Lighted windows of shops and tea rooms, long since closed for the night, make a warm contrast to the blue-white lights of the Christmas trees. On a fine day the Shambles is crowded with shoppers and tourists. At nine o’clock on a winter evening, the narrow, medieval street is empty and the lamp light gleams on the smooth, stone strips for cart wheels, which border the cobbled way.
Stonegate, the principle street of the medieval city of York, leads from the Guildhall to the cathedral, York Minster. The street follows the line of the main axis of the Roman town of Eboracum, established in AD 71. The developments of successive eras are layered on top of each other and the present, stone-paved street lies six feet above the level of the Roman road.
In 1212 King John granted York the status of a self-governing city. For many years this was one of the most important cities in the north of England but, by modern standards, York is a medium sized town. The medieval city walls enclose the compact, historic core; most of the city’s 200,000 inhabitants now live beyond the ramparts.
York Mansion House is the official residence of the city’s mayor. Like so many public buildings around the world it is currently illuminated in the colours of the French tricolour, in memory of the victims of the November 13th attacks and in solidarity with the city of Paris.