Isn’t the North of England just so interesting?
If you’re just tuning in, I’ve just returned from visiting the UK and travelling around Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire! And Liverpool!
Here’s what you missed:
Yorkshire, otherwise known as Yorks or the County of York, is a county in Northern England, and the largest in the UK!
Within the borders of the historic county of Yorkshire, are areas which are widely considered to be among the greenest in England, due to the vast stretches of unspoilt countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors!
The emblem of Yorkshire is the White Rose, of the royal English House of York.
If you are versed in English history, you’d know well the Wars of the Roses between the two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster – a red rose – and the House of York – a white rose. If you enjoy watching British cultural dramas, you might recognise the name in the wonderful BBC TV series – The White Queen!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
You won’t believe it, but before this visit, I had never previously been to York!
It’s as bad as when I didn’t go to Switzerland, even though Switzerland is literally next door!
We visited many important historical attractions, and I’ll be writing about them in the following weeks!
Thanks so much!
So we did.
Here are some of them below:
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.
So I was amazed to walk down a narrow street in York that looked an awful lot like Diagon Alley!
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Harry Potter franchise films was inspired by this very same street, and copied almost to the letter! Not only that, but there’s a recently opened shop on the Shambles called The Shop That Must Not Be Named!
Note: The crowds are huge, and the street is quite narrow, so watch your handbag and wallets, queue smartly, and elbows at the ready!
2. York is a Viking city.
York was once dominated by the Norse warrior kings and known as Jórvík!
As far back as 866, the south of Northumbria – otherwise known as modern-day Yorkshire – was invaded and conquered by fierce Norsemen from Scandinavia. Previously before that, York was the pre-Roman Anglo-Saxon trading port, known as Eoforwic!
The JORVIK Viking Centre was created to show visitors the sights, sounds and even the smells of York or Jorvik, and what it was like in AD960!
We decided to find out!
We used the York Pass.
There are great artefacts and exhibits and depending on the time of year, performances, but the bit that we liked the best, was the seating in a ‘time capsule’ which transports visitors around the basement. There’s a touch screen display so that you can choose your own language, and off you go.
It reminded me a little of the York Dungeon where the actors pop up surprisingly!
In fact, some of the animatronic models were so realistic that it was sometimes difficult to know if they were actors or plastic! At one point, we almost got the scare of our life when one of the “models” picked a piece of fish up. She was real!
Note: Queues at the JORVIK Viking Centre are long. Pre-book your time slot if you can.
Cost: Adults – £10.25. Children ages 5-16 – £7.25. York Pass holders – £0.00 – Included in the price. Most importantly, if you live in the UK or visit the UK on a regular basis, there is free admission for 12 months included in your ticket, so don’t throw it away!
3. York is one of the oldest cities in the UK!
York has a rich heritage and has been around for more than 2,000 years!
It was previously an Anglo-Saxon trading port known as Eoforwic, and then became more established under the Romans. In 71 AD, it was known as Eboracum!
As far back as 866, the south of Northumbria – otherwise known as modern-day Yorkshire – was invaded and conquered by fierce Norsemen from Scandinavia, which is present day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, known as Jórvík!
In medieval times, York became a most important political region via the House of York and an even more important religious symbol from which people did pilgrimages, and the seat of the Archbishop of York since AD 735!
By the 19th & 20th century, York was part of the Industrial Revolution that would turn the fortunes of Britain forever!
4. York and chocolate are one and the same!
If you thought chocolate was the preserve of the Americas, you’re very wrong! We went to the York Castle Museum and discovered the history of making chocolate, at the new exhibit Chocolate: York’s Sweet Past. We had contemplated on visiting the York’s Chocolate Story too, but figured it would pretty much be the same, and anyway, I don’t like chocolate, ‘cos it takes like coffee!
I don’t like coffee either!
The story of chocolate in York can be summarised as Rowntrees (otherwise known as Nestle), Tuke, Craven, and Terry’s (otherwise known as Kraft), and began in York 300 years ago!
The world’s first chocolate bar ever made was in 1847, in Bristol, by Joseph Fry! After that came our most beloved John Cadbury (1849) of Cadbury’s milk chocolate fame, in Birmingham!
The first succesful chocolate bar to be launched in York was Kit Kat in 1935 by Rowntree, and it’s still the biggest seller of chocolate bars today!
However, the chocolate that I can just about tolerate is an English milk chocolate bar.
Even better, if there’s no cocoa in it. At all!
Cost: Adults – £9.09. Children 16 and under – free, with a paying adult. York Pass holders – £0.00 – Included in the price.
