Friday, September 12, 2014

British Isles trip, part 14: York--city

Link to photo dump.

I loved the city of York--beautiful and historic. I took so many pictures that just to show you the best ones and not have it be overwhelming, I'm dividing our day in York into three posts. This one has shots from around the city. Tomorrow's will have the photos from York Minster. The following day I'll share some pictures from a raptor show that we caught while there.

Our most excellent tour guide (another one whose name I have forgotten, dammit), seen above, explained about the tiny window in the building below. You can see the brick arch above it, outlining the original size of the window. The window was reduced to the tiny one you see here after King William III imposed a window tax--essentially a property tax that depended on the number and size of windows in a building--in 1696. Bricking up windows was a common reaction. (Governments always fail to anticipate correctly how people will respond to the incentives built into tax codes.) 

The faceted tower below is not much to look at, but dates (as the sign indicates) from around 300 CE. That makes it just about the oldest man-made thing we saw on this trip, after Stonehenge and various archaeological artifacts in museums.

The ruins of St. Mary's Abbey were among the most beautiful things I saw on this entire trip. This is what's left of the 13th-century building, which fell into disrepair after the despicable King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries and raided them for their treasures around 1540. I wandered around the ruins for quite some time, looking for interesting angles and watching how the shading of the stones changed as the sky turned from intensely blue to ominously cloudy.

I don't know who that couple is, what this spot means to them, or whom they were mourning. I saw them come with the yellow flowers in hand, set them down, and step back. Then they appeared to be taken up in memories--intermittently crying and leaning on each other. It felt a little voyeuristic to be watching them. I hope that, whoever they are, they won't mind terribly that I intruded on their private moment just enough to capture what I thought was a beautiful photograph.

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