Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Into the Light

Walking up out of the crypt gives this view towards three of the many memorials in the Minster. The two outer memorials are impressive to look at with their carved figures, but the one in the centre is most touching for it's simplicity and the sentiment expressed in the inscription. It is for Ensign Henry Whittam and the dedication reads:

"Sacred to the memory of Ensign Henry Whittam who in the 26th year of his age was accidentally drowned in the River Ouse, May 28th 1809. The officers of the Craven Reg. of Local Militia assembled at York when this melancholy event occured have caused this marble to be engraved as token of their high respect and to perpetuate the virtues of their beloved and lamented comrade"

Henry Whittam is buried in Holy Trinity Church in Micklegate where there is another memorial to him.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Who's the Daddy?

St William was Archbishop of York in the mid 12th century, he was canonised in 1227. His tomb was in a sorry state of repair and the decision was taken to replace it during the 1967-72 excavations in the Minster. On opening the tomb it was found to contain not only the remains of St William but those those of a baby. The identity of the baby is unknown, suggestions include a stonemason's unbaptised child, or Prince William of Hatfield, baby son of Edward III, whose empty royal tomb is also in the Minster.
St William's body has moved many times over the centuries, now he rests here in the west crypt surrounded by candles, this site specially chosen as the crypts are mostly unchanged since he was alive. His new tomb is a recycled Roman sarcophagus with a modern lid, resting on a Roman mosaic floor.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ancient and Modern

In the forground are two weathered Romanesque figures carved around 1100. They were originally displayed in niches in the outside of the western towers of York Minster but removed for safety reasons in the 1970s and placed in the crypt.
In the background is a small portion of the steel and concrete that was inserted under the Minster between 1967-72 in a huge underpinning project to prevent the collapse of the central tower. It is quite fascinating to visit the Undercroft of the Minster and see the modern engineering that keeps this ancient structure standing tall.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Under the Minster

This is a close up view of one of the Norman pillars that originally supported the roof of York Minster crypt. The pillar is still in the crypt but the height of the roof has since been raised so it is no longer part of the structure. Richly carved on the outside these round pillars are hollow inside and filled with rubble. They looked to have some flecks of paint on them and may have been heavily coloured at some point. If you look closely at the second diagonal band from the left you can see the original stonemasons mark - a thin line with a diamond shape on the top.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Two old boxes

I saw an increasingly unusual sight the other day, a phone box and a letter box sited near each other. Many of the coin operated phone boxes have been removed as 'everyone' has a mobile, and 'no one' writes letters any more. When was the last time you used a public phone box either in the UK or elsewhere in the world?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Le Kirke Lane

This is view down Carr's Lane formerly Le Kirke Lane or Kirkgail. This is a mediaeval common lane leading down to the River Ouse and is half cobbled and half paved. The railings on the left surround what is left of  the churchyard of St Mary Bishophill Senior, the church was demolished in the 1960s. Further down are new apartments built on the site of the riverside warehouses and mills. The distant church tower is All Saints Church on Pavement.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A Ginnel with a Door

Walking through the Bishophill area of the city these two doors caught my attention. Initially I wondered why one was in much better condition than the other, then realised that the one on the right led into the house whilst the other led into an unheated passage between two terraced houses.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Quiet Drink

The two gentlemen in the window were enjoying a lunchtime pint in the Yorkshire Terrier, a York Brewery owned Public House. I was intent on photographing the tiles on the outside of this building in Stonegate. One complements the other I think.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Another Fine Mess

Looks like Stan Laurel approves of the selection of winter flowers for sale outside this florists shop in Bootham.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mini Me!

On reviewing some close up pictures of the mosaic in Rowntree Park at home I realised my reflection was captured in the picture above. I make no apologies for the hat, it was a very cold day!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mosaic Map

This mosaic map of Rowntree Park makes a colouful addition to one of the walls within the Park. Artist Dawn Sharkey worked with a variety of community groups during 2009 on a project called 'Mapping the Park'. After trying out a number of different art techniques they produced this mosaic piece celebrating their memories and feelings about Rowntree Park.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Open Air Theatre

Down the path from yesterday's carved masks is this open air platform. Lights are set into the top of the walls and the stage looks very atmospheric when they are lit, especially with the trees behind acting as a living backcloth.
Past productions staged here include A Midsummer Night's Dream (naturally!) and Much Ado About Nothing. Both were performed as part of the York Shakespeare Project, a group committed to performing all of Shakespeare's plays somewhere in York over a period of 20 years. We are about 10 years into the cycle and you can find out more about them here

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Two Green Masks

Walking further into Rowntree Park I came across these two Comedy & Tragedy masks carved into an old tree stump. Stop by tomorrow to see why.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Rowntree Park - New Gates

Rowntree Park is situated next to the River Ouse just south of York. It was given to the people of York by Rowntree and Company at the end of the First World War. It was gifted as a memorial to those members of the Company who gave their lives or suffered as a result of the war. The Park and the civic amenities provided within are still widely used by York residents today.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Still Christmas in the Minster

I wandered into York Minster a couple of days ago and was surprised to see the Christmas trees still in place. Two trees plus the nativity scene were still on display in the North Transept, and seen here through the tracery behind the high altar is the 20 foot plus Christmas tree in the Lady Chapel. On reflection I was glad the trees had a chance to be admired a bit longer, what do you think?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Windows and Doors

