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Chesterfield Medieval Shambles

Past Work

Client:- Chesterfield Borough Council

Project:-  Medieval Shambles

Reconstruction showing how the stalls were laid out on a grid system with a central gully. The word ‘Shambles’ comes from an Old English word meaning table or bench.

The Shambles is an obsolete term for an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. Streets of that name were so called from having been the sites on which butchers killed and dressed animals for consumption.

One source suggests that the term derives from “Shammel”, an Anglo-Saxon word for shelves that stores used to display their wares while another indicates that by AD 971 “shamble” meant a ‘bench for the sale of goods’ and by 1305, a ‘stall for the sale of meat’.  During that period there were no sanitary facilities or hygiene laws as exist today, and guts, offal, and blood were thrown into a runnel down the middle of the street or open space where the butchering was carried out.

An artists depiction of Chestefield Medieval Shambles.
Reconstruction illustration of The Shambles