York’s Streets and the City’s History
The term ‘gate’ used in York street names like Walmgate, Coppergate, Stonegate and Skeldergate, derives from the Viking word ‘gata’ meaning street. The term should not be confused with the word ‘gate’ meaning a gateway. The historic gateways to the city of York are called ‘Bars’.
Aldwark is a street that gets its name from ‘Old earthwork’ and was so named because the Roman wall that surrounded York ran near here. The wall was later replaced by the medieval city wall which runs adjacent to the street. The interior of the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, just off Aldwark dates from around 1400, although the brick exterior dates from 1672 and 1715. It was the home of York’s Merchant Taylors’ Guild, established by a Royal Charter of Incorporation from Charles II in 1662. The charter merged the guilds of the drapers, hosiers and tailors. The hall is the only surviving hall of a craft guild in York.
Bishopsgate is the site of Baile Hill, which was one of two castles built by William the Conqueror. Trees now grow out of the mound.
Bishophill was once part of the land owned by the Archbishop of York. St Mary’s Church, formerly St Mary’s Bishophill Junior has a western tower which is said to be the oldest piece of ecclesiastical architecture in York. It was built in three conquest phases, including re-used Roman stone, Anglo-Saxon herringbone masonry and a late Anglo-Saxon bell-opening at the top of the tower. An Anglo-Saxon cross-shaft can be seen in the church. There was once also a medieval church called St Mary’s Bishophill Senior, a little further south in the street called Bishophill Senior. Parts of this church were used in the construction of the Holy Redeemer Church in Boroughbridge Road.
Blake Street links Duncombe Place to St Helen’s Square and is the home of the York Assembly Rooms built by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington in 1730 in a neo-classical style with Egyptian influence. It was built as a grand ball room, but Daniel Defoe later described the work as tasteless.
Blossom Street is the southern continuation of Micklegate, outside Micklegate Bar. It was historically known as Ploxwangate, deriving from Ploughswain gate, meaning ‘the street of the man who repairs ploughs’. Ploxwan was corrupted through natural changes in English speech to Blossom. A street called Blossomgate also exists in Ripon and has the same origin. St Mary’s Bar Convent near Micklegate Bar in Blossom Street was built in 1765 by Thomas Atkinson.
Bootham means ‘at the booths’ and probably refers to booths erected near Bootham Bar, which were used for a weekly market held by the monks of St Mary’s Abbey. Bootham is a continuation of Petergate outside the city walls beyond Bootham Bar. A stretch of the wall of St Mary’s Abbey runs along the southern side of the street. At the corner of the wall at the junction of Bootham and Marygate is St Mary’s Tower. Bootham leads out to the the village of Clifton, a subburb of York with a Victorian village green.
The city gateway of Bootham Bar lies at the western end of High Petergate, within the city walls. Exhibition Square and the street of Boortham lie just outside the bar. It stands on the site of a Roman gateway called Prima Porta Dextra and was the main medieval entrance into the city from the north through the Forest of Galtres. Parts of the building with its four bartizan towers date from the 11th century, but the part facing into the city was rebuilt in 1719 and 1832. In 1832, the outer extension of the gateway or ‘Barbican’ was removed. In historic times guards were posted here to guide travellers through the Forest of Galtres. Monks from St Mary’s Abbey once held a weekly market nearby. See also Bootham. See also Micklegate Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar.
Boroughbridge Road is the home to the Holy Redeemer Church, which was built in 1965 using parts of the demolished church of St Mary Bishophill Senior which dated from 1200. The church is an interesting mixture of old and new.
Castle Mills Bridge
This is a minor bridge across the River Foss near the Castle Museum.
The Castle Museum stands on the site of York castle – See Clifford’s Tower. It was built around 1705 as a Debtors’ Prison and the architect was probably William Wakefield. His style is similar to that later employed by Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor (See Castle Howard). A female Debtors’ Prison was added to the building by John Carr in 1777.
Castlegate was and is of course the street leading to the castle. There are two Georgian buildings of note in the street, both designed by the Yorkshire architect John Carr (1723-1807). One is Castlegate House, dating from 1759 and built for the City Recorder, Peter Johnson. The other building is Fairfax House dating from 1755. The latter house has a fine collection of Georgian furniture and other Georgian items known as the Terry Collection. A church has stood on the site of St Mary’s Church in Castlegate since pre-conquest times, and although most of the present church is 12th-13th century there is a dedication stone in the building which dates to around 1020. The names Ervard, Grim and Aese are mentioned on the stone. St. Mary’s became redundant as a church in 1958 but reopened in 1975 as the home of The York Story, a heritage centre which displays the history of the city in models and reconstructions and audio-visual displays.
