And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

fredag 10. juni 2011

Sundries of York

Time which antiquates Antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all tings, hath yet spared these minor Monuments.
- Urne Buriall, Sir Thomas Browne

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower
- Auguries of Innocence, William Blake

Since York is such a marvellous place in many respects there are many great pictures to be taken and many amusing motives to be found. Several of these, sadly, I missed despite my many excursions, but a number of them have been presented on this blog already and some will be presented in future posts. In this particular blogpost, however, I aim to compile certain photographs who just don't fit in anywhere else, or which I have forgotten to include in previous arrays. This, and the fact that the pictures were taken in York, are the only over-arching themes uniting them. Aside from that they have very little in common, and I think that is part of the fun. I have used "sundries" partly because it is very apt, but mainly because I like word; it is for instance used as a collective term for the minor courses on the menu at York Arms. 

York is a city very proud of its history, and that is partly why being a history student in York was so much fun. Throughout the city you will come upon plaques dedicated to the memory of persons or places worthy of commemoration, some of which are familiar to outsiders, some of which are known primarily within York. In other words, it seems that regardless of the geographical extent of one's fame, the city of York will honour your legacy somehow if you have an affinity to the place. I am myself very flattered that there is a street called Hope Street, and I'm sure if I return to York often enough there will be a couple of buildings named after me as well. Christ once said that nobody becomes a prophet in his own country, but if you are from York or connected to York you will at least achieve some degree of fame, even if your sole material legacy is a plaque on a wall. 

Marygate Tower, situated at the junction of Marygate and Bootham. It was damaged during the Siege of York (1644), when Parlamentarian forces tried to take the Royalist city.

If Silvio Berlusconi ever visits York he can not walk on the city walls.

The below picture, which I believe is from the 17th century, is situated in York Castle Museum, and it mesmerised me from the first time I saw it. The image is a splendid portrayal of the post-Renaissance melancholia and the preoccupation with the brevity of life, frailty of man and fickleness of fame that is found to such great extent in works of Spenser, Donne and Browne.
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
- Death be not proud, John Donne

This sign marks the direction to a particular exhibition in York Castle Museum:
In ages past when spells were cast
In a time of men in steel
Where a man was taught no special thing
It was all done by feel
- Listen learn read on, Deep Purple

Tea, among the greater part of those who use it most, is drunk in no great quantity. As it neither exhilarates the heart, nor stimulates the palate, it is commonly an entertainment merely nominal, a pretence for assembling to prattle, for interrupting business, or diversifying idleness. They, who drink one cup, and, who drink twenty, are equally punctual in preparing or partaking it; and, indeed, there are few but discover, by their indifference about it, that they are brought together not by the tea, but the teatable.
- Review of "A Journal of Eight Days' Journey", Samuel Johnson

I was told that glass and other sharp materials were embedded in the brick walls to prevent pigeons from perching there. The pigeons are a pest in York, but fortunately their number has now attracted falcons who hunt them for food. As long as people do not pay attention to the "don't feed the pigeon" signs, this is a solution I approve.

The white building in front of St. Wilfrid's Church is the De Grey Rooms, a 19th centry building where the Yorkshire Hussars had their officers mess. It is now the main tourist information centre in York.

A little bit behind this section of the wall is King's Manor where the Centre for Medieval Studies is situated.

A flower-bed meant to symbolise the city's emblem: the white rose of York.

Memorial for those who fell in what the British call the Second South African War, but which is more commonly known as the Boer War.

While the dealers they get together
And they decide who gets the breaks
And who's going to be in the gallery
- In the gallery, Dire Straits

Our Banners to th'Alhambra's turrets bear;
Then, wave our Conqu'ring Crosses in the Aire
- The Conquest of Granada, John Dryden

This 14th century timber-framed house is called the Bowes Morrell House, and it is named after John Bowes Morrell who had a remarkable career in this city. He also was a key figure in establishing the University of York which was founded in 1963, and the main campus library is named after him as well as this beautiful Medieval house. 


I presume the spikes are meant to keep the pigeons off the bars, but why place the bars there in the first place?

O, you most shameless desperate ruffian, you
O, villain, villain, arrant vilest villain!
Who seized our Cerberus by the throat, and fled,
And ran, and rushed, and bolted, haling of
The dog, my charge!
- The Frogs, Aristophanes

 I have heard there is an old law that says if a Scotsman is found within the city walls of York carrying an arbalest, or any other long-range weapon presumably, he must be shot. I suspect that this society is a part of a cunning plan to lure more Scotsmen within the city walls.

Bootham Bar.

At least the Romans gave them sanitation.

Lastly, Whereas men affirm this colour was a Curse, I cannot make out the propriety of that name, it neither seeming so to them, nor reasonably unto us; for they take so much content therein, that they esteem deformity by other colours, describing the Devil, and terrible objects, white.
- Vulgar Errors, Sir Thomas Browne

This may be a coincidence. I sincerely hope it is.

This is the Centre for Medieval Studies where I spent the mornings three days a week. It is an utterly charming place, although it reeks heavily of the 1960s, and I believe this to be the only place in York where they do not have separate taps for hot and cold water.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in hte basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!
- Macavity the Mystery Cat, T. S. Eliot

On my way home from a trip to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall I stumbled upon this guy.

He promised that if any of his swords fell down and killed any children, he would help their mothers make new ones. Not many people laughed.

Well, God give them wisdom that have it, and those that are fools, let them use their talents.
- Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

I really, really like this pun.

Hey, how many trees did you have to hug to get that strong?
- Bucky Katt

This commemorative plaque is located inside the Guildhall and states yet again the particular fondness the citizens of York seem to harbour for their long-dead king. I did not discover this until after my double blogpost on Richard III, but due to that post I felt compelled to put this picture up.

The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nighte
- The Parlement of Foules, Geoffrey Chaucer

This pheasant started to hang out in our backyard a few days prior to my departure. He was the third - and last - pheasant I came across in the course of my stay.

Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?
- Homer Simpson

The expression "sleeping with the fishes" suddenly took on a new meaning.

These were all the sundries I were able to find this time around (with the exception of the last two pictures, which were taken in 2009), but please stay tuned for more blogposts concerning my English adventures. 

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