York 2015 remastered ~ part 3 ~going medieval & beyond

Part 1 HERE Part 2 HERE

It is amazing wandering around York and seeing all the medieval old shops and churches. It’s quite staggering they remain standing, some of their walls are so wonky, I guess there’s an invisible army of restoration people who manage the upkeep of them.

St. Sampsons Centre for the over 60’s. St. Sampson’s is an ancient church in the heart of York City Centre. It’s not know exactly when it was built, records show that it was in use in 1154 A.D. It is built on the South-east wall of the Roman defences of Eboracum (the Roman name for York).
The Church has been rebuilt many times over it’s 850 year history. The North and South Isles were rebuilt in 1400 and 1445 respectively. The tower was first rebuilt in 1485 but was damaged by gunshot in the civil war in 1644. By 1844 the church building was so dilapidated that the church was forced to close. Only half the tower was intact! The church was most recently rebuilt in 1848 and later the upper stage of the tower was added in 1907.  York Civic Trust was able to arrange for its conversion in to an Old People’s Centre in the 1960’s. Over 60’s = old people. Sigh.
Gert & Henry’s. The older part of the building was constructed in the 14th-century, at the end of Jubbergate, where it met Newgate and Little Shambles. This part is of two bays, timber framed, a jettied upper floor, and brick infill on the ground floor. In the early-17th century, another timber-framed building was constructed next to it, in two parts: a two bay, two storied section with an original attic and cellar, and a smaller three storey section. Over time, the two have become interconnected and are now a single property. Sadly it is the only remaining 14thC building in that area as the rest were demolished in the 1950’s along with the whole street of Little Shambles in order to make Shambles Market. Now of course the demolition of the historic buildings that originally stood in the place of the market is seen as insensitive, since a great deal of historic fabric was destroyed.
The Little Shambles Tearoom and coffee house. Can’t find anything about this one.
Herbert House. In the mid-16th century, the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York owned a house on Marketshire, a street which was becoming known as Pavement. They let out the house to Christopher Herbert, a merchant who later became Lord Mayor of York. He purchased the property in 1557, and later passed it on to his son, Thomas. In 1606, Thomas’ grandson was born in the house. He later became Sir Thomas Herbert, 1st Baronet, and the house is now named after him. The house has been through a lot of alteration and renovations. When we were there it was operated by Jones the Bootmaker but since 2019, it has been occupied by York Gin. You can see the buildings either side of it are more modern, and straight and true, not sure how it’s not collapsing in on itself.
Externally of 1893 when the black-and-white front was added but early 1700’s origins inside. This one you might think is a sad reflection on our times, but our ancestors gambled just as much as people do today. There were many different sorts of dice games. Among the favorites were raffle, where the winner had to throw all three dice alike or the highest pair, and hazard, which seems to have been aptly named because it had the worst reputation. It was most often played in taverns, and it attracted cheaters, who if caught could be led to the pillory and made to wear their false dice around their necks. And in my searches have also found out medieval recipes cover a wide range of possible pastry uses, from wide, flat open tarts to the great raised meat and fruit pies with a pastry lid. “Flat tarts and flans may well have been meant for complete consumption, cut in slices in very much the modern fashion,the more substantial pies, on the other hand, often have a fairly liquid filling, and it is perfectly possible that the pies were designed to have the lid lifted so that diners could spoon out the stew-like innards. In addition, elaborate subtleties such as Chastletes  require free-standing pastry as castle walls, to which use a tender pastry will not really be appropriate”.  So all in all I think Betfred and Greggs are strangely appropriate.
30 and 32 Goodramgate lies on the corner of Goodramgate and College Street. The part facing College Street was constructed in the early-14th century, while the part facing Goodramgate was constructed in the 1380s or 1390s as part of a terrace of houses, replacing a large stone house which belonged to John le Romeyn. The structure also includes a gatehouse which is believed to represent an entrance to the Mediaeval Minster Close, but which was completely rebuilt about 1600. The main parts of the building were altered in the 18th- and 19th-centuries, when much of the timber was replaced with brickwork. By 1752, part of the building was in use as the Angel Inn. The Goodramgate façade is of 2 stories and 4 bays, and includes a double-storey gatehouse built in the 18th-century. The ground floor of the entire building is currently in use as shops and cafes, with part occupied by the National Trust. It was listed at grade II* in 1954.
The gates of York are known as ‘bars’ this is Monk Bar, it is the largest and most ornate of the bars, it dates from the early 14th century. It was a self-contained fortress, with each floor capable of being defended.  On the front of the bar is an arch supporting a gallery, including ‘murder-holes’ through which missiles and boiling water could be rained down upon attackers. A formidable structure even now.
Not sure what this building was, but we were just awestruck by the skill of the guy who made the window frames for this place.
St William’s College was built in 1465 for York Minster’s Chantry Priests, a community of around 24, known as fellows, who received advance payments for praying for the souls of their deceased benefactors. The fellows’ behaviour, which often included drunkenness, had previously brought embarrassment for the Archbishop of York and he deemed they should have their own residence. Over the centuries the building changed ownership and usage many times; it became home to the Royal Printing Press during the Civil War, a private house – having several changes and rebuilds, windows were added to the street frontage in the 1800s and finally the beautiful medieval building contained nothing more than slum dwellings resulting in its disrepair. In the late 19th century Francis Green, owner of the nearby Treasurer’s House,(which you’re going to get a whole blog post on) rescued St William’s from ruin, buying it and subsequently selling it back to the City Council at no personal profit thereby allowing the council to restore it to its former glory around 1902. It then came under the care of the Dean and Chapter of York Minster. 
And finally, here is Phil looking at the menu in this 17th century inn, which Phil had been to before and rated really good, so we were planning on dining here, but the place has changed hands, and the menu didn’t impress Phil, so I never got to dine in a medieval building. Next time though 🙂 The building was a pub by 1772, when it was known as the Blue Pigg. It later became known as the Blue Boar, and has been the Royal Oak since 1819. From 1894, it was owned by the local John J. Hunt Brewery, while in the mid-20th century, it was acquired by Camerons Brewery.

