A REAL SHAMBLES IN THE CITY | Sharon Henry
The city of York is Olde England incarnate; cobbled lanes, crooked timber buildings and multi-paned shop windows that oozes old-fashioned charm. In fact, window shopping in the historic city is just as much an attraction as walking its medieval walls or stepping inside the York Minster.
A stroll through the labyrinth of streets (or gates, as streets are called in York) is so enchanting it’s like wandering around a movie set of a Charles Dickens novel.
And reminiscent of those Victorian times, shop windows bulge, laden with all manner of goodies, a catalogue of sorts divulging what’s inside. Pastries, trinkets, toys, curios, confectionery, home-ware, jewellery, musical instruments… all neatly displayed to allure passers-by.
On The Outside Looking In – Window Shopping In York
Set in the heart of Yorkshire, York is a window shopper’s heaven. Yes, there are the usual high street chains but it’s the quaint style of the independent shops and boutiques that sets York apart, offering a quirky and unique window shopping experience you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
Window displays have an informal, museum-like quality as they showcase the lifestyle and culture of the city. There’s a Mary Shortle ‘doll and teddy’ hospital shop, a taxidermist and even an all-year-round Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop, the first in the UK!
My favourite street (gate) is The Shambles. The name suggests chaos, and it possibly was in centuries gone as this used to be the butchers’ market. Today it’s a magnet for tourists wanting to photograph the Google won title of ‘Britain’s most picturesque street.’
The Shop That Must Not Be Named
Gone are the hog’s heads and legs of lamb that once hung in the open shop windows (although if you look carefully the meat hooks remain). Instead The Shambles shops offer specialty tea, finger puppets, amber jewellery and buttery beer; a spin-off of a Harry Potter brew.
JK Rowling’s, Diagon Alley was reportedly modelled on The Shambles and the real deal will capture the imagination of all Harry Potter fans, especially as here you’ll also find ‘The Shop That Must Not Be Named’ brimming with Harry Potter memorabilia and a Nimbus broomstick and a Sorting Hat hanging in the window.
But be warned – it’s very popular and there’s usually a long, snaking queue of people waiting to enter.
Visual Retail Therapy
York is just two hours from London by train and makes a wonderful city break or a day’s excursion. It’s the quintessential biscuit tin picture of an English town.
A spot of window shopping in York comes highly recommended and is a delightful way to spend a day. You can literally window shop till you drop, a form of retail therapy (albeit visual) that won’t cost a penny – if you’re strong! Beware: Those window displays are quite irresistible.
In York the word ‘gate’ substitutes street, and ‘bar’ substitutes gate as in gate house. So, a street is a gate, a gate is a bar and a bar is a pub!