York is a city that is steeped in history; it’s a city that once you have visited you have the urge to visit again and again. I am lucky in the respect that I only live 140 miles away from York so it is easy for me to visit.
For the ones that don’t know York very well and for the ones that will never visit this wonderful city lets take a picture visit. The first thing that strikes the visitor that comes to York is that it is a city with walls, a walk around these walls will take at least 2 hours taking in the sights that abound this wonderful city. The second thing that hits the visitor is abundance of old buildings, many of the buildings are from the medieval period, sometimes it feels like going back in time, it’s only the traffic and the clothes that people clothe themselves in bring you back to our period.
York has a history that goes back to the Roman period, a walk around the York Minster inside and out will make this abundantly clear, York Minster is built on the site of The Roman Barracks, take a tour in the Minster and you will see many artefacts from the Roman Period, walk out side and you will see a statue of Emperor Constantine who was proclaimed Emperor in York.
York prospered under the Roman Rule as did most of England. All good things come to an end and the rule Romans came to an end. Once more England was up for Grabs, this time it was the fearsome Norse men that came invading, far from being the sophisticated Romans, these people brought terror to the city of York and York succumbed to the Vikings who made York there settlement. They called this settlement Jorvik; they also gave to York some of the Names that are still in use, Micklegate, Skeldergate Castlegate Swinegate actually means Micklestreet, Skelderstreet, Castlestreet, Swinestreet, Gate is actually Gata a Viking word that means street.
To day you can see for yourselves the Viking influence in York as you visit the Jorvik centre.
We move on in time and in 1066 York again once again comes under the control of an invading force, this invading force is here to stay, and the invading force are my ancestors the Normans. A great battle for England was fought in the year 1066 at a battlefield far south of York at a place called Hastings, just outside of York is a place called Stanford Bridge a great battle was also fought in this place in the year 1066 just a few weeks before the Battle of Hastings, it was at Stanford Bridge that Saxon King Harold repelled an invading force of Vikings, many Vikings were killed some came over to Harold and fought at the Battle of Hastings. At the Battle of Hastings the Saxons were defeated and the invading army of Normans marched first onto London and then they quickly marched north taking over all the towns and cities of England.
York was no exception it tried to rebel against the tide of Norman rule but were quickly put down, once the Normans had made a home for them selves they began to transform the city of York. One of the first things that they did was to Knock down the large church and build what is now the York Minster it took many years to build, York Minster is one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the world with its many Stained glass windows, it is also the largest Gothic style Cathedral in Northern Europe.
Just a few streets away are some of the oldest houses in England dating back to the 1300s these houses are now small shops.
As you walk through the many small pleasant streets you will come to a pleasant walk way housing shops of all kinds it is called the shambles it was the place of butchers and there hooks can still be seen on the walls of the many shops, in the narrow street of the shambles you can see the house of ST Margaret of Clitherow.
Like all castles and cities with walls York has a Keep although made out of stone today it was once made out of wood, it was at this place that York suffered a famous tragedy one that has gone down in history as infamy. One dark night the Jews from the city were chased throughout the city by an angry mob they ran to the castle Keep were they should have been safe, as they sheltered from the mob fire was thrown into the Keep and the Keep was set alight, many of the York Jews were burnt alive, others killed there family and then them selves the rest came out of the Keep to plead for there lives only to be killed by the mob. The reason for this act of murder was that in those days’ men of wealth in cities were forced by the king to pay tribute for the payment of the English army, at the time the English King was fighting one of the many crusades’ payment was due and the rich men of York could not pay, so they decided to borrow the money from the rich Jews, when the time came to pay back the money with interest, one mane decided that rather than pay back all that was owed they would course a riot, so lies were told and has history shows there was murder on a great scale.
York has many gardens and parks; my favourite by far is the Yorkshire museum garden situated in 10 acres it has many trees and flowers it is set in old Benedictine monastery, the ruins that one sees as you walk around this wonderful garden is of St Mary’s abbey, built in 1088 it was once one of the most wealthy abbeys in England, the walls that surround the abbey are the most complete of all abbey walls in England. At the bottom of the garden is the old Hostpitium and it would as the first part of the word says give hospitality to all monks and priests that wanted shelter. There is also England’s largest and oldest hospital St Leonards built in medieval days it would have given hospital treatment to the people of York, situated at the top end of the gardens it is now in ruins. There is also an old fortress built to garrison the Roman soldiers, in the 3 and 4th centuries they rebuilt it of stone.
To day York is a tourist trap for people from all over the world they come to see the many old buildings to cruise down the river Ouse, to walk the York Minster and to see were murder most horrible was committed, they walk the many streets to visit the many museums that abound this glorious city, to walk and sit in garden that has a wonderful sense of history from the Roman period to medieval period. And it has something even for a child even though the child might look old like me it has a railway museum a glorious look into the past of steam to bring back memories of an age when the pace of life was that bit slower.
So if you can make it to York then all the better you will see for yourself this fine city. For those who will never make a trip to York I hope you will enjoy my picture vacation of York.