Friday 5 August 2016
05.08.2016 - 05.08.2016 20 °C
Our day started rather early, not so bright I might add. The fire alarm sounded in the hotel at 2am and frightened the you know what out of us. It seemed like I had only just gotten to sleep. Anyway we were up at 7am and off to breakfast. Apparently someone was smoking in a room. We are staying in the city, right on the river opposite the old town. Parking will be expensive but it is worth it as we don’t have to use the park and drop facilities on the city outskirts.
Our time in this lovely old city commenced by us walking to the area known as the Shambles. It’s a very old street that has the weirdest architecture. The top floors of the houses jut out and nearly touch the others on the other side of the street. We were told that there are several theories as to why they were built like this. Firstly, there was no sanitary system so the people who were rich enough to have a high house had no outside toilets so they used a potty at night. These had to be emptied and this was done out the window into the street in the morning. People could shelter under the ledge on the street level. Another theory as that land taxes were very high so they made the ground level as small as possible and then built out from the levels above.
We met the free walking tour at 10.15. A chap gave us a brief rundown of the history of the area and the influence of the Romans, Constantine the Great, The Vikings, William the Conqueror, Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell. Our walk started in the grounds of St Mary’s Abbey of which there is very little remaining due to it being destroyed under some of these rulers. The area is now a public garden so we walked through it and saw the multiangular tower built in 300AD. It was in this garden we saw our first squirrel going about his busy day. From here, we walked around to the king’s manor built c.1270 for the Abbot of St Mary’s. After several changes of occupation, it is now used by the University of York.
We returned to Exhibition Square where we met the tour and proceeded to walk around the town wall. From various vantage points along this wall we were able to see the York Minster or York Cathedral. We left this area when we reached Monk Bar. From there, we meandered through the town. Apparently the footings are very poor in these places and cracks appear. The way to see if the crack is worsening is by nailing a piece of glass over the crack. If the glass cracks, they know the crack is growing. One place near the cathedral was bulging so badly that it had steel pins from one side to the other side of the house.
The grounds of the cathedral are beautiful. The building itself is under constant renovation due to the sandstone breaking down under today’s stresses. The architecture of the building is stunning but the guide did point out a few “errors” in construction. On several of the window, the glass was correct but the arches around the glass were not symmetrical. You could take thousands of photos of the church and not capture all the detail. On one side of the church there is a statue of Constantine the Great who was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York in AD 306. He was a pagan until the time of his death when he must have decided to keep his ball in both courts. Beside the cathedral is St Michael Le Belfry Church and a pub named after Guy Fawkes who was supposedly born in this area. Another interesting building behind the church was St Williams College. This side of the church also has the new statue of St Peter mounted high up on the newly completed renovation.
We were shown the oldest building in the city and unfortunately, trucks hit it during deliveries so it’s been knocked about. The Holy Trinity Church is a very small church but had some amazing stained glass windows. Our guide showed us through the Shambles again and our final stop was the street named Whip – Ma – Whop – Ma – Gate. Ross and I then went back through the beautiful shops in the Shamble area as well as the Shamble Markets and bought some fresh meat, vegies and bread for lunch.
As we had the two nights here, we were able to lie down and have a nap after our disrupted sleep. We woke and set off to find Clifford’s Tower, covered under our English Heritage ticket. We passed it on our way in yesterday. The tower gives you a 360 degree view of the city. We wandered back towards the city and were surprised to find a Jorvig Viking Centre. This was one of the draw cards for us coming here and when we arrived we found that it was shut as it was flooded on December 27. Not to worry. A young girl in the gift shop said that there was a small display at the York Theatre Royal so off we went. It told about Death and Disease as it was set in what was once an old hospital.
By this, I was thinking about dinner. After reading a few menus we chose Shambles Market Tavern and we ordered this meal - three Cumberland sausages, mashed potato, green beans and gravy. It was delicious. Of course we had two pint of ale. Tummies full, we set off for home to take some last minute shots. This lead us to find the town wall so we walked the west, south and east wall that is still standing then back to the hotel. Got to keep the exercise up!