The featured picture is our entire group, a picture taken by a wonderful sight seeing guide who happened to see that we needed someone to take a picture guide for us!
We started out our day with a picturesque bus ride from Ambleside to catch a train in Windermere, to then ride for approximately two hours to get to York. While it was raining, sleeting, and snowing almost all the way there, giving the view seen below, everyone was in good spirits, excited to see new people and new places!
Many of us, myself included, took the train rides as an opportunity to catch up on some sleep and get rid of some of the jet lag! Others took the opportunity to learn more about English culture and talk to others riding the train as well. These students learned quite a bit about both the people themselves and the culture too. We certainly learned just how friendly and welcoming the British people around here can be! After we arrived at York and made it through the train station, we headed on our way to the YHA (youth hostel association, where we are staying for the next few days). Our hostel is about a half hour walk from the main area of the city, and we took the opportunity to dry off and warm up when we dropped off our luggage before heading to the Minster. On the way to the Minster, we saw the accountant’s office that houses a bust of W.H. Auden, one of the author’s that we read in preparation for discussion today.
Also on the way to York Minster, we spotted some ruins, and had a chance to learn something from Leif, who wasn’t even our tour guide for the day; he taught us some more about Dracula and Whitby Abbey. Picture below are the ruins from St. Mary’s Abbey, which was one of the abbeys torn down during the English reaffirmation. As you can see, Leif was very excited to find this spot!
This tie to Dracula by Bram Stoker was that it is set in Whitby and the abbey is mentioned a lot in the book, and St. Mary’s Abbey was founded by a group that split off from the Whitby Abbey because of slightly different religious views. After a brief lunch, we made it to the Minster and had a short tour by our lovely tour guide, Sadie. She reviewed our main literature for the day, which was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. This piece related to York because most of the story took place in various real buildings around the city, such as the Minster, St. Michael’s, and Ye Olde Starre Inn. Sadie gave her presentation at the Minster because it was where the magic in the story actually took place, and we were able to see many of the statues that supposedly came to life and spoke. On our guided tour through the church, we were able to learn a lot about the culture of the Minster. For example, it is really the product of three architectural designs: Roman, Norman, and Gothic! The buildings were all layered on top of one another to keep creating a larger minster. This then created the largest minster in England that existed before 1500 (the building was finished in 1470). Another fun fact that we learned about York is that it is basically the second capital city in England, besides London. Our tour guide Piers Percival was a wonderful guide and knew a lot of history of the building; he taught us many things and told us wonderful facts about the origin of the stones and glass of the building. Finally, we ended our evening in the city by attending Choral Evensong, a church service in the form of singing and prayer at York Minster. In my opinion, this was the coolest part of the day. The York Minster Choir always sings the same two song at Evensong: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. There are several prayers and then two lessons during the service, and there is a donation.
Pictured below is our group, minus Dr. Clark, in front of the window on the west side of the Minster.
After Evensong, we adjourned to the hostel, stopping to pick up groceries along the way, to have dinner and discuss Auden and Clarke some more. All in all, it was a lovely night!