Postcards from the UK countryside

I long for the countryside. That’s where I get my calm and tranquillity – from being able to come and find a spot of green. – Emilia Clarke

There’s nothing like the peace of the countryside, the quiet and the lack of distraction. It helps you to focus your mind. – Jenny Nimmo

Greenwich Meridian Line where east meets west

Where east meets west. The Greenwich Meridian separates east from west in the same way that the Equator separates north from south.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create disticntions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. – Gautama Buddha

Postcards from Greenwich, London

Greenwich is a borough in London, England, on the banks of the River Thames. Known for its maritime history, it’s home to the Cutty Sark, a restored 19th-century ship, the huge National Maritime Museum, and the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College.

“The traveller’s rush that hits you upon arrival to a new place is like a drug. And like a drug, the more you expose yourself to it, the more you want it” – Clayton B. Cornell

Leadenhall Market, the film location of Diagon Alley

Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London. This ornate 19th-century covered Victorian market is located in the historic center of London’s financial district, just around the corner from Bank station.

Leadenhall Market is definitely one of London’s hidden gems. This market has sold meat and fish as far back as far as the 14th century. The present magnificent wrought iron and glass structure with its green and red roof was designed in 1881.

The painted roof and cobbled floors of Leadenhall make it a rather magical place, even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter films. This Victorian marketplace was the film location for some of the original exterior shots of Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students can stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands. If you look very close you may recognize the door used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Goblet of Fire.

What is your favourite hidden gem in London?

A walk through West Acre Garden in Norfolk

I think that a walk through a beautiful flower filled garden has the same kind of therapy as a day off. While visiting my Parents in England I am getting to explore some of the beautiful gardens the countryside has to offer. The two of us spent a whole afternoon walking around West Acre Gardens in Norfolk. It is in a lovely old walled garden where the plants are well cared for and even labelled in most places. Unfortunately England has been having a very hot and unusually dry summer so far and you can see that the plants are suffering.

You enter the garden through an overgrown gate, I felt like I was entering a secret garden. Many of the original features of the garden still grace it with a sense of timelessness. I spend most of my afternoon trying to capture the bumblebees on the different flowers. It was quite disturbing that there were not a lot of butterflies in the garden. I am seeing a lot less butterflies in the UK this year compared to previous visits.

The garden has a variety of shrubs and trees, grasses and bamboos, and beautiful brightly coloured flowers. The gardens are planted to give ideas and inspiration to gardeners working with all types of garden conditions, from hot and dry to shady and everything in between. After a walk through the garden you can always visit the beautiful nursery and buy some of the plants that caught your eye.

Which other garden in Norfolk or Cambridgeshire would you recommend for a visit?

Some Random Bumblebee facts

Did you know….

1. Bumble bees use their wings to cool down their nests. Since bumble bees can flap their wings 200 times per second, they are able to use their wings as fans to reduce the heat inside their nests. This technique is called fanning.

2. Bumble bees are picky about the flowers they collect nectar from. When it comes to flowers, bumble bees have two favourite colours – blue and violet. They’ll often fly to a flower that’s either of those colours over one that’s any other colour. Their preference isn’t due to how the flower looks, though. It’s due to the fact that the violet and blue flowers are often the most nectar-rich (and therefore, the most beneficial to them).

3.  Queen bees control the genetics of their offspring. Male bumblebees have only one chromosome, and no father. To produce a son, a queen bee merely has to lay an unfertilized egg. To have daughters—who make up the entirety of a bee workforce—a queen bee fertilizes her eggs with sperm she’s been storing since the previous summer.

4. Bumblebees don’t die when they sting. That’s just a thing in honeybees. So yes, a bumblebee can sting you twice. However, male bumblebees don’t have a stinger at all, and female bumblebees aren’t very aggressive. Although they are quite large insects they’re relatively harmless, and will only sting if provoked. 

5. The Populations Of Some British Bumblebees Declined. Bumblebees requiring very specific habitats, foraging and food have suffered greatly due to habitat destruction.  For example, those relying on grasslands and meadows have suffered due to changing land management practices, the industrialisation of farming, destruction of hedgerows etc. In addition to habitat loss, all bees face the challenge of pesticide use across large areas of land.

Have you noticed a decline in bees in your area?

