A September 2005 trip
to York by moatway
Quote: From Viking Jorvik to a Roman city to present-day York with its medieval walls, it's a city that continues to captivate.
You will spend time in the Shambles, the narrow streets of early York and you will poke about in the shops and pubs but after that there is a long list of things to do in York. Walk a city wall, see Fairfax House, the Society of Gentleman Adventurer’s Tudor building, the massive National Railway Museum or the minute York Model Railway. There is the art museum and the Yorkshire Museum, Clifford’s Tower or the Market in Parliament Street and it goes on. And all these can be found within the small footprint that central York makes.
You may wish to consider a York pass, available at Tourist Information. The adult pass costs 19 pounds for one day, 25 for two, and 32 for three. It will get you into a lot of things for free including Fairfax House, Cliffords Tower (3.50), the Treasurer’s House (4.30), the York Model Railway (3.70), the Yorkshire Museum, York City Sightseeing and the Guide Friday tour (8.50) and the Minster (5). Outside town it will also get you into Castle Howard and a variety of other places. There are also discounts in theatres, ghost walks and some restaurants. Would I have saved money with it over a couple of days--I’m not really sure. I saw enough that after a couple of days, I was "yorked-out".
Old York is actually very small. Once you are in, everything that you want to see is a short walk away.
If you’re driving, there are parking lots--I would suggest the one on Nunnery Lane beside Micklegate. It’s a pay lot, but it’s very handy to the city. I don’t think you want to drive in York. The traffic wardens seemed very busy.
We had booked the four-poster luxury suite which overlooks the street. It was clean and pleasant with the bed, a loveseat and vanity, and all the usual amenities: hairdryer, hot drinks tray, colour TV and ensuite bath with tub and power shower. (I don’t understand the concept of "power"--there was little power in that shower.) The price at that level was 90 pounds a night. It was nicely decorated with substantial cornice moldings and a fleur-de-lys theme. The thing we really didn’t like was the sliding bathroom door. It didn’t really close completely, making real bathroom privacy impossible. Just don’t understand the thought process that made it necessary.
On the other hand, there is a nice lounge downstairs for guests with a large colour television. Breakfast is served in the breakfast room which seats about 12 people at tables for two and one for four. We were there three mornings and the hot breakfast never deviated… there were no options. It consisted of one sausage, two pieces of back bacon, a spoonful of beans, one fried egg sunny-side up, three or four fried mushrooms and two slices of tomato. I was tired of it after two days, unhappy with it on the third.
My other caveats are that the parking is street parking… you will find a space on Scarcroft somewhere--there usually seemed to be a space or two free. Also, the walk to the city gate is about 15 minutes. To get to York Minster is about half an hour. Restaurants start about 12 minutes away. In my judgment, awards or no awards, it was all a bit spotty. You may wish to check their website at Acer. Read Less
My other caveats are that the parking is street parking… you will find a space on Scarcroft somewhere--there usually seemed to be a space or two free. Also, the walk to the city gate is about 15 minutes. To get to York Minster is about half an hour. Restaurants start about 12 minutes away. In my judgment, awards or no awards, it was all a bit spotty. You may wish to check their website at Acer.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 30, 2005
Restaurant | "Jinnah"
Since I am still blissfully ignorant of the complexities of East Indian food, I generally throw myself at the mercy of the waiter who turned out to be very helpful. It might have been a better experience if I were more adventurous, but I suspect that if you know what you like, you will like Jinnah.
For starters, we opted for tandoori lamb and chicken tiki and followed it with a combination platter called Thali Deluxe… it was enough for two and logically, double the price of the other dishes which seemed to average about 7.50.
We found the food excellent and as hot as you want it to be. Expect a good evening out here, nothing terribly pretentious, but you will leave with what I call "happy mouth".
2 Cumberland Street
York, North Yorkshire YO1 9SW
01904 625 036
The menu is fairly extensive with a list of starters in the 5 pound range, pizzas for about 6.50 followed by pastas and a large number of meat dishes in the 10-pound-plus range. We chose a panzanella salad and a Caesar salad as starters. Since the Caesar isn’t actually an Italian dish, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the rather odd dish of frise lettuce, not romaine. I’m not sure if the whole thing was odd or interesting. I wouldn’t order it again. The panzanella salad, on the other hand, was fine. Our main selections were leek cannelloni and spaghetti carbonara. Both were quite good.
I’m not sure if there was actually a wine list–-five whites and five reds were posted on a chalk board as the house wines. We chose a Montepulciano at 11 pounds, and it was very good.
This was a nice evening--I would certainly try it again and move on through a varied menu. To see more, try Villa Italia.
