A Sunday in York

Last weekend we found ourselves in beautiful York for a wedding of two close friends. They had chosen The Hospitium in the York Museum Gardens, an intimate 14th century, two-storey building which was the perfect setting for their ceremony, dinner and dancing.

The next day, we met up with some family for a stroll around the centre of York, which is one of our favourite cities (and, for once, we weren’t there to sing!). The day started as every Sunday should [apparently], with tea – and this time we went all out at Betty’s. Yes, we probably should have gone to Harrogate, but this Southerner had never experienced Betty’s at all and was too excited to wait any longer. It lived up to the hype: silver teapots, cosy corners and very good tea.

Betty's in York

We walked down the cobbled streets to explore some of the less well-known attractions, with the Minster still always in sight around the corner.

York Minster

Show me more from this day

Trip up North – Leeds Art Gallery

We love you, Yorkshire! The time between Christmas and New Year was perfect for a few days exploring the North of England (while trying to stay out of the floods), where one of us comes from. Leeds Art Gallery was one of our stops, home at the time to the British Art Show, which meant it was almost completely full of contemporary installations. We did put in an [early] appearance in the creative children’s section, as you may be able to tell…

Letters at Leeds Art Gallery

And made sure we took a look at the one room which remains constant amid the changing exhibitions; home to Renaissance and Victorian works by a range of artists, The Temptation of Sir Percival was one which caught our eye. Painted by Arthur Hacker in 1894, it depicts Percival, one of the Round Table knights, being tempted in his piety by a beautiful, predatory maiden. Excalibur of course features in the painting, as the counterfoil to her advances, and we particularly liked the use of colour and emotion in a classical scene.

Painting at Leeds Art Gallery

Show me more from this day

Up the hill: a weekend at Lincoln Cathedral

Neither of us had visited Lincoln for a long time (I had once, at university) and had forgotten quite how stunning it is. Perched up the appropriately-named ‘Steep Hill’, the cathedral looks out over the city.

As John Ruskin said, “I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.” [And I whole-heartedly agree with him.]

Inside Lincoln Cathedral

Building started in 1088, under William the Conqueror’s instruction, and in heavy Norman style, opposite the castle he had already built across the city. Around 100 years later, a fire and an earthquake between them caused extensive damage to the great building, and parts were rebuilt in the Gothic style, which included the use of flying buttressing to enable huge stained glass windows, and pointed arches replacing the original rounded ones.

Rose window at Lincoln Cathedral

Show me more from this day

Weekend in Leeds, part 2 – Hardwick Hall

After Nostell yesterday, we then headed to Hardwick Hall. Although pretty cloudy (see below), it was stunning. This year, the house is celebrating its association with Arbella Stuart, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick’s protegee. Bess, Arbella’s grandmother, built the house and attempted throughout Arbella’s youth to realise her not insubstantial claim to the English throne. Arbella had other ideas, however, and ended up imprisoned in the Tower after a secret marriage.

Hardwick Hall

Gripping as it is, the experience of the house runs alongside and yet beyond these two fiesty Elizabethan women. Built in 1590, the house is one of the earliest examples of English Renaissance architecture, and seems to herald the arrival of the ‘country house’. Its very structure has been built to accommodate the more traditional hierarchy of master and servant, with very separate living quarters and ceiling height and scale to reflect the seniority of that room’s inhabitants. It also sees a move toward the more decorative architectural style, and a departure from the fortifications of castles of old.

Bedroom at Hardwick Hall

Show me more from this day

Weekend in Leeds, part 1 – swans and statues at Nostell Priory

Today on the blog we have two very special properties to help you make the most of that National Trust membership! (Even without it, entry fees were reasonable.)

We have a family in Leeds, so headed up there for the weekend. First stop was Nostell Priory, featuring a beautifully symmetrical exterior… [although, if you look closely, you’ll notice some damage on the left-hand side from a fire in 1980]

Nostell Priory

And an interesting lighting project, From Gloom to Glow, where they cast light on previously hidden objects. It certainly made for some dramatic photographs!

Gloom to Glow statue at Nostell Priory

Show me more from this day

There’s more than one alma mater, you know: way up North to Durham

I suppose Cambridge is easier to get to from London. And it is quite pretty, I guess. And a *fairly* good university… [I’m not going to rise to any of this. Some people are just jealous.] Nonetheless, I was very excited to give the tour of my own university, way up at the other end of the country in the tiny city of Durham.

Even more special to me, though, was a visit to my old college, University College, or Castle as it’s known. It is, indeed, a castle, built in the 11th century [although the keep was rebuilt in Victorian times] to defend against marauding Scots, and was lived in by the Prince Bishops before the students took over.

I lived in the keep, with a very lovely roommate:

University College, Durham

Sang (often hungover) in the tiny Tunstall Chapel, built in 1540:

Chapel at University College, Durham

Show me more from this day

Visiting the birds at Lotherton Hall

I had a “fun” weekend of flat hunting, so unfortunately we didn’t have time to go anywhere this week. Instead, here are some pictures from a trip I made to Lotherton Hall while I was at home visiting my parents over Christmas.

Crane

The hall is an Edwardian house and country estate, which is also home to a bird garden with an impressive selection of over 130 different species.

Grey spotted owl

Show me more from this day