York Minster with kids

We finally got around to venturing inside York Minster today with two small children in tow.

Yes, it is beautiful and magnificent, but unlike other cathedrals we’ve been in, York Minster has hands-on activities for adults and children. There was this thing inside ย (called an orb apparently) that looks a bit like a cancerous growth, but which you can walk inside to learn more about the stained glass. It was very good.


Daniel was particularly enthralled by an activity which involved making your own stained glass windows via a touch screen:


There were moments of child-led embarrassment. At one point, Daniel pointed to a sculpture of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross and asked (in his loud voice), “Who’s that guy?”.

Then he saw this tomb of a dead Bishop and, perhaps because of the naked cupids on either side, asked rather loudly, “Is he wearing underpants?”.

Then there was the begging me to ask where the toys are. All up though, I think both kids enjoyed the minster and that’s the main thing. York Minster also provides explorer backpacks with lots of little activities inside for children to borrow.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between a cathedral and a minster, a cathedral is the seat of a Bishop while a minster is an anglo-saxon word for a missionary church (whatever that means).


Work began on the Cathedral in 1080 and it has been added to and modified over the centuries. They are currently undertaking a colossal conservation effort of an entire wall of stained glass. They detail what’s involved in this process and it’s a monumental task involving all sorts of specialist teams. This particular wall of glass is the size of a tennis court. This is what it should look like when complete:





Right next to the Minster is this terrific green space. Isn’t York beautiful?



Another bicycle photo. This time of me with Busby the Bakfiets. I love my bike. I’m already dreading the time when I must say goodbye to it. When that time comes I will channel my grief into Auckland-bashing. You have been warned.



One last thing. Ben took the children to the park yesterday on Busby so that I could have some free play at home. Not only did he forget to take helmets for the kids but the whole bike fell over at one point. The consequence of this was howls of laughter from both children who thought it was the funniest thing ever. It turns out they don’t bang their heads on the ground when the bike falls over.

31 thoughts on “York Minster with kids”

  1. I’d quite like to see those bakfiets bikes raced, much like motorbike sidecar racing with the guy in the box having to lean out to help bank around bends.

    Why will you have to sell it (sorry if I should know that but I am quite new here)?

    1. I’m sure my kids would *love* to be in a race. They love it when we go downhill and these are York’s hills which are more false flats than hills.

      We are only in the UK for 6 months because my husband in on sabbatical here from Auckland. Auckland is a lovely city if you are a motor vehicle. It’s not so great for people though.

  2. The stained glass window activity looks fun! As far as embarrassing questions from kids go I bet they’ve heard worse (but they did make me chuckle). Lovely pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You’re probably right with regards to them having heard worse from kids with embarrassing questions. I’m still waiting for the point in time when I become embarrassing to them rather than the other way around. I can’t wait for that. It’ll be payback time.

  3. It seems that religion has inspired both the awesome and the awful. Perhaps the the first gave excuse for the second. Great shots though. I’ve always admired the efforts of skillful hands.

    Your youngest with the handful of food. Has one of those looks that you only get with kids: Do I talk to it, kiss it, hug it or eat it ?

    I am glad your happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ha, ha, yes it does look a bit like she’s asking the sausage roll to play with her.

      I’m happy because I’m living in my native habitat. And I get to ride my bicycle.

  4. Ah yes, out of the mouths of babes…!! I remember visiting York Minster some years ago with my children and I think that work was being done on the stained glass window then, if I remember correctly! It is a beautiful place, as is York, and it was great to see you and your lovely family having such a good time and enjoying it so much, not to mention all that great fresh air. You really are making the most of your time here, I love that ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I am not surprised to hear they’ve been repairing stained glass windows for some years. From what I read when we were there, it sounded like a huge task that involved removing all the lead, cleaning each pice of glass, identifying original pieces versus later additions, gluing broken fragments together, reassembling original pieces in their correct position, meeting with conservation teams, checking with guidelines, removing some non-original glass, then re-leading and framing, photographing the whole lot and recording it then putting on new exterior glazing. What a huge task!

  5. Loved the photos and the accompaying commentary. Good to see some photos of Daniel again. Just loved his remarks about Jesus and the undies. I must say that I would also want to confirm that the Bishop was wearing undies. Not a good look otherwise.

    1. The nudie-rudie cupids caught his eye first and then he became obsessed with the Bishop’s underpants or lack of. I don’t think I would want to see a Bishop without undies on either.

  6. I recall one of your aunt’s reacting in a similar way on her first visit to The Queensland Art Gallery in 1959. After seven years in the cultural wilderness that was Thursday Island of the fifties, our parents eagerly sought out museums and art galleries on their arrival in Brisbane.
    Children are great levellers!

      1. That was me. I was nearly going to fess up. I was about five or six and became obsessed with the genitalia on a sculpture of a man. My obsession was obvious to everyone and my parents nearly died of embarrassment.

  7. Kelly
    October 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Awesome bike, and gorgeous pictures, I was reading and looking, and thinking how fantastic it is that you are so happyโ€ฆuntil the last paragraph.

    A good article here in Australia today. I think the monty python reference particularly poignant. Please, please stop bringing up the helmet/no helmet debate, I am very glad everyone is OK after a tip over, but do your day to day travels with as much safety as possible and show your kids a good example. Again, start arguing about the real issues that make the choice to cycle not as easy or popular as it could be. Are you just using this as an outlet for your anti-Auckland feelings? Would Auckland be a better place without helmets? Seriously Rachel, I thought you were more open minded. You are petrified of the earth-quaking, however your brain (or your kids) rattling around in your/their skull isnโ€™t at all scary?


    PS I find it amusing that you criticise scientific journals for flaws in their data collection and conclusions, and yet you have concluded from one incident that people wont hit their heads if the bike tips over!

    1. Kelly — I might be speaking out of turn but too bad. Your post is aggressive and uncalled for. Why don’t you just let things lie? The world won’t fall apart I promise you.

      1. You know why I am so passionate, because I know the devastation caused by brain injury, and it does make the world fall apart Bronwyn.

  8. This is a subject which leads to interminable arguments. I think Rachel has a different concept of safety. A few examples come to mind, lending me her bike without brakes when I visited her in Christchurch. Before that it was white water rafting and jumping out of planes in the Lockyer Valley. Safe as houses according to Rachel. Seat belts and helmets are all spin off inventions from the aviation industry. That motorists and cyclists should be so lucky!
    Perhaps pedalling around with a bakfiets doesn’t assuage your need for extreme sports, Rach!

      1. You used to talk about white water rafting but were probably frustrated in your efforts by the fact that suitable venues weren’t nearby. And that bike……terrifying!

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