I took this picture as I was leaving the church. The shape of the glass in the door mirrored the window, and I liked the contrast between the stained glass figures in the window and the real figures on the busy street. 
I later discovered the glass in this window is the oldest in the church dating from the  fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centurys. Three of the main figures are thought to be St William, the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and St Helen. Opinion is divided on the identity of the kingly figure on the right, some suggest Edward the Confessor, others that it is Helen's son, the Emperor Constantine.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Four Gospellers

This is a closer view of the window in St Helen's church seen in yesterdays post. The window as you see it here is a composite from glass originally placed in the chancel. The four main figures are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

York Chinese Church

This is the interior of St Helen's church at the corner of Stonegate. It is a Church of England parish church founded around 1000 years ago. The fabric of the church is basically14th & 15th century but the present layout of the nave dates from 1858. This was the parish church of the glass painters and contains mediaeval as well as more modern stained glass. The Sunday service is in Mandarin and English and led by York Chinese Church.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Jolly Green Giant Bean

A fabulous wrought iron gate in the shape of a giant runner bean leads into the Treasurers House herb garden. This walled garden has probably been continuously cultivated since Roman times. All the gardening done today is organic, and the latest addition to the garden is a hive of bees. A brave move as the garden is in the centre of York, a stones throw from the Minster, the Bar Walls, and lots of visitors to the city.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Purple Haze

Here we have one of the walkways across the lake at York University, this one leads to Central Hall. Architecturally York University is a Plateglass (as opposed to Red Brick) university built in the 1960s. Central Hall is described as a half octagonal of concrete and glass, and is a splendid venue for choir and orchestral concerts.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The NRM Warehouse

This is the NRM equivalent of The Stacks, row upon row of railway related items that are not exactly on display but are available to the curious museum visitor to view. The treasures to be found in here range from old platform machines dispensing name labels (maximum 10 letters), to sophisticated cutlery items such as grape scissors (presumably used in First Class!)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Full Steam Ahead

It took many years to train as a steam engine driver and after a visit to Mallard's cab I can understand why. This is just a small portion of the valves, levers, gauges and dials that the driver had to be utterly familar with. See here for further details of the long route to becoming a top link express driver on a locomotive like Mallard.

Monday, 9 January 2012


The number pictured yesterday belongs to Mallard a Class A4 Pacific designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built in Doncaster. On 3rd July 1938 Mallard attained a world speed record for steam traction of 126mph which has never been officially broken. She was restored to working order in the 1980s but has not run since 1987. She is currently in the NRM collection at York. 

This picture also illustrates the difference between a Train and a Locomotive. Mallard is a locomotive, The Coronation is a Train which consists of a loco (in this case Mallard) plus a number of interconnected carriages. Named for the coronation of George VI it was a passenger train run by LNER between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley stations. It was usually hauled by a steamlined pacific A4 in Garter Blue livery with red wheels as indeed it is here.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Here is a clue to tomorrow's picture, can any railway enthusiasts out there name the locomotive from this picture? It is a steam loco, it is famous, and it is fast!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York has over 100 locomotives and over 200 other items of rolling stock. Some of the locomotive superstars are stored in the round as the museum is housed in a restored engine shed. Imagine a clock with a piece of track at each hour all facing inwards, and at the centre of the clock is a turntable. Any one of the locos can be moved onto the turntable and from there out of the museum onto the main line as there is a connecting track.
The eyecatching locomotive with the gold and red livery is the Duchess of Hamilton newly restored to opulent art deco re-streamlined condition. On the turntable is No 66 Aerolite built in 1869.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dame Judi Dench Walk

It has been raining a lot in York recently and Dame Judi would need her wellies to stroll along her eponymous walk shown here at present. The metal struts sticking out of the water are handrails down to the riverside walk, and the trees and benches are normally well above the waterline. It is also been very windy but that is more difficult to photograph!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Grey Lion & Blue Stocking

This splendid stone beast is one of a pair of lions at the entrance to Greys Court in Chapter House Street. This building claims to be the oldest continuously occupied house in Britain dating back in part to 1080.
Elizabeth Montagu (nee Robinson) was born here on Oct 2nd 1718. One of the richest women in England she became a founder member of the Blue Stockings Society in the early 1750s. This was an informal women’s social movement which encouraged education and mutual co-operation. You can read more about them here if you wish.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Winter Sunshine

Christmas morning we went for walk before lunch and passed by this terrace house with a Winter Jasmine in flower in the front garden. It was a pretty dull day weather wise but this patch of colour brightened up our morning stroll.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

William Etty Exhibition

York Art Gallery currently has a major exhibition of works by William Etty RA (1787-1849) called Art and Controversy. I stopped by for a look last week. One room contained many of his nudes which led to him being described as tittilating. Etty himself maintained that "To the pure of heart all things are pure". Other observers noted that "the nether limbs of one of the figures are displayed with more voluptousness than decorum" Depends on your point of view I guess.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Back to the Future 2

Here is a portion of the building seen yesterday looking very different, as a point of reference you can still see a couple of arched windows in the bottom left. Known as the West Offices the building will eventually house York City Council customer centre and also provide office accommodation.

The highest point in the construction was reached on Nov 17th and to celebrate the occasion a traditional 'Topping Out' ceremony took place. Symbolic elements of wine, oil, corn, salt and a Yew branch were added to a brick mould in a tradition dating back some 500 years to ensure the prosperity and success of the development. The mould will then be used in the new building.  

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Back to the Future

This photo that I took back in October is my offering for Photo of the Year from Ginnels Gates and Ghosts as it garnered a number of comments. I also thought it would be a good chance to update you with how the building is progressing now in tomorrows post.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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