Coney Street is ‘The King’s Street’, one of the oldest and most important streets in the city of York.
It runs parallel to the River Ouse and this important waterway has always been central to the street's story. The site of the Roman bridge that connected the Fortress to the colonia (the civilian settlements) on the opposite bank was located in this area.
During the Norman period, Coney Street was a bustling neighbourhood. It was filled with great stone-built town houses (some of them re-using the earlier Roman houses!), one of which was to become the city’s first Common Hall. This was replaced in later centuries by the Guildhall and Mansion House, which were the focus of civic ceremony and pageantry through to the 20th century. StreetLife researcher John Jenkins is shedding new light on these hugely siginificant buildings. A heritage hub located in the reception area of the newly-refurbished Guildhall will allow visitors to explore the Coney Street experience from late Srping 2022.
Coney Street was home to the city’s thirteenth-century Jewish community, and archaeological researcher Stephen Lonsdale is tracing the evidence for its synagogue and school in the medieval property and parish boundaries that still endure today. Meanwhile, Lizzie Hodgson is exploring the rich history and heritage of hospitality in the street, from the great inns of the George, the Black Swan, the Leopard and the Bull, to the more ‘lively’ reputation of pubs like the Greyhound. Traces of these buildings can still be found in fabric of the street and in doorcases and sculptures in York’s museum collections.
Coney Street was not just a street of consumption, however - it was also a place where beautiful things were made. Project partners Fabrication have been exploring this in their Coney Street Heritage project and Archive Lead, Louise Hampson is working with them to provide spaces and opportunities to share their discoveries about the diverse crafts, from metalworking to tailoring, and bring some of the stories of the people who lived above the shop to life. The voices of more recent residents and workers will also be re-animated, through collaboration with the York Oral History Society, and local historian Van Wilson, author of ‘York’s Golden Half Mile: the story of Coney Street’.
These rich layers of history and heritage will be presented in displays and workshops in the StreetLife Hub on Coney Street, but will also be accessible online via digital materials being developed by our Heritage360 team at the University of York. This content will become available over the course of the Summer. Come and explore the street in person, or become a virtual visitor to the city and get updates via our researcher’s regular blog posts.
And if you want to get involved in thinking about the future as well as the past of Coney Street, take a look at our Coney Street heritage workshops, run by project partner York Civic Trust.