Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Our Visit to York

Well, we're deep into our trip and I've been a terrible correspondent.  I guess that's a good sign....no dental recovery period, no dysentary.  Just a lot of movement and decision making taking up the extra moments.  

Our first stop after the Matrix conference was York and we loved it.  The town is dominated by York Minster, which really gives Winchester Abbey a run for the money.  
We took about a thousand photos as it kept changing in the different light.
York was a really important Roman (and Viking) city, so it's history goes back 2000 years.  One of the ceasars died here and another one elected (not sure if that's the proper word).  I had no idea!  
Long after the Romans fell, the Vikings took it over and this was their capital for the British Isles.  
In the oldest part of town a lot of the streets are very close and wander about.  This one is called The Shambles.  Forget Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, this is the real deal.  Of course all of the shops are for the tourists, but it has so much character! 

I especially love the Tudors, with their black exposed wood.  The really old ones are kind of slumpy with age.  We rode on one of those red double decker tour buses.  They have guides who do a running narrative of the town and we learned a LOT about York.  Turns out they have these in all the towns we visited.  We rode one in Edinburgh, but not in Chester or Cardiff.
We were going to visit a ruined abbey way out in the countryside near the little town of Helmsley.  We made it to Helmsley, but were too tired out for the 7 mile walk!  Lucky for us there are ruined abbeys all over the place.  This one is actually in York itself.  
As much as I love ruins, I was sad to learn that it was King Henry VIII who had them all destroyed in his battle with the Catholic Church.  Our guides said the motive was financial.  These were all very wealthy enterprises and he basically plundered them - even melting down the lead from the stained glass windows.
This is about as far as we got on our walk in Helmsley.  We decided to hell with the abbey and the pretty English countryside (we've got pretty countryside back home) - let's go tour that ruined castle!  So that's what we did.
But on the way back we had to pass though an entire herd of horses!  It was a little spooky.  Once though the style, we fed a couple with nice long grass they couldn't reach.
We learned a lot about the English civil war, where Oliver Cromwell led the Parlimentarians and kicked the shit out of the Royalist strongholds.  A lot of sad dammage from all that mess, including Helmsley Castle which was blown up after it was taken.
Still kind of cool to be in an actual castle.  
The town of Helmsley itself was quite charming and here we encountered our first church graveyard - but not the last!  I actually soaked my boots yesterday crossing a sheep field to get to a really old one in Chipping Campden, but that's getting ahead of the story....
This is another view of Helmsley.  Everything is so freaking OLD here, and made of lovely stone.
And they are still at it.  At the York Minster our guide pointed out the new replacement carvings for the book of Genesis around the main entrance.  Here's Adam and Eve....
The old carvings were damaged not by King Henry or Cromwell, but by soot from the Victorian powerhouses upwind from York.  A lot of the buildings were pretty sooty.  I guess powerwashing them causes too much damage to the stone.
Speaking of Victorians....
Our guides called buildings like this "Victorian vandalism" in that they stand out from the much older buildings with their red bricks and ornamentation.  I LOVE them!  
Here's a side by side - one of the old river custom houses next to a beautiful building now housing a pizza restaurant.

Well, it's stopped raining here in the Cotswolds and time for us to get out and see pretty little villages.  Next post will be Edinburgh, Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle

Love and hugs,

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