We had a good sleep last night and woke up refreshed and free of jet lag and ready to explore. I was just a bit nervous because David has been hearing for the last 5 years about how much I loved York and how much I'd love to go back and see more. When we started planning this trip I wondered if it would hold up to a second visit and whether he'd love it as much as I did. Well, he does and I have fallen right back in love with York and am so happy to have this second, more relaxed visit here.
The first time I was in York I was here with my Cantabile choir. We stayed here for several nights, but most days involved day trips somewhere else to sing and we had a limited time to explore York. We sang an Evensong service at Yorkminster Cathedral and that was a wonderful experience.
Today we decided to start our exploration of York with a visit to Yorkminster. We with a guided tour. We had a wonderful guide; I think he must have been both an actor and a history teacher in former lives if not this one :-) We learned many, many interesting things about the history of the cathedral and how the incredible stained glass windows and other parts of the building were created. The tour ended just in time for us to whisk ourselves over to a little side chapel where we joined in a small Communion service.
We aren't done with Yorkminster yet; we plan to go back to see the "undercroft" (areas until the main building where they have artifacts from medieval times and even from some Roman buildings that existed at or near the location of the cathedral). We also would like to hear an Evensong service -- as part of the congregation instead of the choir this time! -- and we'll go to the big morning service on Sunday. We learned today that this Sunday's service is special because some deacons are being ordained, which means extra pomp and circumstance and that the Archbishop of York will be officiating. He actually doesn't spend a whole lot of time in York but circulates around the whole area under his charge, so you don't usually see him when you go to a service at the cathedral.
In the afternoon we took a long walk around the boundaries of the "old city", which means York in medieval times. This old city was surrounded by a wall to keep out intruders from both north and south. A few bits of the wall were demolished before people started valuing that kind of historical structure, but about 2/3 of it is left. It's really fun to walk on it and look out over the city. Much of the wall was built on top of the ruins of an older Roman wall, from the time when this was a Roman city called Eboracum. The Roman emperor Constantine visited Eboracum as a young man with his father, who was emperor at the time. His father died during their time in Eboracum and so Constantine was proclaimed emperor here. There is a statue commemorating that fact near the cathedral.
We spent most of this great day on our feet and had a lot of fun! I will end with a few of my favorite photos from today.
Exterior shots of Yorkminster:
A bit of etymology for the day: a "cathedra" is a special fancy chair that only the bishop sits in. A "cathedral" is a church that contains a "cathedra" -- in other words, it's the official seat of a bishop. Here is the cathedra of the Archbishop of Canterbury:
The Catholic church uses this term too. When the Pope says something "ex cathedra" it means he's saying it with the authority of someone who gets to sit on one of those chairs!
The "quire" area of a traditional cathedral is the area nearest the altar. In the middle ages it was reserved for clery -- including the ones who did the singing (leading to the modern word "choir"). The following picture shows the quire area of Yorkminster, with the organ pipes in the back. They are beautiful too look at. We didn't hear them today, but I know from last time that they sound just as great as they look. We'll hear them on Sunday.
One of the charming old narrow pedestrian streets in York, with another gate showing at the end:
One of my strong memories of York was the amazing number of old-fashioned chimneys on the rooftops in the older neighborhoods. My choir friends and I used to hum "Chim-Chim-Cheree" as we walked down the streets.
And finally, a happy husband enjoying his walk on the wall:
Well, maybe one more thing. Confession is supposed to be healthy. We happened to walk past a yarn stop I visited last time I was in York. I have lots of yarn just waiting to be knitted up into things. (In knitting slang, I have a BIG stash!) I pointed it out to David and said "I don't need to go in". Well, I could always look int the window. Well, maybe I'd just pop in for a minute, but I wouldn't buy anything.