and that’s a wrap for this week, but

for wherever next!

📷 😊

Aydon Castle- June 2018

Back in June I spotted a photo taken by local photographer Mike Ridgley of a field of poppies, and with a bit of sleuthing (i.e facebook stalking 🙂 ) I found the field was up near Aydon Castle, a place I had visited in the past, but wasn’t happy with the photo’s I took of it at the time. So Sophie and I decided to go and shoot the poppies and visit the castle for a re-shoot.

The History Bit

We’re back in the 13th century, and looking at a gentleman called Robert de Raymes, who bought the manor house as it was then, in 1290.  The house is first mentioned in records back in 1225, and was owned by Hugh de Gosbeck, whose main properties were in Suffolk. Robert’s properties were also in Suffolk, so I presume they were pals and the deal was done over a pint of ale somewhere in deepest darkest Suffolk.  Robert promptly uprooted his family and moved up to Northumberland and into the wooden structure that was Aydon.  Although there had been peace with Scotland for many years at this point, the fact that Aydon is only 30 miles from the Scottish border may have prompted his plans to fortify the house with stone.  In about 1295 de Raymes started work on a stone residential range, now known as the solar block,

solar block

at the east end of the wooden hall, and a garderobe (toilet) block at the corner of the solar closest to the drop into the valley below.

In 1296 the first of the Wars of Scottish Independence started up with England invading Scotland, and Robert must have wished he’d stayed in the safety of Suffolk. So he began to focus his efforts on turning the undefended manor house into something resembling a castle.  He replaced the wooden hall with one made of stone blocks.

The Hall

It must have been done in a hurry as the workmanship doesn’t speak of skilled stonemasons as in the solar. Next came another major expansion and a large purpose built kitchen block was added extending north from the west end of the hall, to replace the kitchen that had been incorporated into the new hall.

2nd kitchen


entrance to original kitchen

(digression) Sophie and I spent a fair while trying to photograph a swift feeding her chicks in the roof of the original kitchen, you can see their little mouths open but Mum is just a dark blur, she was moving so fast!

Four swift chicks and Mum (just)

Back to the lesson 🙂

By 1315 Robert had added defensive walls to the inner courtyard

walls of the inner courtyard

and more ranges of buildings were built along the inside of a new, outer, curtain wall, which created the outer courtyard.


walls enclosing the outer courtyard & remains of the North Tower to the right.

Unfortunately the defences were totally ineffective. Robert was away in 1315, and had left Aydon defended with a garrison of men commanded by one Hugh de Gales, (there were a lot of Hugh de’s back in the day) and 300 quids worth of provisions to see them through, but the main gates of Aydon

main gate

did not have much in the way of serious defences, so when the Scots attacked in force at the time, the garrison surrendered, as opposed to getting killed, letting the Scots pillage the provisions and burn the buildings.

In 1317 Northumberland was in a right old pickle, and on 5th December Aydon was attacked again, this time by the English rebels, lead by the same Hugh de Gales.  Anything that had been mended after the first attack was destroyed again, burned again, and anything that was portable got carried away. By 1348 Robert was dead and his son,  Robert mark 2, had taken charge, but back came the Scots and the castle faced the same fate. Groundhog Day!

By the end of the century, the de Raymes had given up and gone to live elsewhere in Northumberland leaving Aydon in the hands of tennants.  Attacked yet again (those Scots were bonkers!) in 1448, doing more damage, but eventually the castle was sold to the Carnaby family.  They did a lot of fixing up and restoration, but by the 1600’s tenants were holding the place again, until it was sold to the Collinson family for £653 in 1654, and again, this time for £2,350, to John Douglas in 1702. In 1751 it passed by marriage to the Blackett family, who have owned the estate since then.  In the 1830’s Sir Edward Blackett did some more fixing up of the place and turned it into a farm, and it continued to be that right up until 1960’s.  During the previous 3o years a fair few tenants had had serious injuries whilst in the farm and the place got an ‘unlucky’ reputation, making it hard to let out, so in 1966 Sir Charles Blackett placed Aydon Castle in the care of the Ministry of Works. They restored the structure of the castle, and removed most of the fixtures and fitting added from the 1800s onwards. Today it is in the care of English Heritage.

So that’s the end of today’s lesson 🙂 and here are a few more pictures




ground floor and vaulted ceiling.

Stay tooned for a bit more of the castle and the Poppyfest next time 🙂