Saturday, 31 December 2011

Upside Down?

Emperor Constantine is gazing across towards one of the Roman columns which stood within the Roman Great Hall or Principia. This column was found beneath the South Transept of the Minster during excavations in 1969. It was re-erected to stand opposite the south door of the Minster in 1971 to commemorate York's 1900th birthday. The debate still rages about whether it is placed the correct way up…………. or not. What do you think?

Friday, 30 December 2011

Constantine the Great

The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great sits back, master of all he surveys, outside the south door of York Minster.  Constantine was thought to have been hailed as Emperor by his troops near this spot on the death of his father in AD 306.  

This modern statue was gifted to the city in 1998 by York Civic Trust. The sculptor was Philip Jackson and he carefully researched the clothing, seating and armour of the period. The Emperor sits looking down upon his broken sword, which forms the shape of a cross.
This is to symbolise the fact that Constantine made Christianity an acceptable religion of the Roman Empire.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Impressive Sandals

This forms part of a bronze statue that can be found outside the Minster. Any idea who these sturdy Roman legs might belong to? If you would like a clue he was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York, and was the first Emperor to become a Christian.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Fair

These old Ford cars are part of the Christmas fair rides for children that are in place in Parliament Street at present. I expect installing two steering wheels per car saves a lot of arguments!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Giant Shadows

This time of year with the sun low in the sky it can be difficult to walk down the Shambles in the morning and see where you are going. Not that I am complaining about sunny days in winter oh no!

Monday, 26 December 2011

York Minster Choir Screen 2

This is the second part of the Minster choir screen which depicts Henry III,  Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI. The statues are almost life-sized and above each monarch is an angel playing a musical instrument. As this side has eight monarch and the other side seven the screen is slightly asymetrical. The work was begun whilst Henry V was on the throne and when he died unexpectedly they probably felt it politic to incorporate the new monarch into the screen.

The statue of Henry IV is not original, it was defaced many times (see Wars of the Roses if you are wondering why) and even replaced with James I. It was finally re-carved and replaced in the 19th century.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

York Minster Choir Screen

Merry Christmas to all visitors to Ginnels Gates and Ghosts old and new.

This is the left side of York Minster choir screen. This section shows the English monarchs William I (the Conqueror), William II, Henry I, Stephen, Henry II, Richard I and John. Carved of stone it is an impressive and striking piece of work. It was built in the 15th century to strengthen the east wall of the central tower.

I am not convinced the monarchs are in chronological order as the statue fifth from the left is holding a heart which would suggest Richard I (the Lionheart), and Henry II was known to favour shorter garments. Perhaps the statues have been removed at some time and replaced in a different order.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Minster in the Mist

Here is York Minster as seen from Precentors Court looking positively Dickensian in the mist. I shall be heading inside later today for the Christmas Eve Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at 4pm. Need to be there by 3.00pm or it will be standing room only.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Family Tragedy

Situated in the grounds of St Lawrence's Church is this once impressive tomb covered in symbolic carvings. The inscription had faded to be unreadable and I was moved to find out a little more about it. It is a monument to 6 children of the Rigg family drowned in a boating accident on the River Ouse on August 19th 1830. Their rowing boat met a another boat in full sail near Acomb landing and collided with it. The whole party was thrown into the water and in an age when few people were taught to swim only two - Thomas Sellers and 9 year old Jessie - survived. Ann (19), Eliza (17), Thomas (18),  John (16), James (7) and Charles (6) all drowned. 
The citizens of York, stunned by the scale of the tragedy to hit one family subscribed to the monument, a picture of which taken around 1900 when was still in good repair, can be seen here.
After finding out about the tomb I understood why the churchyard here had seemed such a very sad place.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

St Lawrence Victorian Church

This is the Victorian replacement of the original 14th century St Lawrence's church in the previous posts. The tower featured earlier this week is now in the grounds of this church.  This large church is also now disused, and although I usually enjoy a wander around old churchyards I found this one to have a rather brooding melancholic feel as I walked amongst the trees and gravestones.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sagittarius Rising

