DEFENDING THE CITY
Clifford´s Tower, one of the “must-sees” for any traveler who arrives in York, is due to its history, its interiors and its views, and also for being a fundamental part of England´s historical heritage.
We have to go back to the year 1068 when William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and first king of a united England, ordered the construction of two fortifications (“Towers” later called) in the city. That same year, due to the Danish invasions, both constructions were burned and although Guillermo rebuilt them, today we see the result of what the passage of time and other battles have done to.
Clifford´s Tower is what remains of one of those castles and has had several dark chapters to its credit: the Jewish community of York in 1190 took refuge in the tower to escape the pogrom that had been unleashed in the city. Seeing themselves completely surrounded and with no way out, in the end they committed mass suicide. In 1537 the Catholic rebel Robert Aske, leader of the revolt called Pilgrimage of Grace, was hanged in chains from the walls of the tower. In 1630, a guardian of the tower began to dismantle it to sell its materials. In 1684 an explosion destroyed much of the interior and put an end to the military use of the tower. From 1820 until the beginning of the 20th century it was used as a prison.
Finally, in 1935 it was rebuilt and opened to the public as a monument tha would tell the many stories that the Tower has contemplated from the top of its moor for so many centuries.
In addition to visiting the tower, knowing this and many stories, you should not miss the incredible panoramic views over Old York from the top of the construction: all the churches and medieval buildings of the city and even the northern moors can be seen in the distance from Yorkshire.
Where: You´ll find this unique location on Tower St, York YO1 9SA. Do not miss it!
THE YORK HAM!
The story goes that the sandwich was invented by the English nobleman John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, around 1762. It is said that this nobleman was very fond of gambling and that during a 24-hour betting spree, he instructed his cook to prepare his food in a way that did not to interfere with game. Seeing those two pieces of bread with cold cuts and sausages, his guests asked what it was, to which the count proudly replied: “It´s my invention. I call it a sandwich”.
Actually, he was not the inventor of the sandwich. During his travels in the Eastern Mediterranean, he saw grilled pita bread and small canapes and sandwiches served by Greeks and Turks, and copied the concept for his own convenience.
In York we can find the true York ham. And what the better way to enjoy it than in a sandwich?
The name of York ham comes precisely from here, from this city, the place from where it became popular. It was the way that the butcher Robert Burrow Atkinson used in 1860 from the cellars of his premises on Blossom Street to cure ham that made it so popular, that quickly, by visitors spreading that name like wildfire and soon in many British towns, ordering York-style cured ham spread.
Its pink color and milder flavor than other hams, made it also to be called sweet ham in some places.
There are several places in the city where you can find it. Dressed with jam or wooden wine it is a delicious snack. Not only that. It’s the original! So we must eat one. We can choose to be served with stuffing, a ball made with bread, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, other spices and herbs (the stuffing varies depending on the place).
The York Roast C.O. is a chain of sandwich shops where you can best enjoy this delicious typical product.
Where? We will find one at 78 Low Petergate Street, in the heart of the city.
We are in one of the oldest and best preserved cities in England and it would not be bad to take something almost as old as the city as a souvenir. In the very center of the city, we can find Antiques Center York, a store that puts at our disposal all kinds of objects in which we will undoubtedly find something truly wonderful.
This store consists of several floors where it is easy to get lost because it is located in an old building with many different rooms. We can go up or down to the basement and even have a tea or coffee in the small and cozy cafeteria inside.
Within this place, we will see that the objects are distributed by theme. There is an area with an immense display of jewelry, both silver, gold and platinum. The interesting thing is that these pieces, for a good price, are all antiques. We can find treasures from both the Edwardian era (early 20th century), from the Victorian era (19th century).
We can say that we have found a treasure if we find a gypsy ring, from the Edwardian era . These gold rings are encrusted with diamonds in odd number: one, three or five. The diamonds aren’t usually amazingly cut, but the setting is star-shaped. They are called “gypsi” because they were the ones who wore these rings originally to keep their capital with them, being so easy to handle and also easy to hide.
In the Victorian era, and due to the mourning that Queen Victoria kept for more than 30 years, various objects became fashionable, especially jewelry made with amethysts and jet since purple and black are considered mourning colors. Jewelry made with the hair of the deceased also became fashionable, both bracelets and brooches with woven hair. These are true treasures and are called “mourning jewelry”. But we can find thousands of the treasures waiting for our arrivals, such as Royal Doulton pottery, teddy bears, Pedigree brand dolls from the 50s... If we want something original, this is our place.
Where?: At 41 Stonegate.
A TRIP TO THE MIDDLE AGES
York is a city with a 100% medieval physiognomy and there are countless corners where we can take a wonderful photograph. Proof of this is that the best preserved street from medieval times, in all of England, is in York.
In our walks through the city we will find countless buildings of the time, but there is one that is spectacular for photos. It is located on Jubbergate Street, and it is one of the best examples of medieval architecture with perspective for a photo, either individually, for the family or for the entire group.
