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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah



After London I spent a night in York (yes, “Old York”) en route to Edinburgh. It was just as atmospheric a place as I expected–I really enjoyed walking the walls and wandering through the reconstructed Victorian streets inside the York Castle Museum. The Minster was closed for graduation ceremonies both days I was there, which was very disappointing, but at least it’s something to look forward to for next time.


Walking the medieval city walls.


Spotted in the confectioner’s window at the York Castle Museum. I wonder what they tasted like.


The York Minster.


One of the many charming things about this town: all the cafés in what used to be tollhouses. I had a delicious gingerbread latté in this one, on the Skeldergate Bridge.


I went on a ghost walk that night. There are several options, and I can’t say I recommend the one I went on (this one, so you can avoid it)–so heavy on theatrics that he only told us four or five stories in the space of an hour and fifteen minutes. I wasn’t all that disappointed until I passed another guide in the Shambles (the quaintest street in York), and heard what I was missing.

Anyway, the house above is the site of the saddest story I heard that night: a little girl had come down with buboes, and after they’d put her to bed for the night her parents locked her room, put an X over the front door, and fled the city. In the morning she called out but no one passing by would help her, and now people say they can see her face peering down out of the bedroom window (sometimes even in the daytime).

The other day I was browsing through a book about the plague in England, and I found this quote:

Father abandoned child; wife, husband; one brother, another…and none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship.

–Agnolo di Tura, Siena, 1348.

I can’t imagine abandoning a child in any circumstances, let alone leaving a child to die alone in agony, but it sounds like it happened all the time. I sat down on a park bench opposite the house and stared at the window for awhile, but I didn’t see her.


Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, which dates mostly from the fifteenth century. This is the only church in York to have retained its box pews (an intriguing feature, as I’m not sure why it would be necessary to have that much ‘privacy’ at Sunday service). You only get a slight sense of this from the photo, but the walls are seriously wonky–you look up and think ‘I know it’s been around for six hundred years and all, but I really hope today isn’t the day the whole place crumbles around my ears.’

I (surprise, surprise) also indulged in a crafting geek-out at Ramshambles (tiny shop, but very friendly) and Duttons Buttons (thanks to Kate Davies’ great York Craft Tour post from spring ’09). The stock at Duttons wasn’t as quirky as those little red teacup buttons would suggest, and the staff weren’t particularly nice, but I picked up some really lovely ones for two 2011 (!) sweater projects.

Next post: SCOTLAND!

2 Comments to York

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    December 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    We’ll just have to go see the York Minster together some day 😉
    P.S. Pretty awesome snowball fight. The snow was really coming down!

  2. December 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that’s a horrible story abt the little girl with the plague. (Yet, it reminded me of those modern parents who pray over their children who are dying instead of taking them to doctors. I probably shouldn’t be writing this down.)

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.