Once called Girdlegate, the girdle maker’s treet, it now takes its name from St Sampson’s Church which is located at the southern end of the street near St Sampson’s Square. Mid way along, the street is linked to Swinegate and Patrick Pool and to Goodramgate, Petergate and the Shambles at the northern end.
York’s limestone City Walls are the longest in England and are principally famous for the gateways into the city called bars. Some stretches of the wall have Roman origin, most notably the Multangular Tower in the Museum Gardens but there are also remains of an Anglo-Saxon tower near the Public library – the only Anglo-Saxon tower in England. Some parts of the city wall were renovated in the nineteenth century but on the whole, still exist in their medieval form dating from the 12th to the 14th century.
The only section of old York which does not have a wall is between Peaseholme Green and the Red Tower (Foss Island Road) where there was once a huge fishpond in medieval times. York castle and its moat also accounted for another gap in the otherwise continuous wall. The main gateways to the city through the wall are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. Two historic towers also stand on the opposite ends of Lendal Bridge. Some new gateways were added in the nineteenth century including the Victoria Bar constructed in 1837.
This street runs from Nessgate and Coppergate south towards Clifford’s Tower. A Franciscan friary once stood in the area.
Clifford’s Tower, near the Castle Museum is the remaining mound of York Castle one of two castles built at York by William the Conqueror (the other being at Baile Hill across the other side of the Ouse). Originally built of wood York castle was burnt down in 1190 after a mob forced the Jewish residents of York to seek refuge there. The tower was rebuilt and rebuilt again in stone in 1250-1275. Once surrounded by a moat, the castle is called Clifford’s Tower because of Roger De Clifford who was hanged here in folowing the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. Used later as a prison, the tower was garrisoned by the Royalists during the English Civil War.
College Street near York Minster is home of St William’s College a medieval half-timber building dating from around 1467 with later additions. The college is named after William Fitzherbert, an Archbishop of York who was also a great-grandson of William the Conqueror. During the reign of Charles I it was a temporarily the site of a Royal Printing press. The door to the building has a carving of a mouse made by Robert Thompson of Kilburn (See Thirsk).
Colliergate runs betwen King’s Square and Fossgate, and is almost a continuation of Petergate. The street was once the place where coal or charcoal was traded in medieval times. Most of the houses in the street are Georgian.
Coney Street is one of York’s main shopping streets, where familiar high street retail names cater as much for locals as for tourists. Some of the buildings in the street are timber-framed structures. Coney Street runs along the course of a stretch of Roman road which lay just outside the Roman fortress and which ran almost parallel to the eastern bank of the River Ouse. The earliest record of Coney Street’s name is in 1213 when it was called Cuningstreta, deriving from the Viking word Konungra and straet – a street. Konungr means king – thus it was King’s street. Coney Street was once divided into three stretches – Old Coney Street to the north of St Helen’s Square, Coney Street in the middle and Little Coney Street to the south. Old Coney Street is now called Lendal, and Little Coney Street is now called Spurriergate.
The Mansion House, located where Coney Street meets Lendal in St Helen’s Square is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York and was built 1725-27 by John Etty. It has an interesting collection of city regalia including a 15th century Sword of State and the Great Mace of 1647.
The medieval church of St Martin-le Grand is located on the south side of Coney Street. Its recorded history goes back as far as the Domesday Book but the church was severely damaged during a World War Two bombing raid in 1942. The church’s tower (1427) was originally the south western tower. Some interesting stained glass can be seen within the church, but much of the building is rebuilding of the 1960s. A pretty clock protrudes from the chuch exterior overlooking shoppers in busy Coney Street. It dates from 1668 but was given a new dial 1778. A model of an Admiral with a sextant stands on top of the clock.
Coppergate’s name comes from the Viking Kopparigat which means the street of the joiners or turners. Viking houses have been excavated in the street and finds are displayed in the Jorvik Museum.
Davygate is named after David Le Lardiner (clerk of a kitchen). In the 12th century David’s father, John was the Royal Lardiner for the Forest of Galtres – a title which became hereditary in the family. Davygate was the site of the forest courthouse and prison. The Forest of Galtres lay to the north of York.
Duncombe Place is a short continuation of Museum Street linking that street with Petergate to the north. It is a street of Victorian origin like the neighbouring St Leonard’s Place. One of the most notable buildings in the street is the Red House which was built for sir William Robinson in 1700. Robinson was a one time mayor and MP for York. The city’s coat of arms can be seen above the doorway to the house.
Bootham Bar overlooks Exhibition Square, which is just outside the city wall. Nearby are the York City Art Gallery (1879) and the King’s Manor.
