Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gorgeous York

Welcome to York readers. A lovely little town that should be on everyone's 'not to be missed' list when visiting the UK. So surprising that it is the fourth time I have been to the UK and the first time I have been to York.
York dates back to 71AD when it was a Roman fortress, the remains of which are still visible in modern day York. Then it was a Norman city, and then a Medieval city from around the 13th Century, which is what is principally on display for the throngs today.
Stain glass windows in York Minster.
 The York Minster (St Peter's Cathedral) is the biggest site in York. I took a tour and it went for two and a half hours. the guides in York are truly knowledgeable and full of interesting stories like the Bishop whose statue in the Minster has two right feet, so he wouldn't be thought of as Catholic - who use their left foot to genuflect. There are 128 stain glass windows, the largest of which has been years getting restored and lead removed, and will be another seven years until completion. It is replaced with a giant photo.
It's the largest minster in the UK I believe, and was built on the site of the original, smaller, Norman Cathedral, which was built on the site of a Roman fort.
I have seen many stabs at the date of its building, but lets say between 12th and 14th centuries. It's not to be missed!
Typical Tudor redesign of a Medival building. Note the 'overhang'
 The streets themselves can be walked for hours, amazing medieval buildings which have had a Tudor redressing over the years (like the one above). Medieval can date back to the 12-13th centuries, whereas the Tudor period relates to the reign of King Henry the 8th, in the 17th century. These buildings typically have quite a bit of overhang on the first floor, because they were taxed according to floor space and this overhang space apparently didn't count! Aslo, the medieval city walls surround much of York and can be walked along. They don't quite connect - there are gaps, but in total it's around 4.5km walk to circle the town. It really is a placed steeped in history.
The Minster from a distance, taken from the city walls.
 And for those of us who are train buffs, the awesome National Rail Museum (well priced at free!) is a must too. So many old, powerful steam locomotives. One that had be opened to show the workings was just brilliant. I finally understand how steam is used to move giant pistons. Highlights included a Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train), Royal Carriages, a history of British Rail and the Mallard (2500), built to go fast from London to Edingburgh. This blue beast could reach speeds of over 110 MILES per hour, so around 170kph. I know, why did they bother switching to diesel? In fact I asked, apparently three people could drive a diesel train, they needed ten for a steam train.
Not the Mallard, but a similar train that could touch 11mph.
 So that's beautiful York. It is even sunny today, that makes two days out of  twenty. Mid-summer. I am told I have been lucky.....

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