Renowned as one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval shopping streets and awarded the title of ‘Britain’s most picturesque street’ by Google. A stroll down The Shambles is one of York’s top attractions. Mentioned in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086, The Shambles dates back over 900 years and takes its name from the Saxon ‘Fleshammels’ or ‘street of the butchers’. Although none of the original shop fronts remain, many of the wide window-sills and meat hooks once used for displaying the fresh cuts of meat remain, and the peculiar overhanging buildings, which appear to lean into each other, were designed in order to keep the butchers’ shops below shaded from the sun.
Today, the narrow cobblestone lane is lined with 15th-century buildings and retains much of its medieval character, with its artful jumble of timber-framed shop fronts, gabled windows and old-fashioned shop signs. With houses so narrow in parts that you can stretch your hands between them, the historic spot is begging to have its picture taken, but The Shambles offers more than just a photo opportunity – it’s also one of York’s premier shopping streets, crammed with shopping boutiques, antiques stores, restaurants and cafés.