Bishops and Barbicans

Today my feet were still sore from Friday’s exploration of York, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do much, but I managed to keep going. We attended an ordination of deacons at Yorkminster Cathedral, had afternoon tea, took a bus tour of the city, and walked the segment of the old wall that we missed on Friday.

We had always intended to participate in the morning worship service at the Minster, but got an extra treat; the archbishop was ordaining several new archdeacons, and celebrated communion. Archbishops don’t spend a lot of time at their own cathedrals, since they’re usually out visiting various parishes in their diocese. There aren’t any pictures of the service, of course, but I took one afterwards of the east window, the Heart of Yorkshire.

There was a tea room on the first floor of a nearby antique shop (British floor numbering is 0-origin, so first is the floor above ground level). We’d never had high tea before; this was earlier than the stereotypical 4pm, but our waitress said that a lot of people take it for lunch.

It turned out that the hop-on, hop-off tour bus stopped just around the corner from the tea room, near Bootham Bar (where there has been a gateway since Roman times). We learned that a “gate” (from Viking “gatte”) is a street, and a gateway is a “bar” (as in barring access). We learned about which breaks in the wall were actual medieval bars, and which were “Victorian vandalism.” We also saw one of three remaining barbicans in Europe, at the Walmgate Bar to the south (the side nearest London).

A barbican is a structure projecting out from the bar, from which the city’s defenders would do their best to kill any attackers before they could breach the inner gates (or doors, or something; too many different meanings for “gate”!)
The tour guide saw my Canadian flag identification label on my handbag, and pointed out when we got close to the location where General Wolfe’s mother was born. Wolfe led the British forces in the conquest of Quebec City in 1759; there’s an island named after him just offshore from Kingston (the city I live and work in).
After the tour we went around a second time and got off as near as we could to the segment of wall we missed on Friday, which includes the above barbican. Unfortunately the door onto the barbican itself was locked, so we couldn’t visit retribution on thy bicyclists cycling through it. But in any case we now have bragging rights for walking the entire length of the remaining city wall.
Edit: here is Margaret’s blog about the same day.

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