On our final morning in York, I got up bright and early – super eager to check out a couple of places I knew I just couldn’t leave the city without visiting!
But not before a long and leisurely (not to mention, delicious) breakfast at Gray’s Court!
The first spot I wanted to visit was St Mary’s Abbey (which I found out about when we climbed up to the top of York Minster the day before).
Although it’s actually smack in the city centre, St Mary’s Abbey feels like one of those places you wouldn’t necessarily know to visit if no one told you about it as it’s tucked away, in the back streets behind some rather grand buildings.
Said grand buildings ended up serving as something of a distraction as we tried to navigate our way to the Abbey.
We soon found ourselves outside the York Art Gallery and decided to pop in quickly to check out the collection here.
Apparently, the gallery has one of the largest ceramics collection (I think, in the UK) – amongst other treasures.
Thankfully, it’s not the biggest gallery so we didn’t spend too long here before heading out…
…only to be distracted by a building with a stunning colourful coat of arms on it. Unsure what it was, I figured we might as well pop in for a closer look!
Turns out the coat of arms was for Charles the 1st and the building itself was actually part of the University of York.
The building is actually the King’s Manor and was the home to the Abbots of St Mary’s Abbey (Abbots are kinda like the Archbishops of York).
The courtyard here is actually quite pretty and somewhat unexpected as it’s so quiet and serene and a far cry from the busy high street.
There’s actually a cafe here, by the way, so it’s worth popping round here for a coffee if you find yourself with free time on your hands.
St Mary’s Abbey, as it turns out was just behind King’s Manor, which again makes sense given that it was the home of the Abbots.
Once upon a time, the Abbey was one of the richest Benedictine Abbeys and upon surrender of all their money to Henry VIII (The King who beheaded his wives including Anne Boleyn) promptly fell into ruin and disrepair.
The King’s Manor apparently only survived because Henry VIII found used it as the Council of the North (which eventually dissolved in 1641), after which it became the home of the Governor of York.
There’s so much more I could tell you about the history here but I’ll let you find that out all for yourself when you visit! 😀 This is one of the reasons I really wanted to visit York.
I love uncovering and learning about England’s history (I’m that guy who reads EVERYTHING when you go to a museum – if I’m into said museum, of course, otherwise I’m the first person out of there) so getting to find places like this that are such an important part of English history, in a setting that is arguably one of the prettiest cities in all the land.
Leaving the Abbey, we hot-footed it through town, swinging past the Shambles market…
…and a rather interestingly named street
…over to the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.
This medieval timber-framed building is over 600 years old and is another impressive site in the city – not least of all for its history!
The clue is in the name really – back in the day, this used to be the spot merchants would come to get some business done. Over the years, it’s had different uses and now it’s more of a museum than anything else but you could still hire out the Great Hall here till this day.
Speaking of which, the big attraction here was definitely the Great Hall! It’s such a stunning example of medieval English architecture and is just absolutely beautiful.
That being said, we were running late for afternoon tea at this stage and with that – we hot-footed it to a special spot in the city, in perhaps the most unlikeliest of places.
Said spot was the Railway Museum, which isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting when you’re looking to book yourself afternoon tea but bear with – this place is worth it.
See, tucked away in the little corner of the Museum is the Countess of York, a train carriage that actually used to be on the Orient Express. It’s such a cute and unexpected spot for afternoon tea!
We plumped for the champagne afternoon tea and started things with a glass of bubbly…
…before tucking into delicious sandwiches, cakes and other sweet treats!
Afternoon tea here turned out to be just the best way to finish off trip.
Before leaving though, figured we might as well check out the Railway Museum before actually hopping about our own train to London.
Be sure to check out the Royal Trains section. I can’t really say that I’m a ‘train enthusiast’ – I enjoy travelling on them (A LOT) but wouldn’t really know the difference from one train type to another but even I was particularly taken by the Royal Carriages section. Here you get to see all the trains the Royal Family has used over the years and some of them are absolutely opulent and provide quite an interesting insight into how travel in England has changed over the years.
And with that, we were done, it was time to head back home!
York had proven to be an absolutely amazing city and I kid you not, it’s now become one of a very small handful of places across the UK, I feel like I could actually call home. It’s a vibrant city with all the charm of a small town or quaint village and with lots of amazing history to boot!
I actually had a cheeky look at some of the houses for sale whenever we walked past estate agents here and the house prices here reflect the fact that I’m not alone in that feeling that I could easily make York, home.
The prices are higher here than the average you’d see in other Northern cities like Manchester and Liverpool and you soon get the sense that the competition to move up to York is pretty strong. 😀 With good reason too! York is just such a gem and I’m seriously so taken by it. :-DI can’t wait to return to York again and do this (and more) all over again. 😀