A worn capital on St Lawrence's Church tower has been replace by a newly carved relief showing the astrological sign of Sagittarius the Archer on the right, and three further figures. I have included the unrestored capital next to it in the picture as a contrast to the repair. There is no indication who is responsible for this skillfully carved new addition, although a notice on the other side of the tower indicates it is maintained by the Redundant Churches Fund.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Impressive Doorway

This is a closer look at the impressive doorway to yesterday's church tower. Originally this was the entrance to the Nave. According to Pevsner it is a reset Norman doorway with a middle order of arch decoration showing Sagittarius on one capital, and on the others the Angus Dei and a monster. One of the stone columns and it's capital on the right hand side have been replaced fairly recently. A closer look at this tomorrow.

Monday, 19 December 2011

St Lawrence's church tower

Surrounded by the trees on Lawrence Street all that remains of St Lawrence’s medaeval church is the Norman tower. Late 12th century lower storeys, 13th century windows above and 15th century battlement on top. Sir Thomas Fairfax was married in this church as was St John Vanbrugh.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Coppergate Christmas

Coopergate is a popular shopping street throughout the year and makes a bit of an effort to look good at Christmas. The tower in the background belongs to All Saints' Church in Pavement. In times past the verger of All Saints' had a duty to keep a light in the tower to guide travellers to the city through the royal forest of Galtres.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Skeldergate bridge detail

Here is a closer look at Skeldergate Bridge, the parapet is decorated with ornate ironwork featuring trefoils, six-pointed stars and the white rose of York. It was built by Thomas Page who also designed and built another of York's bridges across the River Ouse, Lendal Bridge.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Skeldergate Bridge

In 1873 more than 800 people a day were using the Skeldergate ferry crossing to pass into and out of the city. The York (Skeldergate Bridge) Improvement Act was passed in 1875. The foundation stone was laid in 1878 and the completed bridge officially opened to pedestrians on 1 January 1881, with general traffic able to cross two months later. 

Skeldergate Bridge is an iron bridge with Gothic details. The north-easternmost span (on the right) was designed to open, allowing tall ships to reach the busy quaysides further upstream. The bridge was last opened in 1975 and the winding mechanism has now been removed.

Skeldergate Bridge was originally a toll bridge. The toll-house, which also housed the winding machinery, is now a cafe. The bridge was declared toll-free on 1 April 1914, and a regatta was held to celebrate the occasion.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Mail

The VR cypher on this post box in the centre of York indicates it was put into use when Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was on the throne. That means it is well over 100 years old, and it is rather looking it's age these days. I wonder how many Christmas cards have been posted in here over the years?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

York Wheel Returns!

On my way to the station a couple of days ago I spied a Big Wheel under construction in the Station Hotel car park.  York had a Wheel from 2006-2008 attracting 1.2million visitors, and there has been much debate about where to site this one. This wheel was previously in Dublin and it took 24 lorries to bring it to York. It is scheduled to remain here until Jan 2013.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Tap and Spile

This building featuring the two cherubs from yesterday dates from 1897 and was a Public House built for John Hunt's brewery. It was originally called the Black Horse Inn as evidenced by the cherubs and the black horse above the main entrance.

It continues to operate as a pub selling a variety of real ale and can be found in Monkgate. As with many York pubs it lays claim to a ghost, in this case an Edwardian gentleman who presumably isn't ready for last orders yet!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Two cherubs

These two cherubs holding aloft a bunch of grapes adorn the front of one of York's many Public Houses. It is no longer called the Black Horse Inn but the cherubs have been allowed to remain. Come back tomorrow to see the whole building under it's current name.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Highway Robbery

Dick Turpin (1705 -1739) was a highway man and horse thief who paid the ultimate price for his way of life
“As he went along the streets in the tumbril he bowed to the ladies in the crowds who had come to see him and doffed his hat. Then having arrived at the York Tyburn on the Tadcaster Road, he mounted the ladder to the scaffold and talked to the hangman for half-an-hour before suddenly throwing himself off and into eternity” (Extract from A. Stacpoole, The Noble City of York).
A commemorative stone can be found in St George’s churchyard where he was reputedly interred in quick lime after his body was stolen, recovered and then re-buried.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Three Cranes

