Earlier this month, we took a long weekend trip up to York. The city is rich in ancient history with many well-known landmarks like York Minster, considered one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, and Clifford’s Tower, originally built by William the Conqueror and rebuilt by Henry the third in the 13th century. But it was discovering the lesser known treasures and facts that I really enjoyed. Such as coming across this statue of Constantine the Great,and finding out that he was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York following the death of his father in the city. I hadn’t realized this, nor that York was the birthplace of other famous people such as Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin. Fascinating stuff.
York is one of those cities which has many surprises. Its streets are narrow and and filled with interesting buildings, unlike so many UK cities which have one long wide main street filled with large and popular shops you can find in any other city. The Shambles is illustrative of York’s streets. It is York’s oldest street and was mentioned in the Domesday book. The 15th century buildings lean precariously toward each other and in places the roofs almost meet in the middle. It is full of interesting little shops, cafes and restaurants, with various plaques sited along the way telling of its interesting history. The Shambles was voted Most Picturesque Street in Britain by Google in 2010.
One of my favourite finds was St Williams’s College. Built in 1465 for York Minster’s Chantry Priests. These were a community of priests who were paid in advance for praying for the souls of their deceased benefactors. Apparently, they were a drunken bunch and the then Archbishop of York decided they should be housed in a separate building of their own. Today the building is used as a venue for weddings, banquets and conferences.
We took a break from sightseeing to stop off for afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Shop which is considered a must-do when visiting York. The queues for a table often stretch around the block, but we were lucky and sailed right in. York is also home to Rowntrees, the confectionery company founded in 1862, so a visit to York’s Chocolate Story Cafe and Shop was a must for a chocoholic like me! Here you can sample an amazing array of chocolate created in-house, washed down with a delicious hot chocolate from a range of flavours including lemon, strawberry, cappuccino or Madagascan dark. Delicious!