Sunday, 30 September 2012

Time Out

All that fighting and pillaging can be sooooo exhausting!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Wise Woman

It was great to see such a wide variety of ages amongst the re-enactors of Saxon and Viking life, this lady really looked the part of a tribal elder. She was knelt down with her cloth bag observing the battle closely and looked like she might be a healer, or as we call them today, St Johns Ambulance!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Rivers up

Well as we say in these parts 'Rivers up'. Normally you can walk down here but, several days of heavy rain have arrived in York via the River Ouse and the streets around the river are flooded once more. The sign 'Plonkers' refers to a wine bar by the way, not anyone attempting to drive down here......

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Viking Camp

Whilst all the action was going on at The Bridge (they had two battles so each side could claim a victory) back at the camp the cooking and weaving still had to be done. This very friendly lady was very knowledgeable about many aspects of Viking domestic life. All rather more interesting than the battle actually, though that was fun too.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

K is for Keep

Ginnels Gates and Ghosts is one year old today! Within that year there have been over 21,000 hits on the blog and visitors from 102 different countries. Much of that traffic was generated by the CDP portal and I for one really miss that window on the world, here's hoping it returns one day. 
Of all the pictures posted those of Clifford's Tower, the Keep of York castle, are amongst the most appreciated. I have taken the liberty of adding a little artistic licence to this image of the Tower to celebrate today. Many thanks for all your comments, it is always a pleasure to read those that have been left by both regular and new visitors, and to visit your blogs and view your take on the world.
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Other Battle in 1066

946 years ago today the Viking warriors of Harold Hardrada met the Saxon soldiers of King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. After a horrifically bloody encounter Hardrada and most of the Norwegian invaders lay dead. 
There was no time for Godwinson to celebrate his victory however, as he had to march his already battered army 226 miles down to Hastings to fight the Normans. Here he was defeated and killed by the man who would be known as William the Conqueror.
Above is a re-enactment of The Battle of Stamford Bridge which took place this weekend. Participants included Volsung Vikings who are based in York.
Taking part in Ruby Tuesday

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Bridge at Stamford

This is the the modern bridge across the river Derwent at a village called Stamford Bridge. A natural outcrop of sandstone provided a crossing ford here for Roman soldiers, and by 1066 there was a wooden bridge. On Sept 20th 1066 Harold Hardrada and his Viking soldiers had been victorious in battle at Gate Fulford and the gates of York were forced open. The city had no option but to take an oath recognising Hardrada as their king. To ensure the city stayed loyal to him Hardrada demanded hostages, 150 sons of the cities wealthiest families. Hostages were to be exchanged on Sept 25th at the crossroads near Stamford Bridge.
Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bootham Bar

This is the end of our journey down Bootham here at Bootham Bar, one of the four gateways into the city. There has been a gateway here for almost 2000 years. The coat of arms is the Royal House of Stuart, with the York shield of five lions beneath.  In 1501 the gate had a door knocker and Scots were required to knock first and seek permission from the Lord Mayor to enter the city. It is still legal to shoot a Scotsman from the city walls here so long as you do so with a bow and arrow!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fancy Sign

Still on Bootham this great old tiled sign forms part of a shop front. I love the way some letters span four tiles, it must have made producing the tiles interesting.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Busy Bootham

This is the business end of Bootham on a busy Saturday morning as it nears the city centre. As you can see it is only a short distance from York Minster.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I took this photo in the garden of one of the buildings on Bootham. It is now used as York Registry Office and is the scene of many civil weddings each day, hence the confetti in the garden. Remember the cobbles from earlier views of the street? Not easy to negotiate in high heeled wedding shoes!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

