Saturday, 10 January 2009

York, England

As you can see, I have changed my header! I LOVE this photo. It's part of the wall around York, built in the 13 and 14th centuries. The door looks like it's from the 16th century. I love the idea that people can enter through the door - or leave! - friends, who don't need to use the main gates to enter the city. It's like a secret doorway.

I am going to put some photos of York on, but I'm not sure how many I can upload into a post, nor how often the commentary will match, so bear with me. Out of the 130 odd photos we took of York, I'm attempting to whittle them down to 10-20 for you and this blog! Though I'd rather show them all!

This is the view coming into to York city centre from Lendal Bridge. We have just come under the city walls - the train station is on the other side of the walls to the left - and we are now inside the walled city. York Minster, the finest Gothic cathedral in England with stained glass windows, is in the background. There are no high rise buildings in York, so the Minster can be seen from quite a distance away. It is an awesome sight, and York is the only city that I have fallen in love with on sight, absolutely, and completely.

York Minster. The entrance is just to the left side of the picture. It is extremely difficult to catch all this beautiful cathedral with a digital camera!

This is Stonegate, that was the Via Praetoria of Roman York. The Romans built a walled fortress here in the 2nd century AD, and much of it is buried under medieval streets and houses in the city center, but the street layout of the Romans remains. I used to work in one of the shops to the left, the third window from the front of the picture, I think. It's gone now (my shop), and it now houses a beer shop, where Toby bought some local ale. These shops are 14th century, you can tell from their shape and the size of the shops inside - quite small. Of especial note to us book readers, Stonegate used to be the book sellers and printers street, in medieval York. In the building far at the back on the right side is the only bookstore now on Stonegate, a used bookstore (the stone building at the very end), that I used to wander into on my lunches, when we had enough money. At the end of this street, you can see the Minster. I love Stonegate, and despite the crowds, you can see the many centuries of architecture, the buildings built onto one another, that are part of York's history and charm.

I do not have any pictures of the Shambles, because I took many with our regular camera 8 years ago when we lived in York! What we did do instead this time, was go for a walk on the medieval wall that encircles old York. York is one of two walled cities left in England, the other being Chester. The walls have one break where a road was put through (by Bootham Bar), and there is a section that used to be a marsh so no wall was ever built, but other than that, the wall is complete, and you can walk around the city centre - it's about 3 miles altogether. Unfortunately we left our friends' house too late in the morning to be able to walk along all the wall and catch the train in time, so we walked only a small part of the wall, and I took photos of anything of interest we saw. We started at Bootham Bar, which is the only Bar (gate entrance to the city) built on the site of a Roman one. Below is the picture of us coming up on the bar from inside the city. I love the medieval buildings lining this street here!

Next is the view of the gate from up on the wall. I thought it was interesting how the city is built right up to the wall inside, and on the outside, the outer ramparts remain, so the wall is higher than the city outside the walls.

Here is a picture of me along the wall, with part of York Minster behind me. Part of what i wanted to do was see if you could see the Minster from all parts of the wall, which is what is said about the Minster!

The view of the next gate, the houses built higgledy-piggledy up to the wall.

YOu can still see the Minster from the wall:

The roman tower ruin, excavated a few years ago:

The view of the outer part of the wall, with what I think is the outline of the original moat:

Monk Bar, the second gate we came to. This one has three stories, a working porticullis, and statues on the outer edge, holding stones - to represent a strong force to the enemy. Unfortunately we didn't think to take any pictures of it from the ground!

Next up is the second oldest church in YOrk, St Cuthbert's in Peasholme Greene. I had never come across this one, and time and again I come across headstones left as markers of an ancient graveyard, like here. This church dates from 670, and I have never seen one with a cross built into the stonework like this one has. I like the quiet melancholy of a graveyard, and I find church architecture fascinating up until the Reformation.

