Writing about my weekend in Cambridge has inspired me to write about our day in York with friends from London. They had never visited Yorkshire before, so Paul (my husband) and I were looking forward to ‘showing off’ one of our favourite cities!
The day dawned fine and sunny. It was a good sign, and a reflection of the excitement I was feeling at the prospect of meeting up with our friends. Brian, an old schoolfriend of Paul’s, and Michele, his wife, who we hadn’t yet met. We had met Brian a few months before at a school reunion in London. As I wrote in my last blog, we had friended Brian and Michele on Facebook and we were very much looking forward to spending the day with them.
We set off for the hour’s drive to York, filled with expectation of a lovely day ahead. I love meeting up with friends, and York being one of my favourite cities, the two combined was an exciting prospect!
Paul and I arrived early, so we spent a pleasant hour or two wandering around the delightful cobbled streets steeped in history, stopping for a drink en route.
We had arranged to meet our friends outside the Minster. With only a small section currently covered by scaffolding, it looked very impressive, with its sandstone walls gleaming in the sunlight. Paul and I wandered around the gardens at the back of the Minster, pausing at a wall of arches with wreaths commemorating the men who died in WW1, it being the Centenary this year of the start of that war.
By the South door of the Minster is a statue of Constantine the Great, who was proclaimed Emperor of Rome in York in AD306.
Across the road there is a Roman column, dating from the same period. Paul and I were amazed at being able to see and touch something from that period, and the fact that it was so well preserved.
As we were walking back to the main entrance of the Minster, I suddenly spotted a couple a few yards in front of us and I said to Paul, “It’s them!” They turned round as I got to them, and there were smiles, hugs and greetings all round!
We made our way to the entrance. It has been years since I saw the inside of this impressive building, and my first impression was of grandeur and colour, as I gazed at the huge stained glass windows all around me. I was awestruck throughout our tour at the craftsmanship and work that had gone into creating this piece of our history.
The above photos of these amazing windows were taken by Brian, used with his permission.
I was amazed to discover, as we continued our tour, that the stonemasons currently working on the Minster still use the same kind of tools and traditional craft skills to maintain the building as would have been used in medieval times. As I felt the stones displayed, and the different textures, it was incredible to think of the painstaking work that goes into carving each one. They are, at the moment, conserving and replacing nearly 3,500 stones on the Minster’s East End and are working to restore the medieval masterpiece, the Great East Window, along with York’s Glaziers Trust.
Walking through the Crypt, we discovered a quiet little corner, a single candle stood on a stone table, with a backdrop of a beautiful stone wall, such lovely pastel colours, very calming and peaceful. I took a photo of this simple, but lovely scene.
The Chapter House was particularly interesting, built in the second half of the 13th Century and octagonally shaped. Lots of geometric patterns, beautiful stained glass and floor tiles. Though I didn’t particularly like the stone ‘heads’ that were carved into the pillars along the walls, I did notice that every face was different, and I marvelled as I thought of the painstaking work and skill that had gone into creating each one.
But the part that impressed me most was the spectacular ceiling, the brilliant photo here taken by Brian who, thankfully, wasn’t laying on his back in the middle of the room at the time, unlike an obviously professional photographer who was laid on his back while we were there, pointing an enormous camera lens at the ceiling! Brian did threaten to join him, but Michele and I told him we would promptly leave if he did!
After leaving the Minster, we went for a coffee. Sitting in a coffee shop with friends has to be one of my favourite pastimes, and we had a lovely time chatting and getting to know each other better, Paul and Brian reminiscing about their school days.
After walking round the shops for a while, as dusk began to settle, we had a walk along the wall, climbing up the steep steps from Monk Bar. I have to say, this was my favourite part of the day and the perfect time to see the Minster lit up from this great vantage point.
No visit to this beautiful city is complete without a walk along its ancient wall, beneath the medieval stonework lie the remains of earlier walls, dating as far back as the Roman period.
We sat on a bench in an alcove for a photo while admiring the wonderful scenery.
It was very peaceful and quiet, and we would like to have stayed longer, but were anxious not to get trapped on the wall if the gates closed!
After leaving the wall, we spent a lovely couple of hours chatting over a pub meal, sitting in a courtyard lit by fairy lights.
It was the perfect end to a lovely day.