An offshoot of St Sampson’s Square. Its name means ‘Fe-hus gate’ the cow house street.
Linking Skeldergate and Bishophill, its name was originally Feltergate – the street of the felters.
Fishergate (See also Fishergate bar) was the once the fishermens’ street.
Fishergate Bar and Fishergate Tower
Fishergate Bar was a minor gateway on the street called Fishergate, the northern part of the street within the walls is called George Street. Fishergate Tower lies a little further west near York Castle. Chains ran across the River Foss here to the castle to further add to York’s defences.
Foss Bridge, on the site of a medieval bridge links Fossgate and Walmgate across the River Foss and is a stone baluster bridge built by Peter Atkinson in 1812. A chapel dedicated to St William is known to have stood on the medieval bridge.
Foss Islands Road
The brick-built Red Tower in York’s city wall dates from the sixteenth century and was located at the south side of a gap in walls which stretched as far as Peaseholme Green to the north. In medieval times the area in between was the location of the King’s Fish Pond.
Fossgate’s name simply means the street leading to the River Foss. The most notable feature in the street is The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall which is reached via an alleyway. It was founded in 1357 as the Guild of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin but was absorbed by the Guild of Mercers in the fifteenth century. In 1580 the guild became the Merchant Adventurers, a powerful company which co-ordinated foreign trade in York. The gatehouse to the hall dates from the seventeenth century.
Fulford Road leads south from Fishergate towards the York subburb of Fulford. The road is home to an old cavalry barracks dating back to 1795.
George Hudson Street
Off Micklegate, the street is named after George Hudson (1800-1871) who was known as the ‘Railway King’. He developed regional railways in the north and made York into an important railway town.
It is on the site of a churchyard belonging to a medieval church dedicated to St George. George Street is a continuation of Fishergate.
Gillygate is a largely Georgian street, leading north from Exhibition Square. The street is so named because it was once the site of a church dedicated to St. Giles. In this respect it is similar to the street called Gilesgate in Durham.
Goodramgate was in Viking times the street belonging to or inhabited by a Viking called Gurthrum. and may refer to the Viking king Guthrum who ruled from York in the 9th century. Goodramgate’s main features are the church of Holy Trinity and a row of medieval cottages called Lady Row.
Lady Row is a row of timber -framed cottages near the Holy Trinity arch and date from the 1320s when they were built for chantry priests. The cottages are notable for their overhangs where the upper floors project into the street beyond the lower floors. This overhang feature is thought to be the oldest example in England. In Bedern Lane just off Goodramgate there is a ruined Bedern Chapel dating from the fourteenth century.
The church of Holy Trinity, which stands back from the street was first mentioned in the eleventh century, but the present building dates from 1250-1500. It can be reached via an eighteenth century brick archway. Inside the church is a chapel which was once blocked off from the rest of the church so it could be used by leper. A squint hole in the wall enabled lepers to see the altar and take part in the service.
Once, a dark alley called Grapecuntlane, grape originally meant grope. It links Petergate with Swinegate.
Heslington lies on th south eastern outskirts of York near Walmgate Stray. It is the home of York University.
Hungate an offshoot of The Stonebow was once Hundgate – the street where dogs (hounds) were kept. It was a common medieval Viking street name.
Jewbury was the Jewish quarter of York in medieval times. It is known that this area was the burial ground for wealthy Jews who settled in York from as early as the 12th century. See also Jubbergate.
Jubbergate was originally Brettegate meaning the street inhabited by Celtic Britons in Viking times. It is thought that these Britons were of Cumbrian origin and were brought to York by Irish Vikings (connected with the Viking colony in Dublin). Their habitation lay outside the Viking walls of York and it is thought that they held a servile role. Later in the fourteenth century Brettegate became Jubretgate, perhaps because became an area of Jewish settlement. See also Jewbury.
The King’s Manor near Exhibition Square and the Yorkshire Museum started as an abbot’s house for St Mary’s Abbey. It was later rebuilt of brick in 1483 by a medieval bricklayer called Richard Cherryholme. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the house became the home of the President of the Council of the North and successive presidents enlarged and changed the building, but the council was disbanded in 1641. King’s manor is so named because it belonged to the king and was the place the Kings of England stayed at during visits to York. English Kings who stayed at the manor included Henry VIII, James I, Charles I and Charles II.
King’s Square lies at the junction of several of York’s most famous streets including Petergate, Goodramgate, Colliergate and the Shambles.
King’s Staith, a cobbled quay on the north bank of the River Ouse near Ouse Bridge means the King’s landing place, the word staith being of Viking origin. An eighteenth century building called Cumberland House overlooks the staith. Further along the river bank towards Skeldergate Bridge is a stone wall which once belonged to a Franciscan Friary which was located nearby. See also Queen’s Staith.
