Tomb Three – ‘The Notorious Folk’


‘Do I believe in ghosts?

I am prepared to consider evidence and accept it if it satisfies me.’

~ M.R. James


The Tale:

Gentle reader,

Before you take your leave of the THIRD of the THIRTEEN Brigante Tombs and if you are feeling a little peckish – be sure to step inside this unique emporium and enjoy something fabulous to eat.

For IF you are a true turophile, you may well believe that you have died and gone to cheese heaven!

Although this delightful emporium nestles in the heart of York and can tempt any visitor with an enticing array of boutiques and smart restaurants – history records that for hundreds of years this quaint medieval street was anything BUT delightful!

As it was usual for the name of a medieval street to reflect the purpose the said street – Grape Lane was known by a VERY different name by 1329 and as the word grāp is the Old English word for ‘grope’ – a quick look through Wikipedia will satisfy the curious!

Crime, disorder, pickpockets, assault, illegal gambling, houses of ill-repute – throughout it’s long history Grape Lane has enjoyed a lot of infamy.

The words ‘notorious’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘criminal’ were frequently used by York’s angry magistrates when describing the residents of Grape Lane during the Victorian era.

And one such couple who having being found guilty of keeping a house of ill-fame in September 1820 were subjected to a volley of bricks from their furious neighbours as they crossed the river by way of the Lendal Ferry to the House of Correction.

Had it not been for the presence of the Police Constable – the ill fated husband and wife would probably have not survived the ducking in the River Ouse that the angry crowd were determined to inflict upon them as an additional punishment.

However, by 1821, the embattled members of the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Grape Lane were appealing to the Lord Mayor to attend a Sunday service as a gesture of support AND as a hopeful deterrent against the hoards of disorderly and ‘outrageous ranters’ who while intoxicated had taken to causing a regular disturbance outside the chapel.

Grape Lane may only be a small lane but it boasts one hive of historical activity!

And if you now pass under the low entrance to Coffee Yard – why not pause for a moment in the shadow of Barley Hall and think about the triumph of the remarkable widow Grace White who in February 1718 became THE first woman in York to launch her own newspaper The York Mercury in this very yard?

P.S. Did you happen to notice the street number of the emporium offering temporary sanctuary to this Brigante Tomb?


The Location:

Grape Lane. York. YO1 7HU.