This is St William's College, built in 1453 for Minister Chantry priests, put into private hands after the Dissolution of the Churches. It now houses meeting rooms. I love the careful restoration and character of these medieval houses. It gives a good idea of how small houses were back in the middle ages, and that even then, very few were stand-alone houses!

Next is a back view of York Minster. By this time we were running for the train, so I had only a spare minute to take the final two pictures of our stay in York. I discovered that the grounds are well-kept and have benches placed for sitting and looking at either the Minster or at the houses on the edge of the grounds. I had not seen this before, or I would have come here 8 years ago!

Last, High Petergate St, leading back into the heart of medieval York shopping area. The red building on the right is a tavern now, but once was the birthplace of the very infamous Guy Fawkes, the one and only man who tried to blow up Parliament.

We've come in a small circle now, since our friend Keith took us through shortcuts across the city so we could catch our train on time. Here is what the backstreets of York city centre look like:

The door really is leaning to the right! It's the entrance to the building on the left in the bigger picture (with my husband and Keith in front of me), Bedern Hall built in 1252. York, and towns and cities, including London, are like this: off the main streets, beautiful buildings are hidden away, old houses and interesting historical places.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of York. There is so much more to it, though you have an idea of its history and architecture now, and how pretty the city is. I think it is lovely, and even in the darkest winter days, there is something soulful about this city. Both my husband and I miss it, and our friends there, very much! It was so wonderful to be back to visit it again.

As a side note to my Gentle Mystery readers, there is a mystery series set in York, by John Baker: the Sam Turner mysteries, published by Indigo. I have most of the books, which number 6 now, I think. I like them, and they certainly have the atmosphere of York in them!


Bybee said...

I love your pictures and the new header is fabulous!

mariel said...

Your photos are wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed your time in the UK. I haven't been to York in years, and your pictures have made me really want to go back. Great new header too!

zetor said...

Lovely photos Susan. I'm lucky to live about an hours drive from York. It is a great city. There are some medieval detective novels set in York that you might be interested in, check out this site
They are the Owen Archer mysteries, I haven't read them all but the ones I have I highly recommend.

DesLily said...

great pictures! The header pic is really great!!

Nymeth said...

wow! Fantastic pictures, Susan. I so want to kick myself for not having gone to York. I meant to for the whole time I was in the UK, but I ended up running out of time. Someday, though, someday!

I did go to Chester on my way to Wales, and I loved it! I wish I had spent more time there. So much history! Speaking of which, thank you for including all the info about York. I loved reading this post.

Eva said...

Love this post! :D One of the biggest things I miss about England is all of the history everywhere. *sigh*

Chris said...

Wow, those pics are gorgeous!

Memory said...

Great pictures! I was in York last April, and I, too, fell in love with it on sight. It was great to revisit it through your pictures and commentary.

Michelle said...

Ooh, pretty! York is one of those places that I keep meaning to visit, but it's too far away to be a daytrip! One of these days though!

Chris said...

Gorgeous pictures Susan! I love your header too. Gah, I want to go to England so bad. I'm stashing away in your suitcase next time you go ;)

Cath said...

What gorgeous photos of York. Our one and only visit there was in 1984 when our children were young. It's so nice to see it hasn't changed a single bit. Your photos encourage me to think about going back, perhaps this year. The door in your header reminds me of one I saw recently at Godolphin House in Cornwall.

I was sent here by Deslily, by the way. :-)

Heather J. said...

This is a gorgeous town - I would so love to live there! Thanks for the tour. :)

By the way, did you buy any books in the old book shop you mentioned?!

Susan said...

Bybee: thank you!

mariel: thank you! I think we're a little bit homesick for York now. It was my husband's home for several years before we met and married there. We will always want to go visit it, I think!

zetor: I had no idea the Candace Robb mysteries were set there! Thank you so much for reminding me, I can get them here (the ones in print still, anyway). We used to sell them in the 1990's, long before I'd heard of York England! Do you go often to York?