Knavesmire, the site of York’s Racecourse may have been the marshy land or area where knaves or felons were executed. Most of the racecourse grandstand dates from 1964 but part of John Carr’s Grandstand of 1754 remains.
Lawrence Street is an eastern continuation of Walmgate beyond Walmgate Bar. The main historic feature is St Lawrence Church, which has a medieval tower.
Leeman Road near the Railway Station is the home of the National Railway Museum.
Lendal, a street located at the western end of Coney Street ( St Helen’s Square) was originally Old Coney Street or ‘Ould Connystrete alias Lendinge Street’. It is named after St Leonards Lendinge – a landing place on the River Ouse belonging to the medieval St Leonard’s Hospital, which stood nearby. Lendal runs from St Helen’s Square to its intersection with Museum Street which leads across the Ouse via Lendal Bridge. Lendal’s most notable buildings are The Judges Lodging of 1718-25 and Lendal House, a former Congregational Chapel dating from 1816. An Augustinian priory once existed between Lendal and the river.
Lendal Bridge was built across the River Ouse by Thomas Page in 1863 and is an iron bridge with Gothic details. The bridge links Station Road with Museum Street on the north bank of the Ouse and is the main point of entry into the city for tourists and commuters arriving via the railway station. Historic towers stand near both ends of the bridge . On the south band of the Ouse is Barker Tower named after Barkers who stripped oak bark for use in tanning. Tanners Yard is nearby. A ferry once ran across from here towards Lendal Tower and there was once a chain across the river here which prevented traders from entering the city without paying tolls. Lendal Tower was made taller in the seventeenth century using stone from the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.
Lord Mayor’s Walk
Lord Mayor’s Walk runs west to east from the top of Gillygate and runs parallel to the north western section of the city walls. It is the location St John’s College which dates from 1841
Marygate runs alongside the walls of St Mary’s Abbey which now enclose the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum. The wall runs along the whole eastern flank of the street from St Mary’s Tower near Bootham to a water tower near the River Ouse.
St Olave’s Church in Marygate was founded by an Earl of Northumbria called Siward in 1090 and is named after St Olaf, a Norwegian saint. The church is a reminder of the Viking influence in the city of York. Following the Norman Conquest the church passed to Alan Earl of Brittany (Alan the Red, Earl of Richmond). Alan gave the church and its surrounding land to Stephen, a monk from Whitby for him to establish a monastery (St Mary’s Abbey ). During the Civil War St Olave’s church suffered some damage when its tower was used as a gun platform.
Micklegate was described by the architectural historian Sir Nicholas Pevsner as ‘without any doubt the most rewarding street in York’. Micklegate means the great street and is the major historic street in York on the western side of the River Ouse. Most of the buildings in the street are of Georgian origin, but from the medieval age there are three historic churches and Micklegate Bar.
Micklegate’s three medieval churches are St John’s, Holy Trinity and St Martin-cum-Gregory. St John’s, first mentioned in 1235 underwent much restoration in the 1500s. The church fell redundant in 1934 and is now the York Arts Centre. St Martin-Cum-Gregory was first mentioned in the Domesday Book and later in 1175. Much of the building is fourteenth and fifteenth century, but the brick tower dates from 1844.
The church is no longer used for services. Holy Trinity Church was originally part of a Benedictine Priory founded in 1089 by Ralph Pagnell as a cell of Marmoutier. A fire in 1137 damaged much of the building and was rebuilt. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the church became parochial. Parts of the priory other than the church remained standing until their demolition in 1856. Other major historic streets on the east side of the Ouse are Skeldergate, Bishop Hill, Trinity Lane, Tofthill and North Street. (See also Micklegate Bar)
Micklegate Bar, the southern gateway into York’s city walls was first mentioned in the twelfth century. Its archway is of Norman origin but the bartizans (little towers) were added in the 14th century.
The barbican (See Walmgate Bar) was removed from the bar in the 1820s. The street of Micklegate leads out off the city wall through Micklegate Bar where it becomes Blossom Street. See also Bootham Bar and Monk Bar.
The Minster Yard surrounds both York Minster and Dean’s Park (a cathedral close) which is just to the north of the minster. The most notable building in this area is the Treasurer’s House in Chapter House Street which is mainly 17th and 18th century with cellars dating back to the 13th century. It was historically the home to the Treasurer of York Minster. Attached to the Treasurer’s House and forming a courtyard with it is a house called Gray’s Court (St John’s College), parts of this building are 12th century. A little further to the east is the historic St William’s College in College Street.
