Today Micklegate feels faintly down-at-heel, but its name means the ‘great street’, and for centuries this was the main entrance to the city from the south, through Micklegate Bar.
Many visitors’ first impressions of York must have been of the wide and imposing street curving elegantly down the hill to the bridge across the river.
Micklegate played an important part in the ritual geography of the medieval and early modern city. It welcomed royal visitors, military victors and powerful nobles. It marked the start of the Corpus Christi procession, a route followed by the pageant wagons on which the mystery plays were performed, which gathered at the gates of Holy Trinity priory, before trundling down the hill and into the heart of the city on the other side of the bridge.
This is a street that has seen some splendid sights, and some wretched ones: vagrants and felons sentenced to be whipped around the city also began their barbarous punishment in Micklegate.