29 August 2012

A Day in York!

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Starting the day off by looking out over a peaceful scene at breakfast is delightful, especially when on vacation!  The owners of Newburgh House kept a well stocked birdfeeder and had bird identification books and binoculars at the ready in the breakfast room!  I got to see many varieties of birds that were new to me, including the sweet little Blue Tits and Coal Tits!

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I set off for York after putting my destination of the park and ride in the GPS.  It led me down this small lane.  So far so good!

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But it didn't take long for the lane to deteriorate into a farm track!  I began to wonder if I was really headed in the right direction!  How grateful I was when the main road crossed my path and the directions were to turn on to it!

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I took the bus into York and got off near Yorkminster Cathedral and the Old Wall that surrounds the old town portion of York.  Portions of it date back to Roman times and I loved that newer walls incorporated bits of old stonework, complete with carved fluting!

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The walls were pretty amazing and I'm sure that a whole day could be spent simply following them around the old part of the city.  Here and there along the way were various gates and in this octagonal tower remains, several old stone sarcophagus!

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My plans were to visit Yorkminster Cathedral and it towered above the city from every view point!

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Inside, there were beautiful stained glass windows.  I loved the pale green of this set.

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On closer inspection, I realized that each small piece of glass was  painted with designs, seemingly unrelated to one another.

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The ceiling was lovely and serene in it's own way.  Unlike Gloucester, the ceiling did not change depending on which part of the cathedral it was, but remained uniform throughout.

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In the Chapter House, there were many stone heads, most just rather ordinary, but then there were surprises too, such as this three faced woman!

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And this bird pecking at a man's nose!  You wonder what inspired these oddities!

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The stained glass in the Chapter House was lovely!

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At Yorkminster, for an extra fee, you can climb the steps to see the view from the top of the tower.  They are steep and the passage snug!  I lost count at 234, but was told that there were 284 steps in all!  What made it difficult was that each step was a slightly different height!  It was a challenge to these old knees of mine!

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About 2/3 of the way up, there is a brief narrow passage across a portion of the roof ~ it was a good break from the climb up!

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The views of York from the top were magnificent!  It was easy to distinguish the Old Town area with it's tiny narrow streets and red brick buildings with tile roofs.

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The view of the other cathedral towers was pretty impressive too!

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After a rest, we headed back down.  This narrow passage across the roof  was barely wide enough to walk!

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And the journey back down, was almost as difficult as the climb up!  At times, the handrail felt just a bit too far away.  My poor knees felt like jello for a couple of hours after!

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But the cathedral was lovely and it was such a treat to come down all those steps and sit in this lovely space for a bit.

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I was able to stand under the tower I had climbed earlier and look up to this light filled space!

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The main window of the Nave is known for the heart shape of it's "rose" window.

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Amongst all the glory and beauty of this cathedral, there were so many bits of whimsy as well, such as this small dog keeping the feet of the bishop warm.

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And in one of the side chapels, these two knights high upon the wall, clink their swords on the bars to mark the quarter hour.  I enjoyed a scone and jam served by the ladies of the cathedral here!

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After visiting the cathedral, I wandered the streets of Old Town York with it's quaint buildings leaning out over the street.  I also visited the Jorvik Viking Center (no photos allowed) and enjoyed learning a little bit more about this portion of York's history through the interesting ride through life size displays of viking life in those early days ~ complete with appropriate scents!

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In wandering, I cam across another small church.  After seeing the grandness of Yorkminster, the simplicity of this small church seemed so peaceful.

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The backdrop to the altar was painted with the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed.

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this church dated back to medieval times and still had it's old box pews and simple leaded windows.

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I really felt like I had stepped back in time here and spent quite a while just taking in the peaceful space.

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But eventually, I wandered out into the streets again, up and down, discovering many of the "snickleways" or little passages between the streets along the way and eventually made my way into
the Shambles, where the old buildings lean so far over the street that you could shake hands across the street from one window to the next!  The Shambles was the area where the butcher shops were located and in those early days, the gutters would have run with blood and offal!  Very glad that it is no longer that way!

