Fascinating York

Written by: Elmtree Press


York is constantly voted as one of the most popular cities to visits in the United Kingdom and it is easy to see why.  Small and compact it is an easy city to explore.  Here are 22 fascinating facts that you may not have known about the city!


  1. York’s ancient walls are three miles long – making them the longest city walls in England – and enclose an area of about 263 acres.

  2. York Minster is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe, and contains more medieval stained glass than any other cathedral in Britain and contains glass dating back to 1150.

  3. A little red devil sits chained outside 33 Stonegate, staring benevolently at passers by!  It is not, however, a sign of demonic antics within, it is actually the traditional symbol for a printers. Be careful though, it is supposed to be unlucky to look into his eyes!

  4. Two of York’s medieval bookshops have symbolic statues outside:-

    The Roman Goddess Minerva symbolising wisdom and drama resides at the Junction of Minster Gates and Low Petergate. The shop below was owned by John Foster between 1580 and 1607 and housed 3,000 books, an amazing number for those times. Interestingly enough, he also sold lottery tickets!

    The Golden Bible hanging above 35 Stonegate originally indicated that the shop was a book shop.

  5. There is a law still on the statute books which says it is legal to shoot a Scotsman in York.  The only snag is it has to be any day but Sunday and only with a bow and arrow!

  6. The churchyard belonging to St Helen’s church became so crowded, that a hill formed and carriages found it difficult to pass. In 1745 the churchyard was sold and the graves moved to Davygate.

  7. York is home to over 30 museums and tourist attractions – more than any other comparable historical city in Britain.

  8. There are a number of stone cats, the trademark of architect Tom Adams scattered throughout York. There are two on a building in Low Ousegate, one of which looks like it is walking up the wall!

  9. The Archbishop of York from 1724 to 1743, Lancelot Blackburne, was a pirate of the Caribbean in his younger days and greatly upset his wife by asking his mistress to move in with them!

  10. The Bar Convent hosts an exhibition which included the severed hand of Margaret Clitheroe, a catholic martyr and saint whose shrine is housed in the Shambles.

  11. The wife of chancellor to the Minster, Jane Hodson, has a memorial in the Minster.  She bore 24 children and died in 1636.  Mother’s Day must have been the highlight of her year!

  12. The Black Swan at Peasholme Green is equipped with a Black Death spy hole so that prospective customers could be checked for signs of bubonic plague.

  13.  In 2002, the International Ghost Research Foundation declared that York is the most haunted city in Europe.

  14.  York’s famous National Railway Museum houses the only Japanese Bullet Train outside of Japan.

  15.  The Domesday Book of 1086 mentions The Shambles as a shopping street. It is believed to be the oldest in Europe.

  16.  The wife of Chancellor to the Minster, Jane Hodson, has a memorial in the Minster.  She bore 24 children and died in 1636.  Mother’s Day must have been the highlight of her year!

  17.  One of the most famous of York’s sons is Guy Fawkes – sometimes described as "the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”.  Learn more about him at York Dungeon.  
  18.  Highwayman, Dick Turpin, spent his last night in a cell in what is now the Castle Museum. He was hanged in 1739.

  19. When it was completed in 1877, York Railway Station was the largest station in the World with 13 platforms.

  20. Think of York and you think of Chocolate.  York is synonymous with the Kit Kat the most popular and famous of all chocolate bars  of all time.  Learn about the history of chocolate and sample some delights at York's Chocolate Story.

  21. The Pricke of Conscience window situated in All Saints, North Street, depicts the final 15 days of the end of the world – earthquakes, floods and fires.

  22. Probably the most haunted house in York is the Treasurer’s House, a restored Jacobean House where Roman soldiers can be seen marching through the walls of the cellar at the level of the old Roman Road.