York Walks /3


Photographed in 2004

To illustrate the diversity of this street called Bootham – two doors.

A door on Bootham – formerly the Roxy   Door to Ingram's Almshouses

Left: At the top of Bootham – Number 25 – is this ordinary looking door, here shown with its planning application notices (and since redeveloped as apartments).

This was the place to be in the 1980s. Behind this door was a nightclub called the Roxy. I just have to look at this door and I can hear the Sisters of Mercy and picture lots of Goths dancing in a miserable way. And see red and black striped trousers, big back-combed hair, and my 18th birthday party here, when I had an argument with my boyfriend and cried most of the night, and . . . oh, I could go on, but I won't.

Right: And at number 90 – the historic and beautifully maintained Ingram's Almshouses on Bootham. This ornate doorway, set in a brick building, was apparently rescued from Holy Trinity Priory. The building was badly damaged in the siege of York, in 1644. There's more information on the siege in my book Chocolate and Chicory: York and beyond, by bicycle.

Priestley's vintage clothing shop used to occupy these premises near the top of Bootham. Though Priestley's relocated long ago to new premises, these rather handsome tiles remain on the front of its former shop. I used to love this place, and visited often in the 1980s (when I was still at school and so didn't have the money to buy the suede jackets I coveted).

  Tiles: Priestley

A more conventional Bootham view – Bootham Bar. Hard to capture it on camera without traffic in front of it unless you visit at a certain time on an early-in-the-week evening, as I did on this occasion, when it was lit by the fading light of a summer sunset.

York's walls and bars, and the Minster, are particularly beautiful in the evening, because of the quality of the light on the limestone.

  Bootham Bar – summer evening

Aww, bless the little figures on top of the bar. We perhaps don't realise, when we admire these ancient monuments, that nothing lasts that long without some refurbishing and renovating, and details like these are replaced every now and then, by skilled craftspersons.

  Bootham Bar – detail
Walls, Bootham  

A section of the old abbey wall, on Bootham. Most of this part of the walls is still obscured by buildings that were placed in front of it. This section, then, is all the more interesting. That's what makes York the fascinating and attractive place it is, the fact that you can have an ancient monument right next to a Victorian house.

There's another almshouse building on Bootham, but it's less likely to be spotted as it's set back from the road, with a garden in front. This is Wandesford House, which was founded to house "poor widows". It's an attractive building and its garden at the front gives it an air of peace and tranquility. If you do happen to notice Wandesford House, you might also notice, in the centre of the front of the building, Mary Wandesford's bust (no juvenile sniggering please).

More on York almshouses

  Bust of Mary Wandesford
Registry Office, Bootham   View along Bootham

Above right: View of Bootham, looking towards the entrance to Marygate, early morning, summer 2004. Above left: the Registry Office, recently refurbished and looking very smart. The sign in the window says that they do "celebratory services", which I assume means weddings, though they perhaps do all kinds of other services of celebration too. I should maybe find out. I wonder if they do a service for people who've just done their 100th page on a website? Second thoughts, think I'll probably just celebrate that at a pub.

Bootham School buildings   Houses on Bootham

Both Micklegate and Bootham contain fine Georgian houses, and both are ancient routes towards the city of York. But I know Bootham better, and love it because it contains so much in such a short distance. So many fine buildings, like those of Bootham School (above) and then the grounds of Bootham Park, with railings and trees (below left), and the railway line to Scarborough (below right) cutting across Bootham, alongside Bootham Terrace and Grosvenor Terrace. Sometimes, from the nearby houses, you can hear the trains. Bliss.

Front of Bootham Park Hospital   Railway line – York to Scarborough, by Bootham Terrace

Related pages:

If you go this way along Bootham, you can visit a traditional 70 year-old football ground called Bootham Crescent. A little further along, just past Ingram's Almshouses, you arrive at Clifton.