Four Glorious Days in York, England

| May 30, 2009
Central Tower of the York Minster, York, UK

Central Tower of the York Minster, York, UK

I have seen the Abbey at Westminster in London, which is something everyone should see while visiting, but if you want the full package, take the train north from London about two plus hours and visit the York Minster in York, England. I had the privilege of visiting York about a year an a half ago for four glorious days. There is much to see in York, but the crown jewel is the York Minster located at the center of the city. The picture above is one of my favorite ceiling shots of the central tower of the Minster. According to my online research, the central tower of the York Minster is a massive feat of 15th century engineering. Built between 1407 and 1433, it stands as high as a 23-story building, and weighs as much as 40 jumbo jets. We were lucky enough to be given a private tour of the Minster by a kind English gentleman. During the two-hour tour, he wove a fascinating story about the history of the cathedral. Oh, make sure you turn your cell phones off to save yourself the embarrassment.

The first thing that strikes you is the enormity of the structure. I was almost in disbelief as my eyes focused on the seemingly endless halls in all directions. Frankly, I was glad that I saw the York Minster before I visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome because it allowed me to be blown away twice! The acres of stained glass in the Minster are also a marvel. From the tennis court sized west window, which features delicate stone tracery that forms a heart at the top, to the multitude of fine windows along the nave walls, I would be hard pressed to recommend something more beautiful in England to see. The windows need to be pulled out every 110 years or so for re-leading as the leading becomes brittle over time and needs be maintained in order to preserve the structural integrity and beauty of the windows. Many of the windows are being restored to their original form thanks to a glue invented by NASA that allows the pieces of glass that have broken over time to be edge-glued, which eliminates the fragmented glass within the fields of stained glass imagery.

The York Minster at Dusk

The York Minster at Dusk

The Minster is not the only thing to see in York. Because of the city’s rich heritage, remnants left by the Vikings and Romans can be found. According to Wikipedia, The entire Roman Empire was governed from York for two years by Septimius Severus. The city streets and narrow back alleys are charming as they team with authentic English style pubs and quaint shops. If you go, hire a tour guide to take you on an afternoon tour of the entire city by foot. The stories you hear will enrich the visual experience of your visit. You won’t even need a cab in York since the train from London will take you directly to the Royal York Hotel. You literally get off the train and wheel your carry on bag around the corner to the hotel lobby. After visiting York, it’s only a another couple of hours to Scotland, so why not see that too!

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Category: Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. Liz Holm says:

    Don’t know how I missed this earlier post, Lee! Your shots of the York Minster are gorgeous! I spent my Junior year in college at the College of Ripon and York, St. John, and our classes were held in Grey’s Court right next to the Minster. I’d walk through the Minster grounds every day, and would sit for hours inside to just soak in the beauty (probably when I should have been reading!) I have really wonderful memories of York and the Shambles and hot chocolate at Betty’s. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Lee says:

    Glad you caught the post Liz. You are quite the world traveler as well! Your college experience sounds wonderful. It would have been nice to spend a few more days there but I am grateful for the time I did have.