Located in the heart of the city of York, England, the Shambles is an old medieval street, often called Europe’s best preserved, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century.
The word Shambles originates from the Medieval word Shamel, meaning ‘slaughterhouse’.
The Shambles was once also known as “The Great Flesh Shambles,” probably from the Anglo-Saxon word Fleshammels (literally ‘flesh-shelves’).
The Shambles was historically a street of butchers shops and houses and the word was used for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat.
In 1862 there were 26 butcher shops on this street. The way the pavements on either side of the street are raised up was done to create a channel which the butchers would wash away their waste through.
Offal and blood would gush down the lane twice weekly.
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.
It is still possible to see some of the original butcher’s meat-hooks attached to the shop fronts.
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 there at No. 10 Shambles.
Today it features great shops, cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions.
The unique beauty of The Shambles has been recognized and awarded the title of the most picturesque street in Britain in the Google Street View Awards after more than 11,000 cast their vote.