I have been gushing to John about York for years…every time we have talked about visiting the UK I blathered on about the beautiful Minster, the Shambles and the City Walls. Today, we finally got to visit for half a day.
Our day started at the train station, picking up a pile of tickets for our Scottish trip. After the admin work was done, we visited the Museum Gardens. The Museum Gardens houses the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, which was a Benedictine abbey that was founded in 1055.
It was once the largest and richest establishment in the north of England. Henry VIII disbanded all monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Scotland and Wales. We know he was a bit of a bastard, but this order came in response to extensive monastic complexes, like St. Marys, that had long since ceased to play any role in the spiritual life of the country and were hoarding tons of cash. David Knowles, a Benedictine monk and historian, summarizes it all quite nicely
There were far too many religious houses in existence in the view of the fervent monastic vocation, and that in every country the monks possessed too much of wealth and of the sources of production both for their own well-being and for the good of the economy
After poking around St. Marys we hoofed it along the city walls to Clifford’s Tower.
The daffodils were just past their prime and the ground was covered in duck shit, but it’s always tickled me that it sits smack in the middle of a car park dedicated to a shopping center. That would make some folks shudder, but I’m happy it’s still there and hasn’t been paved over. The view from the top is quite nice as well.
The main attraction that I wanted to show John was the York Minister.
York Minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, which is the second-highest office in the Church of England, which apparently gets you a rather posh house.
It has the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. There has been a church on this site since 627, but the majority of the architecture that remains was erected starting in 1220. It was declared complete and consecrated in 1472. It’s bloody beautiful.
We soaked up cool, calm cathedral action and then listed to the choir practice for Evensong. Lulled into a sleepy state by all the soft lighting and choral music, we dragged ourselves outside for a coffee and some fudge. A quick check in to Nashville via facetime allowed us to see the pooches, which was lovely.
At home, we were treated to a glorious rainbow over the fields. When there is a rainbow in Nashville, you only get to see a bit of it…all those buildings get in the way. Out here, you can see the whole thing. By the time I had stopped gawking and had the genius idea to switch the camera to panorama, it had faded a bit. It’s been years since I’ve seen a full rainbow, and John thinks this was his first. It was a glorious way to end the day.