Having been fed and watered, me and my companions made our way down St. Saviourgate, turning right at Spen Lane, and round to Aldwark.
By this time a warm but cloudy morning had turned into a hot, sunny afternoon, and this quiet peripheral street was a welcome break from the increasing throng of the city centre.
Aldwalk is the location of Merchant Taylors’ Hall. It was built as a guild for the taylors of York at the beginning of the fifteenth century, though the brick-facing on the exterior dates from the eighteenth century. The Company of the Merchant Taylors continues to exist. The building can be hired as a venue.
We strolled on, turning right onto Monkgate. Ahead is Monk Bar, the tallest of York’s gateways. It was built in the fourteenth century, with the top floor added in the next century. It continues to be defensively strong, having a working portcullis and an external gallery complete with ‘murder holes’ to drop stones or boiling water onto the enemy beneath. It is now a museum dedicated to Richard III.
We cut down the wonderfully-named Ogleforth, and round to Chapter House Street, on which the visitor’s entrance to the Treasurer’s House is located.
However, entering via Minster Yard is to view the house at its best; it is truly stunning, and set within the most beautiful formal garden, where visitors and admirers gather to enjoy the sunshine in view of York Minster.
The house is proud of the wealth of history associated with it, from the remnants of a Roman road in the cellar to Edwardian servant quarters in the attic, as well as a collection of period items and ghost stories.
On College Street we encountered a long, medieval, timber-framed building. This is St William’s College, which was founded in 1461 as a residence for priests serving York Minster. It was sold after the Reformation and became a residence. Later, it housed the printing presses of Charles I during the English Civil War. It can now be hired as a venue.
We passed down Goodramgate, back among shoppers and fellow tourists, but no less part of the medieval world, with the over-hanging upper-stories of the shops looming above the modern pubs, shops and motor vehicles below.
This street is the location of the oldest surviving row of houses in York, named Our Lady’s Row, built in 1316.
Behind Our Lady’s Row is the second Holy Trinity Church we visited in York that day. The current building dates from the fifteenth century, and its setting is very pretty indeed.
Within, the most striking aspect is the box pews, commonly used in Protestant churches until the nineteenth century, with the whole family sitting together in an enclosed space, not necessarily facing the minister, which only became customary when rows of pews were introduced.
We walked along Low Petersgate, where, through the streets and above the rooftops, we caught glimpses of York Minster.
Then, there it is, the mighty western front, with its arched stained-glass window and two great bell towers. There has been a church on the site since the seventh century, though the current cathedral was built from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. It was (and is) the centrepiece of one of two archbishoprics in England, subservient only to the archdiocese of Canterbury.
And, so, we were on the home straight as we emerged onto Stonegate, a busy thoroughfare with a variety of commercial properties, and another gem in terms of architecture. While Sarah and Kim went to look at the jewellery in the Antiques Centre, I sneaked off to take a few more photos.
There are a few contenders for the ‘oldest pub in York’, and Ye Olde Starre Inne is one of them. It’s located off Stonegate, down a narrow alleyway.
Almost opposite is another narrow lane, Coffee Yard, and hidden there is Barley Hall, a fourteenth century house originally owned by a West Yorkshire priory. Until the 1980s, this medieval house was hidden behind modern architecture, when it was rediscovered and lovingly restored. It is now a museum and venue.
At the end of Stonegate is a wider space known as St Helen’s Square, on which the glazed frontage of the famous Betty’s tearooms is located.
At the far end is Mansion House. It was built in the first half of the eighteenth century, and remains the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York, though it also open to visitors and can be hired as a function venue.
We take a left onto Coney Street, a busy shopping street, where most of the well-known high-street stores are located.
Some way down the street is St Martin-le-Grand, a church which dates from the fifteenth century (though it roots can be traced back further). It was largely destroyed during a fire which occurred as a result of the Baedeker air raids in 1942, and was restored in the 1960s.
Tracing our steps back to St Helen’s Square, we continue on to Lendal, pausing to take a photograph of the Judge’s Lodgings, a nineteenth century townhouse that was the residence for the Assize Court judges until relatively recently. It is now a hotel, bar and restaurant.
At the end of the street, on the bank of the Ouse, is Lendal Tower, which dates from the thirteenth century. Along with the tower on the opposite side of the river, its role was to raise a great chain to prevent boatmen entering the city, either as protection or to enforce toll payments. Later, it was used as a water tower. Today, it can be hired as self-catering accommodation.
Crossing the river via Lendal Bridge, we glance back to the Guildhall. It has existed on the site since at least the thirteenth century but the Guildhall itself dates from fifteenth century. It, too, was damaged by German bombs in 1942, and it took some time for it to be restored. The building is open to visitors (via Mansion House arch), and continues to be used for Council meetings.
And with this last glimpse, it’s onwards to the Railway Station, and home.
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Click on the links to find out more about: Merchant Taylor’s Hall, Richard III Museum at Monk Bar, Treasurer’s House, St William’s College, York Minster, Barley Hall, Betty’s Tearooms, Mansion House, St Martin-le-Grand, Judges Lodging, Lendal Tower