York, England YO1 6LJ
+44 190 467 0501
Sitting across from Mansion House, the building echoes the grandeur of the mayorial palace and more than that, it’s an absolutely great place for lunch. Prices are extremely reasonable and a snack of chicken fillets or fish goujons can be had for 3.50. (I have no idea what a goujon is, but it is extremely tasty and they are all well presented on a very good salad.) Hot and cold sandwiches run 4 to 5 pounds but they are absolutely massive and main meals run 5.50 to 7.50 (for an 8 oz. sirloin).
We went twice… it’s hard to find a place where two can sit in such a pleasant surrounding, have a couple of pints of beer and a light snack in the 10 to 12 pound range. It also happens to be within easy reach of almost anywhere that you’ll be when you’re walking around York. There is also a non-smoking room available. I recommend it highly.
1 St. Helen's Square
York, England YO1 6BA
+44 190 467 2795
You might notice the 8 massive arches of the nave and the seven stained-glass Gothic windows in each of the side aisles. This cathedral has most of the pre-17th-century stained glass in England. The choir screen behind the altar in the nave is 15th-century and is particularly bright and gilded in contrast with the relative austerity of the nave itself.
The transepts (1220-1270) aren’t well balanced. The north transept houses the Perpendicular style 5 sisters window (1260), while the south transept, through which visitors enter, houses a rose window (1500). It is passing through the screen and beyond the transepts into the quire and the chancel that one sees the most decorative part of the cathedral.
The 14th-century quire features finely carved stalls and a beautiful organ case on top of the screen. At the far end of the quire is a stone Gothic screen behind which is the Lady Chapel. Above the altar in the Lady Chapel is a beautifully carved birth of Christ, which is surmounted by the 1405 Great East Window – the world’s largest area of medieval stained glass in a single window.
There are so many things including the wonderful memorials in the side aisles of the chancel and the chapter house with its glorious ceiling. For an additional 2 pounds (7 pounds for everything but the tower), you may see the undercroft and the crypt. An audio guide is provided and the tour reveals the Roman remains under the cathedral and the remnants of earlier buildings. There is almost too much information. The crypt also contains the cathedral treasury with its large collection of silver. I was happy to have seen it, but I found myself trying to hurry the audio guide.
The cathedral is at its best when it is alive. We decided to attend a Sunday morning "Sung Eucharist" service. The nave was being set up for an elaborate memorial service later in the day so our service was held in the quire. Sitting in the elaborate stalls of the quire listening to the power of the cathedral’s organ and the voices of its singers, one sees the church as a vital, living, and most interesting, thing. There are four services a day--it’s just a thought.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 30, 2005
York, England YO1 7JA
+44 (190) 455 7216
It really is a wonderful house and achievement as Green didn’t really see it as a home but as a showcase. He had deep pockets and was an avid collector of fine furniture and fittings and he created 13 rooms which are decorated in the varying styles of four different centuries. The entry fee of 4.30, plus 2 for the ghost cellar will allow you a fairly full view of this National Trust property.
Entering through the first of the original three properties, you will find the King’s Room and the south dressing room, both of which are distinctly medieval as is the staircase leading up to them. The walls of the bedroom have been stenciled in medieval fashion but the bed dates back to George II. The downstairs rooms of the first house are exhibition space but for the withdrawing room and the kitchen.
The central property was totally gutted and now it presents as a medieval great hall of grand proportions with a massive fireplace and stone walls.
The final property was occupied by royalty. Downstairs there is a marvelous drawing room done to the 18th century. In the Court Room you will find a large model ship built in the early 19th century by French prisoners of war. You will assume, as Frank Green did, that it was made of ivory. It was actually made of fowl and meat bones… an interesting piece of scrimshaw.
Upstairs there is the royal suite. Again, the architectural designs go from the 18th century and drop back to the 17th century with paneled walls that look as though they could actually be Elizabethan. All the rooms feature wonderful furniture… everything has been done perfectly.
As epilogue, the ghost tour takes you into a small cellar of the house. The house is built over a Roman road and in 1953, a young worker witnessed a passing group of Roman soldiers. Perhaps you will too. It’s a good story and for a town that boasts of so many ghosts, it’s one of the better ones. It all makes for a good visit.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 30, 2005
The Treasurer's House
York, England YO1 7JL
+44 190 462 4247
After entering, you will pass by a number of rooms including a Victorian parlour (1870), a Moorland cottage (1850), a Georgian room (1780) and even a front room from 1950. They are wonderful and combined with the displays of china and Victoriana, they hint at what’s to come. Displays deal with hygiene and household cleanliness, and you’ll find everything from washing machines to toilets. Here the exploration goes back 350 years, and Lord Hervey’s comment of 1728 reminds us of how far we’ve come, "At court last night there was dice, dancing, crowding, sweating and stinking in abundance as usual."
The displays move on to the subjects of marriage, birth and death and the social customs and mores that have surrounded them over the last 200 years. There is so much here, that one can pick and choose. Everyone will probably agree however, that the Victorian street scene with genuine storefronts that were rescued from destruction is the high point of the visit.