St Michael-le-Belfrey’s church in Minster Yard lies on the south side of the minster between minster Yard and Petergate. It was first mentioned in 1284, but was by tradition founded in 1066. It was completely rebuilt between 1525 and 1536 and has a Victorian facade.
Monkgate and Monk Bar
Monk Bar is at 63 feet, the tallest of York’s bars and is the north eastern gateway to York’s city walls. It lies at the northern end of Goodramgate, a street which becomes Monkgate on the other side of the gateway. Its is not known who the monks were who gave Monkgate and Mon Bar their name. Monk Bar has four storeys – the first three floors being 14th century and the upper floor being fifteenth century. Each floor could be defended like an independent fort, even when other floors had been captured. In the sixteenth century the bar was used as a freeman’s prison. Monk Bar’s barbican was removed from the gateway in 1825.
An ice house dating from 1800 can be found near the city not far from Monk Bar. It was used for storing ice collected in winter, which could later be used in summer time for various purposes.
The street of Monkgate has mainly Georgian buildings, but the old County Hospital dates from 1851
The Museum Gardens are the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum built 1827-30 as the home of the York Philosophical Society. Nearby are the remains of the Roman Multangular tower (See city walls) and an Anglo-Saxon tower dating from around the 7th or 8th century. The gardens are also home to an astronomical observatory. The Yorkshire Museum and the Museum Gardens are on the site of St Mary’s Abbey of which ruins remain.
Nessgate leads from Coney Street and Ousegate to Castlegate and York Castle. The castle stands on a ness, the Viking word for a triangular headland between the River Foss and River Ouse on which Clifford’s Tower stands.
All Saints Church in North Street was first mentioned in 1089. It dates from the 12th to 15th century. It has a 120 ft spire and a hammerbeam roof. An early 20th century anchorage can be found in the south west corner. North Street is a continuation of Skeldergate and runs parallel to the western bank of the River Ouse. The North Street Postern or Barker Tower stands at the western end of the street – see Lendal Bridge.
North Street Postern
North Street Postern is anothern name for the Barker Tower near Lendal Bridge.
Ogleforth is on the route route from Monk Bar to York Minster. The street is thought to be a Scandinavian name which means the ford haunted by an owl. It may alternatively have belonged to someone called Ugel. There are some Georgian buildings in the street.
Old Baile is the site of a castle built by William the Conqueror – see Bishopgate and Clifford’s Tower.
Ouse Bridge was built in 1810-20 by Peter Atkinson Junior and has three eliptical arches, with niches in the piers. The bridge stands on the site of a medieval bridge which crossed the Ouse here and links the street of Micklegate on the south side of the river with Ousegate on the north bank.
One of the main medival streets in York. It runs down to the River Ouse and is linked to Micklegate on the south side of the river by the Ouse Bridge.
This very wide street was built in 1834 and it leads from St Sampson’s Square to Piccadilly and Pavement.
The street of Patrick Pool, a continuation of Swinegate was described in 1249 as so deep and unused that no-one can pass through it. Perhaps the area was the residence of an Irishman called Patrick.
Pavement’s name comes from an old French word meaning paved way. A street of this name can also be found in Nottingham. Herbert House, a timber house in the Pavement dates from 1620 and was on the site of a house belonging to Christopher Herbert, who was a wealthy merchant and a Lord Mayor of London.
All Saints church in the Pavement is sandwiched between High Ousegate and Coppergate at the southern end of the Pavement. Saxon and Viking tomstones can be seen in the church which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The church and its tower date mainly from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. All Saints’ lantern tower once guided travellers through the Forest of Galtres (to the north of York) but now a lantern is lit in memory of the residents of York who died during the two world wars. Thomas Percy, the 7th Earl of Northumberland was executed on scaffolding just outside the church in 1572. His head was displayed on Micklegate Bar.
St Crux parish room is located in the Pavement between the Shambles and Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate which branch off from the street. The building incorporates some of the walls from the medieval church of St Crux which was demolished in 1887. In medieval times the section of the Pavement outside the church was once called Hosier Row, later known as Hosier Gate and Hosier Lane. It was the street of the hose makers.
Peaseholme Green was the once the water meadow where peas are grown. Notable buildings include The Black Swan Inn, a largely seventeenth century building on the site of an earlier medieval inn. In the fifteenth century it was the home of a merchant called Wiiliam Bowes, who was Sheriff of York in 1417 and Lord Mayor of York in 1428. In the eighteenth century the inn was the home to the parents of General Wolfe.
St Anthony’s Hall in Peaseholme Green, once the hall of the Guild of St Anthony dates from 1446-53. Some of its later brickwork dates from 1655. The Hall is now the home of the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research.
