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10 Really Old & Beautiful Streets of Britain

1. Vicars' Close - Wells

Vicar's Close in Wells actually claims to be the oldest complete surviving residential street in Europe. Dating from the mid-14th century, it comprises numerous Grade I listed buildings, 27 residences (originally 44), built for Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury, a chapel and library at the north end, and a hall at the south end, over an arched gate.

2. The Shambles - York

This old street in York has overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the 14th century. Shambles is an old world word for an open air slaughterhouse and meat market. As recently as 1872 twenty-five butchers' shops were located along the street, but now none remain.

3. Gold Hill - Shaftsbury


One of the most photographed streets in England, Gold Hill is a very steep street in Shaftsbury lined with preserved cottages on one side and an ancient castle wall on the other.

4. Mermaid Street - Rye

By Steve Knox at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This grade II listed street with cobbles running steeply downhill is lined with historic houses on either side. At one time during the late 1800s it was a rather disreputable street leading down to the harbour. Now we'd love to have an address on this street.

5. Steep Street - Lincoln

This is truly a steep street with a 14% gradient at its steepest. It is flanked by a few Norman houses and clusters of medieval buildings with timbering and half-jetties, all in the shadow of the great Lincoln Cathedral. One of the Norman houses, known as Jews House, dates from the mid-12th century and is famous for being one of the oldest town houses still occupied in Europe.

6. Eastgate Street - Chester


Eastgate Street is one of the four original streets built inside Roman Chester. It runs from the Eastgate Clock to the High Cross. Along the buildings and up one story is secondary level, known as the Rows. Unique to Chester, they allow a double tier of shops that are thought to date back to medieval times.

7. Elm Hill - Norwich

Elm Hill is another lovely cobbled lane with many buildings dating back to the Tudor period. It gets it's name from the elm trees that have successively stood in the square since the first quarter of the 16th century. There is some evidence of the street's existence around 1200, though it's origins are not known. Many of the buildings now standing along the street do not date any earlier than 1507, when a fire destroyed much of Norwich.

8. Gentle Street - Frome

Gentle Street by Judith White on Flickr.

Frome is full of ancient streets and Gentle Street is one of most picturesque. Named after a family which lived at #7 in the 1500s, it was first identified by that name in 1698. Gentle Street is a good representation of how narrow medieval streets really were. It is cobbled and has many original dwellings both Georgian and Medieval. Used as a movie set numerous times it has recently been featured in Pordark Season 2.

9. Clovelly

By Olaf Tausch - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Clovelly is a small village in Devon and is noted for it's steep cobbled pedestrian street, which leads down to it's picturesque harbor. The village is still privately owned an has been associated with only 3 families since the middle of the 13th century. Bet you don't ever see a car driving down this street.

10 Parliament Street - Exeter

Picture By J Morley - ansferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,

Parliament Street is a 160 ft long street in the city of Exeter, Devon. It links the High Street (right next to Greggs) to Waterbeer Street and dates from the 14th century. Often heralded as the narrowest street in the world at 25" to 45" wide, this boast is not true. So we'll just say it's the narrowest street in Britain and the Commonwealth.

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