The Perky Peacock


About Us

A history of our home

Barker Tower

Cafe near me in York

The Perky Peacock is situated in Barker Tower, on the banks of the River Ouse. This medieval building was built in the 14th century and, over the years, has been used for many different purposes.


The Barkers

Barker Tower was most likely named after the 'Barkers', who extracted the tannins from oak bark to be used in the tanning of leather.

This was an important process in medieval York as leather was used as an everyday commodity. A nearby street, Tanner Row, is also named after the process.


Toll Collector

The tower's original purpose was as a toll tower; a huge chain stretched across the river and connected Barker Tower to Lendal Tower in order to control traffic on the River Ouse.

It also served as a defence tower to ward off potential invaders, such as the attack from rebels of the Earl of Northumberland and Westmoreland in 1584.

Earliest Records

Ferry Service

One of the earliest records of Barker Tower dates back to 1380 when Thomas Smyth was named as 'Keeper of the Chain'. However, the tower was leased out to ferrymen even earlier.

In 1344, a woman named Agnes ran a ferry service from the tower to get patients and staff to St. Leonards Hospital. The ferry service was made redundant in 1863 when Lendal Bridge was built.

The tower briefly found a new purpose in the Victorian period as a mortuary, and later housed an art gallery.

The Dungeon

Your Hosts

Who are we?

We, Shirley and Richard, are the current owners of The Perky Peacock, and have recently taken over the Café after many years living in Bahrain.

We are very happy to have you here to enjoy this beautiful building and become part of its long history.

We hope that as you enjoy our great coffee and delicious food, that you spare a moment to reflect on the 700+ years of history that this building holds.


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