Whitby Abbey and Castle Howard – Day 10

Today we took the optional tour to Whitby Abbey and Castle Howard.  First stop was the town of Whitby.
Whitby is a seaside town, port and in the Borough of Scarborough and English county of North Yorkshire. It is located on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk. It has an established maritime, mineral and tourist heritage. The East Cliff is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey. The fishing port developed during the Middle Ages for herring and whaling fleets and was where Captain Cook learned seamanship.
Our first stop was on the hillside by the shore so we could see the shore and the abbey on the hillside. It was too hazy to photograph it well at this time of the morning.


Perched high on a cliff, you can see the remains of Whitby Abbey, that were inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic tale of ‘Dracula’. Author Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby in the late 1800s, and was so inspired by its ruined abbey and clifftop church he created his most famous character. Dracula arrives in this country after his ship runs aground off Whitby, and runs up the famous 199 steps in the guise of a black dog, and he even took character names from here, making Whitby the ‘Goth’ capital of Britain.

Four hundred years earlier, the abbey was the setting for the artistic awakening of Cædmon, the first named English poet.  Cædmon was a layman who had never written a single poem, until one night in a dream he was asked to sing about all creation. To his surprise he found himself singing spontaneous verses in praise of God.
Then we drove around to get up to the Abbey passing a horse with a polka dotted blanket.  
And finally the Whitby Abbey. and bear came to see the abbey. 

and another pony with a blanket.  The wind was blowing up there.  There were a number of school children there.  I caught this one sitting in part of the wall while his teacher was not looking.

This spectacular headland was first settled as a monastery in AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. It became one of the most important religious centers in the Anglo-Saxon world under the formidable Abbess Hild. She ruled over both men and women in a double monastery called Streaneshalch.

Centuries of weather and war have taken their toll – parts of the abbey church have collapsed during storms, and its west front was hit by German naval shelling in 1914.

We now were going to walk down those 199 steps to the town. In town we learned about Whitby Jet which they polish for jewelry.  As we walked along, we saw this man doing a sand sculpture on the sidewalk.

We went to Trencher’s for Fish and Chips.   Notice the potatoes were called Sagitta potatoes.  After lunch some walked around town and others stayed close to the center to prepare to head for our next stop.

Some horses just below the ruins of the abbey and on top of the hill.
Now we left to drive to Castle Howard which was close to York, where our hotel is located.

Castle Howard is a magnificent historic house in the north of England, the 18th century residence is set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape just about 15 kilometers outside York.

The Yorkshire stately home boasts world-renowned works or art and stunning architecture having been designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built with the assistance of Nicholas Hawksmoor.

The grounds include lakes, fountains, temples and woodland as well as formal walled garden and children’s adventure playground.

The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. The 1st Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard was the great grandson of Lord William Howard, the youngest son of Thomas Howard. Created Earl of Carlisle in 1661 it was Charles’ grandson, Charles Howard the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who is famed as the creator of Castle Howard. Although building work began in 1699, the construction of Castle Howard took over 100 years to complete, spanning the lifetimes of three Earls.  There was a fire in 1940, and it swept through the building.  A number of the artworks and books were saved by the girls of Queen Margaret’s School, Scarborough, who had been evacuated to Castle Howard due to the war and were able to salvage some of the contents.
       There was definitely lots to see here, including the rose garden.
Now it was back to our hotel and we had dinner on our own.  We found a Polish restaurant not far from our hotel called Barbakan, which was wonderful.  We had stuffed cabbage done the old fashioned way.

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York, UK – Day 9

We arrived in York late in the afternoon yesterday.  It was drizzling.  with a number of people in the group coughing and some getting sick enough to skip the day’s events, and now I was starting to get stuffed and coughing.  Cathy Foss was already feeling under the weather.  I decided that I would spend the rest of the day in my room (other than going to dinner downstairs) napping.  I found a drug store in Chester and picked up some sudafed, and nasal wash, determined to hold this at bay.  Barbara and Cathy went to the York Minster to attend the evening service – Evensong.  They said they enjoyed it when I saw them at dinner. Meanwhile, I slept and felt a bit better for today’s outing.

After breakfast, we walked through the medieval city to the magnificent York Minster for an exclusive Discovery Series event with a local guide.
As we walked through York, here are a couple of the things we saw.
 Those old containers that Transamerica used for shipping – well, these may not be those but at least they are doing something with them.  Making houses, offices, etc. 
And Batman with his cycle were here.
 The old Banana factory.



