Exploring England #32
On our first day in York we had one goal – to visit The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, more commonly known as York Minster.
Dating from the 13th century, the church is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. To make the most of our visit, we took a guided tour around the vast interior. With our enthusiastic leader, we learned the stories behind the medieval stained glass, Gothic carvings and ornamented ceilings inside the church and marvelled at the intricate stonework outside.
It would have been a mistake for us to think, once we’d seen the minster, we were finished with York. We spent the rest of the day exploring beyond the minster and found a wealth of historical buildings with their own stories.
Described as the best preserved medieval street in the world, The Shambles is lined with haphazard half-timbered buildings. Each storey overhangs the one below until, at the top, they almost touch. Once filled with butcheries, the street now bustles with artisan stores, cafés and souvenir shops.
Until King Henry VIII’s reformation of the churches in the 1500s, the Treasurer’s House was the official residence of the Treasurer of York Minster. It was given to the Archbishop of York in 1547 and now belongs to the National Trust. Built over the top of a Roman road, the house is said to be haunted by a group of Roman soldiers who march in formation to an unknown destination.
The Abbey of St Mary was another building forever changed by Henry. Once the richest Benedictine Abbey in England, it was closed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Much of the stonework was reused on other buildings; today only the north and west walls remain. The gardens of the nearby Yorkshire Museum enhance the jagged beauty of the ruins.
In contrast to the ancient buildings of York, the museum is relatively new. Opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, it was one of the first in England specially built as a museum.
We came across many more wonderful buildings on our walk. We did not know their history but we were entranced by their appearance.
After wandering the streets, we found a different way to view the beautiful architecture of York. The city wall, complete with medieval gates and defensive towers, gave us another insight into the past.
It also provided us with excellent vantage points to appreciate once more the glory of York Minster.
Join Jo for more Monday Walks