J is for Joseph Rowntree

This house on Bootham was the childhood home of Quaker philanthropist Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925). That elegant cobweb arch above the door is typical of buildings of this period in York. 
Early in the last century the Rowntree company was one of Britain's best known firms, both for its commercial success and in the field of industrial welfare. Joseph Rowntree cared about the quality of life of his employees. A female welfare worker was appointed in 1891, and in 1900 a welfare officer was appointed for boys and men. Sick and provident funds followed, then a doctor's surgery. A savings scheme was set up in 1905; a pension scheme in 1906; and a sick benefit scheme in 1910.
Rowntree's most lasting philanthropic act was to use half of his fortune to create three trusts. He stated that he did not want his children to lead the idle life often associated with large inheritances.  The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust was created to support adult education, social research, and the Society of Friends. The Joseph Rowntree Social Trust concentrated on social and political activities, and the Joseph Rowntree Village (now Housing) Trust was given responsibility for building affordable working-class housing. By the time Joseph Rowntree died in 1925 the model village of New Earswick contained almost 400 homes, as well as community and educational facilities. The Trusts and the village still flourish.
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Old and New

One of the pleasures of walking around York is discovering the old beside the new. St Mary's Tower on Bootham is a corner tower of the wall surrounding St Mary's Abbey. Now a ruin St Mary's was once one of the wealthiest Benedictine Abbeys in the country. The faded white sign on the Tower reads 'The Hamlet of St Marys'. The Tower sustained significant damage in the civil war siege of York in 1644 hence the portion of the wall that stands out at the left hand side.

Monday, 17 September 2012

W H Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in this house at 54 Bootham York on  21st February 1907. The following year his family moved to Birmingham so his links with York are at best tenuous. That did not stop the York tourism office persuading some local cab drivers to learn one of his works by heart and recite them at passengers to celebrate the centenary of his birth in 2007. Although I note they chose the beautifully rhythmic The Night Mail rather than the better known Funeral Blues. Perhaps they thought 'Stop all the clocks' did not set the right tone in a taxi!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Penn House

Mo commented yesterday that the houses on Bootham might be expensive to buy. This is Penn House on the corner of Bootham and St Mary's, and was recently for sale with an asking price of £1.5 million. It was last used as part of Bootham School so will need quite a bit more spending on it if it is to be made into a home again. 
The house was built around 1852 and was called Top House as it is at the top of St Mary's. It was was built for Joseph Rowntree's father, Joseph senior, a grocer and prominent Quaker, who, with Samuel Tuke, established the Quaker Bootham and Mount schools. His widow, Sarah,  lived at Top House until her death in 1888. Joseph junior lived in the house on and off until 1905. From 1905-20 his son the social reformer Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree continued to use Top House as an office. In 1920 Joseph donated the house to Bootham School, when it became known as Penn House.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Bootham Town Houses

These elegant town houses on Bootham are mostly built of pale brick which makes the warm brickwork of Hudson House on the right stand out all the more. Between the pavement proper and the road is a width of cobbles down each side of the road with trees planted at intervals. Many of the houses along here are four or five story buildings with the basement below pavement level. Some are now divided into apartments and others used as offices. One or two remain as very desirable single residences.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Through the Arched Door.....

This rather worn but still striking doorway is late Norman and has been moved from another site, reputedly Holy Trinity Priory on Micklegate, to the base of the tower on Ingram's hospital. It is round-headed and has dog tooth decoration still visible, forming an attractive entrance to the tower and chapel of these alms houses.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A walk down Bootham

I though we might take a walk down Bootham towards the city centre over the next few days. This road runs N.W from the city and follows the route of one of the main Roman roads into the city. Today it is a wide tree lined street with some very imposing buildings. The name may derive from the 'place of the booths' as St Mary's Abbeys had the right to hold a weekly market along here. 
The building on the left is Ingram House built in the 1630s, we'll take a closer look at that arched doorway tomorrow which looks rather older.....

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Inside St Martin-cum-Gregory on Micklegate is this striking wooden triptych reredos with IHS top and centre. IHS is a common Christogram based on the first three letters of "Jesus" in Greek. The Commandment board underneath is flanked by The Lord's Prayer on one side and The Creed on the other. The1636 panelled hexagonal pulpit has a painted inscription reading 'Preach the Word in season and out of season'. This was a veiled reference to which side of the religious divide the congregation should stand during the reign of  Charles I.  Many subjects felt Charles had brought the Church of England too close to the Roman Catholic Church. 
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Britannia Coco-nuts