Bumblebees, those fat, fuzzy fliers.

I think that Bumblebees, those fat, fuzzy fliers are fascinating creatures. I love that I have come across them in almost every garden I have visited here in England this summer. I have spent some afternoons trying to capture these little creatures on film and believe me it is quite challenging as they do not sit still for very long. Here are some of my captures of bumblebees in Norfolk, England.

While on holiday here in England I have learnt quite a lot about these little fuzzy creatures.

1. There are over 250 different kinds of bumblebee in the world – 25 of these live in the UK. But only six species of bumblebee are commonly seen in UK gardens.

Unfortunately two types of bumblebee have already completely disappeared from Britain (the Cullum’s bumblebee and the Short-haired bumblebee).

2. A bumblebee flaps its wings 200 times per second. That’s a similar RPM to some motorcycle engines. Even hummingbirds cannot beat their wings more than a 50 times per second.

3. Bees have to eat a ton. Bumblebees have extremely fast metabolisms, so they have to eat almost continuously. “A bumblebee with a full stomach is only ever about 40 minutes from starvation”.

4. Bumble bees have 5 eyes. Three of their eyes are smaller and located on the top of their head, and the other two are on the front of their head. They can see UV light but can’t see the colour red!

5. Bumble bees have smelly feet. They are covered in an oily film so when they land on a flower, they leave their chemical signature behind. Other bees can smell these oily footprints left on flowers, and know not to land on the same place—the nectar’s already been pillaged. Bees also use these footprints as a sort of smelly “Welcome Home” mat; the scent helps them find their way back to the entrance of their nest.

Ely Cathedral, a wonder of the Middle Ages

One of my favourite Cathedrals in England is definitely Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire. I have visited this Cathedral  a couple of times now and every time I have been amazed at the beauty and architecture of this Cathedral.  Ely is only a 25 minute drive from my parents house so it is one of the first places my mother takes any visitors from South-Africa. The Cathedral is filled with many different architectural styles, all blending together to make a striking whole. History abounds around every corner, and the beauty created by artists in wood, stone and glass is seen everywhere.           

Ely Cathedral is the only UK building to be listed as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages”. Visible for miles around, the Cathedral is often referred to as “The Ship of the Fens”. The Fens a coastal plain in eastern England so is very, very flat.

The city of Ely may be small in comparison to other cities but its Cathedral is a magnificent structure with a history dating back over 1300 years. Despite its remoteness, Ely has an association with well known Kings & Saints who have shaped the history of England.

The Cathedral was first a monastery, built in 673 A.D it was destroyed by the Danes after 200 years. The present structure dates from 1081 and is a remarkable example of both Romanesque and Norman architecture.

Ely Cathedral
Admiring the intricate carvings of Ely Cathedral

 It was during the early part of the 12th Century the existing monastic church achieved Cathedral status and since that time there have been various additions, changes and restorations throughout the centuries. Some parts of the cathedral have very intricate stone or wooden angel carvings, which look quite gothic.

Ely Cathedral
Yve trying to get a good look at the painted ceiling

The plan of the building is cross-shapedand has massive oil warmers to keep the Cathedral heated during winter. But because the Cathedral is so huge it was only slightly warmer than outside and we kept our gloves and jackets on while exploring.

At certain times of the day there are free tours of the Cathedral that is a must if you want to learn a lot about its rich history and architecture.

The nave is over 75 m long and is actually the third longest in the UK, and the same length as Ely High Street. Walking down this nave my eyes were turned upwards towards it’s spectacular roof of painted panels which depict the Jesse Tree, and move from Creation to Revelation. This story can be seen as you walk from the West End up to the Crossing, and believe me by the time we reached the crossing my neck was hurting.

The Nave’s imposing Gothic columns led us from the main West Door to another feature unique to this Cathedral and definitely my favourite part of the Cathedral. This octagonal shaped tower, known as the ‘Lantern Tower’ which is 23 m wide and 52 m high is a wonder of the mediaeval world and globally recognised as a masterpiece of engineering. The masterful coloured panels, designed by George Gilbert Scott, open out creating a spectacular view as you look up into this tower. Although it is supported on eight massive masonry piers, the lantern itself is constructed from oak timbers

The angels painted below the windows are purely Victorian inventions, a product of the restoration under Thomas Gambier Parry in 1874. I think they are a fabulous addition to this beautiful Cathedral.

