The Shambles in York

The Shambles is York’s most famous street. A place known for its dark history and one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval shopping streets. This street is so old, it was mentioned in the doomsday book by William the Conqueror in 1086.

The Shambles namesake derives from the Anglo-Saxon word, ‘Shammels’ which was the word used for the wooden sills that butchers would present their meats on. These window sills are still present today protruding from many of the buildings.

The Shambles in York
The Shambles, York

As one of the most well-preserved medieval streets in Europe, it’s natural for it to have it’s fair share of ghostly-sightings. One of these includes the ghost of St Margaret Clitherow. Margaret hid catholic priests in her house at a time when Catholicism was banned in England. When she was captured, she refused to plead innocent or guilty and so was tortured. She was pressed to death by her own front door and died very quickly. Margaret’s shrine is located within the shambles and rumor has it she walks the shambles in the early mornings!

Adding to its ‘spooky’ vibe, The Shambles is also thought by ‘Potterheads’ to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley in the movies and is even home to ‘The Shop That Must Not Be Named’! However, JK. Rowling denies that The Shambles was ever a thought that crossed her mind and claims she had never visited York while writing the series. *sad face*

The Shambles is also home to one of York’s most famous shops, The York Ghost Merchants! This shop is known for creating the original York Ghosts. The ghosts are all handmade in York by Angus McArthur and David Bloodworth and are created in very small batches which are sold as consistently limited runs in the shop on The Shambles.

The Shambles York Ghost Merchants
York Ghost Merchants

Shopping at The Shambles

The shops among the Shambles are true independent gems. When you arrive, feel free to grab a snack at Bluebird Bakery and a deliciously unique tea from Hebden Tea’s impressive range! It’s also the perfect place to find gifts for your favourite people as it’s home to Shambles Market, The Shop That Must Not Be Named (a Harry Potter fan’s must-see!), York Ghost Merchants, Little Shambles Jewellers, Little Saffrons, Take One Gifts and a whole host more!

After a day of shopping, grab a refreshing cocktail at The Potions Couldron or a hearty meal at Shambles Market Tavern and see a glimpse of what the Shambles once was as night takes over the street. Be careful though, you wouldn’t want to catch a glimpse of the ghost of Thomas Percy as he staggers down The Shambles searching for his head…

If you’d like to know more about the businesses on this medieval street, head over to the Discover App and click on ‘The Shambles’ section on York’s main page. We also host all of York’s ghost (and normal) tours on the app! To find them, download the Discover App here.

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