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The steep gradient, cobble and flagstone road surface and high retaining walls give Carr's Lane (York) an interesting and distinctive character.
The retaining wall to the right of the lane in Image 1 will reward close inspection. Note the stone-built section (at the base of the wall) that ends in an abrupt vertical joint (close to the right-hand edge of the photograph). This is believed to have been constructed by the Romans in about 200 A.D. as a revetment or retaining wall for a terrace (see Bishophill Community Garden).
It is not clear precisely when this ancient thoroughfare acquired its current name.
In 12th century records, it is referred to as 'Lounlithgate' (which apparently means "hidden gate street", or something along those lines).
In later records, the same thoroughfare is referred to as "Le Kirke Lane" or "Kirkgail". ('kirk' being the Danish word for church, referring to St Mary's Bishophill Senior, which occupied the site of the Bishophill Community Garden).
Writing in 1736 , the well-known historian Francis Drake refers to this street as "Kirk-Lane" . It is likewise labelled "Kirk-Lane" on Rocque's map of York dated 1750 and on Jeffrys' plan dated 1771. However, Bailey's Northern Directory for the year 1781  refers to it as "Carr's Lane".
It is believed that the street was renamed in honour of John Carr (the well-known architect and Lord Mayor of York), who had a house nearby. Several of the city's buildings are attributed to Carr, including Pikeing Well (1752-6), Fairfax House (alterations 1761-5), the Assize Courts (1772-6), the County Lunatic Asylum (1774-7) and the Female Prison (1779-83). Carr owned a large house set in its own grounds at the bottom of Kirk - or Carr's - Lane (on the northern corner, where it meets Skeldergate).
: Drake, Francis "Eboracum: or the History and Antiquities of the City of York”, printed by William Bowyer (London, 1736).
: 'Kirk' and 'kirke' are Viking words for a church, derived from the Old Norse word 'kirkja'. The kirk here refers to the church of St Mary Bishophill Senior - see Bishophill Community Garden).
: Bailey, William: "Bailey's Northern Directory, or Merchant's and Tradesman's Uzseful Companion, For the Year 1781"