Have you got a cup of tea with you? Because this is going to be a long one.
The story of today: I woke up before the sun rose to catch a bus to York. A girl named Pearl that I had met at the Christian Union on campus was going to York for the day with some of her friends and invited me to join them. I’m glad that I did. I got to sit on the top level of a double decker bus! The bus took about an hour to get there because in each town it drove through, it would make numerous stops as if it were a city bus. But once we got to York, I had a lovely time. Nobody else had bothered to do much planning, so I was the leader of the group, suggesting places to go to and in what order, making sure we made it back to the bus in time, etc. We first went to Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter, more commonly known as York Minster, which was my favourite part of the day. We got a ‘free’ tour with the price of admission. The tour was really good because you learn things you wouldn’t learn just walking around. Especially with this cathedral, since it’s used as a functioning church there aren’t informative plaques all over the place. I also enjoy tours because you can just listen instead of having to read everything. I learned some very interesting things about York Minster. Here are some fun facts:
- hardly any of the roof is original, as there have been multiple fires and the roofs are made of wood
- one roof was replaced because beetles were eating it. The replacement roof is made of Canadian cedar (apparently said beetles don’t like Canadian cedar)
- the pipe organ has over 5000 pipes, some of which are disguised to look like part of the stone columns
- the stone masons (past and present) have a dirty sense of humour
- there is a statue on the top of one of the towers that is mooning you (seriously – the guide had a picture)
- the south transept is not straight. A different set of stone masons was hired for other parts of the church
- one of the walls in the north transept is bowing out due to the sheer weight of itself
- the Great East Window is currently being preserved and reinforced, which is costing a mere £12 million
I wish we still made buildings like these grand cathedrals. Or if Canada could just build a handful of them so we have something like it. I didn’t go up the tower, because that cost more money, but maybe if I go back to York I’ll go up (the admission ticket is valid for 12 months). The tower was originally supposed to be taller (specifically, taller than Salisbury Cathedral’s tower), but the architect basically said the structure isn’t strong enough to support anything taller than the current 52m height. And sure enough, the tower started sinking and rotating. They dug up the floor and discovered that the second building (there were two cathedrals prior to the one you see today) had just been built on old foundations, and thus was not very stable. So they poured a bunch of concrete down there and added reinforcements and wrapped the tower with steel bands to hold it together. No tall tower for York Minster.
I could go on, but I’ll just show you some pictures.
I didn’t actually take this one (I hope that’s obvious) but I’ve labelled it for your convenience and understanding.
And to think, that was only the first two hours of my day in York. There are still 5 more to go! Don’t you worry, I’m not going to go into as much detail for everything else. York minster was just my favourite part.
Next we went to Shambles Market which is a standard market. There was a stall called Yorkshire Blankets and they had beautiful blankets and wraps/shawls. I am regretting not getting one of their shawls. I might have to go back to York. We found a little pie shop and decided to get lunch from there. I got a scotch egg and a small traditional pork pie, which was delicious. It was also much more filling than I thought it would be, so I saved the scotch egg for later (it was also delicious). We then headed across the city for the York Castle Museum. It was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be all castles and old stone rooms and knights in shining armour. York Castle Museum is actually housed in two adjacent prisons, which, granted, are old and made of stone. But not the grandeur I was expecting. The exhibits were okay. My favourite part of YCM was the Victorian street. They’ve recreated an old Victorian street with shops, horses and buggies, and little town squares. That was very interesting to look around. In some of the shops there would be a person dressed up in costume and you could actually buy some things (often a modern equivalent or replica).
Outside of YCM is Clifford’s Tower. To be honest, it’s more of a building on a giant mound. I walked up to the doors, but didn’t want to pay the £4 to get in, so I just took some pictures from the stairs. A couple of my friends went in and said it was a really good view, and you could see all around York.
We then made our way along the city wall back to the bus station. You could see some of the areas near the river that were still flooded. Overall, a grand but tiring day. The bus was a little late getting back, which meant I had 30mins to get back to Dev before dinner ended. It took me 45mins to walk to the bus station in the morning, and that was downhill. And so, more for the reason of not wanting to miss one of my meals than actually being hungry, I booked it back to Dev. I am quite pleased to say that I made it with 4mins to spare and enjoyed pasta and meatballs with baby corn on the side (I love baby corn).
I hope you enjoyed that novel. If only school essays were as easy to write as blog posts.
You thought I was kidding, but I’m not.
This guy, along with other cheeky gargoyles, are more recent additions to the York Minster facade. Gargoyles are exposed to all of the elements and wear down quickly; the York stone masons are making new ones to put at the top of the towers. The reason this kind of ridiculousness is allowed is because of the original stone masons’ humour and strange carvings throughout the cathedral.