Thursday of my Yorkshire Knitting Tour mostly comprised a visit to York. We started with a visit to York Minster, the huge ancient cathedral that dominates York’s skyline. This is the seat of the Archbishop of York, currently John Sentamu, and is a vibrant church centre as well as an ancient monument. It is breathtakingly beautiful!

Alas, due to illness we didn’t have one of the minster’s guides, so at the last minute I conducted a tour with reference to thr guidebook I bought on the way in. We learned lots of fascinating things about the building, including some insights into Victorian prudishness about breastfeeding, and the very practical function of the huge wooden dragon’s head high up in the nave (used for pulleys!). We also explored the royal connection with a visit to the funerary memorial to Edward III’s infant son. Edward III was married in the minster. Finally we visited the shrine of St William of York in the crypt below the Quire. Nearby the St William window tells the story of this medieval saint, one of York’s early archbishops.

The tour had to be rather quick, as we had an appointment for lunch at Betty’s. This too was a major highlight. We all sat together at a long table where we were served thr most elegant ‘afternoon tea’ by very attentive staff. It comprised a choice of teas and a tiered cake stand filled with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and dainty cakes. I also treated the group to champagne, and most of us added creme de cassis to make kir royale. It was quite an overwhelming experience, as evidenced by one of our group who was literally brought to tears by the wonder of it all!

After this we visited Duttons for Buttons, walking there via Coney Street, which was home to Elizabeth Jackson in Victorian times, one of York’s early knitting authors. Even I succombed to a purchase at the Aladdins Cave which is Duttons, buying them out of some lovely Yorkshire Rose buttons.

Following some other shopping, which many in the group were keen to do in York’s quaint streets, we finsihed at York Castle Museum, where we had a guided tour of the Victorian shopping quarter they have created there. There were costumed staff wandering around adding to the sense of being in the past, and whilst viewing a fine example that was parked in the street we were very interested to learn that York was where the hansom cab was invented.

All in all, a very lovely day!

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