No visit to the magnificent City of York would be complete without an exploration of some of the 50 medieval Snickelways (alleyways) dotted around the City. The term Snickelway was first used by the author Mark W Jones who in 1983 produced an outstanding guidebook “A Walk around the Snickelways of York”. The book is in hand-written format with notes and maps showing the routes of these fascinating and atmospheric lanes.
The longest Snickelway is Coffee Yard is 220 feet (67 metres) in length and connects Stonegate with Swinegate and leads to a reconstructed merchants house Barley Hall dating back to 1461. The shortest Snickelway, Little Peculiar Lane, is a mere 20 feet (6 metres) in length and leads off High Petergate down the side of the Hole-in-the-Wall pub. It emerges into a tranquil eighteenth century courtyard with stunning views of the Minster.
Many of the Snickelways have unusual and intriguing names. Lund Court, formerly Mad Alice Lane refers to a York lady who having been beaten remorselessly by her husband finally attacked and killed him. The murder caused her to go insane before she was hanged at York Castle in 1825. Her face can sometimes be spotted at one of the windows looking down the lane.
Hornpot Lane, leading to Holy Trinity Church, refers to the discovery nearby of a 14th century pit containing the remains of horns associated with the horn-making industry.
So next time you visit this ancient City be sure to add an exploration of the Snickelways to your itinerary. You won’t regret it!