Ely is one of the few remaining Cathedrals to have resident choristers. The boys’ choir has been part of the English Choral tradition since the mid-16th century and can be traced back considerably further to the time of King Canute. Today the world famous choir consists of some 22 boy choristers and six adult lay clerks, and can be heard most evenings at Choral Evensong as well as on Sundays and Feast Days.

In 1321 work began on a massive (100′ long by 46′ wide) free-standing Lady Chapel the largest of its kind in the UK. It is linked to the cathedral by covered walkways. I am always struck not only by its size but by  the extraordinary sense of light and vastness of this magnificent space. This beauty is tempered by the destructiveness of the Reformation, as many of the carved figures in the walls are either beheaded or defaced.

I am sure this Cathedral will see me again on my next visit to England.

  Published as part of Throwback Thursday. It is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Stonehenge, Home of Magic, Druids and Pagan Rituals

One of my first great adventures was exploring England, nearly ten years ago. Very high on my England Travel wish-list was definitely the much speculated about Stonehenge. It is one of the mystical places where it seems nobody actually knows what it was used for or by whom it was built. It is surrounded in mystery and your imagination can run wild with all the different stories about Stonehenge out there.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England and undoubtedly one of the most famous sites in the world. Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones Archaeologists believe was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

Stonehenge!!
I am at Stonehenge!!

As we approached Stonehenge we could actually see it from the bus as the main road actually passes right by it. This was very disappointing as it took a bit of the magic away for me. I imagined walking across a green field with Stonehenge in the distance. surrounded by nature and quiet.

As a child I used to spend hours watching Asterix and Obelix and in my mind they are synonymous with the magical Stonehenge found in the South West of England. As I walked around the massive stone obelisks I could almost imagine a Druid lurking somewhere between these huge rocks. I read somewhere that Stonehenge appeared due to the druids that used it as a sacrificial temple for making their gory rituals. It was one of the first visions disproved with the development of the science and technologies but I still like the idea.

Stonehenge!!
Can just imagine a Druid among all the huge stones

Wild theories about Stonehenge have persisted since the Middle Ages, with 12th-century myths crediting the wizard Merlin with constructing the site. More recently, UFO believers have spun theories about ancient aliens and spacecraft landing pads.

 Here are five major (and not necessarily mutually exclusive) reasons Stonehenge might exist.

1. A place for burial
1. A place for burial

1. A place for burial

Stonehenge may have originally been a cemetery for the elite, according to a new study. Bone fragments were first exhumed from the Stonehenge site more than a century ago, but archaeologists at the time thought the remains were unimportant and reburied them. Now, British researchers have re-exhumed more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments from where they were discarded, representing 63 separate individuals, from Stonehenge. 

2. A place for healing
2. A place for healing

2. A place for healing

Another theory suggests that Stone Age people saw Stonehenge as a place with healing properties. In 2008, archaeologists Geoggrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill reported that a large number of skeletons recovered from around Stonehenge showed signs of illness or injury. The archaeologists also reported discovering fragments of the Stonehenge bluestones — the first stones erected at the site — that had been chipped away by ancient people, perhaps to use as talismans for protective or healing purposes. 

3. A soundscape
3. A soundscape

3. A soundscape

Or perhaps Stonehenge’s circular construction was created to mimic a sound illusion. That’s the theory of Steven Waller, a researcher in archaeoacoustics. Waller says that if two pipers were to play their instruments in a field, a listener would notice a strange effect. In certain spots, the sound waves from the dual pipes would cancel each other out, creating quiet spots. The stones of Stonehenge create a similar effect, except with stones, rather than competing sound waves, blocking sound.

4. A celestial observatory

No matter why it was built, Stonehenge may have been constructed with the sun in mind. One avenue connecting the monument with the nearby River Aven aligns with the sun on the winter solstice; archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, suggesting possible celebrations or rituals at the monument around the winter solstice. The site also faces the summer solstice sunrise, and both summer and winter solstices are still celebrated there today.

