It's easy to miss Holy Trinity church, off Goodramgate. Its tiny, peaceful churchyard is hidden behind Lady Row (some of the oldest houses in England) and is reached by a short alleyway. The church dates from the 1400's, although there was a church on the site as early as 1082. The interior is exactly as it was in the 1700's, complete with box pews black with age. Very evocative, and very peaceful.
Well this is not exactly off the beaten path but it fits in appropriately as far as the settings are concerned!!! The York Astronomical Society has it's observatory with a few very good telescopes a little outside the main city of York for members of the society and guests too for a night of astronomical observations using their Meade 125mm refractor telescope (and others too). The picture includes the Chairman Martin Dawson and Martin Whipp who is the editor of Algol - their monthly newsletter!!! Also in the picture is David and Debbie Brigham and a couple of other amateur astronomers including me!!!
A nrew attraction in 2006 is the York Cold War Bunker. This semi submerged nuclear bunker is also known as the Aztec Temple due to its Ziggurat design. The bunker was fully operational from the 1960s to the 1990s and kept in a state of readiness in case of nuclear attack.
Thankfully an attack or war seems unlikely now and this is Yorks latest attraction.
It is off Acomb Road and about a mile from the city centre in Monument Close.
Admission is expensive at £5.00 ( as at May 2006) and you must pre book a visit by telephoning first.
While wandering down the Shambles, one of my friends saw a little lane and went down to see what was there. She found a little oasis of peace. A church yard and old church away from the streams of tourists not 50 yards away.
While i was making my way down the same street, i investigated a sign leading me between two buildings and out to a small market courtyard. These are the kinds of little interesting discoveries you can make in York, even while traversing the main tourist "drag".
Not really off the beaten path, but a walk around York’s city walls will take you through 1900 years of history.
First built in Roman times, they have been added to and rebuilt over time – so that different parts date from different centuries.
As such, they tell the important and fascinating history of York. And as King George VI once said, 'The history of York is the history of England.' York’s city walls are among the longest and best-preserved walls in England. They are a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade One listed building. They are visited by over one million people from all over the world every year.
Originally built as defences, the focus is now on conservation.
Having completed more than half of the walk along the city walls, there is quite a long stretch where there are no walls and you have to walk along a street. I wondered how it can be that York's city walls are called "complete" when there are no walls in this area, but apparently there never were walls here, so they are not missing, but never existed. Instead, there was a dam in the river Foss which was constructed under William the Conquerer and which created a lake. This lake was part of the defenses, and it was much bigger than it is today. Now there is only a small part of it left, called The King's Fishpool. This happened because during the 18th and 19th century, the river and lake became dryer and dryer, and finally the river was canalized and most of the water supply was cut off, leaving only a smaller pond.
The pond is now located next to a large road (Foss Island Road), so the atmosphere is not that nice, but the pond itself looked still very pretty and I also saw some fish and birds.
Adress: Foss Island Road
Directions: Between Red Tower and Monk bar
York's Magistrates' Court is a Victorian building in Clifford Street, close to Clifford's Tower. The building was constructed in 1891/92 and is grade II listed. I walked past it quite often during my stay in York and always thought that it looked very impressive and important. The distinct clock tower can also be seen from far away.
This is still a working court! Unfortunately I could not find out more about the history of the building.
Adress: The Law Courts, Clifford Street
Directions: Close to Clifford's Tower
York's Guildhall was constructed in 1445, replacing an earlier one that had been built in the 13th century. The entrance to the hall is not that easy to find - it is located behind the Mansion House, and you need to go around several corners until you are there. The lady at reception seemed to be quite surprised to see a visitor, and could not quite believe I really wanted to see the hall, but she was very friendly and after speaking to some colleagues, even provided me with an old information leaflet. I personally was surprised to see that not many people seem to visit the hall, as it is certainly worth a look!
I first saw the building from the boat when we did our boat trip during our VT meeting, and from the river it looked like an impressive building (picture 1). Up close from the other side, approaching the entrance, it looked very old and historical (picture 2). When I entered the hall, I got that feeling of historicity, being in an old place that has seen many events and people over the centuries...
Unfortunately, a bomb hit the Guildhall in 1942, but the exterior remained as it was, and the interior was fully restored in the 1950s (picture 3). There are several interesting features to see, my favourite thing were the roof bosses showing some colourful figures and animals, such as the two male figures in picture 5. Other interesting things are the colourful windows showing scenes from life in York, several plaques and memorials, and York's Coat of Arms (Picture 4).
