York is at its most picturesque in springtime when the daffodils are blooming. These beautiful spring flowers enhance the earthen ramparts, which were razed by the Romans and the Anglo-Danish kings of York but strengthened later by the Normans. There are miles of encircling medieval wall which has been carefully maintained and restored over the centuries and which still has considerable remnants of the original Roman walls integrated with and strengthened by the medieval structures. The entrance to the walls is free and they are open during daylight hours.
The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, named for the great philanthropic family, is a community theater rather than one hosting slick professional productions. It offers a venue for local theater companies to perform plays, opera and even dance performances. In 2010 it celebrated its 75th anniversary, so its longevity is beyond question. Holding over 350, it can fill quite easily for some events, and is a very affordable place to stage community arts events, something every city needs. The Rowntree Theatre is not only a good venue, but is also one that hosts great performances.
Countless riveting details come together to form the glorious York Minster, a masterpiece of Gothic design and ecclesiastical art. Built between 1220 and 1480, the cathedral features among northern Europe's largest medieval churches and is the seat of the Archbishop of York. Originally a 7th-century chapel built for the baptism of King Edwin of Northumbria, excavations have revealed the vestiges from the Norman and Roman periods as well, shedding light on its long and eventful history as a religious center. The intricate facade is aptly matched by an equally lavish interior, its design spanning the breadth of the Gothic period with elements of the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles enmeshed with one another. Of special note is the cathedral's stained glass windows, with the Great East Window being the world's largest span of medieval glass. High above it all arch the striking vaulted ceilings of the York Minster, the United Kingdom's grande dame of Gothic architecture.
This is all about the history of railways in York, right from the 19th Century till date. More than a 100 locomotives form an integral part of this museum. Permanent exhibitions like the Palaces on Wheels, allow you a glimpse into the lavish pre-Victorian railway saloons. A comprehensive collection of records, documents, videos, films, photos is also on display. Take your kids for a ride on the miniature railway or just let them loose in the play area. Don't forget to visit the restaurant, the research center and the gift shop.
Situated north of York, Castle Howard is an exemplary and stately English home. This 18th-century abode served as the ancestral home of the Howards. While the interiors of this palatial structure are bedecked with fine furnishings and an impressive collection of art, the environs of the castle boast many awe-inspiring gems too. The dense woodlands and serene lakefronts are among the major attractions of the castle estate. The 18th-century walled Rose garden and the ornamental vegetable garden are unmissable on-site attractions too. A land-train takes young visitors to the adventure playground nearby, while the host of cafés and gift shops promise to keep the adults entertained.
This theater dates back to 1744 and is built on the site where the St. Leonard's Hospital used to be. Backstage, it is still possible to see the remains of the medieval hospice and an ancient well. Georgian and Victorian alterations combine with present-day additions to make this a modern theater experience. Everything from opera, Shakespeare and John Godber's Hull Truck Theatre to York Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society and the local youth theater are showcased here. There are excellent facilities for disabled theater goers with sign language and audio described performances. Call ahead or check website for performance timings.
The gallery is on the first floor and centers around two main rooms. The gallery boasts of original prints, etchings and paintings by contemporary artists and in addition to this, the gallery houses wonderful glass and ceramic objects too. Vibrant colors surround you, the beauty of the objects takes your breath away, the whole gallery is full of interesting and diverse items. It's definitely worth a visit, not just for the paintings and prints on view but for the objects on sale. Downstairs is a shop, which sells the artists' ware. Among the beautiful objects for sale are many ceramic cats! Cats in weird positions, stretching, sitting, lying on their backs; if you like cats they're just irresistible.
One of the most interesting parts of the building within the York Minster is the 13th Century, octagonal Chapter House with its extraordinary roof vaulting. Visitors will note that despite its huge size, the Chapter House has no central pillar to support the roof. Details of just how the roof was constructed are shown in a scaled down model. The Chapter House is one of the best examples of its kind and not to be missed. Check the site for timings.
A part of the sprawling Duncombe estate, the Duncombe Park is a massive stretch of verdure, riddled with a network of scenic trails. Overlooked by the palatial abode of Lord and Lady Feversham, the park is frequented by locals and tourists alike. On your tour of the fascinating expanse, you can explore myriad natural attractions such as woodlands, meadows and even a river valley. The scented secret garden is a famous attraction of the parkland, luring many a curious travelers. Take in views of the unending moorlands and peek into the unexplored history of the palace, only at the Duncombe Park.
The erstwhile parish rooms of nearby Holy Trinity Church can be found here, situated in a fine medieval timbered house with a beautifully preserved canopied wooden porch dating from the 15th century. Nowadays Jacob's Well is hired out for meetings and private functions. The interior has been fully renovated and refurbished under the watchful eye of English Heritage. Two rooms can be rented but are charged for by the hour. The whole building is available for larger functions.
York's oldest non-conformist church was initially built for Presbyterians only to become Unitarian in 1756. You will find it within the York City Walls, set back from the street behind railings. Of particular historical interest is a portrait of Charles Well beloved, who was minister of the church from 1800 until 1858. He is also buried here. The church also boasts a Georgian pulpit. The present minister is The Reverend Margaret Kirk. Sunday services start at 11:00a.
Upper Poppleton is a village on the western edge of York by the River Ouse. The village has the distinction of being named in the Domesday Book, a survey that was completed for William I in 1086. Although you may visit Upper Poppleton for its history, the village has become known for its shopping and restaurants.