Set in Lendal Tower, once part of York’s city wall defences where a large chain would be used to block the River Ouse to possible invaders in time of need, the Perky Peacock is an unusual place for many reasons and one of my favourite places to read.

For one thing, it’s the only coffee shop I’ve ever seen which has no water supply. Lovingly re-using ancient buildings is an excellent way to preserve them for future generations, but working in a Grade 1 Listed tower comes at the price of not damaging the structure itself, even to install a water pipe. This is a business which depends upon a neighbour to supply one of their most basic needs, but fortunately the Bike Rescue Project is close at hand, a charity which trains people to refurbish and sell old bikes (and whose friendly mechanic has enabled me to get home on several occasions by repairing bike disasters which happened while I’m out!) Often the mechanics will bring the water containers up the stairs themselves, in return for excellent coffee!

The Perky Peacock at Lendal Tower

For another thing, several times a year I have to give up my coffee addiction for a few days because the tower becomes an island when the river floods. It’s not a disaster though, since fortunately the coffee shop is on the first floor, and there is a second branch on Gillygate (which is only a slightly further walk from my office). Being so close to the river also allowed them to stage a key scene in “Bill”, a comic take by the Horrible Histories team on William Shakespeare’s lost years which was filmed in York. It’s the only place in the city where you can jump out of the window into a waiting boat, so in this case English Heritage allowed the bars to be (temporarily) removed from the windows…

The first time I visited the Perky Peacock was on the day I became a Chartered Engineer when I needed somewhere to sit quietly before the interview and exam long enough to (somewhat calmly) re-read all my notes. Since then, the Perky Peacock’s sofa and vintage tables have become a regular feature of my life, for reading, meetings and gazing out of the window. Being so small (even counting the tables outside), it’s a very friendly place with a great atmosphere: the last time I visited, a mentoring discussion grew into a long conversation with a psychologist sitting next to us with plenty to share about gender diversity and unconscious bias.

Need to Know

  • Price: £ to ££
  • Food: Delicious home-baked bagels, soup, sandwiches and cake.
  • Drink: Independently sourced coffee, always served with a smile (and if you’re lucky, an interesting swirly shape on the coffee).
  • Location: Lendal Tower, adjacent to Lendal Bridge in York.

Where to Visit Next

For more Shakespeare antics, see “Blood in the Ballroom”, a murder mystery set amid a Shakespeare event with a very important discovery in the De Grey Ballroom in York (15th & 16th March 2016). You won’t be surprised to learn that my character’s choice of possible murder weapon is a large heavy book…

Next week’s theme is “Short stories with a twist”, with book reviews of Edward Cooke’s Arcana and #ReadRegional author Carys Davies’ Redemption of Galen Pike. Be prepared for short fiction that gets you thinking…