York England: History everywhere

After lunch we wandered around the historic centre, discovering this delightful sign for the street of Swinegate. It’s not about gates as such, but about passageways, or access, so, a bit like a gate as we know it.

The old Barley Hall was not on our ‘must see’ list, but we couldn’t resist exploring when we stumbled across this sign. Without any date, it was still easy to work out the approximate year as Susanne’s head almost touched the top of the passage that led to the ancient hall. I hope you can read that the owner was a former mayor of York. By today’s standards the residence was relatively simple, but the gentleman had servants, a ‘study’ and all the necessary ‘stuff’ to show that he was a person of importance in the area. The house was narrow with rather unsafe ( by our standards) stair cases and I was confused by the layout as  the rooms seemed to be all over the place instead of following a logical plan.

Today the  hall is also used to display the sort  of work that was performed by members of the various guilds. I have always been fascinated by this concept – bakers are my favourites. I guess the trade unions took over from the guilds, but do moderns union members take pride in their skills and do they teach the young ones with the same enthusiasm that seemed to apply in the days of the guilds?

We had walked past the Yorkshire Museum each time we went through the park so we knew that it would be open. I had visited this establishment on a previous trip to York, so I thought I knew what to expect, but much of it seemed new and more interesting than before. No doubt there are quirky treasures in museums all around England. This is one of the things I love about visiting the country and the Yorkshire Museum  delighted us with it’s share  of quirkiness.

Dating back from the Romans, we found a tiled floor  and from the Saxon period these clasps used to keep their robes in place.













This  well crafted helmet also appears to come from the Saxon period, showing that York had some wealthy and important citizens, even then and of course a wealthy area needs its armed forces.




Further evidence of the wealth and status of some of Yorkshire’s residents is evident in these pieces of jewellery
























It’s unusual to see details about the discoverer of historical items. That information certainly adds to the interest of the article and I guess it encourages others to hand in any valuable items they find. No doubt it’s against the law to keep them, but a much nicer way to persuade local citizens to part with their treasured finds.

I don’t know why, but I’m fascinated by ancient coins, especially when presented en masse. They look far more interesting than the modern version of large sums. Mounds of coloured paper just don’t have the same appeal. Perhaps that’s because I loved pirate stories when I was a child, with those images of brass or silver containers, like this one and all those coins spilling out of them.


The park was almost due to close when we came out of the museum, but Susanne, always on the lookout for good photographic subjects, found this quiet churchyard behind decaying walls of what we assumed was a former cathedral.







I don’t like visiting our Australian cemeteries but, in the old English and European churchyards, where the dead are long departed, everything feels peaceful and even if they are overgrown, the graves and their stone monuments reveal stories in the details they tell us and in the way those left behind chose to honour them. Perhaps I’m a bit odd, but I really like wandering through these places.

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