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Stonegate York Stonegate Old Streets in York England UK

A view coming down the street from the Lord Mayor of York's house toward the minster

The name Stonegate appears on records as early as 1118. Built on the roman road Via Praetoria and accessed through the gateway Porta Praetoria, which now lies beneath St Helens square. There are a few possibilities as to the origin of the name, the most popular is that the stone used to construct the Minster was brought from quarries near Tadcaster by boat to a landing place where the Guildhall now stands, and taken along this street. Although our present Minster was built much later than 1118, previous Minster's on this site were also built with stone. Another possibility was simply that the street had retained its roman built paved surface, whereas neighbouring streets had to make do with roads more roughly constructed. Stonegate has two famous signs worth a mention, the chained red devil which sits at the top of the door of no. 33. He is there to remind us that the premise was once a Printers shop and the printer's devils were the small boys who were used to fetch and carry type. This street was at one time known as the 'Street of the Printers'

Another curiosity is the 'Gallows Sign' which is attached to, and advertises, the Olde Starre Inn. It is also attached to the opposite premises. The public house claims to be the oldest in York, dating back to the time of Henry the V111. Originally the Star, it was managed for a time by a saddler, George Ambler. He built a home in front of the pub and, when the pub changed hands again, access to the pub via a doorway was agreed with the present (and future) owners of the house. It was put up for sale again in 1792. The new landlord had trouble attracting custom into a pub that couldn't be seen from the street, so on February 5th 1793 he was given permission to display a sign across the width of the street. Because it was attached to another property, a fee of 25 shillings had to be paid annually. The property owner was obliged to spend the money, probably a few hundred pints of ale!, in the company of the Star's landlord. The landlord decided to retire and sell up two years later, but the sign remains. The Star yard also had a well of pure water which, for many generations, was the only local supply of fresh water.

The other side of the road has a splenid display of hanging baskets from the shops

Coffee Yard is situated next to Mulberry Hall and was for many years simply a short cut through to Grape Lane and Swine gate. In the 1980's the York Archaeological Society was invited to examine the muddle of buildings that were here, prior to the area being developed for offices. They discovered the skeleton of a 14th -15th century building. They bought it and carefully restored it to give us a gem in the heart of York.

To visit Barley Hall is to step back to 500 years ago, and experience daily life as it was. It is a beautifully restored 15th century timber-framed hall, and a 14th century Monastic Hospice (not a hospice as we know it, but a hotel for visiting dignitaries). Richard 111 was known to be visiting York in 1483, just two years before his death. It is a lovely possibility that he visited Barley Hall. Stocked utility rooms and the hearth in the centre of the hall, give a real feel to the way of life in those times, and are very much worth a visit.

The grumpy git here doesnt spoil the picture of this lovely old city street

A little further up Stonegate, between the numbers 50 and 52; there is a passage which will lead you into the remains of a Norman house. Originally a two storey house, the few bits of decorative masonry that survives date this house to circa.1180. It is the oldest dwelling house with any substantial remains standing in 'situ' anywhere in York. The courtyard was restored by the York Civic Trust in 1969.

Stonegate is an attractive old street, full of interesting little shops. Apart from Mulberry Hall - the china and crystal specialist - it has a number of jewellers, the Teddy bear shop, the Peter rabbit shop, a very good book shop and much more.

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