a very enjoyable afternoon and would love to return here.

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