5. York has the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe!
York Minster is 800 years old, took 250 years to build – from 1220 to 1472 – and is home to almost 2,000 years of the most important and irreplaceable art, of the medieval art movement!
It’s also the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe!
We’re not religious people, but we enjoyed a splendid time going from floor to floor. My husband and son also went up the 275 steps and 230 foot, winding Central Tower – the highest point of York – and were rewarded with breathtaking views over York. There’s even a museum – the Undercroft – in the basement!
We spent a little over three (3) hours at the Cathedral, and could quite happily have spent much more!
Cost: Combined Ticket (Minster cathedral and Tower) Adults – £15.00. Children under 16 – free, with a paying adult. York Pass holders – £0.00 – Included in the price. Note: To climb the tower kids must be 8+ Most importantly, if you live in the UK or visit the UK on a regular basis, there is free admission for 12 months included in your ticket, so don’t throw it away!
6. Guy Fawkes was born in York. Or was he!
Guy Fawkes was a Catholic rebel who had planned to assassinate King James I, in order to restore a Catholic monarch, to the English throne.
Thankfully, the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 – in which he planned to blow up Parliament at Westminster Palace – was a disaster and everyone was discovered…
Legend states that Guy Fawkes was born in Stonegate – York, and records confirm that he did indeed go to school there, but there is much speculation as to how he died.
Some say he was questioned, tortured, and eventually hung, drawn, and quartered. Others say, he fell from the hangman’s scaffold, and broke his neck!
Since 1605, every English school child knows the song:
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot!
And then we make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, put him in a wheelbarrow, ask for “A penny for the Guy,” then at the end of the evening, throw him on a bonfire, and burn him!
7. York is a bloody gruesome city.
York has had over 2,000 years of death, blood and gore.
Is it any wonder that the city is choc-a-bloc with stories and tales of Viking invasions, battles of the Normans, civil unrest, unusual sightings, mysterious disappearances, and ghosts?
We were in York during the best time of all – Halloween – and it was thrilling!
And there’s no Bonfire Night in Germany, either!
It’s all wrong!
We joined a historical night walking tour of the dark side of York’s past – The Hallows Gate: The Eyes of Time!
It started at the Golden Fleece Inn – reputedly the most haunted pub in York – and ended up with our small group of local and international visitors, sprinting through the nooks and crannies of historical York with torches, a Dr. Who-like character, and being chased by zombies!
It was such great fun as York is quite tiny, and the other tourists that we bumped into, were either completely shocked by our shrieks and screams, or utterly delighted, to be unsuspecting witnesses of a free show!
There are loads of night events and ghost activities in the city. York is pretty small, so we frequently met other groups, but it was pretty well organised, as times were staggered so that you weren’t all standing in the same corner! There were a couple of whoops, and “get them,” but it was all in good fun.
They say, York is the most haunted city in Europe!
It probably is!
Cost: Adults – £5.00. Children – £2.00.
8. The smallest street with the longest name in the world, is in York!
We’re all about breaking world records in the UK.
The origin of the name is unclear however, there’s a plaque that indicates the origin of the street derives from the phrase used as far back as 1501 – Whitnourwhatnourgate – meaning “What a street!” Nevertheless, modern sources translate the phrase as “Neither one thing nor the other!”
9. York is home of the Yorkshire Pudding!
To put it plainly, Yorkshire Pudding, otherwise known as a Yorkshire pud, is a British meal from batter made out of eggs, flour, and milk. It was even found to have been written in a (modern) controversial Georgian book The Whole Duty of a Woman… published in 1737!
A Yorkshire pud is often served with roast beef, roast potatoes, a selection of seasonal vegetables, generous lashings of thick gravy, and is part of the all-important traditional Sunday roast!
As a British expat living abroad, you can’t under-estimate how important this is.
We used to have a British restaurant in Berlin that would serve a lovely Sunday roast, and if you didn’t pre-order the day before, you wouldn’t be having any! The food was the best British food I have ever had in Germany. Sadly, the locals complained that it was “too authentic,” there wasn’t enough custom to keep it open, and it had to close down!
10. York, isn’t New York!
In fact, without York, there would be no New York!
If you look deeper into American history, most of the most influential and fairly important places, are named after European locations. Hence:
I mean, come on. That’s just plain lazy! Tick!
Ah well. That’s it for now!
This article isn’t sponsored, and even though we received VIP press passes, courtesy of Visit York, all opinions and the delightful York Castle Wall that we skipped across, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
I’ll be writing about my visit to the UK, and travelling around Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire! And Liverpool!
December is going to be twinkling!
Watch this space!
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