Opening times: May to October Monday to Friday 09.00am to 05.00pm, Saturday 10.00am to 05.00pm, Sunday 02.00pm to 05.00pm - November to April: Monday to Friday 09.00 to 05.00pm
Adress: Coney Street
Direcions: Entrance behind Mansion House, Helen's Square
If you cross the street close to Clifford's Tower and walk on towards the river, there is a small park on the way, called Tower Gardens. It lies right at the food of Skeldergate Bridge. This was York's very first public park.
The park is not very big, but it is the ideal place for a relaxing break during an exploration of the city walls, as you need to walk through the park to walk the section between Old Baille and Clifford's Tower. It is also the starting point of the New Walk.
There are several benches and seats, a nice fountain, and it is just a tranquil and green spot.
Adress: Close to Tower Street
Directions: At Skeldergate Bridge
Close to the cathedral in an enclosed area covered with greenery, I saw an interesting monument. It looked a little like a small church spire without the church!
When I walked closer, I saw that it was a war memorial. It was erected to commemorate the men from Yorkshire who fell in the Second Boer War. The memorial was built in 1905, just three years after the war had finished.
To me the memorial has a somewhat Gothic appearance, enforced by the statues around the upper part. The statues all stand for different military services.
Adress: Duncombe Place
Directions: Close to the Minster
When walking from the train station to the town centre, you will see a small burial ground close to the street. It is a green lawn with some weathered gravestones, looking very old, and a bit odd in the hustle bustle of this area. There is an information sign explaining what this burial ground is, the inscription says: Cholera Burial Ground - Specially acquired for the burial of some of the 185 victims of a plague of cholera, which lasted from 3rd. Jne to 22nd. October 1832. There are 20 surviving memorial stones, all of sandstone. (see picture 2).
The cholera epidemic of 1831/32 was the first of several to break out in the UK. Actually it was a man from York who finally found out how to fight cholera by separating drinking water and waste water: It was John Snow, who was born in York in 1813. Before that, people had even spread the disease by cleaning all the roads and streets in York, trying to fight it by eliminating dirt, but in fact spreading it through the water they used to clean their town.
As the usual graveyards were not able to take in as many dead, it was necessary to look for additional burial sites which should not be located within the city walls. Thus, this area close to the train station was chosen.
Adress: Station Road
Directions: Close to the train station
Walking from the train station to the town centre, a little further from the way, there is a pretty gate made of wrought iron. One day I walked through the gate, and found myself in a pretty small garden. In the centre, there is a large pillar or column, which is a war memorial.
This garden was created in 1925 and is York's main war memorial, where annual services are held. The official function of the memorial is also shown by the display of York's Coat of Arms above the gate. The memorial is dedicated to the dead of World War One and Two, but it is also a general memorial for peace.
It is amazing how tranquil and peaceful this place is, considering that it is so close to Station Road and the busy train station. There are a few benches where you can have a rest, and it seems that the garden is also a favourite spot of many birds.
Adress: Leeman Road
Directions: Turn left into the gate when you walk from the train station to the town centre -
This looks like quite a different exhibit. If you are a model railway fan or builder, this is definitely a must see for you. Find it beside the York rail station.
When I wandered around the town centre on my first evening I saw two figures of cats attached to houses as a decoration and wondered what this meant - the next day, during our VT meeting, I learned about it: These cats belong to the York Cat Trail.
The custom of attaching cats to houses dates back to the Middle Ages, when this was done to frighten off mice, and also because cats were thought to bring good luck. Today there is the Cat Trail that leads you all around town, where you can try and spot all those cat figures. I think I personally would not do the real trail because there are so many other things in York that I find more interesting, but I still found it funny to spot one of the cats from time to time, usually in an unexpected place!
You can find the leaflet of the trail in the link attached.
While walking along Bootham Road, one day I discovered an interesting plaque on the wall of one of the Georgian houses, and stopped to read it. To my surprise, I read that this house was the birthplace of the poet W.H. Auden!
He was born there on the 21st February 1907, but the family moved away one year later, so he did not grow up in York. The house is quite a nice building, though! I also read that he was influenced by the landscape and atmosphere of Yorkshire.
Adress: 54 Bootham
Directions: West of the city centre, on the way to Clifton.