Did you know that York’s minster has its own police force – its true! The only other cathedral in the world which can boast this is St. Peter’s in Rome which has its own police force in the form of the Swiss Guards. Here we have compiled a list of interesting facts about York.
There is a street in York called The Shambles which is where ancient butchers used to ply their trade. The upper storeys of the fifteenth century houses lean inwards so far that the roofs on either side almost touch. Walking this street, you will notice raised pavements either side of the main cobbled road which form the channel through which the butchers would wash away offal and blood. York is steeped in medieval history, the battlement walls and bars (gates) to the city were built during this period and are still greatly preserved today. Clifford’s Tower is a popular tourist haunt these days but has a grisly past, getting its named from Roger de Clifford who was hung using chains from its battlements after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322.
The minster is the 2nd largest gothic cathedral in Europe and its construction took an astonishing 250 years. The minster also has its own police force, the only other cathedral in the world which can boast this is St. Peter’s in Rome which has the Swiss Guards. York’s first Minster was built for the baptism of Anglo Saxon King Edwin of Northumbria in 627. The original church was a small wooden construction that had been built for the baptism and was later rebuilt in stone on Edwin’s orders.
York has featured in many film and TV series sets over the years, such as Brideshead Revisited and Robinson Crusoe. York also has more than 360 pubs, at least one for every day of the year. York’s economy was once largely driven by the railways and the chocolate industry and indeed today you may still smell cocoa in the air when walking around the city’s streets.
York holds the UK’s largest food festival, held each September and lasting 10 days. York also has its own race course and annual music festival. The Association of Voluntary Guides give free two hour walking tours of York every day. The tours start in Exhibition Square, between April and October – there is generally 1 in the morning at 10 o’clock and one at 2 pm (check with tourist information on arrival in York). The tours are free, informative and informal, and there’s no need to book you just turn up.
York was named the most haunted city in Europe by the Ghost Research Foundation International (GRFI), the first recorded ghost walks began here in the early 1970’s and still run a busy trade today. For every room, building or street seems to be haunted in this bustling, beautiful city, there are apparently 140 ghosts haunting York, with an astounding 504 recorded hauntings. York is apparently haunted by a lost Roman Legion. Harry Martindale, an apprentice plumber was installing a heating system in the cellars of the old Treasurer’s House in 1953, and reported seeing the 2000-year old ghosts. He first heard a horn in the distance, and then a disheveled Roman soldier on a horse emerged from the brick wall, followed by a few hundred others, all carrying swords and spears. He reported that that the ghosts appeared to be walking on their knees. This is an interesting observation since the old Roman road is located fifteen inches below the cellar and it is believed that Martindale wasn’t aware of this when questioned. So the ghosts would have been walking on their own familiar road, on their way to the Minster. There have been numerous other sightings since Martindales’ but sadly, the old cellars are now closed to visitors.