FLHS and FULS Joint Visit to York City and North Yorkshire: 23rd to 27th April 2012
by Larry Breen, FLHS
This year’s joint event took over fifty local historians from all over the country to the historic city of York and its hinterland.
Travelling by coach and ferry the group made their way towards York with a stop off in the city of Chester in Cheshire. It was a relatively short stop but it did allow for the opportunity to see some of the city’s attractions. Chester is a walled city with a beautiful cathedral, the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre and many fine, attractive buildings, many of which proved to be architectural gems.
The Hotel 53 in York, which was to be home for the week, was a welcome haven and after dinner and an early night the group were ready for the road next morning.
The merry band left the hotel early to catch the 9.00 am steam train from the picturesque market town of Pickering to the quaint town of Whitby on the east coast. The train journey through the North Yorkshire moors was a memorable one with stops at the beautiful rural stations of Levishem, Goathland and Grosmont. It was “Step on board and into another world” of beautiful steam engines, atmospheric little stations and smartly uniformed staff – all working voluntarily. The railway is both lovingly preserved and charmingly authentic.
Wednesday was an opportunity to explore York and feel its varied and turbulent history. A walking tour of the city within the walls traced the evolution from ancient times through Roman, Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Tudor periods, and up to modern times. Many important and unique buildings were seen including Clifford’s Tower, York Castle, Fairfax House, Holy Trinity Church and a memorable walk along the “Shambles” to the Chapel of St. Margaret Clitherow, saint and martyr.
People were free in the afternoon to choose what sights they would like to see and also decide how many of the many museums it might be possible to visit. Let us not forget the story of the legendary Highwayman Dick Turpin, whose grave is marked by a solitary headstone in a small graveyard within the city walls.
On Thursday the group travelled west to Haworth and the Bronte country. We were greeted by our hosts, Johnnie Briggs and Stephen Woods in the local Baptist Church with a welcome cup of tea. The tour started with a visit to the Parsonage, a Georgian building dating from 1779. It was here that the family lived between 1820 and 1861. It is now a museum with the rooms set out in Victorian manner and containing many items used by the family. It was a fascinating trip back in time to relive the life of this famous but tragic family. A visit to St Michael’s Church the resting place of all the family except one of the sisters, Ann, who had been buried in Scarborough, proved interesting as it also contained many items of interest such as Charlotte’s marriage certificate and church furniture which had been used during their lifetime.
Lunch was served in the local Baptist Community Hall, courtesy of the local minister, Chris. It was delightful to taste the local fare of freshly made soup, quiche, lemon cake and tea/coffee. It was with reluctance that we had to leave the beautiful rolling countryside of Haworth after a visit to remember.
The final stop of the day was to visit the village of Saltaire, a model Victorian Village within the borough of Bradford. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was founded and built by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire Woollen Industry. Revolutionary in its day, it provided neat stone cottages for the workers, wash houses with tap water, a hospital, an institute for recreation and education, a concert hall and many other facilities unheard of for workers of the day. We were met by costumed guides on arrival who had a wonderful collection of stories and anecdotes to tell and bring the story of Saltaire to life. The guides represented real characters of village life and we had the pleasure to meet, Mrs Caroline Hill, the Rev. David Cowan and the Matron Turner.
Whilst on our way through Wales we made a final stop at the famous railway station with the longest name in the world: LLANEAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIO-
GOGOGOCH. The Church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio by the red cave.
A wonderful trip which will not only be remembered for the wealth of history we encountered but by the warmth and hospitality of the people we met on our journey.