Sunday, 18 October 2015

Clifford's Tower

Clifford's Tower. Not a great picture. I refer you to English Heritage to provide excellent photos and comprehensive information about this unique historical site!

This is one of two things ticked off The List on our recent trip to York. For years I've been aware of the tower on the hill in the city centre of York. I've parked near it many times, used it as a point of reference, and at school learnt that this is an excellent example of a motte and bailey. But until last month, I had never been inside.
With the recent discovery of our English Heritage membership, it seemed impolite not to pay a visit while we were walking the Bar Walls.

Admittedly we only paid a fleeting visit. We climbed the hill (steeper than we thought), and then climbed up once again inside. There is a walkway around the top of the tower allowing fabulous views across the city.

Once again, this was a little more scary than I'd hoped. I don't seem to get on too well with heights anymore it seems. So my walk around the top was rather quick while holding on to all the railings available. I only managed a few photos too as I really did want to get back down.

Phew. Back at the bottom.
I won't re-write the information from the guidebook or the English Heritage website, but I was interested to learn that it was the site of the mass suicide and massacre of York’s Jewish community in 1190 and the tower as we see it today was not the original structure on the site. I somehow thought that Clifford's Tower had always been there. Shows what I know! One thing I do know is that it was smaller than I remember and imagined it to be. Then again, I was smaller when I was at school, but it did kind of have an inverted tardis feel (geek!) It always seems to look massive from the car park!

This is another case of acting like a tourist in your own town. Clifford's Tower is a landmark in York, but until now, one that I knew very little about.

York Bar Walls

A few weeks ago we went to stay with my Mum over in North Yorkshire.

We took the opportunity while it was available to have a day out in York ticking a couple of things off The List which, we would not be able to do with a small child. To be fair, we probably could, but stress levels would be so high it would be untrue!

We arrived in York via the Park and Ride and took a quick walk to the Museum Gardens. This was to be the beginning of our walk round the walls. There is no actual start point of the walls since they circle the city. The "City Walls Trail" follows the path of the walls, with much of the trail being on the walls themselves.
The Friends of York Walls website provides lots of information on the trail, history, events and detail about each section of the walls.
I won't start re-writing all the information we found on the trip, or the detailed info on the above website, but I have to say I was rather impressed (geek!) that there were QR codes on each information point!

The route did take around 2 hours as all the information suggests, but we did take a stop-off at Clifford's Tower. Some of the walls were a bit scary. For me anyway. And just showed that I would not have been able to cope with steering a 3-year-old round there too. Some of the walls were a little too high from the ground to have no barriers, and too narrow when people were coming the other way! Even typing about it now makes me feel a bit uneasy.
The route was marked out with little brass circles, which was very handy for the areas where there were no walls, particularly between Monk Bar and Walmgate Bar.

Along the walls there are several points which offer views of the Minster, and I seem to remember hearing that there are planning laws within the city that prevents high rise developments from overshadowing the spectacle that is the Minster - don't quote me on that - I may have dreamed it, but it seems that you can see the Minster from all over York.
We passed over/around/through the four main bars, or gatehouses. I learned  that there is another that I hadn't really known about before: Fishergate bar. And I also found out what a barbican actually is, and it is not a concert or snooker venue!

Bootham Bar
Monk Bar
Walmgate Bar

Micklegate Bar
Fishergate Bar
At the time we visited there was work happening at Walmgate Bar. After reading local news items about this, we found out that the rear extension was being raised to carry out essential work to prevent risk of collapse. The pictures shown in the York Press were rather worrying, but good to see that such a landmark is in the capable hands of experts.

I went to school in York, so York is familiar to me, but even then there were a couple of areas where the walls were which I was not familiar with. This just strengthens the whole idea behind a few of the things on The List. How often is it that we take the time to notice the history and points of interest in our own locality? I was lucky to go to school in somewhere like York which has all the history right in front of your eyes, but how many times do we walk past something like a brass circle on the floor, or a blue plaque telling us the historical importance of a building somewhere in our neighbourhood or near our workplace?  Perhaps we actually do take the time to notice and take part in local cultural or celebratory events, but we should really take more time to act like a tourist in our own towns, and to see the history and importance of places we take for granted.