Just outside of the walls in the north-west side of the city, you’ll find a district of York which is commonly referred to by locals as the fifth quarter. Bounded by two adjacent streets, Gillygate and Bootham, the fifth quarter plays host to a tight-knit community of independent enterprises with an even tighter-knit community of traders.
From 2015, the fifth quarter saw what many called a ‘renaissance’, independent businesses flocked to the streets of Gillygate and Bootham in the hopes of creating one of York’s new hotspots for independent businesses to flourish.
In 2016, a handful of traders from the two streets and other like-minded locals came together to form their very own business association which was aptly named, the Fifth Quarter; a collective of independent business owners and shoppers. The collective works to bring traders together to create a sense of belonging within the independent community, and to allow members to exchange visionary ideas for the area.
From then on, the fifth quarter has gone from strength to strength; and although we have already acknowledged these two streets as a go-to spot for all things design, this in no way limits what you can find here. With this list of stellar independents, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone.
SHOPPING & LIFESTYLE
Ella De Watsney
At the top of Gillygate stands one of the streets most recent newcomers, Ella De Watsney Interiors. After several years working as a fashion buyer, Ella felt it was a natural progression to then study interior design, and she has worked in this trade for the past 30 years; designing hotels, castles, and hunting lodges.
In February this year, Ella De Watsney established her eponymous design shop showcasing a range of unique pieces, often combining themes of art pop with French regal paintings. Ella brings together a collection of feature furniture pieces, paintings, soft furnishings, and collectable design pieces, many of which have been collected during her time at international design shows, whilst others have been designed and created in collaboration with other makers
A little further down Gillygate you’ll find Snowhome, which is now in its 18th year of business on Gillygate. Owner, Angus McArthur, originally opened the shop on a very small budget in an equally small building at No. 38 Gillygate, but after two years of promising sales and customer feedback, Snowhome began to outgrow No. 38 and so they moved to No. 42, where it has remained for the past 16 years. Angus, a fine art graduate is dedicated in ensuring Snowhome supplies unique products with character, sourcing the majority of his collection from smaller manufacturers and emerging designers.
Snowhome also design and create their own products too, with the help of talented illustrators, product designers, and furniture makers. A number of Snowhome’s bespoke furniture pieces are designed and made by John Green, an old employee who began working at Snowhome during his time sudying Design at York St. John University. With the help of Angus in the early designing stages, John was able to create the ‘Embrace table’ as his final project at University. Snowhome were then the first retailer to sell Embrace, which has now gone on to be sold in some of the best design stores worldwide.
Established over 40 years ago, Gillygate Framing is one of the oldest businesses on Gillygate, and is the epitome of a family run business. The family framing trade originally began in Hartlepool by the current owner David Richardson’s father, before David brought the trade to Gillygate, opening the infamous Gillygate Framing.In the workshop at the back of the premises, you’ll find the David’s son Christian joining the frames and Trace, who mounts the frames. At the front of the shop is mother and daughter team, Polly and Emmy, who run the shop. Although creating bespoke frames remains at the central core of the business, their newer additions of gifts, pop up cards, vases, and festive decorations out front are proving to be a success amongst window shoppers.
Heima, or Home in Icelandic, was established on Gillygate in 2016 by owner Maff Punton as what he describes as a modern take on a traditional hardware store. Maff was previously a manager his family’s village DIY store in Snaith, J Punton and Sons for ten years. But his keen interest in environmental causes and design, led him to begin his own venture on Gillygate.
Heima has an eclectic range of stock from coffee pots and body care items, to gardening and homeware products. When curating his stock, and choosing the products for Heima, Maff ensures that the emphasis is put on interesting and above all, useful products. The same goes for their branded range ‘Made in York’, a woodware range of simple but very sturdy household objects made from FSC European-sourced oak, such as chopping boards, poster hangers, and coat racks.
Janette Ray Booksellers
Janette Ray Booksellers of rare and out of print books on Architecture, Arts, and Design joined Bootham in 2000. After previously trading from home, Janette hoped to find a premises close to the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies and the Art Gallery to open her very own bookshop, which has been housed in No. 8 for the past 19 years. Janette curated her book collection with heavy influence from her own background in town planning, urban design, and conservation.
The bookshop offers a collection of over 10,000 books on architecture, building and landscape design, town planning, design history, photography, and fine art. The collection has remained meticulous in its curation over the years, Janette tries to keep a balance of out of print material, with a sprinkling of newer titles. Her own passion for books means she often selectively sources books from auctions, private collections, and from other book sellers, creating a truly unique style of customer service for those seeking the slightly unusual.
Lotte Inch Gallery
Lotte Inch, who is the daughter of Janette Ray, joined the Bootham design scene in 2015; opening the Lotte Inch Gallery in the building adjacent to her mother’s bookshop. She has since moved onwards and upwards, quite literally, as the gallery is now housed in the next building along, on the second floor. Lotte has a background in Art History and Heritage, graduating University with an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, which lead her to her first job at The National Trust, working as an Exhibition Programmer at the Trusts’ Mottisfront Abbey site in Hampshire. From there, Lotte has worked freelance as a contemporary arts curator, and as an artist’s agent.
Lotte’s gallery was then established from her passion for collecting, owning, and being surrounded by art. Lotte’s exhibitions and shows usually last for around a month at a time, so the nature of the gallery is ever-changing. The artwork, ceramics, gifts, and other design items are carefully selected by Lotte herself, and are sourced from both established names and local artists, ensuring there is something for everyone and every budget.
Upside Down Design
Carole Whitby, founder of Upside Down Design store and gallery, is an interior designer with a background in merchandising. It is with thanks to her merchandising background that she is able to acquire some of the most unique pieces from for her clients when she is assisting them in home design. And the same goes for the Upside Down Design store, displaying an immaculately curated collection of ceramics and crockery, vases, soft furnishings, glassware from many established names such as Mind The Gap wallpaper and Marvic textiles. Carole takes influence international design shows and incorporates this into the store, ensuring the collection is a true reflection of current and popular trends.
FOOD & DRINK
Owner and chef at Bistro Guy, Guy Whapples successfully transformed a former café into a neighbourhood restaurant in 2011; arguably creating what is now one of the city’s most popular bistros. During the day, Bistro Guy serves as a go-to cosy café with hot drinks and sweet treats galore, whilst in the evening transforming seamlessly into a restaurant; Guy Whapples and his team offer a tightly edited five-or seven-course tasting menu under the heading: “Small plates of food with a Japanese fusion”. Many cafés and restaurants on Gillygate have made use of the outdoor area at the back of the premises, looking onto the city walls, and Bistro Guy is one of them. Guy specifically chose to serve his clay oven baked pizzas to make use of the space and encourage customers to enjoy the city greenery.
North South Café Bar
One of the Fifth Quarter’s most recent newcomers, North South was opened on Bootham earlier year by owners Rich and his Partner Laura Woods. Running as a successful combination of café and bar, charcuterie; the alternative drink and food menus work seamlessly together and allows customers to have a little bit of whatever they fancy, whether it’s a coffee and cake, or wine and cheese board.