5. A team-building exercise
5. A team-building exercise

5. A team-building exercise

Or perhaps Stonehenge was something like an ancient team-building exercise. According to the University College London’s Pearson, the beginning of the site’s construction coincides with a time of increased unity among the Neolithic people of Britain. Perhaps inspired by the natural flow of the landscape, which seems to connect summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset, these ancient people may have banded together to build the monument, Pearson suggested in June 2012.

The fields surrounding Stonehenge
The fields surrounding Stonehenge

  Published as part of Throwback Thursday. It is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Wordless Wednesday: Summer in London

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Wordless Wednesday: The colours of Autumn

I just LOVE the colours of autumn!

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Wordless Wednesday: Bridges of Cambridge

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Wordless Wednesday: Views of London

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Wordless Wednesday: Britain at War

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Wordless Wednesday: Squirrel

Squirrels are extremely intelligent creatures. They are known to put on elaborate bogus food burying displays to deceive onlookers. The fake burials are to trick potential thieves, such as other squirrels or birds, into thinking that they have stored their food stock there.

Any observers planning on taking the stash will then focus on the bogus burial site, allowing the squirrel to bury the real stash elsewhere safely.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Red is Leicester Square

Leicester Square is London’s home of entertainment. This is where you can enjoy a west end show, an international cinema premiere, relax in one of the many hotels, restaurants and bars or visit one of London’s top attractions.

With Trafalgar Square to the south, Piccadilly Circus to the west, China Town to the north and Covent Garden to the east, Leicester Square is right in the thick ofThe West End.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Red is Leicester Square
Red is Leicester Square

Wordless Wednesday: Rape fields

The beautiful Rape Fields of England.

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Wordless Wednesday: Sandringham’s little church

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Wordless Wednesday: Bridges of Cambridge

Bridges of Cambridge
Bridges of Cambridge

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Wordless Wednesday: Ladybug antics

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Wordless Wednesday: Spring Lavender

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Wordless Wednesday: St Mary’s Church

St Mary's Church in Cambridge
St Mary’s Church in Cambridge

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Wordless Wednesday: London Covent Garden

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Holkham Hall a Roman Palace in England

Holkham Hall
Im at Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall is an 18th-century country house located next to the village of Holkham, on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk. This beautiful place was just a bit over an hours drive from my parents house in England and perfect for an afternoon outing. The hall was constructed in the Palladian style for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester  and has been their family home since then.

Holkham Hall
The huge park of Holkham Hall

” It is the perfect English house from the Golden Age of the Grand Tour, surviving intact in its original setting and with the founding family still in custodianship.”

Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall restaurant

As we arrived at the huge estate we were greeted by a huge field and lake on our right and a wooded forest to the right. We had a stroll around the Huge Estate through the beautiful park surrounding it.

Holkham Hall
The roof of Holkham Hall

The gardens stand to the west of the lake and include: A fig house, a peach house, a vinery, and other greenhouses, all of which were quite empty at the end of Winter. Usually the gardens are filled with deer roaming around but I saw no sign of them that afternoon.

Holkham Hall
Winter at Holkham Hall

The external appearance of Holkham can best be described as a huge Roman Palace!   However, Holkham is a Palladian house, and yet even by Palladian standards the external appearance is austere and devoid of ornamentation.

Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall

This can almost certainly be traced to Coke himself. The on-site, supervising architect, Matthew Brettingham, related that Coke required and demanded “commodiousness”, which can be interpreted as comfort. Hence rooms that were adequately lit by one window, had only one, as a second might have improved the external appearance but could have made a room cold or draughty. As a result the few windows appear lost in a sea of brickwork although they are symmetrically placed and balanced.

Holkham Hall
Getting close up to Holkham Hall

I read that these the yellow bricks of Holkham Hall were cast as exact replicas of ancient Roman bricks. On the ground floor, these walls are covered with small windows more reminiscent of a prison than a grand house. Even though this Hall is very impressive it does not have a “homely” feel the exterior. I do hope the interior looks different but that I had to leave to find out another day.

Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall

Neal’s Yard, a Secret Hide-away in Central London

Neal’s Yard
Dont be fooled, this leads to the most colourful alley ever!!

Neal’s Yard
To think this gem is hidden in London!

