8 Quirky and Unusual Facts About York

In this article we explore some strange and unusual facts you probably didn’t know about York.
  1. York is well known for it’s wealth of haunting. So much so, in 2002 the International Ghost Research Foundation proclaimed it the most haunted city in Europe. Read our blog post that tells you where to catch the most York paranormal activity.
  1. The Shambles is believed to be the oldest shopping street in Europe. The street even gets a mention in the Domesday book of William the Conqueror in 1086. Even today, many of the buildings on the street today date back to the late fourteenth and fifteenth century (around 1350-1475).
  1. Constantine the Great was crowned in York in 306AD (or Eboracum as York was known then) and is the only Roman emperor to have been crowned anywhere outside of Rome. In fact, The Roman Baths public house has a rare example of underground Roman baths that were probably used by Constantine himself.
  1. The famous conspirator Guy Fawkes who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament was born in Stonegate. Records in the Minster Library confirm that Mr and Mrs Fawkes lived on the street. Guy attended St Peter’s School, Bootham, York and to this day the school refuses to burn effigies of their famous alumni on November 5th .
  1. The Bar Convent is the oldest living convent in England and was formed in 1686. It has a beautiful neo-classical chapel dating from 1769 which has a priest’s hiding hole and eight separate exits to facilitate the escape of the congregation in the event of a raid during the time Catholicism was outlawed in Britain.
  1. A lightening bolt struck York Minster in 1984 and started a fire so intense that it lasted three days after the consecration of the controversial David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham. The fire caused massive damage to the 13th century cathedral, destroying the roof of the South Transept and shattering the famous rose window into thousands of pieces. It took four years to complete the repairs at a cost of around £2.5m.
  1. Contrary to popular belief, highwayman Dick Turpin didn’t originate from York. Born in Essex, Turpin was a member of the violent Gregory Gang, becoming a highwayman when they went their separate ways.  Having shot and killed a man who attempted to capture him he fled to Yorkshire.  He stole horses in Lincolnshire and returned with them to Brough to sell, a trade which was exposed while he was in Beverley House of Correction having shot his landlord’s cockerel.  He gave his name as John Palmer. He was moved to York Castle, from where he wrote to his brother asking for help.  His brother refused to pay the sixpence due on the letter and it was returned to the local post office – where Turpin’s old schoolmaster recognised his handwriting.  His identity was revealed and he was sentenced to death. At his hanging at Tyburn, Turpin hired five professional mourners to follow him up the scaffold and he put on a show for the large crowd.

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