This is one of my favourite Pub signs in the city. The Three Cranes can be found in St Sampson's Square and the coloured tiles are set into the wall above the Public House entrance. Cranes are thought to have become extinct as a breeding bird in the UK around 400 years ago but they are now returning, with a little help. See here for further details.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Sunshine after the Rain

Here is the crypt after the rain had stopped and the sun was shining again. I was able to hop on my bike and cycle home without having to don all the wet weather gear after all.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Patterns in the Stone

As the rain continued I decided to explore the crypt a little further. Set into one of the stone walls was this pattern of tiles.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Still Raining

One of the crypt windows of St Leonards overlooks the entrance to the Museum Gardens, and there were plenty of people out and about despite the wet weather. It took a number of attempts to capture the figures in the 'right' square!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sheltering in the Crypt

I had just come out of the central library (the brick building on the right) a couple of months ago when it started to rain, so I decided to shelter in the crypt of St Leonard's Hospital which is in the library gardens. The crypt was built in the first half of the 13th century and has four bays. It is a minature version of the very impressive crypt at Fountain Abbey.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Modern City Living

York city centre does have modern buildings alongside all the history. These apartments have a prime location near the river Ouse and must have splendid views from the penthouse.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

St Mary's Tower

This is the upper section of St Mary's Tower,  part of the wall of St Mary's Abbey. It was built by Stephen de Austewyk in 1324 to an unusual design, round on the outside but octagonal on the inside.
During the Civil War it was attacked by the Parliamentarians on June 16th 1644. A mine exploded underneath the Tower and the Abbey wall was breached with Roundheads getting as far as the King's Manor but they were then beaten back with many captured and around 40 killed.
After the Civil War the tower was rebuilt with thinner walls on the outside but kept the octagonal shape on the inside.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Pigeon's Revenge

This cat has suffered the indignity of being bombed from above by birds perched on a ledge. If he doesn’t get a good clean soon he will not be a black cat for much longer. This bespattered feline can be found climbing up a building in the Shambles.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Minster Advent Crown

I visited York Minster earlier this week and the advent crown is in place beneath the Crossing and Central Tower. To the left is the cathedral organ, and top right you can see some of the roof bosses of the South Transept.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Cholera Postie

A brightly dressed postie cycles past the cholera burial ground on Station Road. Some of the 185 victims of the 1832 cholera outbreak in York were buried outside the city walls in this specially designated area. The law stated that cholera victims had to be buried at least one foot below ground which was not always possible in the cities full graveyards.

The germ theory of disease had not been suggested at this stage and it was thought cholera could be caught from breathing in foul miasmas or 'bad' air. A York born physician, John Snow, contributed to the formation of the germ theory when he traced the source of the 1854 cholera outbreak in Soho, London. He found that cases occurred in homes which obtained their water from a pump in Broad Street, and correctly identified drinking water as the source of the illness.

There is a local myth that the ground around the graves must never be disturbed or cholera will return to the city. Some years ago soil samples from here were sent for culture, and despite best efforts no cholera was isolated.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

March and Rally in York

Union banners outside York Minster earlier this afternoon. Public sector workers in the UK are on strike today, many for the first time in their working lives, in protest at the government proposals to alter pension provision. The government intends to increase the retirement age to 68, increase the contributions paid by public sector workers into their pension, and reduce the amount eventually paid out.

Todays protest is aimed at getting the government to talk to unions to help reach a negotiated settlement rather than just issue an ultimatum.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Umbrella’s story?

I have walked past this discarded umbrella for the last 6 months at least and wondered who it might have belonged to.  No one seems to want to claim it, or even to dispose of it. If it had been my umbrella I would have been rather sad to lose it as it looks like it would have brightened up a rainy day.
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