Neal’s Yard is a small alley in Covent Garden between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street which opens into a courtyard. Neal’s Yard is one of those places that if you didn’t know it was there, you might well pass by it loads of times and simply never come across it. It is quite easy to miss and just walk by as it the sign leading to it is not very obvious.  I came upon this very colourful alleyway one afternoon while walking around Covent garden, just exploring the beautiful area.

Neal’s Yard
I just fell in love with this colourful place!

There are two alleyways leading into the Yard, both of which give little hint of the colourful world what lies beyond. Neal’s Yard is almost like a secret hide-away in the center of London, and normally visited only by those who know exactly where they are going.

Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard is definitely a hidden gem!

Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard

So this discreet little haven in the center of London came about when in 1976 that Saunders moved into an old warehouse in Neal’s Yard, which at the time really was just a scruffy backyard behind warehouses and other buildings. With his emphasis upon alternative and healthy living, Saunders set about opening up a whole food shop, and the enterprise proceeded to be a huge success. Going from strength to strength Saunders then set up a dairy, a cafe, and an apothecary specializing in alternative remedies and healing.

Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard

Since its debut, this cosy backwater and its shops have simply gone from strength to strength, so if you happen to find yourself in Covent Garden, be sure to visit Neal’s Yard, as you will be in for a real treat. It is the perfect place to have lunch outdoors in the summer, and in winter you can warm yourself up with a massage in the Therapy Rooms followed by tea and a healthy snack in the Bakery and Tearoom.

Neal’s Yard
The perfect place to spend a lovely sunny afternoon

The “Beached” Boats of Wells-next-the-Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea
Arriving at Wells-next-the-Sea

The English country side is a treasure trove of beautiful sights and towns to explore, each with its own quirkiness. One of my favourite afternoon outings was to Wells-next-the-Sea, a seaport situated on the North Norfolk coast in England. 

Wells-next-the-Sea
I just love this cheery boat!
Wells-next-the-Sea
Doesnt look like a harbour…..
Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea is beautiful and historic seaside resort, but the most striking part is its small harbour that is filled with small boats. I have seen loads of photos of this little harbour filled with its colourful fishing boats and couldn’t wait to explore it.

We got there early afternoon, just before lunch and was quite surprised to find the place without any water. This harbour is clearly affected by the tides and  during low tide you can walk around between the boats. It looks like a field of beached boats, something you would find on a deserted beach. 

Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea

I had loads of fun walking around the “stranded” boats but couldn’t venture out too far as I quickly learned that the mud was quite deep as I stepped into it and nearly lost my shoe. Note to self to wear gum boots next time instead of open sandals.

Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea

This scene reminded me of stories I used to read as a kid about the English countryside with its bogs and marshland. About how children used to go out into the marshes at low tide and then get cought out there when the tide suddenly came in and the water level rose faster than expected. With that in mind I didn’t mind staying close to shore and just observing the boats from afar.

Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea

The haunted City of York

Golden Fleece, York
The haunted Golden Fleece, York

York is considered to be one of the world’s most haunted cities. There are an estimated 500 ghosts in the city, including those of Roman soldiers. This fabulous cobbled street in York still today echoes with history and is teaming with shops and pubs around every corner. York has over 365 pubs, one (or more) for each day of the year. One of York’s most famous pubs is “The Golden Fleece”, as it is reputed to be “the most haunted” pub in the world.

Golden Fleece, York
The home to Ghosts in York
Golden Fleece, York
Golden Fleece, York

This ancient building which is just across from the picturesque street “Shambles” is mentioned in the York Archives as far back as 1503. The hotel definitely looks its age and is a delightfully misshapen and almost squashed building.  You can immediately tell how old the building is as soon as you step inside, as there was no such thing as building regulations back in the 1500s and so this charming building was built with a wooden frame and no foundations, making the floors, ceilings and doorways all crooked and at times, gravity-defying.

The Golden Fleece is an inn with a  pub on the ground floor and four guest bedrooms above. The inn claims to be the most haunted public house in the City of York. The back yard of the inn is named “Peckitt’s Yard” after John Peckett, who owned the premises as well as being Lord Mayor of York around 1702.  Many guests have reported seeing the late Lady Peckett wandering the endless corridors and staircases in the wee, small hours and, including ghostly apparitions and moving furniture. You probably have to stay over in the inn to get a chance to see her.

