Quick Fact Rowntree A-Z

Black Horse Passage

An ancient alley, situated off the modern road Stonebow, leading from the commercial centre of York towards the Hungate area, that in the late 19th century was an area of poverty, crime and prostitution. One story tells how a scandal broke out in 1855, when a certain Inspector Turner, in charge of the night shift in York’s police force, was discredited as it came to light that he leased several houses of ill repute in this area and was living off immoral earnings. When questioned, these ‘Nymphs of the Pave’ revealed that one in six of their identifiable clients were policemen, often on duty policemen!

Today there is little to be seen of the original alleyway except in the archaeology of some of the ground level brickwork.  Somewhere near to this site was the soup kitchen set up in 1846 under the supervision of Joseph Rowntree (Senior).


The York book. A History of York in a Concise A to Z Format, ed. Antonia Evans, Blue Bridge, 2002.

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