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The Medieval period was perhaps the time of greatest importance for the city of York. At the start of the period, which we have assumed to be 1066, William I was fully employed maintaining his hold on the south of Britain to such an extent that resistance to his rule in the north could be organized. It would appear that York was the centre for such rebellions from 1068 to 1070. As indicated in our page on Fortifications William's reaction was to garrison troops in the town and build first one, and then a second, castle as bases to subdue the population. Following an assault on the city by a combination of the English and the Danes in 1069 William's troops reacted by burning many of the houses near the castles. This fire spread throughout the city and destroyed many buildings including the Minster.

This was however the start of a period which saw the city recover and develop within increasing power and prosperity over the next 400 years, particularly during the period from the 1200s onward, becoming what was effectively the second city in the land. 

In addition to the churches and the fortifications a number of other buildings have survived from the medieval period. Probably one of York's most famous streets is The Shambles but there are many other interesting areas across the city which are well worth a little time to seek out. 


Minster Library.

Standing in Minster Gardens the chapel, was formally part of the palace of the archbishops in the 13th century.


The Merchant Adventurer's Hall (left and below) dates from 1357 and is testament to the social and commercial life of York in the later centuries.


Lady Row - Goodramgate (Left) Dating from c. 1320 the terrace stands on the edge of the Holy Trinity churchyard. The houses have been altered over the years and are now small shops but the basic structure with jettied upper floors remains.They are believed to be some of the oldest small houses in Europe.


Merchant Tailors’ Hall (right) looks from the outside to be 17th Century but this disguises the 14th Century building which has a beautiful medieval roof.


Bowes Morrell House - Walmgate (Left) Standing isolated amidst modern buildings this timber framed house is late 14th century.

The Merchant Tailors’ Hall  and the Merchant Adventurers Hall are the remaining structural evidence of the mediaeval guilds who controlled trade in the city. 1415 records show that 57 guilds were active


Low Petergate (left) runs from Kings Square to the Minster. Petergate is named after St Peter the Saint to whom the Minster is dedicated.

High Petergate (right) dates from the 14th century but now has a variety of housing styles. The street also lies over a Roman road (the Via Principalis) and runs from Bootham Bar, which can be seen at the far end, to the Minster.

Stonegate lies over another Roman road (the Via Preatoria). Many of the buildings date from the 14 century. In the distance the banner across the street can just be seen proclaiming the presence of the Olde Starre Inne, one of the oldest pubs in York with a cellar said to date from the 10th century.



Tucked away down a short ally off Stonegate are the remains of the inside of a 12th century Norman House

Barley Hall (left and right) can also be found from Stonegate.

Coffee Yard, a tiny alley leading from Stonegate is the location of the Hall belonging to the York Archaeological Trust. With the oldest parts dating from 1360 it was originally the York mansion for Nostel Priory, a monastery near Wakefield, and provided accommodation for the monks


After a three year restoration project the Hall was opened to the public in 1993.


The Kings Square entrance to The Shambles and the Shambles themselves (pictured left and right respectfully) are perhaps the best known medieval areas of York.

Originally the street where the butchers traded the Shambles are now small shops with regrettably a proliferation of modern signage. It does, however, not take much imagination to see how the street would have looked in the 14th century. 


St Williams College

The college was built between 1465 and 1467 as the home of the cathedral chantry priests. It is dedicated to William Fitzherbert, the nephew of King Stephen and great grandson of William The Conqueror. Fitzherbert was Archbishop of York in 1153.


Abutting the later 19 century council chamber and offices the mid 15 century Guildhall (left) was badly damaged in an air raid during the second world war and was rebuilt in the 1950s. It stands on the river beside the original point of the Roman crossing.

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