IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 1130: The History of Briggate: The Manorial Borough of Leeds, 1207-2007

Wednesday 11 July 2007, 13.00-14.00

Sponsor:Celebrate Leeds 2007
Moderator/Chair:Richard Morris, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds / School of Music, Humanities & Media, University of Huddersfield
Speaker:Kevin Grady, Leeds Civic Trust

The visitor today to the great commercial and industrial city of Leeds can scarcely conceive that once upon a time it was a minor medieval agricultural settlement.

The medieval village of Leeds lay around the Parish Church and along Kirkgate. In 1207 Maurice Paynel, the Lord of the Manor, granted a charter creating the borough of Leeds, a ‘new town’ grafted on to the west end of Kirkgate. Thirty building plots were marked out on each side of the street, for which the inhabitants paid a rent of sixteen pence each year. Today we know this ‘new town’ as Briggate, which was an exceptionally wide medieval street created to accommodate a large market place.

Over the 800 years of its history Briggate has retained its role at the heart of Leeds’ life. The creation of the medieval borough launched Leeds’ role as one of the principal market centres in the North. While Briggate became the great cloth market celebrated by Daniel Defoe, its medieval yards came to accommodate pubs, houses and a host of urban activities. The site of the Shambles and slaughter houses, once so important to Briggate, are now occupied by fine arcades and the prestigous Harvey Nichols.