Lancaster to York: When Royal Family Quarrels Turn Personal

View of York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe

I’ve decided to try a different approach to my blog for the remainder of my trip and for future posts. I’m going to be posting pictures, some recent, some not so recent, and tell what was happening then rather than rambling on through long posts about meaningful (and sometimes meaningless) points. This way, I can post more often and write shorter, more concise, stories.

So, for instance, the picture above is of York Minster, a large Gothic cathedral in York, Yorkshire, England. For those who are geographically disinclined, York is in northeastern England. Most people would recognize the duchy of York as the opposing force of Lancaster in the War of the Roses in the 15th century when two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty of English monarchs quarreled over the throne. The War of the Roses was so called because the symbols of each house was a rose. For York, it was a white rose; for Lancaster, it was  a red rose. After numerous battles and bloodshed that eliminated many noble house in England, the final battle occurred between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire on 22 August 1485. Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian claimant to the English throne defeated King Richard III. It is claimed that he took the very crown from the battle field for himself. The future Henry VII married the daughter of Richard’s brother (Edward IV, from whose son Richard usurped the throne), Elizabeth of York, thus bringing an end to bloodshed and uniting the lines (and the roses). The most famous son of this union was the future Henry VIII.

Well, enough with THAT history. If “they” let me, I could drone on for hours…in any case, the History Society at Lancaster Uni took a day trip to York today, and I went along with. We toured the National Railway Museum where, interestingly enough, they had the Hogwarts Express train used in the Harry Potter movies. Funnily enough, before it was pointed out to me, I quipped that I should pull the American tourist and ask one of the workers if they had the Harry Potter train here. Lo and behold! my wish was granted (not that I ever seriously expected it to be here!). We breezed through the museum as we waited for the Minster to open at 3:30.

After that, we looked around York, especially the Shambles, a street known for its shoppes and cobblestone streets. They had the typical mix of eclectic sweet shoppes, pubs, mainstream restaurants, and tourist traps, but York also held some secret gems. My personal favorite was an armoury shoppe that sold armour and weaponry. I had to stop myself from picking up swords and pretending I was Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. Doing so may have caused me to break things and be forcibly removed from the premises, something I did not want to see happen!!

And finally, we went to York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe and the site of the marriage of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault in January 1328. The 3:30pm opening time seems odd to me considering most churches I know of are open at almost any time. Furthermore, admission was charged to enter. But, this is understandable given that the cathedral is undergoing extensive renovation and restoration, and these things just aren’t all going to be covered by taxes, right? I’ve been to the Vatican before, and I can truly say York Minster compares. This is a classic example of Gothic architecture, from the vaulted ceilings to the pointed vault door frames. The entire structure is meant to inspire awe, and awe did it inspire.

My overall impressions of York were very favorable. I would very much love to spend Christmas in York one year because its narrow, winding alleys with out of the way shoppes, cobblestone streets, and atmosphere. But, I would rather arrive by rail than coach bus because for although the coach allowed us the comfort of, well, a bus, I like trains much better.

On a final note, does anyone know why there were these gigantic white balls just outside of York? Someone surmised that it was a farm, but in truth, I have no idea. They remind me of golf balls.

Some random white golf ball-looking objects outside of York
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