gunpowder, pirates & a blood-red bordello {30 hours in york}…

this past weekend we simultaneously fulfilled the first of my 3*6*5 list for 2013 & celebrated the boyfriend’s birthday with a trip to historic york…

this has been on the “to do” list for a while now &, given it’s been recently subjected to floods & blizzards, we couldn’t have timed things much better with blue skies greeting us upon arrival…

we made the 10 minute journey from the train station by foot & checked into our base for the night, the guy fawkes inn

guyfawkes

nestled in the shadow of the majestic york minster {the cathedral}, these are atmospheric lodgings indeed: they owe their historic significance to marking the birthplace of their namesake, guy fawkes {the ill-feted traitor who conspired to blow up parliament back in 1605}

“remember, remember, the 5th of november; gunpowder, treason and plot; i see no reason why gunpowder, treason; should ever be forgot”

a nomadic abode

candles & gas light struggle to illuminate the murky downstairs quarters & it’s hard to not feel momentarily transported back in time as you pull up a pew at a planked table…

i loved its brooding darkness: the boyfriend did not…

regardless, the pub & restaurant drew a lively crowd both day & night…

but we didn’t linger, instead choosing to make the most of our limited stay & explore the cobbled streets of york…

there’s something about oldy worldy places that immediately makes me want to eat my body weight in sugar & so our first stop was to witness some fudge making & partake in some consumption of the deliciously creamy confectionary…

sugared up, we set off for a quick amble along the famous shambles which is york’s oldest street {as it’s mentioned in the domesday book it can be dated back to more than 900 years ago}

shambles

here higgledy piggledy fifteenth century buildings overhang the cobbled street below, their doors & windows sagging & contorted with age like the jowls of an old & toothless matron…

formerly home to the city’s butcher trade, the raised pavements create a channel along which the blood & offal of slaughtered animals could be easily washed away…

now sadly all that remains of this bygone era are the meat hooks & window benches where their wares were once displayed: the last of the butcher shops has long since closed its doors, giving way instead to a proliferation of sweets & souveneir shops…

a stroll through the rest of the city & it became abundantly evident that the shambles weren’t this city’s only aged offerings…

york

gargoyles & pub signage sit alongside the distinctive black & white facades of tudor dwellings, dotting the city like pock marks on the face of a burger-eating teen…

i had to perpetually prompt myself to look up, look down & look sideways in order to take in all there was to see…

covered alleyways beckon further exploration & the softly-lit doorways of century-old pubs invite refuge, but with the sun still shining we decided to brave a climb up the minster tower to partake of the views it promised…

york cathedral

the cathedral itself is of course captivating & a must see, but, like most of us, i’ve visited approximately five million, 622 thousand and 453 cathedrals & churches in my lifetime…

so perhaps i wasn’t quite as enchanted with the vaulted ceilings, towering gothic arches & 14th century stained glass windows as i might otherwise have been…

but they sure were pretty…

minster

instead i engrossed myself in tales of cowboy builders who started construction from the outer reaches of the building & worked their way inwards, only to realise upon reaching the middle points that the walls didn’t quite meet as they should {personally i think the resulting wibbly wobbly ceiling lines & patched-up archways add character}

i’m quite sure there were many more amusing tales to be told, but we cut our guided tour short to partake of the tower climb…

i’m really not a huge fan of heights, but as it happened that was the least of my worries…

“climbing the 275 steps to the top of the central tower is an exhilarating experience” proclaims the website…

minster roof

what is should have said was:

“feeling your heart pound unforgivingly on the walls of your chest & your legs threaten to give way from under you, all the while your ass is threatening to wedge itself in an ever-narrowing, spiral stone staircase is nothing short of terror-inducing”

but i guess that might not sell so many tickets…

minster view

fortunately the views from the top were worth the exertion…

after cautiously descending we then sort refuge at our predetermined lunch spot, the nearby grays court

considered to be the oldest continuously-occupied house in the uk, grays court dates back in part to 1080 &, though it’s wedged between the minster & the city walls, once inside you really do feel like you’ve absconded to the countryside…

we took lunch in the long gallery, a jacobean oak-panelled room overlooking the courtyard, which had historically served as the venue for the knighting of 8 noblemen by james i…

the long room

here we ate rarebit & open sandwiches beautifully presented on a wooden chopping board, whilst i daydreamed about kings & knights & all things regal…

we also learnt that the hotel had once played host to an infamous duel fought by two love rivals for the affection of one “miss mallorie”…

sadly nobody got the girl, however one of the rivals did manage to catch a bullet which severed his artery & abruptly ended his life & thereto his hopes of a happy-ever-after with the fair maiden…

perhaps he should have contented himself with taking afternoon tea as it really was a rather splendid way to while away the hours…

to be continued…

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2 thoughts on “gunpowder, pirates & a blood-red bordello {30 hours in york}…

  1. I think I’d be too terrified to stay in that inn, given that my only exposure to that iconic mask was from V for Vendetta, and while I don’t remember a ton, I remember being scared! Haha. That said, York seems adorable. I love all those small English towns with tiny pubs like that and history that goes back a thousand years. You’re a good girlfriend for arranging this little trip for your beau!

    • to be honest i was a little disappointed that i didn’t feel any heebie jeebies in the hotel! i expected a tap on the back in the middle of the night, but nothing! hahaha!

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