Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate is first mentioned in 1505 as Whitnourwhatnourgate and later as Whitney Whatneygate, a name probably of derisive origin rather than having any connection with the whipping of dogs or vagrants. The alternative name of Salvey Rents or Salvegate was used in some 17th– and 18th-century documents. The name now is used not only for the short alley connecting Colliergate with Shambles, but for the wider part where Colliergate meets Pavement. The street was widened about 1750 by the removal of some houses built against the east end of St Crux church. This large church was demolished in 1887 but No.23 Shambles, which adjoins Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, incorporates some of its north wall. The remaining St Crux Parish Room retains material, many monuments and a Perpendicular window.
The alley was repaved with York stone in 1984 with help from York Civic Trust and is interesting as conveying a fairly typical narrow York street. However, it exits towards Stonebow, a 1950’s creation which greatly altered the character of this area. On the detailed 1850 Ordnance Survey map of York, Fossgate, Pavement and St Saviourgate (reproduced in the Historic Towns Atlas of York) are seen as narrow streets meeting in a tight corner at St Crux church. Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate was too minor to name.
‘Houses: Swinegate-Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate’, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 5, Central (London, 1981), pp235-242. British History Online, www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol5/pp235-242 [accessed 6 September 2018]
Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding (London, 1995)
Sarah Rees Jones, York, The Making of a City 1068-1350 (Oxford, 2013)
Peter Addyman (ed.), The British Historic Towns Atlas Vol V: York (Oxford: Historic Towns Trust and the York Archaeological Trust, 2015)
© Margaret Scott