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The Shambles

The Shambles is an old street in York, England, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-SaxonFleshammels (literally ‘flesh-shelves’), the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 there were twenty-five butchers’ shops in the street but now there are none. There is still a butcher in the adjacent Little Shambles which leads to York’s open-air Newgate Market. 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. 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. The shops currently comprise a mixture of eateries and souvenir shops, but there is also a bookshop and a baker.

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