Today, Patrick Pool is barely more than a lane, a shortcut to the market, but in the medieval period it was a much longer street stretching into what is now Swinegate. As so often, the origins of the name are obscure, although the ‘pool’ clearly suggests a pond or boggy area. In his Mediaeval York: A Topographical Survey, Angelo Raine suggests that the street was built over the remains of the Roman baths (part of which can still be seen under the pub in St Sampson’s Square) and that the baths’ subsequent collapse created a pool. I’m not sure how plausible this is, but it’s a nice idea.
The centre of York is so built up nowadays that it’s easy to forget that there would have been gardens and orchards on most streets in the 16th century and earlier. Mr Watson had a garden in Patrick Pool in 1576 (YCA E31, fo.36), and ground there was the source of a dispute in 1564. Proof of ownership came in the form of Helen Robin, who had gathered herbs there as a child when the land belonged to her father. I think of Helen picking herbs, just as Hawise and Elizabeth are sent to do at the beginning of Time’s Echo, when I walk along Patrick Pool today, although there’s no sign of any greenery today. Instead the street is best known for Ernest Roy, a tiny electrical shop where you can always find exactly what you need!