It is the Yorkshire Traditional Dance Festival once again and these are the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup, known to one and all as 'The Nutters'. The custom of blackened faces may appear rather non PC but is said to reflect a pagan or medieval background and was done to disguise the dancers from being recognised by evil spirits. There may also be a mining connections as Bacup was once a Lancashire mining town. 
Here they are performing a Garland Dance, each of the Dancers carries a hoop decorated with red, white and blue paper flowers. This is a  ritual Spring dance connected with the renewal of crops. 
Taking part in Ruby Tuesday 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Ghostly Cat

Always fun to find a new cat in York. This ghostly looking moggie is emerging through the wall of the Golden Fleece, one of the many pubs claiming to be the most haunted in the city.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Oxfam Bride

This charity shop now has a Bridal Boutique and why not, you are only ever going to wear it once even if you re-marry. So why not do your bit to conserve the planet and recycle the dress!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

York Station

York station is built around a corner, which gives a rather pleasing sweep to the track and that magnificent ironwork curve of a roof. No automated ticket gates here as the aim is to keep the station looking as splendid as it did in it's Victorian heyday.

Friday, 7 September 2012


There are over 100 of these carved figures and faces looking out from the Chapter House walls, women, men, animals both real and imagined. Of all of them the man with the blindfold is the one I always seek out. Why is he wearing it and how did the mason manage to make cold hard stone look so like a piece of cloth?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Where to Look?

It can be difficult to know where to look first in York Minster Chapter House. Do you enjoy the stained glass windows, admire the intricately tiled floor (here), photograph that fabulous Gothic domed roof (here)? Maybe you have come in specially to see the pictures currently on show, an exhibition call Liminal Space by Rachael Burnett. Or maybe to see the carvings done by the Master masons between 1270-80 that adorn the walls. For me it is the carvings, come by tomorrow to see one of my favourites.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

H is for How much is that doggie in the window?

A feature of the Three Cranes in St Samson's Square this summer has been the daily appearance of this toy dog in the window. S/he is there as a sign that this city centre pub welcomes dogs as well as their owners, and has become quite a tourist attraction in it's own right.
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Something will turn up.....

This modern stone in York cemetery marks the site of a public grave which is of interest to anyone familiar with the writing of Charles Dickens. Alfred Dickens, younger brother of Charles, lived near York and it is possible Charles met Richard Chicken on a visit to see his brother. For a time Alfred Dickens and Richard Chicken worked in the same office so Charles must have heard many stories and anecdotes from and about this noted York eccentric.
The Chicken family lived in St. Mary’s Row, Bishophill, producing baby Chickens at regular intervals, and according to a neighbour, 'bathing them every Sunday morning in the yard in full view of everybody who wanted to look'. Despite this sanitary regime (or perhaps because of it) five of the little Chickens died of typhoid fever. 
Later, the family moved to Bilton Street in Layerthorpe and then Union Terrace. Despite his limited income as a clerk he continued to hatch Chickens at regular intervals and money was always tight. By now Chicken was known all over the city for his Micawberish way of life particularly his elaborate begging letters. 
He died in the workhouse and was buried in a Public Grave which cost 4s 6d with an additional charge of 4s 6d for the use of the cemetery hearse. An old school friend paid the 9 shillings owing.
Taking part in Taphophile Tragics

Monday, 3 September 2012

Cross Gates

We are in the centre of Viking York here. This is a view up Low Ousegate towards High Ousegate (local pronunciation ayoozegate!) The street off to the left is Spurriergate where the spur makers used to ply their trade and to the right is Nessgate. Nessgate leads to a 'ness' or headland, in this case a finger of land between the rivers Ouse and Foss on which York castle was built.
The church on the left is St Michael's first built around 1088, it is now a cafe and Fair Trade centre, and worth a visit if you are passing.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Permissive Path

Just go through the kissing gate and then a walk in the open countryside awaits on this permissive path through a pretty part of the Yorkshire Wolds

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Cartoon Man

The guy in the trilby is drawing a 5 minute cartoon of the lady sat opposite him. You know the sort of thing, exaggerate the main features but still produce a recognisable sketch. He is very good, and has attracted quite a crowd to watch him work. Which was handy for me as I could take a picture of people watching (ahem) without anyone really noticing!
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