7 Feb 2014

A visit to York

I'm going back into my photo archives of a visit last winter to York.  The weather was just as changeable from hour to hour as it is at the moment.  The river level was high and some of the paths alongside were under water and I expect it has been the same this year because of the continual rain.

There's so much of interest in York that a day's visit is not enough.  I spent most of my time in York Minster and then walked in the Museum Garden by the river as I wanted to see some of the remains of some early medieval buildings in that area.

As the information plaque says St. Leonard's was the largest medieval hospital in the north of England and cared for the ill and infirm.  The poor came to be fed and St Leonard's also provided meals for the prisoners in York Castle.

Also in the Museum Garden is the ruined St. Mary's Abbey, first built in 1088.  It was one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in England.  The abbey estate occupied all the land that is now the Museum Garden and the abbot was one of the most powerful clergyman of his day.

The gateway on Marygate was the main entrance into the abbey.  It was here that the poor could come and claim alms.  The building known as St. Mary's Lodge is now the headquarters of York Museums Trust. The stone walls that surrounded the abbey were built in the 1290s and remain the most complete set of abbey walls in the country.  At the time they were built to defend the abbey when the city and the abbey were in dispute over taxes and land.

St. Olave's Church next to Marygate entrance

Another medieval building in the gardens is the timber and stone Hospitium which would have been a guest house or barn for the monastery.  The first floor was rebuilt in the 20th century to accommodate some of the museum's archaeology collection. Now it's used as a conference centre and venue for weddings.

In the 1530s Henry VIII began his campaign against the monasteries.  The monks at St. Mary's were pensioned off and the abbot's residence was converted into a palace for the King and base for his Northern Council.  Gradually the church fell into ruin and the other monastery buildings were used for agricultural purposes. 

As I've mentioned in my last post I've read most of the books in the series of historical novels written by C.J. Sansom set in Tudor times. Much of the plot of Sovereign is set in York in the Autumn of 1541 before returning to London and the Tower of London. St. Mary's Abbey by that date is no longer a monastery. The church is being used as stabling and pavilions are being set up in the grounds for the King's visit to attend an extravagant public display of submission by his rebellious subjects in York.
Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak.  As well as legal work processing local petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission for Archbishop Cranmer - to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator who is to be returned to London for interrogation. But the murder of a York glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle, but to the royal family itself. 
It was certainly interesting to see for myself this area of York that's mentioned in this novel.  The Museum Garden is full of historical and botanical interest and has been used as a backdrop for many events and the famous York Mystery Plays.

                                                                 The Fern Garden

                                              The Roman Fortress and Multiangular Tower



  1. Our granddaughter is in York University and loves it there. We have not been to York as yet but would love to go one day. Thank you for the lovely virtual tour. Glad you are feeling more yourself again, Linda. I think this weather is starting to get to all of us. Have a nice break - it will do you good.

  2. So glad to hear that you are feeling better Linda. Your pictures above are glorious. I love the ruined St Mary's Abbey under the intense blue sky. Enjoy your break.

  3. Your photos are lovely Linda, I do like getting to see the places that you visit! The buildings are so lovely, but I really like that wall made out of salvaged pieces of stone, that is fascinating. Hope that you have a good weekend. xx

  4. York is definitely high on my list of places to visit in England.
    Thus I love seeing sights in and around York. Thanks for all
    you share. When I get ready to plan a trip to York I will be
    looking at this post again.

  5. Hi Linda,

    I enjoyed seeing your photos of York and thanks for showing us around.
    So glad to her you are feeling better and hope the warmer weather ahead and the break away will do wonders.
    Sending hugs

  6. York is one of our favourite cities to visit. Not been for a while so seeing your lovely photos has reminded me what we're missing. May have to schedule a visit this summer. Glad you're feeling a little more tickertyboo.

  7. So glad that you are feeling a lot better, Linda. Your photos of York are wonderful it is a city that never disappoints with so many wonderful, historic buildings. I haven't been for a few years but would love to visit again. Stay warm this weekend:)

  8. glad you are feeling better...you know I love all things stone and there is so much here that is so beautiful. i think the abbey ruins might be my favorite but number 1 with the boat is a close 2nd .. i like that fern garden to....

  9. Oh, gorgeous! York is one of my very favourite places. I think the weather in that area hasn't been quite so bad this winter as last, but we were there just after New Year 2013 when the city was ringed with floods and some roads were impassible.

  10. I am always intrigued by Abbey arches and gardens. So beautiful.

  11. I'm so glad you are feeling better, this weather doesn't help!
    I loved this wonderful post, especially as I've never been to York but am going for three days in march for a friends birthday so now know what places I's like to visit!xxx

  12. It's many years since I visited York but I did love it very much and reading through your post and looking at your pictures brought back many happy memories of my visits. Thanks for sharing.

  13. There's so much history to be found in York, I don't think I'd ever get bored with the city. There's so many interesting things to see and do. I'm really lucky to live so close. Daniel's enjoying his time at uni there.

  14. So sorry to hear you were not feeling well. I have not been blogging much lately since I've been working on a large house project. Hope things are looking up for you. I'm sure the rainy weather doesn't help when you're not feeling well. Think of it this way - it could be all snow, like we have here. I've never seen such a snowy and cold winter as we're having this year. Sometimes I feel like it will never end, but my inside projects keep me distracted from the snow piling up outside as I speak.
    I love your photos, as I often tell you. I think if I could just sit down in your country, it would take a lifetime to soak in all the history and natural beauty of your countryside. I wish I could afford to retire there. Maybe I should play the lottery more and then I could - ha ha.
    Wishing you a great weekend and an end to your illness sweet friend across the sea.

  15. hello
    je connais bien les romans de SANSON
    et quel plaisir de voir toutes ces abbayes et ses vestiges
    bon rétablissement ♥♥♥

  16. Hi Linda, I am so sorry to hear that you were not feeling well. Your photos are fantastic, I so enjoyed this tour! As far as Hump Day goes, I only learned about this term a year or so ago. :)

  17. Very happy to hear you are feeling better Linda. Your photos are fantastic, always love them. Have a great week!