About us

We are traditional antiquarian and secondhand booksellers, and as such we buy and sell good books on most subjects. We take great pride in providing an excellent and friendly service to all our bookshop and mail order clientele, so do please contact us with books to sell, as well as sending us your wants lists, or individual requests.

Our shop in Minster Gates is situated opposite the South door of York Minster at the historic core of the city. This small street, through which one would have passed into the medieval cathedral precincts, has enjoyed a long and continuous association with books. The inventory for the stock of John Foster, who operated as a bookseller from Minster Gates 1580-1607, is surprisingly still in existence. Formerly known as Bookland Lane, the street was later known as Bookbinder’s Alley when, with the advent of the popular printing press, Minster Gates and neighbouring Stonegate became bustling centres of printing and bookselling. On the corner of Minster Gates, a statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, is to be seen reclining against a pile of books and holding a theatrical mask. Appropriately, it was Francis Wolstenholme who as a bookseller in Minster Gates from 1820-1855 erected the statue in the eaves of his shop. Wolstenholme also hosted the York Book Club, a literary society which flourished in the early nineteenth century.

The business was established by Christopher Holt in 1970. In 1975, having just completed a history degree at Liverpool University, Nigel Wallace was persuaded to purchase 15,000 books whilst browsing in a Weymouth antiques shop. With nowhere to store them nearby, they were stacked onto an articulated lorry and driven up to an empty house near York. After several nervous months wondering why he had been so impetuous, Nigel joined Christopher Holt in a partnership in what was then called Discovery Books. In 1976 Christopher departed to travel the world and Nigel became the sole owner and renamed it Minster Gate Bookshop. Over time the shop has expanded from the single front room and now fills seven rooms of books on four floors. We have always stocked a large and interesting selection of Children’s and Illustrated books, Folklore, and more unusually, a good selection of Medieval and Arthurian literature. Whilst it is in these areas that we have come to specialise, we are principally general booksellers with an emphasis on the arts and humanities with a particularly strong section of British and Medieval history, as well as good sections of Literature, Art and Architecture, Theology and Philosophy. We place great emphasis upon books in excellent condition and this is immediately apparent as one enters the front room of the bookshop. We also stock a wide-ranging selection of scholarly publisher’s remainders, carefully chosen and representing all the main subject areas covered by the shop.

After many requests from customers, we began to sell old maps and prints and have since concentrated on the decorative and illustrative work of the period 1860-1940 and the earlier topographical lithographs and engravings of York and Yorkshire. With an expanding and ever-changing stock, we now have a room devoted to prints, with many framed examples on display throughout the building.

The Minster Gate Bookshop is a long-standing member of the PBFA and as a member, we carefully adhere to a code of practice which includes ensuring that all transactions are conducted to high professional standards and that all book descriptions are complete, accurate and clearly state all faults. In addition, we guarantee the authenticity of all the items offered for sale on this website.