Ghost Tour York
Advertising the Ghost Tour in York
Starbucks before the Ghost tour
Starbucks before the Ghost tour

You can go on Ghost Tours through the city at night and they all end at this pub for a drink or two.

I went for a drink or two in the Golden Fleece and hoped that I might get a glimpse of one of the other famous ghosts haunting this place. Another of the ghosts is a Canadian airman who fell to his death from one of the upper windows of the hotel during World War II. After his untimely demise, he took up residence at the hotel as a non-paying guest.

Other ghosts include a man known as One Eyed Jack, who is often seen wearing a 16-17th century red coat, carrying a pistol, in the bottom bar of the pub. He’s joined by a grumpy old man, also regularly seen in the bottom bar, and by a young boy from Victorian times who was trampled to death by horses who is regularly seen in the top bar.  Eventhough I sat at a table in full view of the bar all night I never saw a glimpse of one of these ghosts.

Roman soldiers have also been seen in the cellar of the hotel, which is where dead criminals used to be stored as a temporary measure until their relatives came to identify them. I was not going to go down into the cellar to find out if this was true. Just the thought of it already freaked me out.

Starbucks before the Ghost tour
Starbucks before the Ghost tour

Not only is York home to ghosts, Guy Fawkes was born in York, and a plaque on the wall in Stonegate commemorates his birth. The building that he was born in is now the historic Guy Fawkes Inn. I would definitely like stay over in this inn next time I’m in York.

York Minster, England is one of the world’s largest Medieval Gothic Cathedrals

York Minster Cathedral
York Minster Cathedral is Behind me!!

York in itself is a beautiful city but York Minster is actually one of England’s most popular attractions. This Gothic Cathedral is also one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. 

York Minster Cathedral
York Minster Cathedral

York Minster was voted one of the UK’s Seven Wonders by visitors in 2002. This cathedral was one of the first places in York that I got to explore and I think I actually spent a couple of hours inside exploring its beautiful architecture and reading all about its colourful history.

As I approached the Cathedral I was hit by the jovial summer atmosphere of the Beautiful city of York. A guy sat outside the Cathedral playing piano and even had an audience forming, some ladies even brought some chairs so that they could sit and listen. 

As I walked through the beautifully decorated doorway and entered the beautiful Cathedral the sight of the amazing vaulted ceiling and the decorated walls took my breath away. The present Cathedral building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472. It took them more than 200 years to build this amazing Cathedral and if you look at all the detail of this building it is quite easy to see why!!

York Minster Cathedral
Stepping into York Minster Cathedral

It is filled with unique and fantastic carvings and the world’s greatest collection of intact, Medieval stained glass windows.

York Minster Cathedral
The beautiful Rose Window

The Rose Window, a stained glass masterpiece high in the South Transept of York Minster, was nearly lost after lightning struck the Minster in the 1980s causing a severe fire in the Minster’s wooden roof. This beautiful stained glass window was added near the end of the 15th century to commemorate the end of the War of the Roses and honor the Tudor dynasty.

York Minster Cathedral
York Minster Cathedral

York Minster’s collection of Medieval stained glass windows is among the finest and rarest in the world. Most of the important windows still have their original, Medieval stained glass dating from as early as 1270. The Great East Window over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world.

York Minster Cathedral
I just love the beautiful stained glass windows

I learned that maintaining the Minster’s amazing Medieval windows is a full time job. There are 128 stained glass windows, containing about 2 million individual pieces of Medieval glass. To be cleaned, each window must actually be taken apart so that each piece of stained glass can be individually cleaned. Then the windows are reassembled and re-leaded. Each window is cleaned about once every 125 years. To do all the windows at once would take about 200 years!

York Minster Cathedral
Glad I dont have to clean those beautiful windows

York Minster’s Central Tower, also known as the Lantern Tower, is an amazing feat of 15th century engineering. Built between 1407 and 1433, it stands more than 230 feet – the height of a 23-story building, and weighs 16,000 metric tonnes – the weight of 40 jumbo jets! You can pay extra to climb up the 275 steps for  close up views and overviews of York Minsters’ pinnacles, gargoyles and carvings. Unfortunately I only found this out after my visit so I never did make it to the top of the Tower.

York Minster Cathedral
York Minster Cathedral