A Little Bimble in York
We left Wales behind after a hearty breakfast and ‘farewells’ to our hosts at the Red Kite. Bear took all the country roads across to York and we entered the city through one of several gates in the late afternoon. Wonderful old buildings left and right.
The Wicked Witch Route Mistress soon had us outside the Queens Hotel. Beds made himself comfortable, we unpacked and waited for a shower to pass over. Bear shoehorned the whispering invalid out the door into the dull, grey afternoon for a little bimble. The hotel fronts onto the River Ouse and Bridge Street is just behind me, so convenient for exploring – York Minster tomorrow, just ten minutes away.
Up the steps and onto the bridge, where next to us we saw a plaque to Margaret Clitherow, who was sentenced to death at the age of thirty for harbouring Roman Catholic priests. Two sergeants who should have killed her hired four desperate beggars to do the job for them. On the 25th of March 1586, Margaret was stripped, a handkerchief was tied across her face, she was made to lay down on a sharp rock the size of a man's fist, the door from her own house was put on top of her and slowly loaded with rocks and stones (the idea being the small sharp rock would break her back when the heavy rocks were laid on top of her). Her death occurred in about fifteen minutes, but her body was left for six hours before the weight was removed. After her death her hand was removed, and this relic is now housed in the chapel of the Bar Convent here in York. Following her execution, Elizabeth I wrote to the citizens of York expressing her horror at the treatment of a woman. Because of her sex, she argued, Clitherow should not have been executed. I remembered her story as I attended the Forty Martyrs beatification ceremony at Aylesford Priory in October 1970, Saint Margaret Clitherow was one of the forty. Her plaque was installed at the Micklegate end of Ouse Bridge to mark the site of her martyrdom; the Bishop of Middlesbrough unveiled this in a ceremony on Friday the 29th of August 2008.
Crossing the bridge we saw wonderful old lamps and just the other side a deli with the unique and funny name – The Slug and Lettuce. A few shops along on the left Bear saw Lakeland and was in through the door before I could wonder at the mans speed. So many useful things he’s lined up for picking up tomorrow afternoon........Mmmmmm. Very useful indeed. Mmmmmm.
At the corner a real mix of new and old over the way. There are so many historic buildings in York, too many to mention, so we picked out a few that took our fancy. Named in 1378, it’s thought Pavement was given it’s name as it was the first walkway to be paved in York out of all it’s medieval streets. Originally a central point of York and a hive of activity, Pavement was host to many markets, gatherings, announcements and punishments. One of the more famous, cited on a plaque on the street today, was the beheading of Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland who was beheaded here, on 22nd August 1572 for treason, after refusing an offer to spare his life if he renounced Catholicism.
Further along the old took over from the new. Jones’ the Bootmaker is housed in an extraordinary building dating back to the 1600’s, it was the birthplace to Sir Thomas Herbert Bart, 1st Baronet as appointed by King Charles II. The plaque adorning the first storey of Herbert House tells us his birth date was 1606, beneath is a snickelway leading to Lady Peckitt’s Yard, where horses would be stabled overnight while their owners stayed at the Golden Fleece – seen to the left of Jones.
, directly opposite the Shambles, is York’s second oldest pub and reportedly the most haunted. With five resident ghosts, but over fourteen reported, Lady Peckitt is one of the most commonly sighted. She can be found wandering the endless staircases and corridors in the early morning. Mentioned as far back as 1503, although not officially licensed until 1668 means that the Golden Fleece is second to York’s oldest pub. The Olde Starr on Stonegate acquired it’s license in 1644, some twenty four years earlier. The pub was once a popular coaching inn, owned by the nearby and was named after the woollen trade, prevalent in York form 13th to the 17th century when visiting businessmen would take lodgings here before negotiating deals and trading goods at the nearby hall. In later years, ownership passed to John Peckitt who was Lord Mayor of York, his wife was Lady Alice Peckitt. Opposite, the street we wanted to find. The Shambles.
The Shambles (official name Shambles) is an old street in York, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon 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.
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 here.
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. There are other streets named “The Shambles” in other UK towns - Chesterfield, Chippenham, Manchester, Sevenoaks, Whitby, Worcester and Armagh (there is a Fishamble Street in Dublin).
