My fair citie of York

I’m the first to acknowledge that spelling and grammar are not my strong points but before anyone corrects the spelling of ‘city’ in my post title please know that this is a direct quote from Kind Richard III. Evidently this is how the word city was spelt 500 years ago. You could easily argue that we’ve got it wrong today.

Today we walked along part of the city walls surrounding York, an activity that all visitors to the city must do, and one that is completely free. York has been defended by walls since Roman times but much of what remains today dates from the medieval period. There are four gateways along the wall leading into the city called bars. We walked between two of these: Bootham Bar and Monk Bar.

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Bootham Bar – there has been a gateway here for nearly 2000 years. The archway currently on the site dates from the 11th century.
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The city wall between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar
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Three very silly humans obscuring York Minster behind
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Monk Bar

Monk Bar is an interesting place. You can go inside the gateway and visit the Richard III museum, go inside the smallest prison cells ever built and even lend your hand to possibly the only working portcullis in all of England. It was inside Monk Bar that I got a feeling for the rivalry between York and Leicester over King Richard III. King Richard III’s remains were found buried in Leicester and so they are currently in Leicester. York however would like his remains to be brought here on the basis that he was King of the House of York and was very fond of the city. Probably York has the stronger claim but York has so much to offer visitors already that I think they’re perhaps being a bit greedy. Leicester, although a lovely place, could do with the extra attraction and finding the remains of an ancient King beneath a car park does make an interesting story.

The world’s smallest prison cell at Monk Bar, measures 1.6m in diameter and has its own ensuite. It was used to imprison Roman Catholics who refused to accept the Church of England faith in the 16th century.

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An ensuite in the smallest prison cell ever. It looks better than some of the toilets humans in developing countries have to use.
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The Shambles. I never tire of walking down The Shambles. I’m so lucky as I can come here every day if I want to.
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The kids were very taken with this street performer.

29 thoughts on “My fair citie of York

  1. it’s nice to vicariously wander around the shambles whilst I’m sat here working rachel, with the added advantage that I don’t end up in any of the pubs or chocolate shops getting fat and drunk.

    your historical interests leads me to wonder if you’ve done any james cook related visits while you”ve been here – the birthplace museum in middlesbrough or the little museum in whitby.sorry if you already covered those as i am only a recent reader

    Richard iiii grew up near here, in middleham, so I think he should be in york, but then I also think there needs to be review of the refereeing decisions at bosworth because we was robbed

    1. No, I haven’t been to either of those places but have put them on my list. I still really want to visit the Dales.

      Perhaps I can ask you some advice here??

      I was thinking of doing that Settle-Carlisle railway trip. Do you know much about it? I am wondering whether I should get off at one of the stops along the way and go for a walk rather than going all the way to Carlisle. But I wouldn’t want to miss any good scenery towards the end and I’m also not sure which stop to get off at. Have you got any thoughts?

      I’m pleased to see the controversy over King Richard’s remains is alive and well. Maybe if my reader from Leicester reads this she can add her thoughts πŸ˜‰

      If you have time when you’re in York and fancy meeting up for a coffee one morning and talking bike (mornings are the only time I’m child-free), then send me an email: rachelmmartin@gmail.com

      1. hi rachel, settle to carlisle is a lovely journey, the most scenic part is the southern half from settle to say kirby stephen or appleby-in-westmoreland – after that the line goes from the hilly dales to the flat vale of eden. this time of year you might even see the dales all snowy before too long, or you might just see a load of fog and rain…

        the line is a real draw to railway buffs. in the summer i was riding through the mallerstang valley (between garsdale and kirby stephen) where usually there is nobody around but there was a big group of people on one of the bridges over the line waiting for some stream train or other to come past but these kind of people saved it from closure a few years ago.

        most of the stops are at small villages like horton or in the middle of nowhere like garsdale or ribblehead (ribblehead is where the famous viaduct is and also a well known tea stop on the three peaks walk but there isn’t much there really). appleby and kirby stephen are quite small market towns. carlisle has some interesting historic stuff, being near the border and everything, like the castle and tullie house museum so it depends if visiting carlisle or just the railway trip is the priority. settle itself is quite nice too with some good cafes for breakfast before you set off.

        i believe you can get out to some of the wall sections by bus from carlisle but as we are in the middle of winter and spending cuts i can’t vouch for those services running. there should still be enough to keep you busy in the city for a bit though.

      2. Wow, thanks for this. You’ve convinced me to go all the way to Carlisle. I’ve never been there before and I think I’ll probably like it. πŸ™‚

    1. The shambles used to be a street of butchers’ shops and according to wikipedia, shambles is an obsolete term for open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. The same wikipedia page says it was also once called the Great Flesh Shambles which probably comes from the word Fleshammels which is Anglo-Saxon for flesh-shelves.

      The butchers’ shops have now been replaced with cafes and tourist shops. It’s supposed to be the best preserved medieval street in the world.

      1. That’s interesting, I didn’t know that shambles was a word for a meat market, thanks for the research πŸ™‚

  2. I love your posts about York Rachel, reminding me as they do of our visits there over the years. We haven’t been there for about 15 years! I remember Monk Bar and the walls very well and of course The Shambles. I have a photo of me, 7 months pregnant with my eldest son standing in The Shambles and years later one of all three children standing in the same spot!!

    Love these photos of you all, but the photos are tiny for some reason. I’ve been having some problems with WP today so I’m not sure if they are meant to be this small or if it’s just from my end??

  3. Ignore what I said about the photos!! The page just reloaded and the photos are full size now! I’ve been having this all afternoon, really weird. I do hope it isn’t my laptop…

    1. It’s probably my end because I have just been experimenting with different themes for my blog. I liked the old theme but wasn’t happy with how it displayed images, which to me always looked a bit blurred. I think this one is a bit of an improvement but probably what I need to do is make the images smaller to begin with.

      I’m pleased to hear you’ve got some nice memories of York. I know I will have plenty by the time we leave. Maybe you’ll come back up here one day and get another photo of yourself standing in The Shambles.

  4. Thanks for the trip and the photos. Good to see you’ve caught Daniel in a couple. He looks almost still in the Mona Lisa one. Gorgeous one of the three silly humans too. I was wondering what shambles was all about too and now I know. Just goes to show that you’re blogs are not just fun to read, they’re educational as well. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Bronwyn. Daniel did do pretty well with standing still for photos. Although he did insist on sticking his tongue out and poking his bum at the camera in the silly one. But what hope has he got when he’s got the silliest mother in all of England. πŸ™‚

  5. As your reader from Leicester, I agree with you. It was also mainly through interests of Leicester University and the Leicester-based Richard III society that the bones were discovered, so it’d be a shame for the city if they get taken away, I think, although it’s not something I feel strongly about personally.

    1. Thanks, dropscone! I was hoping you’d comment. That’s a good point you make about the effort put in by Leicester University and the Richard III society to find Richard’s remains. I think on that basis alone he should remain in Leicester.

  6. Thats a very weak argument Rachel to keep Richard in Leicester I’m surprised as you say you are living in York. Yorkshire was where he was happiest and he needs to go home .

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