Deslily: thanks! I guess you'd like to hop a ride along with Chris next time? :-)

nymeth: you would be surprised how many people who live in England who have never been to York. Most of Toby (my husband)'s family have never been; only his father's side of the family came to our wedding in 2000 in YOrk. Hmm, I think it would be a great place for us to meet, one day, if you haven't been there yet! In our wildest dreams, my husband and I would love to live 6 months in Canada and 6 months in York...*sigh* now that would be the best of both worlds! I'm glad you enjoyed the history, I worried about putting so much in, but I can't help myself, once I start talking about York all my enthusiasm pours out! and I keep hoping we can get to Chester too.

eva: the history is one of the things I love about England, too. I don't think English people see it the same way we do, we who live over here in NA have so little of it under our feet, just the earth. Over in Europe, there's thousands of years under feet. No slight to Native Americans meant, either, since they did live without leaving a trace for thousands of years! but there is something about uncovering the past that fascinates me, you, us, I think. Where did you live when you lived in England?

Chris: thanks!

Memory: do you live in England then? Or were you visiting over there? I'm glad my pictures helped you remember it. We have hundreds from when we lived there in 2000 that I still have to get organized into albums (our scanner and computer don't like each other), York is a city that I want to take pictures of everything of! I'm so glad you love it too. It's great to meet someone who loves it also!

Michelle: oh, I hope my post helps you get up there! It's such an easy city to get around in, the train is right by the centre of the city, so you don't even need a bus to get around the main walled part.

Chris: I have a little space here in this suitcase with your name on it, now! :-) I know just what you mean, the past couple of years I was so envious whenever anyone went over there that I finally realized it was time to go visit again. I hope you, and everyone here, gets to see it one day!
Gee, and I haven't even put the London photos up yet!

Cath: wow, 20 years since you saw it and it hasn't changed - that's what I said to my friend who lives there, who asked if I found it different after 8 years there. No, I found it the same and I think that's part of it's charm, that it's timeless in the sense that historical places can be. Or enchanted places, and I think York is! Do you have any pictures of your trip to Cornwall? (or do you live there?) my husband grew up in England, and went to Cornwall a few times and loved it. We never got there when we lived in York, though. I got as far as Canterbury Cathedral.
so you're deslily's 'sister across the water' that she mentioned recently? :-) gift of the blogging world? isn't that one of the very best things of the book blogging world, the absolutely wonderful people we meet.

heather: you're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it :-) if I can get more people to go there, I would be happy! and no about the old bookshop - my husband wouldn't let me, not after I was in Borders and bought 5 books the night before, and two at King's Cross because I was desperate to find something to read, not realizing I wanted to finish Middlemarch, which was back home.....there was no way he'd let me in, even though I looked longingly at the store several times and tried to read some titles through the door! :-P Next time, of course!

to everyone: thank you all, I'm so glad you enjoyed the pictures and seeing York through my eyes. That's only a small part of what makes York so lovely. There's the museum gardens, the ruins of the old hospital, the 20 or so churches scattered through the city, Micklegate and the rest of the walk, Fairfax House, Olde Starr Inn (16the century pub)......just to name a few!!

Cath said...

I don't honestly think York will ever change, it's too beautiful and I imagine a lot of people want to keep it that way.

Yes, I did take photos of my trip to Cornwall. They are here:

I am Cornish, from Penzance as a matter of fact (like the pirates), but I don't live there. My husband and myself live in the neighbouring county of Devon, which is also very pretty.

Yes, Deslily is my 'gift of the blogging world' as you put it. A truly lovely lady. We now even talk by AIM, which is such fun.

We have a very similar taste in books, btw, so I've added you to my blogroll. And I actually went and ordered Lonely Werewolf Girl as well, because I feel sure I will love it.

Susan said...

Cath: thank you so much for answering! I'm coming to look at your site now....and I'm thrilled you added me to your blogroll!