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Instead, the streets are filled with lovely little shops. I browsed through a Cath Kidson shop and then found this lovely art shop!  One of the things I've learned in England, is that you don't need to have enormous amounts of space in order to carry a wide variety of merchandise!  This little store had art supplies that I've been unable to find in the US despite much looking!  So I stocked up on some pans of watercolor, brushes and a metal tin to hold the watercolor pans that I've been wanting for years!

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So many of the buildings had lovely detail ~ beautiful carvings, leaded glass windows, old wrought iron ~ just beautiful!  I could have spent so much more time here exploring!

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But instead, I finished the day with Evensong at York Minster, where I heard the boy's choir.  I was grateful to see that it was very well attended compared to what I'd experienced at Gloucester.  I sat there listening to the scriptures, the music of the choir and the organ and found myself suddenly overwhelmed with grief, the tears flowing slowly but steadily down my cheeks.  The loss of both my Mom and Dad within the year just jumped out and grabbed me.  Why here?  Why now?  There is something about these big cathedrals and the music that just draw it out.

I sat there through the entire Evensong and all the way to the end of the postlude, a beautiful Bach piece.  When it finished, I gradually put myself back together and walked down the length of the nave to the distant sound of the big bell in the towers far above me ringing out the 6 p.m. hour.  Then the deep silence ~ the quiet ~ of the cathedral took over.

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Exiting the doors of the cathedral, the sound of the bustling city grew louder with each step outside.  I wasn't ready to face it just yet, so walked around the cathedral to the quiet green garden on the side of the building for a bit.  Then it was time to find my way back to the bus-stop for the journey back to the car.  I passed through this gate in the old wall on the way to the bus.

What a relief it was to get back to the car and into my own space again.  Once back at Newburgh House, I was welcomed back by the owners and enjoyed a glass a wine with them while sharing a bit about my day.

4 comments:

Margaret said...

My oh my I loved this journey. York and its Minster are on my "must do" list. Thanks for the delightful journey through them both.

Cathy K said...

Oh my! My favorite post yet. It appears that York is a must-see, as it has everything! I love the cathedral with those marvelous windows (the heart!) and flying buttresses. Some of your pictures actually reminded me of portions of the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. I'm sure these cathedrals have influenced architecture the world over!

The dog lying at the feet of the Bishop - whimsical and endearing! And the grandness of the stained class is nearly overwhelming, even in pictures!

The narrow streets were charming. Wouldn't it have been fun just to take an entire day to explore the shops there? And how humbling to see the ruins of a once-great civilization.

The Evensong services sounds beautiful and cathartic. I would venture to guess that your day there was one you will never forget.

Hugs,
Cathy

Moonsilk Stitches said...

I've been enjoying all of the posts about your trip but this one really resonated with me. About 15 years ago I visited the Minster in York and really loved it. Seeing it again brought back wonderful memories. Instead of going up the tower, I went down. We could go under the building, past the foundations to see (and, amazingly, touch) Viking and Roman stone work (a Roman aquaduct still carried water). I also went to Yorvick and loved it and wandered the shambles. For my "coming down" after my tour, I had tea in a lovely little shop across from the Minster. I also shopped a bit at Viking Loom needlework shop. I got a kit to stitch a view of the Minster in cross stitch. I'm not a great fan of cross stitch but that kit changed my vision of the neo-Gothic buidings I work amongst--I can now see them in stitches! Thanks for the wonderful vicarious vacation.

Susan Elliott said...

OK. I remember now.

I adore the pic of the flying buttresses from your climb. I would have loved to take a milion close up pics of the patterns of soot on those gothic carvings. The colors were marvelous on that gray day.

I also noticed the heart in the window immediately and was happy to read your explanation.

But the little tight alleyways of the town with such quaint shops...what a joy....then back to the cathedral for boys choir. What an absolutely marvelously magical day.

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