St Cuthbert’s Church, Peaseholme Green, was mentioned in the Domesday Book but there is known to have been an earlier Anglo-Saxon church. The church was saved from demolition by Martin Bowes, a Lord Mayor of London who had family connections with the parish. The city wall comes to a temporary end at Peaseholme Green and there was once a a tower here, which was demolished in 1829. The wall reappears at the Red Tower, near Foss Islands Road about a quarter of a mile to the south of Peaseholme Green. Most of the area in between was the site of the medieval King’s Fish Pond, formed by the flooding of the River Foss and Wormald’s Gut. Its prescence made the building of the city wall in this area unecessary.
Petergate is so named because of its proximity to York Minster, which is dedicated to St. Peter. High Petergate stretches from Bootham Bar to the interesection of the street with Stonegate, Low Petergate stretches from there to King’s Square. Some of the buildings in Petergate are of Georgian origin but the most famous features of the street are the city gateway called Bootham Bar and the view of York Minster at the end of the street. St Michael-le Belfrey’s church lies between York Minster and Petergate (for which see Minster Yard).
Piccadilly, not a street of medieval origin, has buildings from more recent times. It runs parallel to Fossgate and both streets cross the River Foss. The Merchant Adventurers Hall (See Fossgate) lies between the two streets.
Meaning the Queen’s landing place, this quay is on the south side of the River Ouse opposite King’s Staith.
York Railway Station was built by G.t.Andrews in 1840 and was extended in 1877 by Thomas Prosser who also built the nearby Royal Station Hotel.
The Shambles are York’s most famous street. The timber-framed houses with over-hanging upper floors have a distinct medieval character, although their popularity with tourists mean that they are a home to many giftshops. Pevsner, the architectural historian described the street as ‘overrestored and twee’. In early times the street was known as ‘marketshire alias Flesh Shambles’. Flesh shambles were flesh benches or stalls where meat was once sold in medieval times.
Skeldergate, along the western bank of the river Ouse has a Viking name and means the Shield Maker’s street.
Skeldergate Bridge was built in 1881 by Thomas Page and like his Lendal Bridge is iron with Gothic details. It links the north and south bank of the River Ouse from Bishopgate on the south bank towards York Castle on the north bank.
Spen lane means the lane with a hedge. It is an offshoot of St Andrewgate near St Andrew’s church.
Spurriergate was originally Little Coney Street and its name means ‘ the street of the spur maker’. St Michael’s church in Spurriergate was first mentioned in 1088 and was rebuilt in Victorian times. It has some notable stained glass.
St. Andrewgate is named after St. Andrew’s medieval church which fell into disuse in the eighteenth century when it came to be used as a stable and a brothel. It is now an Evangelical church. The street is also the home of a former Drill Hall dating from 1872. St. Andrewgate links Colliergate with Aldwark.
St. Helen’s Square
St Helen’s Square lies at the foot of Stonegate and is also joined by the streets of Lendal, Coney Street and Blake Street. It is linked to St Sampson’s Square. by Davygate. Buildings in St Helen’s Square are largely Victorian or neo-Georgian, but the church of St Helen, between Davygate and Stonegate is medieval. The church gives its name to the square and was first mentioned in 1235. It underwent some restoration in the 1500s.
The Mansion House, located where Coney Street meets Lendal in St Helen’s Square is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York and was built 1725-27 by John Etty. It has an interesting collection of city regalia including a 15th century Sword of State and the Great Mace of 1647. Behind the Mansion House, overlooking the River Ouse and clearly seen from Lendal Bridge is the Guildhall. It was originally built in 1447-8 for two guilds by Roger Couper on the site of an earlier guildhall dating from 1378. In a bombing raid on 29th April 1942 it was almost completely destroyed and had to be carefully rebuilt. It was reopened in 1960.
St. Leonard’s Place
St Leonard’s Place is famous for the attractive crescent of houses built in 1844-5 by P.F.Robinson and G.T.Andrews. The De Grey Rooms built by Andrews in 1841 were formerly an officers’ mess for the Yorkshire Hussars but are now York’s Tourist Information Centre. York Theatre Royal in St Leonard’s Place dates from 1877 and is located on the site of an earlier Georgian theatre. St Leonard’s medieval hospital stood near this site.
St. Mary’s Abbey
St. Mary’s Abbey was founded by William Rufus in 1088-89 and was probably built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon Abbey. It was originally within the grounds of St Olave’s Church. The abbey lay just outside the City walls but had walls of its own which can still be traced along the streets of Marygate to the west and Bootham to the north. The City walls provided a boundary on the eastern flank and the River Ouse protected the southern flank. The ruined building is mainly 13th century and can be seen in the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum.