Everyone knows that nobles and rich people could afford to build in stone, a privilege reserved for a few, since stone was quite expensive. Most of the dwellings in the common praple were built of adobe and are half-timbered.
Wood was an abundant and affordable material, so this construction technique was widely used during the 14th and 15th centuries and continued to be used until the 18th century, because until the 19th century, the transport of materials was the most expensive thing in construction. We had to wait until the development of the navigation canals and the railway in the 19th century for the stone to circulate more easilyz. For centuries, houses were built with the materials that were within reach. Like the trees of the great English forests, very close to the cities, mainly with oak wood, hard and dry, whose durability is almost infinite. The panels were made with another easy-to-find and cheap material: adobe, a mixture of mud and straw, molded in the shape of a brick and dried in the air. Although many times it was not even in the form of bricks, it was simply a filler between the beams of wood, which was left to dry and then acquired the typical brown or grayish color. The custom of painting wood black and adobe white dates back to the 19th century, from the Victorian era.
Our photo will be on the front of a restaurant called Gert & Henrys, where we can also eat something or have a pint of beer. It is located at 4 Jubbergate, right next to the market called Shambles.
THE DEVIL AT HOME
The city of York, with its medieval atmosphere, lends itself to all sorts of stories witches and ghosts. What if we told you, that in the very center, is the house of the devil?
It is well known that until the mid-1400s, books were copied by hand. They were the amanuenses, monks and friars dedicated, apart from prayer, to making replicas of copies commissioned by the clergy or the upper classes, nobility and monarchy. It is possible that not all the copying monks knew how to read and write, since their ignorance was fundamental when copying prohibited books that spoke of internal medicine or sex. The "miniatures" or drawings that headed the pages and the capital letters were made by the copyist himself, leaving each copy to his personal taste. It is possible that many of them were simple imitators of drawings even when making the letters of the texts. A job like this could take up to ten years to complete.
The birth of modern printing was precisely in the year 1450 by the hand of Johannes Gutenberg in Germany. In York, of course, due to the importance of the city until its decline in the 16th century after the religious reform of Henry VIII, books also began to be printed. But of course, the speed of printing (it was no longer 10 years, but rarher a matter of days or weeks), added to the variety of books that could be printed. Not only religious but also on medicine and other topics, made many people consider that the printing press was an invention of the devil. So the owner of the printing press, perhaps humorously or defiantly, decided to incorporate into its facade a sculpture of a devil, painted red and black, and we can even find him looking at us today, although there has been no such thing as a printer in that building for a long time now. However, the memory of history and the fear of knowledge and the attempt to keep the monopoly of knowledge from leaving the hands of the church, continue to watch us from a lintel.
Where?: at 33 Stonegate Street, a few meters from the cathedral.
LET´S GO CAT HUNTING!
The bubonic plague or black plague, was a disease that devastated Europe in different periods of time, terribly in the fourteenth century, when the different waves of this pandemic killed two thirds of the European population.
Of course, the medical remedies of the time did not know how to deal with that disease and entire populations died in a matter of days or weeks. Nor, as you can imagine, did everyone then have the purchasing power to even call a doctor.
Shelters and amulets against the plague became popular, ranging from bones of saints to prevent the disease, to any type of protective superstition. Over time, and in some places they realized that cities that had colonies of stray cats were less affected than cities where these felines were not abundant.
Today we know that the plague is caused by a type of flea that jumps from rats and infects humans, but in the past there were theories as strange as that the plague was spread by water, by which many people lost their few hygienic customs they had.
With this concept that the cat scared away the plague, in the city of York they decided to protect themselves by placing cat statues throughout the city, as a scarecrow in a wheat field. Rooftops, window sills, and other places became infested with plaster, stone, or wood cats.
Do you dare to look for the cats that still remain in York from that time? How many are you able to find? As you know, cats climb well and like to walk on roofs, so here´s a hint: raise your head and start looking on the upper facades and in the high areas.
MEDIEVALS ON THE MOON?
York Cathedral, called "Minster of York" is in the English Gothic style and is the second largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, following that of Cologne. It is the cathedral of the diocese of York and seat of its archbishopric, second in importance of the Church of England after Canterbury, which is the main seat of the Anglican church. "St. Peter´s Cathedral and Metropolitan Church in York" is the name we must use if we want to call it by its full name.
You may wonder why, we have started dressing it as “Minster”. It’s because this name is the one assigned in England to monastic-founded churches in Anglo-Saxon times. The magnificence of the cathedral is palpable both inside and outside, but it also keeps quite a few secrets…
It is true that York is a medieval city, but at the time of the Roman conquest of Britain (1st century), the area was occupied by the Celtic tribes known as the Brigantes and the Parisii (those who had founded on the continent Lutetia, what today corresponds to Paris). Perhaps for this reason it was not they, but their colleagues the Brigantes who revealed themselves to the Roman power in the area. In the year 71 the IX Legion was sent to give them a lesson, which they did, also building a strong palisade on a rise that they called Eboracum. That Roman fort or Castrum was later replaced by a stone fortress.