We saw interesting old buildings, some with plaques. At the end of the Shambles we were out in a pedestrianised area. In the far corner Bear saw an eatery that took his fancy.
Up closer, I could make out the words, The York Roast. Bear got stuck in to his grub with gusto. I felt it was all a bit too ‘bungalow’ for my liking.
Whispering is not helpful, so as usual Bear acted as my voice. He got the nice staff to put my food separate, gravy on the side. I had fun with my Yorkshire pudding. Bear had fun with his camera, swirly.
Next came a bimble down the oldest surviving row of houses in York. Our Lady’s Row.
The Golden Slipper, another city gate and Bear meets a likeness. Steady.
The Golden Slipper was built in the 1500’s, added to over the years with a few amusing tales along the way.
1821: William Brown was hanged on Bailie Hill for robbing John Armstrong when he was "returning from having a few on the sign of The Slipper in Goodramgate". Armstrong had been severely beaten and thrown into the river until he was as "still and stagnated with cold" (as reported in The Gazette 17th - 24th March 1821).
April 1826: York Herald reported; "Strike amongst the bricklayers - A meeting was held at Mrs March's, at the sign of The Slipper in Goodramgate, on Wednesday last". The article goes on to say that as employers combined to reduce the wages of the journey men by two shillings per week - a reduction which the men refused to accede - a "strike" had been the result.
19th Century: The remainder was complete and the Victoria brick facade was added in the nineteenth century.
1984: During alteration works workmen found a medieval leather slipper, one of two that was built into 14th century buildings to ward of evil spirits (now displayed in the front snug / lounge). The other shoe would have belonged to a child, but was never found.
We poked out noses out of the gate and saw St William’s College. This splendid timbered building, built in 1461 in the shadow of the Minster, was originally a college for Minster priests. It was much altered in the 16th and 17th centuries when it was divided up into apartments and let out. By the 19th century it had fallen on hard times and the wonderful medieval building housed a series of dreadful slum tenements. It was rescued from total despair by Francis Green, who at the time owned the Treasurer's House just a few yards away. He later sold the building back to the city council for the same price as he had paid for it, enabling the council to begin restoration. Now the building is restored to its former glory and as well as housing a popular restaurant, it is used for conferences, exhibitions and receptions. Like so many other ancient buildings in the city it is said to be haunted.
Amazing original brickwork. Bear acts as a perspective against the massive beams and we find a shortcut back to the Shambles.
We bimbled about for an hour or so looking in the grockle shops.
Heading back to the Queens Hotel we stopped at the entrance to the tiny alley, mentioned above. The sign on the wall told us we were in Lady Peckitt’s Yard. Formerly known as Bacusgail or Blake House Lane. Later given its present name because John Peckitt, Lord Mayor 1702 – 1703, and his wife lived here. By old York custom, the wife of a Lord Mayor was called Lady for the rest of her life:-
‘He is a Lord for a year and a day,
But she is a Lady for ever and a aye.’
Bear decided it was beer o’clock so we stopped off in a little Tesco Extra en route back to our digs.
What the listing says about the Woodsmill, that touches the Queens Hotel. Grade II listed on the 24th of June 1983. Mill and warehouse, now offices. Mid C19, with later C19 and C20 alteration. Orange-red brick in Flemish bond, with window arches of grey-white brick; cast-iron balcony. Stone coped gables to Welsh slate roof.
Exterior: gabled front of four storeys with basement and attic, and 4 windows. Basement openings are low segmental arches three blocked, the right end one containing set-back segment-headed board door on heavy hinges. On first floor full-width balcony with trellis balustrade and canopy roof. Windows throughout are 4-pane sashes with painted stone sills, or French doors, all beneath segmental brick arches. Gable end treated as pediment with moulded modillion cornice over eaves band of cogged brick; encloses glazed oculus in grey-white brick surround. Gantry projects from attic.
David Lloyd, in the Esher Report of 1968 wrote:- 'A working quayside, with cranes, barge moorings, warehouses, bollards and cobbled surface, and a view across to the less lively King's Staith on the opposite bank of the Ouse. The quayside is attractive in its present unselfconscious state. Make that two beers..........
ALL IN ALL REALLY INTERESTING