A typical site around York... its walls
York was my last stop on my very short stay in Yorkshire.   I was told that I hadn't even seen 1/10 of what Yorkshire had to offer.   I hope to return to see it all.   The City of York, is located where the Ouse and Foss rivers meet, it is the cathedral city of the archbishop of York and was historically the ecclesiastical capital of northern England.   It was also the seat of the former county of Yorkshire.

As much of the region changed hands, York was no exception.   It was a Celtic, then Roman, settlement. Constantine I was proclaimed Roman emperor there in 306 AD. Later, it was ruled by Danes, then Normans.   During the Middle Ages it was a prosperous wool-trading town and the site of the performance of the York plays.   It has a manufacturing economy and a tourist industry due to its medieval sites.

At the bottom of the steet, part of York's wall is visible. A walk around these walls will take you through 1900 years of history!   First built in Roman times, they have been added to and rebuilt over time - so that different parts date from different centuries.   King George VI once said, "The history of York is the history of England."   These walls are among the longest and best-preserved walls in England.

St. Mary's Abbey, a Benedictine community, was built as the result of patronage by the king in 1088, on the site of an older religious foundation.   It lay just outside the city wall.

It was also was the home of the infamous abbot and cellarer from whom, an ally of Robin Hood, Sir Richard of the Lee, borrowed the large sum of 400.   The poor knight was unable to repay the debt and the uncharitable couple were about to foreclose on him and seize his lands.   However, Robin stepped in and lent him the money and Sir Richard travelled to York, with Little John acting as his squire, to repay the loan in full - much to the surprise of the greedy Abbot.

The early abbey church was of Romanesque style but was replaced by a new Gothic church in the 13th century.

St Mary's Abbey

Gardens leading to St Mary's Abbey
The ruins of St. Mary's, probably the most important and influential monastery in the North of England, stand serenely amongst the brightly coloured flowers and neatly cut lawns of the Museum Gardens.   This Bendictine house was but a short walk from the, now, dominant Minster but, at the height of its power, would have easily held its own.   Today they provide a backdrop for the medieval mystery plays associated with York (which originally were staged at various points in the city streets).

York's cathedral, although known as a minster, is officially the "Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York".

York Minster's history began in 627AD when King Edwin of Northumbria was baptised in a simple wooden church at York within the site of the old Roman fort.   The church was approved by the Pope and its dedication to St Peter reflected its links with Rome.   The wooden church was rebuilt in stone and completed by King Oswald.   The minster was rebuilt again in 664AD and again after a fire in 741AD.   It was eventually destroyed during the Norman siege of the city in 1069.

York Minster is built in the Gothic style but what is not widely known is that York was once a Norman cathedral.   The only remains of the Norman Cathedral at York are below ground level in the minster crypt.

One thing York lacked in the early days was a shrine and the shrines of saints were a rich source of revenue for Medieval cathedrals.   So in the 13th Century William Fitzherbert, Archbishop of York, was posthumously canonized and became St William of York.   This encouraged pilgrims to visit York and helped the minster compete with other shrines. The Minster represents almost every stage of the Gothic style of architecture from 1230 to 1475.   The present York Minster was built from 1220 and the old Norman cathedral was dismantled in stages as Gothic additions were made.

The Minster is built of Oolitic limestone from the Tadcaster area and gives the minster its white appearance.   York has the highest proportion of Medieval stained glass of any European cathedral and there is a magnificent Rose Windows known as the Heart of Yorkshire.

York Minster

The River Ouse
This is the River Ouse that flows east of the Yorkshire Dales.   The name "Ouse" comes from the Celtic word for water.   It bisects the city of York; Ouse Bridge is the central bridge, and spans the river in York city centre, joining Ousegate and Micklegate.   There are some very charming cruises that can be taken on the river.   This is where my trip ended and I returned to North America.   There is so much more to see and explore.   I hope to return to this beautiful part of the country.   For more information on Yorkshire and other bits and pieces, please take a look at the Related Links.

Exploring London

Exploring Yorkshire

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2003-2006 My Travel Diary