Ghost signs: Gillygate and Goodramgate

Faded lettering on brick wall above shops

Our Bile Beans ad is a famous ‘ghost sign’ — not actually ghostly anymore since being repainted a couple of times. There are a few authentically faded ghost sign remnants around York, including this one, on Gillygate. Had you ever noticed it? I hadn’t. I was on Flickr looking for something or other and stumbled upon someone else’s photo.

How is it that we can live somewhere so long and yet miss so much. I guess we just rush about, on our way to somewhere, and it tends to be only when slowly meandering that we notice details.

Good to have captured this on camera as it soon won’t be visible at all. It’s barely legible now. ‘WREATHS’ is fairly obvious.

Faded lettering painted on brick wall

With a bit of adjustment in Photoshop other words can just be made out. On the right ‘FLOWERS DAILY’ which perhaps at one time was preceded by the word ‘fresh’. On the left, under wreaths, I think it says ‘FLORAL DESIGNS’. Staring at it for even longer I think I’m maybe inventing words that aren’t there, but underneath the block capitals that looks like two lines of smaller lettering, possibly including the word ‘premises’. What does everyone else think? (Photo can be enlarged)

White painted wall with barely visible off-white lettering

And then this, which I only noticed a couple of months ago, on the wall above shops on Goodramgate, close to Monk Bar. It’s not surprising perhaps that I didn’t see it before, as it’s not exactly prominent either, and indeed you may be wondering what you’re supposed to be looking at.


Again with the aid of digital enhancement the off-white lettering can be more clearly separated out from the off-white background: it reads ‘RED LION INN’.

Of which there is no doubt much more to say, another time perhaps.

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  1. Stephen Keith

    Never noticed that in all the time I lived in York. it was apparently one of York’s old coaching inns. An 1823 trade directory shows a regular Malton coach service from there. There were additional stables across the road prior to the Chapel building. You can still see the cobbled side entrance in Oglethorpe which according to a freehold sale in 1868 led to a coach house , hayloft and stabling for 11 horses. The railways obviously did for it and changing its name and emphasis to “the Red Lion Hotel” did not help it survive beyond 1897. Is this perhaps a relic or just a local coincidence?:

  2. YorkStories

    Thanks Stephen – I’d noticed that side entrance but hadn’t realised it was connected – interesting

  3. Cathy McBurney

    As far as I can make out, the one on Gillygate says “Wreaths Floral Designs Made To order on the premises” and “Fresh cut flowers daily”

    My own Flickr photo with notes:

  4. YorkStories

    I think you’re right Cathy, thank you.

  5. We own Cleggs, the shop under the Red Lion sign. I never noticed the sign until today, when in a quiet moment I looked up at the building from outside.

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