June 15, 2012

York - Day 2

(This post relates to March, hence some of the timing conventions will seem strange).

It rained a little overnight. This didn't stop the various groups of people cruising past the the pubs and restaurants around the area I stayed. I didn't hang around long in the morning. I made sure I had everything packed and headed around to the Castle Museum I had stumbled across yesterday.

I paid the £9 entry fee and started exploring. I liked that the museum had a clearly directed traffic flow in place. Made it easier and in some regards, safer. The first few rooms are set up in representations of various rooms, commonly found in Yorkshire (and probably the UK). These range from a moorlands cottage to a 17th C. dinning room. Very old fashioned museological style but still nicely presented.

© Glaciations of the World
The next section I didn't care for  as it seems out of place for the rest of the museum. Plus you can see vacuums and other cleaners, toilet paper etc. anywhere.

© Glaciations of the World
The farming section was interesting, and I know Grandad would have loved it. Pat the Giant stood out but then re really is only living up to his name.

© Glaciations of the World
My favourite part was Kirkgate St, where the museum is attempting to re-create a Victorian street. It will be amazing once they get it all done. I quite like that while I was there, they were working on an undertakers.

© Glaciations of the World

© Glaciations of the World
I came back out into the still grey day and decided to head straight for the Jorvik Centre. As I followed the signs, I came across Fairfax House. Fairfax House boasts it is the finest Georgian town house in England. Parting with another £6 I entered one of the most beautiful houses I've ever been to.

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The house was originally the winter home of the Viscount Fairfax. Its interior was designed by Yorks most distinguished architect, John Carr. In the 20th C. the house was adapted as a cinema and dance hall, with one of the ceilings being painted blood red.

This room was the dance hall and the ceiling has now been cleaned of the red, which was a similar colour to the walls.Image Source 
In the renovated bedrooms there are four chairs, collected by Noel Terry, whose collection fits out the entire house. These four chairs have had their seats covered with 17th C. tapestries that were discovered, stored in an attic, of an elderly lady. The needle work is amazingly detailed.

The house itself, when in the hands of the Viscount, was intended as the dowry for his only living daughter, Anne. Anne, however, never married.

The Viscount died in 1772 and the house passed through the hands of private owners, became a gentlemen's club in the 19th C. and then offices. It was requisitioned for military use in WWI and was transformed into the entertainments mentioned, in 1919. The cinema had a seating capacity of 1000, which means much of the 18th C. domestic quarters and service areas were lost.

By 1982 the house had fallen into disrepair so the York City Civic Trust stepped into save the building.

The Jorvik Viking Centre was one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing in York. Another £9 later and a terrible smelling entrance, I made my way into the exhibition area.

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On entering, the air is hot and stuffy. There appear to be too many people even though this isn't the case. The floor is clear and sits over what could be either the original or placticised remains of the ancient floor. Around the walls are video displays and bare bones cabinets with finds. The labeling is either to vague or filled with far too much information. The lighting is low, lower than it needs to be for what it is illuminating. (Please note, this is just my opinion).

To get into the next section it seems the only way to do it is via an air-lift which, slowly wends its way through a viking village. The female narrator talks you through the various areas of the village, introducing the various motorized mannequins. For me, the ride was slow and potentially awkward for anyone with mobility issues or any kind of claustrophobia. Plus, the smell was slowly getting worse and I was beginning to feel quite sick.

In the next section, there was a school group. The noise was terrible. It also meant that viewing any of the interactive exhibits was almost impossible. For the few I managed to experience, I was quite impressed and I enjoyed having the chance to play. The staff also seemed better placed to deal with the children. I'm in my 30s now and I don't need to have object and ideas explained to me as though I am 13.

I would like to go back to the Jorvik centre as I think it is worth a second viewing. I'm just not looking forward to the smell.

Having seen the main things on my list and having almost run out of ready cash, I decided I would just wander around and see what I found.

I came across a little church called St Martin-le-Grand. Most of it dates back to the 15th C. but it was largely destroyed by fire and in air raids in 1942.

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I particularly liked the message just inside the door;

This is the way of peace:
Overcome evil with good,
and falsehood with truth,
and hatred with love.

If you yourself are at peace,
then there is at least
some peace in the world.

Go home
and love your family

I headed back into the Museum Gardens where I had first started wandering.

© Glaciations of the World

© Glaciations of the World

Time in York was drawing to a close. I headed back to the station, collected my ticket, got a coffee and read my book until I boarded the train.

45 minutes later I reached Shipley and headed to my hotel for the night.

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