St. Sampsons Square
St Sampson’s Church which gives its name to the square, was first mentioned in 1152, rebuilt 1440-1450 and rebuilt again in 1848. It is the largest square in York and links the streets of Church Street, Davygate and Parliament Street. The remains of a Roman Bath can be seen in the cellar of the Roman Bath Inn in St Sampson’s Square, with the permission of the landlord. In medieval times St. Sampson’s Square was known as Thursday Market.
St. Saviour’s Place
See St. Saviourgate Spen Lane
St. Saviourgate runs north from Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate to St Saviour’s Place and Spen Lane. It is named after St Saviour’s Church which dated from 1090, but which was completely rebuilt in the 1840s by R.H.Sharp. The street has some Georgian houses and is also the home of St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, the oldest non-confromist church in York, dating from 1693. St. Saviour’s Place links St Saviourgate to Aldwark and Peaseholme Green.
Stonegate means the stone-paved street, although some people have suggested that it was named because stone used in building the minster was carted up here. In Roman times a road within the Roman Legionary fortress called the Via Praetoria more or less followed the course of present Stonegate and crossed the River Ouse by means of a bridge, near to where the Guildhall stands today. Stonegate is a Viking street name and it is quite possible that the Roman paved street survived into Viking times. Stonegate is a long narrow street, and one of the most attractive in York. St. Helen’s Square is at the south end of the street and Petergate is at the north. There are a number of attractive timber-framed and Georgian buildings in Stonegate. The northern end of the street, a continuation beyond Petergate to the minster is called Minster Gates.
Located in one of the alleys just off Stonegate is The Old Starre Inn, the oldest public house in York, which dates from the seventeenth century. A beam stretched across both sides of Stonegate advertises the pub near the alley. Nearby on one of the builings is a carving of a red coloured devil, sitting high up, against one of the walls. This was a printer’s devil and once signified the site of a printing works.
Mulberry Hall at number 17 Stonegate is a building dating from the 15th century, but older still are the remains of a house dating from about 1180, the oldest dwelling house in York. It can be found in an alley just off Stonegate.
The street of Little Stonegate is an offshoot to the east of Stonegate and leads into Swinegate.
Swinegate was known in Viking and medieval times as Swinegail, meaning the lane where swine were kept. Swinegate once also included the street now called Little Stonegate. Swinegate is linked to Grape Lane, Patrick Pool and Stonegate.
This road was the site of York’s Tyburn , once the site of York’s gallows.
Tanner Row was the street of the tanners. It more or less follows the course of a Roman road between York and Tadcaster.
The Stonebow’s name probably refers to an arch that once crossed the street. The street runs between Hungate and Peaseholme Green.
Tower Street is located near Clifford’s Tower.
Named after Holy Trinity Church in Micklegate, Trinity Lane is the home of a medieval timber building called Jacob’s Well.
This street is the site of the Victoria Bar (See the City walls)
Walmgate is thought to mean the street belonging to someone called Walba. It is an eastern continuation of Fossgate, but lies entirely on the east side side of the River Foss. The main medieval features in Walmgate are St Deny’s Church, St Margaret’s church and Walmgate Bar. St Denys was first mentioned in the early 12th century but its spire was removed in 1798. The church has a Norman doorway, as does St Margaret’s further to the east. St Margarets was first mentioned in 1180 and has brick western tower dating from 1684. It underwent much rebuilding in the 19th century.
Most of Walmgate Bar, the most easterly gateway in York dates from the 14th century, but parts are Elizabethan dating from 1580. Like Bootham Bar and Micklegate Bar, it still has Bartizans or little rounded towers on the top, but unlike the other bars has retained its extensive Barbican – outer walls extending beyond the outside of the gateway alongside the road itself, to give extra protection. A moat once passed beneath the barbican. Outside the city wall, beyond the bar, the street is called Lawrence Street, although this was originally also part of Walmgate.
This is the smallest street in York and has the longest name. A local custom of wh
ipping small yelping dogs called Whappets was observed in this area in medival times. The street lies at the southern end of Colliergate.
Street names that no longer exist in York include;-
Beggergate – the bag maker’s street which is now called Nunnery lane. It runs parallel to the southern section of the city wall, just outside joining Blossom Street near Micklegate Bar.
Cargate was the old name for King Street which runs from Coney Street to King’s Staith on the River Ouse. It means the marshy street.
Glover Lane was a street near Petergate where glove makers worked.
Girdlegate – See Church Street
Hartergate, now called Friargate was the street belonging to a Viking called Hjartar.
Haymongergate was the name given to part of the Shambles. It means the hay merchant’s street.
Ketmongergate a Viking street name meaning the flesh-sellers street.
Marsh Street a street leading to a marsh which existed near Hungate.