When we arrived at York Minster – it was huge, and across the street was St Michael Le Bellfrey. 


 I love the gargoyles.

Our guide, Sister Mary,  provided us a the history of the cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps.

 this dragon head was used to hoist things inside the church.

At The west end of the Nave twelve headless saints holding haloes are signalling in semaphore. – Christ is here.

This clock chimes on the quarter hour – with the two figures striking the iron rods. This was a memorial to Normandy invasion and Dunkirk.
 One of the stain glass windows.

There was an astronomical clock inside the Minster.  The edge of the large convex disc represents the horizon as seen from an aircraft directly over York and flying South. A plan of the Minster and the City Walls is picked out in gold in the centre. The clock’s ‘Sun’, represented by a gold disc, rises and sets on the horizon at the actual times of sunrise and sunset throughout the year. It crosses the vertical, South pointing wire at noon. From day to day its path along the silver band representing the ecliptic varies so that it rises higher in the summer than in the winter. The dials at the bottom show, on the right, Greenwich Mean Time and on the left, the sidereal or star time. The dial on the other side of the clock shows the North Circumpolar Stars visible from the latitude of York, circling round the Pole Star.
We went back into a meeting room – my favorite part was all the carvings around the room and the ceiling.  

Just outside the actual area for the service, there was a set of statues of the kings, this is called the Kings’ screen.  
Then just before we went inside, looking up at the inside of the tower.  You can climb up there – with 275 steps on a circular staircase.  Notice I said you can. I did not. (more on this later)

The Quire was built in the late 14th century in the Perpendicular style but the wooden choir stalls for the canons are not the originals, but reproductions-restorations after the 1829 fire. At the east end of the Quire is the High Altar.


We then walked around the side and saw a number of statues. These were for the former leaders of the church.

Here is one where to make the process faster, they premake the statue and leave the area where the face goes.  So it is a generic, until they add the face.
But sometimes the carvers are a bit too fast – in this one – one hand has 5 fingers and two right feet.
Now the men used to wear hair oil back in those days and it stained the wood in the Quire, so an embroidered panel has been placed to cover it. Here are a few samples. 
We walked around and found some more handwork done – the full 12 days of Christmas as chair cushions. 
Lots of work  there.
Here are two more of the stain glass windows which are being repaired.    This one has roses – representing the War of the Roses.
I learned a lot about the medieval stained glass. A number of the panels have been updated.   The cathedral’s Great East Window—created by John Thornton of Coventry and completed in 1408—is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. It is 76 feet tall and comprises 1,680 square feet of glass.
And then we left the Minster –  a beautiful tower.
And then….we heard a helicopter.   HM Coast Guard Rescue copter was approaching.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance requested assistance from the UK Coastguard just after 11:00 BST to airlift the man from the building. Staff at the cathedral said the man became ill on the viewing platform of the central tower. The tower is the highest point of the building at 235 ft.



Here is the rescue personnel lowering down to the tower.

And here is the man being lifted back up in a harness.

And the rescue basket and the coast guard personnel going back up to the helicopter.
What a show.  Now remember I said it was 275 steps up – and see what happens when you do.  I rest my case for not climbing the stairs.  Oh to give you some perspective – the Tower of Pisa would fit inside this tower.
We left the Minster after all the excitement and headed back towards our hotel looking for a place to have lunch.
We found a nice little place that had some wonderful soup and fresh bread – Lucky Days – they also had some interesting desserts – which we skipped.  

In York, where centuries-old city walls enclose the best-preserved medieval town center in England. York’s history stretches back into ancient Roman times, when it was called Eboracum and served as the military capital of northern Britannia. Traces of Roman garrisons built before the fifth century are sprinkled throughout the city. By the ninth century, Vikings—from what is now Denmark—had succeeded the Romans, calling the town Jorvik and leaving one legacy you’ll still see today: the suffix “-gate”—meaning “street” in the old Viking language—in many street names.

We walked down the Shambles—originally the meat-butchering area of York. The cramped, ancient street now houses a variety of shops, and in some areas it is possible for upstairs residents to stretch out and shake hands across the street.

Apparently this place has become quite popular due to the internet.

For a cat person – York has a cat map – with cats located at various spots throughout the city.  Here were two.

And as we walked back to our hotel, we walked by this traffic circle – notice there is nothing raised in the middle – 
It has been quite a day and we needed some down time.  With the people who are coughing, etc., we need to take some time to rest.   Tomorrow is another day.