My first full day in York was spent exploring the gorgeous city. After the deepest sleep I've had in a long time, I was refreshed and ready for a day of walking.
I had my first introduction to an English breakfast; toast and eggs with beans, mushrooms, tomato and "black pudding". Also known as blood pudding, it is made with sheep blood and pork fat. I did try one bite, but I don't think I will be trying it again... I am loving all the tea though!
After breakfast, a few of our group met a tour guide at the York Minster Cathedral for a walking tour of the city. The first thing our tour guide said to remember was "The history of York is the history of England". We started at the Minster and spent a good part of the morning exploring it's beauty! The building of the Minster began in 1225 and was finished by 1425. It has over 128 stained glass windows; over 1/2 of the stained glass windows in the whole country of England! It is also the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps.
The nave was the first part to be finished (1300), followed by the south transept, then the north transept. The east and west ends of the church have large stained glass windows. The great west window is known as the "Heart of York", was finished in 1838 and was dedicated to St. Peter. The great east window is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. It was finished in 1408 and only took three years to build. It is currently in the process of being restored. As the windows are being restored, they become brighter because much of the lead is able to be replaced with resin, making for less black in between the individual pieces of glass and the windows much brighter. Photos just don't do the windows justice! We also learned that the Minster has burned a total of three times, most recently in 1984. Each time the fire collapsed into itself, saving the cathedral. The York Minster is only one of two cathedrals with their own police forces! There are twelve police offices that work just for the cathedral. This was instated after a mad man tried to burn down the organ in 1829. The church doesn't have a spire because it collapsed in the 1400's due to shifting of the building. Much of the ground in the area is sand, and upon recent excavation it was discovered that three of the four main pillars of the building were built upon an old Roman fortress. Any time a new building is built in York, a major archaeological dig takes place to ensure there are no artifacts or ruins underneath. There are several major preservation societies that work to ensure the ancient buildings are being cared for.
After leaving the cathedral, we wandered the streets of York. Once it became apparent that London was going to be the political center of the UK, York established itself as the entertainment center. The first dance hall in the country is located in York. There are currently over 365 pubs inside the city. The Shambles is a small street that is known as the oldest shopping street in Europe. It used to be lined with butchers and the buildings were designed to come out as far as possible to protect the meat from the heat. We also saw several buildings that are supposedly haunted; York is the most haunted city in all of Europe.
Lastly we stopped at the York Castle, also called the Clifford Tower. It was built during the Roman Era, and was much larger but much of it was destroyed during the English Civil War. The castle consists of four lobes and is based on a castle in France. Sadly, the castle has a very sad history, including the mass suicide of 120 Jews around 1190.
After the tour, we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around York. I'm completely in love with the shops, especially the clothes! I have bought some beautiful gifts for my sisters, but nothing for myself yet. It's so hard to decide what to bring home with limited space (and funds...). We concluded the day with dinner together- all 18 of us- at Jamie's Italian, Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant and drinks back at the B+B. My body hasn't yet adjusted to bedtime 5 hours earlier, but we have a busy day tomorrow so off we go!
Other fun photos from the day:
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
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