Friday, 27 January 2017


The Shambles 
The city of York is such a beautiful place to visit - either for a day if you're close enough, but better still, a great place for a weekend away.  With superb architecture telling the story of a city rich in history and culture, York offers something for everyone, whether you love to shop, eat, or simply soak in the historic and charming atmosphere.

We can only begin to touch on some of York's most famous landmarks as there are way too many to mention in just one blog post.  However, most people when visiting York head to the Shambles, York's oldest and most picturesque street and the best preserved Medieval street in Europe with the upstairs windows in each building virtually touching across the road!

The Shambles originated from Flesshammel, meaning "around flesh" since this was originally a street of butchers' shops, where animals were slaughtered and sold over the counter.

Now of course it is full of tourist and quirky shops and the butchers have long since departed, and be warned that in summer, you can barely stroll along the narrow 15th Century street for tourists, but it was perfect early on on this winter day.

Of course a visit to York would not be complete without a visit to the famous Minster - but please be aware that entry is not free of charge - unless you are a resident of the city or are attending church services. This is because is costs £20,000 a day to run the minster, and the charges go directly to the running of this fabulous building. Check times before you visit as the Minster is often closed for tourists at certain times if there are special events.

Even so, it is such a stunning building that is something not to be missed - you could actually spend a whole day here alone as there are visits available to watch the stonemasons, the glaziers, to climb the tower, as well as take part in special activities.  The Minster even has its own police force!

Our pictures (above and below) were taken outside St. William's College, built in 1465 originally as a college for the chantry priests at the Minster, who prayed for their deceased benefactors.  Apparently drunkenness was a huge problem in those days, which so embarrassed the Minster officials, that they were given their own residence.

The stunning building is now owned by the council and is used for private hire, events and weddings. I had the pleasure of holding a dinner there some years ago and can tell you that it is gorgeous inside - with beautiful timbered walls and a fabulous staircase - though I didn't see the reputed ghost which allegedly walks the halls!

So onto our outfits for the day... Anne C is wearing a favourite boiled wool coat from Chesca which she has had for some time, but which is still available; teamed with black straight-legged jeans from Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff, which is not easy to source in the UK (bought on a cruise).  Her handbag is from Betty Jackson at Debenhams, but is no longer available. Rose gold drop earrings from Simply Devine.

Anne H's outfit is a combination of a lot of tried and tested favourites, so apologies for being boring.  The coat was purchased in the Byondonline sale a couple of years ago and is style of cut she favours.  The jeans were purchased in the John Lewis sale and were featured on a previous post here.  The handbag is from All Saints and was a Christmas gift, while the snazzy boots are from Kurt Geiger and are the KG Spider boot, available in the sale. 

The scarf is from COS from a few years ago and the jumper dress is a recent COS sale purchase.  It has been a great buy for this chilly weather and is not too bulky for wearing under a coat.   

York Minster 

No visit to York would be complete without a stroll around the shops!  Anne H managed to find an outfit for a summer wedding, which will no doubt feature later in the year.   Stonegate is another lovely old street, which lies above an old Roman road.  Apparently it got its name as the street where the stone was carried up to the Minster during construction - brought in by river from limestone quarries in nearby Tadcaster.

The street became home to trades allied to the minster, including goldsmiths, glaziers and printers, later moving with the times to house apothecaries, corsets and breeches! 

Guy Fawkes is one of York's most famous sons, whom our British readers will know all about - but for our overseas visitors, he plotted to overthrow the government with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 - still celebrated today on the 5th November - though goodness knows why we do, since he was a potential murderer!

A celebrated and skilled soldier, he was born in High Petergate in York - where his home still stands today as a small hotel and restaurant serving delicious traditional English food.
Red House Antique Centre
This stunning building is The Red House Antiques Centre in Duncombe Place, which was built in 1700, originally as a home for Sir William Robinson, the Lord Mayor of York.  Now an established business, occupying 3 floors with 10 showrooms with up to 60 dealers, it is a haven for antique and curio hunters. 

St Mary's Abbey ruins, York Museum Gardens

There are several museums in York, which as well as telling the amazing stories of the city, also have visiting exhibitions.  Check each website or the Visit York site for the full list.

Our favourite Museums to visit: 

The Chocolate Story, detailing the city's production of chocolate, Castle Museum, with its street of Victorian shops, the Jorvik (Viking) Centre - which re-opens in April following a devastating flood in 2015, the National Railway Museum (a must for train buffs), the Yorkshire Museum, and York Art Gallery.

Just a little bit about the Chocolate story - York was home to big brands such as Terry's, Rowntrees and Craven's. Rowntrees (pastilles, fruit gums, Yorkie bars, KitKat and Smarties) was bought by Nestle, and still has a production facility in York, while Terry's (All Gold, Chocolate Orange) was bought by the American Kraft Foods who closed down the factory and moved production to Eastern Europe, Belgium and Sweden. Cravens specialises in traditional sweets and was taken over by Cadbury's who then sold to Tangerine Confectionery, which makes Butterkist popcorn, Sherbert Fountain and Dib Dabs to name a few, and also has production facilities in York.

York Boat on the River Ouse 

York sits on the River Ouse, which flows from the River Ure in North Yorkshire to join up with the Ouse and the river Trent to form part of the Humber Estuary. York city centre is the subject of frequent flooding.  The Kings Arms next to the river, with its brick walls and simple decor records the flood levels each year - the worst being in December 2015, but river boat trips in good weather are also a must for the York visitor.

The 'Little Admiral' atop the clock at St Martin Coney Street 

Restaurants, bars and cafes can be found in abundance in York - too many to recommend. However, if you like something a little unusual for a coffee and a cake, try the Spurriergate Centre - the former St Michael's Church, now a centre offering counselling, prayer, shop, and a warm community spirit, which includes a cafe where the tables and chairs sit atop the gravestones of the long departed! (Probably worth a mention here that there are a number of ghost walk tours to be found in the city)!

We settled for brunch at Bill's Restaurant, with its quirky decor, delicious food and great atmosphere, where all the staff were exceptionally friendly! We're glad to see that they are expanding throughout the country with branches now in our local haunts in Leeds and Manchester.

Happy days!



  1. Thanks for the tour!

    Adrienne (USA)

  2. You are very welcome Adrienne. If you ever make it over here- just let us know!!


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