UK Road Trip

September 6, 2014 — York

We started the day with another good English breakfast from Paul and Julie at Ashborne House (we’ll wonder later why we didn’t walk off all these calories).  After breakfast, we walked to the walled medieval city of York, as we wanted to get the free tour of York at 11:00.  Marylee remarked on the way that the leaves are turning but the roses are still blooming.  It rained off and on all day, but we were prepared in our rain gear.  We reached the Minster, where the tour started, having walked about 2 1/2 miles, just before 11.  Alan Sharp, our guide (looks like a small version of Hagrid from Harry Potter) is a history buff and has written 2 books.  After the tour we googled him and found that he’s also a stand-up comic.  He knew his York history—here are a few of the things he touched on (not in chronological order but in the order we visited places on the tour):

  • 1. How to remember Henry VIII’s 6 wives—Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.  We looked up the following info: Wives were Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.  He wanted an heir, and split the Church of England from the Catholic Church because they didn’t allow an annulment.  He was excommunicated and is mainly remembered for his break with Rome.  Born on Jeff’s birthday in 1491, died in 1547 at the age of 55.
  • 2. The original wall near St. Mary’s Abbey is 1,800 years old.  St. Mary’s Abbey was built in AD 1088.
  • 3. The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was crowned in York in AD 306.  York was called Eboracum in Roman times and he was probably declared emperor in the headquarters of the fortress that has been excavated beneath York Minster.  He was instrumental in spreading Christianity throughout Europe.
  • 4. The Theatre Royal is said to be haunted by a ghost.  This is where we climbed stairs to walk along the wall—there were some nice views of the Minster.  The church was built and destroyed several times, but building on the current church, a Gothic style structure, was begun in 1220 and took 256 years to complete.  It’s an important church in northern Europe, and the Archbishop of York is second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 5. We went by some shops that were 700 years old, and also visited The Shambles.  It was formerly a street of butcher shops, but today is mostly tourist shops.  Alan told us that the set designers for the Harry Potter movies came to The Shambles to get some ideas for Diagon Alley and that they incorporated the look of this street.
  • 6. The Guild Hall was guide Alan’s favorite building in York.  Around this time he told us that Kit Kat candy bars originated in York (and we thought it was the York bar).
  • 7. The Vikings, led by Ivar the Boneless, invaded York in 866 AD.
  • 8. Clifford’s Tower was the location of the worst happening in York (in Alan’s opinion).  In 1190, about 150 Jews died in a pogrom in this part of an old castle.  Across from the tower was the prison. Alan told us about UK capital punishment in medieval times—it often involved being drawn-and-quartered.  His description was very graphic and gruesome.

The walking tour lasted 3 hours, with a 20 minute break in the middle.  When the tour ended about 2:00 we went to the Cross Keys pub for a pint and some nachos.  We sat a long time to rest our tired feet, then walked to York Minster for a tour.  It’s an amazing structure with beautiful stained glass windows.  We went below to the undercroft and also visited the Chapter House.  We timed our visit so we could stay for the evening prayer service called Evensong in the Church of England (Anglican church).  It was a lovely 50 minute service in the Quire, and the acoustics were great for the men and boy choristers.  After Evensong we went to dinner at the nearby Cafe Concerto.  We thought it was the best meal we’ve had in England.  We took a cab back to the B & B as we’d walked about 6 1/2 miles today.  

Ouse River 

Walking tour of York (1,800 year-old wall, Roman caskets)

Walking tour of York - St Mary’s Abbey ruins

Walking tour of York

Walking tour of York - going up to walk on the wall

Walking tour of York - Minster from the wall

Walking tour of York - our guide Alan Sharp

The Shambles

Clifford's Tower

Walking tour of York - Harry Potter on the carousel?

York Minster

York Minster

York Minster - The King’s Screen

York Minster - Evensong in the Quire

© Jay 2020