Displays in the former debtor’s prison include militaria and WW II social history and costume. On the lower floors, the old cells remain, a number of them containing displays of the tools of dying crafts: joiners, comb-makers, blacksmiths and gunsmiths etc. A few of the cells carry on the prison theme. You will see the condemned cell, the last home of the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, who was hanged nearby at age 26 in 1739. This is also the place where 17 Luddites were hanged in a single day in 1813.
The museum is a wonderful place, and the collection is incredibly extensive. There is something here for everyone in the family.
York Castle Museum
The Eye Of York
York, England Y01 9RY
44 (0) 1904 687687
The excavation of this part (16-22 Coppergate) of a much larger Viking community was done in 1976–1981. Many of the artifacts retrieved during the dig are displayed in the Skipper Gallery at the centre. The survival of so many objects, made of iron, leather, clay and wood, is surprising. You’ll see everything from shoes to combs to jewelry.
Also fascinating is the display of skeletal parts, all of which show evidence of health problems and battle injuries. This history lesson is as deep as you want to make it. Everyone will enjoy the journey through the village and the exhibits after you disembark from your car are interesting.
Jorvik Viking Centre
15-17 Coppergate Walk
York, United Kingdom YO1 9WT
+44 (1) 904643211
Attraction | "The National Railway Museum"
It is huge… there are two major halls filled with British railroad history. In the Great Hall (try to be there for the turntable demonstration at 11:30am or 3:30pm) you will see a great variety of locomotives. There is a replica of the famous Iron Duke, a 1914 Star class 4-6-0, a 1942 Southern Railway Q1 0-6-0, the 1882 Gladstone (decorated as a royal train) 0-4-2 and a 1941 Ellerman lines 4-6-2. You will see a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket (1829), the lead car of a Japanese bullet train and of course, the pride of the place, the Mallard, the world’s fastest locomotive. And there’s more… much more. To tell you the truth, my wife found this all as interesting as watching paint dry and even I found it a bit much. As an added attraction, there is an O gauge model railway which may be, for many, more interesting than some of the static displays.
I knew however, that I could be redeemed in the Station Hall because it has a collection of Royal trains, and who can resist seeing how royalty lives? There have been 28 royal trains (70 pieces of rolling stock). You’ll see Edwardian royal saloon cars (1902) with clerestory ceilings, a fine war-time car last used in 1977, Queen Mary’s delightfully paneled and decorated saloon car (1905) and Queen Victoria’s very posh saloon car which was last used in 1900.
There is more in the Station Hall than just royal trains. There is the Duke of Sutherland’s saloon car (1899), a 1904 4-4-0 pulling an exquisite 1913 Pullman car, the Topaz, and a Great Western 4-8-0. Add to that the more mundane rolling stock and station cars and paraphernalia, and you have probably more to see than you’ll be able to absorb.
But there is even more (and by this time, I was on severe overload) in the South Yard where there is more rolling stock and a miniature railway and in theWorks where you can appreciate that this is a working museum occupied with restoration. If it has anything to do with railways--the extensive signals system on the Work’s catwalk, for instance--it is here, and it’s all been well done.
National Railway Museum
York, England YO26 4XJ
+44 (1904) 62 1261
Attraction | "The York Model Railway"
But there are more than lights, there are a number of trains running at any time and there are a number of engines that the spectator can control… most of them running over a limited section of track and returning to the starting point. The visitor can also control a number of the mechanical effects as well; for example, a pressed button will start the rides in a carnival and the appropriate music plays.
You’ll find villages, a couple of ports, industrial sites, cities and even a ruined Gothic church on a hilltop. It’s really quite a show. For children, there is a Thomas the Tank Engine layout in a separate room. Plexiglas protects the scene from busy hands, but the kids, too, can control a variety of trains and create sound effects.
If you’re a model railroader, you must see this attraction, but you don’t have to be a fan of model trains in order to appreciate the magnitude of this little world. Model railroaders will also be attracted to the large selection of equipment for sale in the shop in OO/HO, N and Z gauges. Good visit.
York Model Railway, Ltd.
York, England YO24 1AB
+44 190 463 0169
Attraction | "York Boat Tours"
The boat was two decked with an open observation deck above and tables and chairs in the enclosed cabin below which also contains a bar and restrooms. On board, it is possible to purchase a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, ice cream and candy.
The Ouse, apart from being the source of York’s drinking water, is part of the Inland River system. It is actually possible to travel from here all the way to London by boat. On your cruise, you will learn something about the river and its ecology, but you won’t actually see much. Apart from being able to have a sit-down in the middle of your touring, you’ll find little unusual about York’s waterfront and passing through the old city takes less than ten minutes.
The company also offers Ghost cruises, a flood-lit evening cruise and party cruises on Friday and Saturday nights (which must be pre-booked). To find more about the company, go to Yorkboats.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 30, 2005
York, England YO1 7DP
+44 190 462 8324
Riverview, New Brunswick