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The Shambles is the name of a picturesque street in York full of medieval charm and drunken-looking half-timbered buildings.

It is possible for people on the two top floors of these buildings to shake hands through the open windows.

Shambles isn’t a description of the shambolic look of the buildings. It relates to the word ‘shamel’ as this street was the ancient trading place of York’s butchers. A ‘shamel’ was a stall or bench on which meat was displayed, hence the low, wide window sills on the shop fronts.

There are no butchers stalls anymore. In their place are chocolate shops and tea rooms.

At number 35 there is a building dating from the 1400s which is now a Shrine.

It is a tiny space dedicated to one of York’s Catholic martyrs, Margaret Clitherow. She was executed for harboring Jesuit priests and was killed by “pressing” ie. she was squashed to death. She was canonised as St Margaret of York in 1970.

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