Shambles Square, Manchester

Shambles Square, Manchester

Shambles Square is a square in Manchester, England, created in 1999 to house the rebuilt "Old Wellington Inn" and "Sinclair's Oyster Bar" next to the "Mitre Hotel".


"Shambles" was a name originally used for a street of butchers shops where meat was slaughtered and sold. It is derived from the Middle English word "schamel", which meant a bench, as for displaying meat for sale. [ [ Shambles] Retrieved on 2008-03-06] A shambles would have had blood, pieces of meat and offal running down the gutter, [Worthington (2005), p. 9] and although the original meaning of the word fell into disuse, it survived as a word meaning a scene of disorder. There are also streets known as "The Shambles" in other towns in the United Kingdom, such as York, Stroud, Worcester, Whitby, Sevenoaks, Chesterfield and Armagh.


The building that is now "The Old Wellington Inn" was built in 1552 next to Manchester's market square. In 1554 it was purchased by the Byrom family and became part residence and part drapers shop. The writer John Byrom was born there in 1692. The premises were licensed in 1862 and became the "Vintners Arms", then the "Kenyon Vaults" and later "The Old Wellington Inn". The building was extended in the 18th century to house "John Shaw's Punch House" which, as the name suggests, was licensed for the sale of strong alcoholic punch (drink) and became a meeting place for High Tories and possibly Jacobites. [Worthington (2005), p. 11] After John Shaw’s death in 1796 it became "Sinclair's", until oysters were introduced to the menu in 1845 and it became known as "Sinclair's Oyster Bar".

Many of the buildings in the market place were demolished in the Victorian era to make way for road improvements. During the Manchester Blitz in 1940 the rest of the buildings were destroyed leaving The Shambles as one of the few pre-19th century buildings, and The Wellington Inn as the only surviving Tudor building in Manchester City Centre. The buildings were both designated as Grade II listed builings in 1952. [ [ Manchester City Council: Listed Buildings by Street] Retrieved 2008-03-11]

In 1974 most of the old property between Shudehill and Market Street was demolished to accommodate the new Arndale Shopping Centre. The Shambles was underpinned with a concrete raft and, according to the Greater Manchester County Records Office, jacked-up 4 feet 9 inches to fit in with this development in the newly created Shambles Square. [ [ Greater Manchester county Records Office: Wellington Inn] Retrieved on 2008-03-11] In 1996 an IRA terrorist bomb was exploded in nearby Corporation Street. Many of the surrounding buildings were badly damaged but The Shambles was protected by the concrete buildings around it and suffered only minimal damage. In 1998, £12M funding was provided by the government-sponsored Redevelopment Agency English Partnerships, private companies, the European Community and Manchester City Council to redevelop Shambles Square. [ [ Eyewitness Manchester: 20 April 1998] Retrieved 2008-03-10] The buildings were subsequently dismantled and moved 300 metres northwards to their present location, close to Manchester Cathedral in 1999. [ [ Manchester Online: The Great Survivors (13 April 2004).] Retrieved 2008-03-12] The Old Wellington Inn and Sinclair's were rebuilt at 90 degrees to each other and joined together by a stone extension to form two sides of the new Shambles Square. The third side of the square is fronted by "The Mitre Hotel" which was built as "The Old Church Tavern" in 1815. [Warrender (2007), p. 11]
Prince Charles Edward Stuart is said to have reviewed his troops by the tavern in 1745. [Warrender (2007), p. 11] It was renamed as "The Mitre Hotel" around 1835. [Warrender (2007), p. 11]

See also

*History of Manchester




*cite book |last=Worthington |first=Barry |title=Discovering Manchester: A walking guide to Manchester and Salford |publisher=Sigma Leisure |date=2005 |location=Wilmslow |pages=240 |url= |isbn=1-85058-774-4
*cite book |last=Warrender |first=Keith |title=Underground Manchester:Secrets of the city revealed |publisher=Willow Publishing |date=2007 |location=Altrincham |pages=167 |isbn=978-0-946361-41-0

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