York by Alison Wilson

A northbound train journey of just under two hours had us arriving in York which sits on the junction of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. A short walk from the station and across the Ouse into the city centre. This city goes back to the Romans of 43AD and has been occupied by the Anglo Saxons, Vikings and the Normans. The highlight of a visit to York is to see the York Minster and which is also known as St Peter’s. The name Minster derives from mynster and was the Saxon name for a mission church. The first Christian Church goes back to 627, however the current Gothic style church was designed to be the greatest in England and was built between 1220 and 1472. The earliest part of the present cathedral is the South Transept which was built between 1220 and 1270.

The Nave was completed by 1350 and in the ceiling are large carvings called roof bosses which hold the ribs of the ceiling together. Such incredible architecture one wonders how it was achieved in ages long gone. Perhaps my favourite part of the Minster is the Chapter House which was completed in 1286 and has an amazing collection of carvings. The roof is a spectacular sight on its own and there is a model outside explaining just how it was built.

A short walk away is the area called the Shambles (see photo), and the name is derived from “Shammel” and anglo-saxon word meaning shelves. The Shambles is a collection of narrow lanes first mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 and many of the buildings date to the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The original Shambles was a collection of butchers shops and houses and the meat was hung outside and laid out on what is now the window-bottoms. Some shops still have the original meat hooks attached to the front of the shops. The raised pavements on either side allowed the waste from the butcher shops to be channeled down the centre twice a week. The overhanging timber framed fronts of the buildings was to protect the meat from the direct sunshine.

These intriguing buildings are now a wonderful selection of shops, boutiques and cafes, one such café is Betty’s Tea Rooms and where one can experience a little of the old world formality together with delicious food.

York is a fascinating city and if time is short it can easily be visited in a day trip from London on the very frequent and fast intercity railway network. (Don’t know that I would recommend the coffee from the trolley service on board.) If not using a Britrail pass then do try and book ahead and get the better fare deals.

Maverick Travel would like to thank Alison for putting pen to paper.

Don’t forget at Maverick Travel you can redeem your American Express membership reward points to pay for your trip; 10,000 = $100.

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