England, like my mother land Malaysia, is the kind of country dotted with ‘weekend places’. You don’t have to make a strenuous effort to prepare for a holiday. No tedious bookings, no sitting on a fat stubborn suitcase… you don’t even need to pre-plan! On a free weekend, all you need to do is get into the car/ onto the train and in less than two hours… you get your weekend getaway.
Easy-peasy. Piece of cake.
I went to York one weekend. This wasn’t my first time to York. It is a city draped and mantled in culture and heritage. You get the medieval buildings and the windings of narrow streets lined with tea rooms, roast shops and boutiques. For me, it is definitely the front-runner for the most beautiful city in England.
And mind you, I don’t give away such title lightly!
This is why I am going to be very biased and dedicate three posts in my blog to this charming place. First, let’s us start with the 800-year-old cathedral – the York Minster.
The York Minster is the second largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Before we go on a virtual tour, I feel compelled to give you some brief definitions.
A church is a place of worship. A cathedral, on the other hand, is a much larger place of worship and where the bishop sits. A minster, like York Minster and the Westminster in London, is an anglo-saxon word for missionary church. Attached with it is a monastery (where the priests live) and usually the first church built in the area to spread the word of god.
(See my dear mother, I’m not just writing fluff all over the internet)
The York Minster is both a cathedral and a minster. There sits the Archbishop of York and it was a place for missionary teachings in the old days.
Once you pass the main entrance, you’ll see the Nave.
^The Nave is the central part of the building.
^ The vault above the nave was a replacement after a destructive fire in the late 19th century.
Walk further down and you’ll come to see the South Transept on your right.
^…where the Great West Window stands, also known as the Heart of Yorkshire.
Turn around and there’s the life-size organ at your back. The organ has around 4000 pipes and would stretch around 4.5km.
We’d all be huffing and puffing by the time we reach its end!
^The King’s Screen below the organ serves both memorial and practical purposes. They are 15 carved statues of Kings of England. Together they strengthen the columns of tower and separate the Quire from the rest of the Minster.
Now one of my favourite parts of the cathedral – the perpendicular Quire, the place where the throne of the Archbishop of York sits.
As I type this, I am imagining the sound of choir singing, the pure and powerful echo reverberates around the hall.
^These rows of seats are the Quire Stall.
We then took the stairs and went to the underground chamber and crypt.
^Adam inspecting this intricate thing. Somebody tell me what it is!
The boys then took a seat at the East End while I went around to snap more pictures.
^The East End boys having a chat.
On our way to the Chapter House, the boys noticed the clock and insisted I take a picture. It’s a mechanical clock and the soldiers in armour strike the bell every hour.
I want one like this at home!
Now the Vestibule (which is like an antechamber, hallway) that leads to the Chapter House.
^This octagonal Chapter House is equivalent to our ‘meeting room’ today. It is a place where canons meet and discuss policy.
Standing at the centre of the room, you would realise that there is nothing that holds up the roof. The wooden vault is suspended wholly from the timber high up.
I couldn’t help but wow-ed at the skills of the olden days’ architects.
^The ceiling and the Minton tiled floor dating from the 19th century.
I am, by no means, an expert in theology.
But I do hope that my post can enlighten you in some way and evoke your interests in finding out more about the history and characteristics of places you visit in England… and everywhere else in the world.
After all, it doesn’t hurt to know more.
With love x