UK Tour: York

11/18/12: The City of York
(Located in Yorkshire)

York, like many other ancient cities, has many layers to its history. Founded in 71 CE by the Romans as Eboracum, York later became known as Jorvik during a period of Viking rule. Remains of this era can still be seen today in the Jorvik Center/ Museum. I myself want to go a little further to medieval/ Tudor York and thankfully the city does not dissapoint. I have already posted a seperate page on the Abbey of St. Mary so we'll focus on other structures...

York is still a walled city which in turn preserves the original medieval footprint of the town. There are four gates, or "bars", which directed traffic (and collected tolls) in and out of York. These are Bootham, Micklegate, Monk and Walmgate. Because of their entry into the city, the gates were heavily fortified in case of attack. We must be wary as some of the gates have been restored a little too enthusiastically. VICTORIANNNNNNNS!!!

Micklegate Bar. This gate stands at the south of the city and has become the traditional entry point for the monarch. Similarly, its stature ensured that it was the site of grisly scenes as the heads of traitors were spiked atop its ramparts. A famous example comes to us from the Wars of the Roses when Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, was killed at the Battle of Wakefield. His head was mounted on a spike with a paper crown (as he had tried to become king). The Lancastrians said: "Let York overlook the city of York".

The River Ouse.

The undercroft of St. Leonard's hospital. It is worth remembering that medieval hospitals did not try to cure you. They just made you as comfortable as possible and tended to your spiritual wellbeing. As my archeology professor put it: "you go there to die...hopefully fast". It was dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1540s.

Another piece of St. Leonard's.

Sections of the Roman wall are still visible today. They are usually spotted by their stone pattern as they tend to feature lines of red brick.


This is the Multiangular Tower. It was the northwest tower of the Roman Fort of Eboarcum and was constructed around 300 CE. Subsequent civilizations never hesitated about using existing structures: the top section with the arrow slits is a medieval addition.

The inside of the tower. The wall holes at the bottom were most likely inserts for wooden beams.

The continuing section of the Roman walls.

Finally, something Tudor. Ish. This was originally the Abbot's House which connected to St. Mary's Abbey. From 1539 onwards, it became the HQ for the Council of the North. Rebuilt in the late 1400s, the building contains some Tudor elements, the most notable being the windows.

Several monarchs stayed here including Henry VIII. This gives it the name it still carries today: King's Manor.

York Minster is the largest cathedral north of the Alps. It was started in 1220 and only completed in 1472!

The towers are 200ft high.

And the interior is 518ft long. The nave was finished around 1350 in the decorated gothic style.

Tomb of Walter de Gray, Archbishop of York from 1215-1255. Some of you may recall his scepter top from the Yorkshire Museum (See the St. Mary's page).

The crossing.

A wonderfully carved choir screen with all the kings ranging from William the Conqueror to Henry VI. I have a nice photograph of each one. The three Edward's (to the left) tend to appear in many history books on the medieval period. Also worth noting is the sculpture difference between Henry VI and his father Henry V (right).


The east window is the largest stained glass window in the world. While currently undergoing restoration, several pieces are displayed at eye level for the first time. The section above is one example and shows the amount of detail work required. There are over 2 million pieces of stained glass in York Minster.
 
The famous Rose Window. Built around 1500, this window celebrates the union of the houses York and Lancaster with the now famous Tudor rose.
 
Monk Bar. It still maintains a strong defensive presence and even has a working portcullis.

The circular towers have several small rooms that were used as prison cells.

Monk Bar has a fantastic medieval interior that remains unchanged. The steps, walls and rooms all fire the imagination. This room was ordered built by Richard III in 1484.  Unfortunately, Monk Bar now houses a rather corny Richard III museum. Should the remains of the king have been found, I think he deserves a much better museum in his honor.

 
I really enjoyed my trip and aim to return very soon. York's medieval streets have something for everyone. The chocolate museum is definitely worth a visit (who knew KitKats came from York?). As mentioned, the Jorvik Viking experience is also recommended. Further out, one can find Clifford's Tower which is the remaining motte and structure of York Castle. For those Tudor fans, Henry VIII had Robert Aske, the leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace, hung in chains from the walls.
And on that happy note, we say goodbye to York for now.
 
 
2/2/13: The City of York
(Located in Yorkshire)

King Stephen of England refounded a hospital on this site as St. Leonards. This portion of the complex was built in the early 1200s and comprised of a vaulted crypt with a chapel above.

The vaulted crypt.

Remains of the original yellow and red paint still remain on some pillars. Colors seemed to alternate and may have formed elaborate patterns.
History really is about layers. Outlined here are five banks showing how the layers are built upon with each passing period. This goes from Roman to Middle Ages to Renaissance to Modern.
Clifford's Tower is all that remains of the castle originally built in 1096 by William the Conqueror. As shown in the model above, it was of typical "motte and bailey" design. Henry III rebuilt the castle in stone in the mid 1200s, the remaining tower included.

The tower is built in a quatrefoil design (similar to a four leaf clover). It's walls are 9ft thick as befits a medieval keep.


The arms are too weathered for me to make out their owner.

Only the exterior/ interior walls of the tower remain. The central pillar, floor and roof were destroyed in a massive explosion in 1684. The pinkish hue of the limestone is due to the heat of the ensuing fire.

Just above the entrance is a small room which served both as a portcullis house and a chapel.

Norman-esque design features.


And the chapel from the interior wall.

This is a fireplace vent. But since its a hole and steep, people must think its a well. It's not always a bloody well!

A nice view of the defensive position.

And an equally nice view of the surrounding city of York with the minster in the background.

The Merchant Adventurer's Guildhall which dates to 1357. The Merchant Adventurers were a company of men who risked their money in overseas trading to bring back exotic goods and wealth. Members still meet here to this day.


The hall has, of course, warped over its long life but is a fine example of timber construction.


Roses stamped into/ onto the wall. An early form of wallpapering perhaps?

The undercroft with the guild's chapel in the rear.

The Shambles is a 14th century street in York with the buildings and layout dating from this period. While modern stores and food shops occupy the bottom floor, the buildings themselves remain true to their origin.

And one of my favorite pictures of my entire blog thus far: York Minster in the evening light.
 

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