The shambles is a famous 14th Century cobbled street in York. Based in the heart of the city this is one not to be missed.
The shambles is an OLD OLD OLD street in town. Cobbled floors, and overhanging timber framed buildings that almost touch at the top! People reckon it’s been about since the 14th century and it was originally known as the Great Flesh Shambles, which was the term for the shelves that the butchers used to display their meat on. Up until 150yrs ago there were still 25butchers shops in the streets and now the nearest is on the corner leading into the Newgate Market.
This medieval street is now full of small shops of the boutique kind, eateries and souvenir shops! No remnants of meat remain, only the meat hooks still hanging about the entraces to some shops and the bases of the window frames lay upon the original wooden surfaces (lamels) that would have been used to display the meat! (ewww) Butchers usually lived above their shops, and this street is said to be haunted.
When you walk down the street you can imagine the locals coming to buy their meats from the butchers, treading around the unsanitary condition with a gutter running down the shambles diverting the course of bloods, offal and meat remnants away from the public as best they can as they were washed down the street twice weekly. The gutter is still visible with the high kerbs and the gutter running down the centre of the street.
I can imagine this was not a pleasant place to be, but a necessity to get your meat from the local butchers and the centre of the thriving city industry and occupation. Right now it’s could be almost difficult to think anything sinister ever happened here until you know it’s past!
Now the shambles in incredibly popular as people take in the architecture, the history and the feeling of the bustle of people as you weave your way around the tourists similar to the atmosphere of hundreds of years previous! Streets like this are hard to come by due to the development progression within England as we are losing too many historical memories that fall into disrepair and following this disappear off our maps.
Based in the heart of the city this is one not to be missed. Not just to appreciate how “they” lived, how difficult things could have been, and imagine how things were before analogue photography and lomography(yes, there was a time!)