In 1984, the south aisle of York Minster was destroyed by a fire in the early hours of the morning. Probably a lightning strike on the wooden ceiling (which has been very well preserved since the 13th century!) was responsible for the fire. When the firefighters tried to put out the fire, and seeing that there was no way to achieve it, they decided to completely flood the cathedral, and that is how they discovered that under the crypt and the foundations of the cathedral was there parts of the Roman fortress and its sewage system, which served to drain all the water introduced into the building to put out the fire.
Several priceless medieval stained glass windows were lost, so the BBC decided to hold a competition among English children to redesign the stained glass windows. The children´s winning drawings are the ones that can be seen in the windows of the south nave. That’s why we see in one of them, an astronaut on the moon. Curious, right?
Where?: Although you don´t need an address because the cathedral can be seen from anywhere in the city, you should know that the address is Deangate, York YO1 7HH.
A WALLED WALK
York is today the capital of the Yorkshire region and has about two hundred thousand inhabitants. However, the plan of the "Old Town" or ancient city has not changed so much since the Middle Ages. It is partly because of the Wall of York: a perimeter of 5 kilometers around the city, built in the Middle Ages that has preserved until today to practically stay exactly the same as it was then.
The first location of the wall dates back to the Romans, that is, more than 1900 years ago when this city was known as Eboracum. Although the current walls are from the 13th century. When the Vikings arrived they buried the original walls to build a palisade, much more to their liking than stone construction.
The medieval wall of the Normans (also Vikings, although somewhat more civilized than those of the first invasions!) has not always maintained the remarkable state of conservation that can be seen today. In 1800 they were about to be demolished by decree, as they were seen at the time as an outdated obstacle that prevented the growth of the city. Fortunately, there was an opposition that from the conservative point of view was able to overcome said decree. Thanks to those conservatives from the 19th century, today we have the best preserved wall in the country.
Without a doubt it is the perfect place for a walk and to take a first approach to the city of York with its fantastic views on both sides of the walls while you walk surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere while travelling ack to the Middle Ages.
As in all medieval walls, we highlight its fundamental elements: the fortified gates. In fact the Normans called them Bars instead of Gates since they placed physical barriers to control the passage of wagons instead of just gates as was customary on the continent at that time.
The four doors or Bars are preserved in very good condition, and are accessible from different points of the city. Along with these 4 main entrances, the city had another 6 secondary entrances and 44 towers that were interspersed between all these "holes" in the wall to control access to the city. Some of them were lost before the current restoration of the entire Wall began, specifically 3 secondary entrances, 5 towers and almost 300 meters of wall. Even so, with the great result that its current state implies, we can say that despite the regrets, we should not complain.
Without a doubt, this is a place that one should not miss if you want to have a different view of the city. Climbing the walls is free and there are several points where you can get on and off. You can do the entire route in about an hour and a half. It depends where you go and you don´t have to do it all if you don´t want to.
Where?: You can climb the wall at different points, but perhaps the most accessible is Peter Gate, in front of the cathedral.
HAVE AN ENGLISH TEA
We all know the importance of tea for the English. All the rituals and the paraphernalia with which it is taken. But the custom of drinking tea is not exactly British (don´t tell that to an Englishman or he will have a heart attack!). The introduction of tea in England was due to a Portuguese queen: Catherine of Braganza.
Tea was already popular in Portugal, though only among its aristocracy, because its colony in Macau provided a direct trade line to China, a colony established by the Portuguese crown around 1500.
When Catherine arrived in England, the price of tea was prohibitive. Only the wealthiest consumed it but only as a medicine, since it attributed properties to revitalize the body, believing it to be an adequate treatment for a swollen spleen and kidney stones. But at that time its price was prohibitive. Since England had no direct trade with China, tea from India was not yet known the small quantities that the Dutch imported were sold at a very high price, therefore its consumption was limited only to the richest elite sectors of society.
The idea of the Afternoon Tea can be attributed to the English Duchess of Bedford, who in 1840 introduced this culinary event between lunch and dinner. At that time, oil lamps were used in wealthier homes for safer and brighter lighting. Due to this, the dinner time began to be delayed until 8 pm. It was between lunch and dinner when she spent a lot of time with it, and the custom of this break in the duchess´s house began to take hold. She used to invite her friends over for tea and sweets. The popularity of these meetings grew among the upper class. It’s soon became a real social event, formalizing and consolidating to the point we know it today.
If you want to stop along the way and enjoy what is considered one of the best places in the country to have an “afternoon tea”, you cannot miss out on visiting “Bettys Café Tea Rooms”, which has been operating since 1919. An experience that It will change the way you drink tea with its wonderful period decor.
Have in mind that you must to put your cell phone on silent. Because if not, you can get kicked out because they want your experience to be unique!
Where?: at 46 Stonegate, just a few hundred meters from the cathedral.
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: