James W. Lett, Ph.D.
Science, Reason, & Anthropology
2008 Limousin, Perigord, Lorraine
2007 Puycelci, Laval
2005 Bourgogne, Paris
1999 Paris, Versailles
2006 Hertfordshire, London, Windsor
2003 England, Wales
Below are photographs and brief descriptions of some of the places we visited during our trip to Yorkshire over the holidays in December 2012.
Our dear friends Ann and Peter recently sold their flat in London and moved north to the village of Bramham, where they renovated an old stone house flanking a private courtyard. They did an excellent job, adding American amenities (a large kitchen and extra bathrooms) to the existing European charm, and the result is an exceptionally comfortable and appealing home. We hope to emulate them when we move to Europe.
York Minster is the largest Gothic church north of the Alps, and it houses the largest collection of medieval stained glass in Britain. It sits on a site that has been home to many religious monuments over the centuries, including a wooden chapel in the 7th century and a Norman structure in the 11th century. The present cathedral was begun in 1220 and finished 250 years later. There was a fire in 1984 that destroyed the roof over the south transept; it's since been rebuilt at great cost. A huge amount of time, effort, and treasure have gone into constructing and maintaining the building over the years; the result is undeniably impressive.
Clifford's Tower in York sits atop a mound that was built by William the Conqueror; originally it was topped by a wooden castle. The present stone tower dates from the 13th century. It was built by Henry III to commemorate Roger de Clifford, who was hanged after being captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge.
The center of the city has retained much of its medieval character, with narrow, winding streets overlooked by ancient timbered houses. Cars are banned from this area, so pedestrians can roam freely. There are many antique shops in this area, and they're nice places to duck into on a cold, drizzly day. York is an old place with lots of old stuff; I like it a lot.
There are a handful of impressive white horses decorating the hillsides of England, at least one of them dating to the Neolithic. The White Horse of Sutton Bank was constructed in the 19th century, and it's visible for many miles around. The sun made a momentary appearance as we were driving to a pub for lunch, and we stopped briefly for this picture.
Located in the village of Oldstead, in a rural part of north Yorkshire, the Black Swan pub is typical of many establishments we've visited in England, with their combination of old stone buildings, charming interiors with low ceilings and ancient woodwork, and excellent cuisine. The Black Swan is justifiably proud of its Michelin star. We had a leisurely midday meal beside the fireplace in the downstairs dining room.
We love visiting European cemeteries for the evocative glimpses into past lives and bygone worlds. There was one especially poignant tombstone here in the Bramham Churchyard, for an 18-year-old boy who died in 1794. His inscription indicated that singing in the church choir had been his chief delight, and that his bereaved parents took some consolation in the knowledge that their beloved child was now singing in a heavenly choir. As a former 18-year-old boy myself, I very much doubt that singing in the choir was ever the young man's chief delight--and I wonder, after more than 200 years of singing praises to his Magic Man in the Sky, if he isn't beginning to get just a little bored with it.
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