The Durham Chronicles– The Visit to York, Part One

It was finally a nice spring day. Finally. And so in the carpe diem category, since tempus fugit and I fidget I decided to hop on the train and take the hour’s ride down to another of my favorite medieval English cities— York, (for which the Big Apple was likely named). Now there is much to do and see in York— old medieval houses, the medieval gates or bars as they are called, the walls around the city, Clifford’s tower, and of course as the crown jewel— Yorkminster, a very very different cathedral than Durham, but with roots all the way back to the 700s and the Saxons, who built a little chapel here…. well beneath the current structure. So in this first post on the visit to York, a focus on the great cathedral.

Let’s be clear up front. No cathedral, except perhaps the one at Lincoln, has the setting that Durham’s does. The Yorkminister today is in the middle of the old city, but it is not itself ‘a city set on a hill’. Here’s a shot of it as one walks in from the train station.

Contrast that picture with this one, which I took at 7:30 p.m. when I hopped off the train back in Durham…..

This is not a contest however. Each cathedral has its own unique beauty and glory. York in its current structure is a much later, lighter, brighter cathedral, and way more fancy…to use a technical term. It has everything one could want in a cathedral.

For a start, it’s got a fabulous nave (not a knave!) which takes your breath away when you walk into the building.

And when you look up you see all the roof bosses… those round shaped things at junctures in the roof ribbing. Each one has a distinctive design, and recently in the south transcepts new bosses have been put up, designed by the children of York.

And as you wander down the nave, you eventually get to the screen, which leads through a gate to the high altar. The screen has the various Kings of England on it, including one of my favorites— Ethelred the Unready :)

And then one enters the choirstall leading to the high altar

Here of course is where Evensong is held which I attended. It was beautiful, but I have to say I don’t much care for Benjamin Britten’s long Lamb piece which was done at this service. There is much more to see however. Here is the organ… which will blow you right out of the building.

Now of course there is a pulipit, though the high pulpit is seldom used these days, perhaps even less than the royal box….

We will save the stained glass windows and some other bits for the next post.

  • Ed Beedle

    May I inquire, what is the royal box used for? Possibly for members of the royal family should they attend services there?

  • BenW3

    Indeed the royal box is used for the royal family when they come to a service. BW3