YORK’S HISTORIC BUILDINGS
- * All Saint’s Church, North Street
- * All Saint’s Church, Pavement
- * Anglo-Saxon Tower
- * Assembly Rooms, Blake Street
- * Assize Courts
- * Baile Castle site
- * Bar Convent, Blossom Street
- * Barker Tower, Lendal Bridge
- * Black Swan Inn, Peaseholme Green
- * Bowes Morrell House, Walmgate
- * Bootham Bar
- * Castle
- * Castlegate House, Castlegate
- * Clifford’s Tower
- * Fairfax House, Castlegate
- * Guidhall, St. Helen’s Square
- * Herbert House, Pavement
- * Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate
- * Holy Trinity Church, Micklegate
- * Jacob’s Well, Trinity Lane
- * Judges’ Lodging, Lendal
- * King’s Manor
- * Lady Row Cottages, Stonegate
- * Lendal Bridge
- * Lendal House, Lendal
- * Mansion House, St. Helen’s Sq
- * Merchant Adventurer’s Hall,Fossgate
- * Merchant Taylors’ Hall, Aldwark
- * Micklegate Bar
- * The Minster
- * Monk Bar
- * Multangular Tower, Museum Gardens
- * National Rail Museum, Leeman Road
- * North Street Postern,North Street
- * Old Starre Inn, Stonegate
- * Ouse Bridge
- * Racecourse, Knavesmire
- * Railway Station
- * Roman Bath Inn, St Sampson’s Sq
- * Skeldergate Bridge
- * St Crux Parish Hall, Pavement
- * St Denys Church, Walmgate
- * St Helen’s Church, St. Helen’s Square
- * St John’s Church, Micklegate
- * St John’s College, Lord Mayor’s Walk
- * St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate
- * St Martin-Cum-Gregory Church, Micklegate
- * St Mary’s Abbey Ruins, Museum Gardens
- * St Mary’s Bishophill Junior, Bishophill
- * St Mary’s Church (York Story), Castlegate
- * St Michael-le-Belfrey Church, Minster Yard
- * St Peter’s School, Clifton
- * St Sampson’s Church, St Sampson’s Sq
- * St Saviour’s Church, St. Saviourgate
- * St William’s College, College Street
- * St. Andrew’s Church, St. Andrewgate
- * St. Anthony’s Hall, Peaseholme Green
- * St. Cuthbert’s Church, Peaseholme Green
- * St. Martin-le-Grand, Coney Street
- * St. Michael’s Church, Spurriergate
- * St. Olave’s Church, Marygate
- * Treasurer’s House, Minster Yard
- * Walls (City Walls)
- * Walmgate Bar
- * York Arts Centre, Micklegate
- * York Castle, Clifford’s Tower
- * York Story, Castlegate
- * Yorkshire Museum
PLACES AROUND YORK
Acaster means the site of a Roman fort which was later aquired by and Anglo-Saxon called Aca. After the Norman conquest the manor was owned by the Malbis family.
Acomb derives from the Anglo Saxon Akum which means oaks, um being an Anglo-Saxon plural. There are two Acombs in the north, near Hexham and near York.
The name Appleton indicates an Anglo-Saxon farm where apples grew. Roebuck derives from Rabuk, the name of a man who owned the place in the fourteenth century.
Askham mean the homestead near the ash trees. Bryan son of Scolland was a thirteenth century owner.
Thought to be named after Richard Duke of Cornwall in the thirteenth century
Bishopthorpe lies about three miles south of York on the western bank of the River Ouse. Originally a village called Thorpe St Andrew, it was bought by an Archnbishop of York called Walter De Grey in 1230 who rebuilt the manor house as a place of residence which became Bishopthorpe Palace. This was rebuilt and extended by successive Archbishops over the centuries and extended in the eighteenth century. Bishopthorpe Palace is still the official residence of the Archbishop of York today.
This means Wood of the Jackdaw.
Means village of the chapmen – the traders’ thorpe.
Drinhouses is a souther subburb of York which has a Scandinavian name meaning the houses of the Drengs. A Dreng was a free tenant holding land by tenure older than the Norman conquest. Dreng could also mean ‘lad’ or ‘servant’. Goddards House in Dringhouses is a Tudoresque house dating from 1926
Foss means ditch-like river and may have the root of its name in the Latin fossa.
A Celtic river name thought to mean water. It may be realted to the Sanskrit word Udso.
Once held by Bertram Bulmer, the Sheriff of York who died in 1166.
A myseterious name which is often compared to the ancient name of Whitby.
This means Tocca’s Vithr, the wood belonging to Tocca.
Poppleton is thought to mean the pebbly farm.
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