To whom the Prince, him fayning to embase,
Mylde answer made; he was an errant Knight
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser
There are several terms that, with variable accuracy, denote a person finding pleasure in sauntering and serendipitious discovery, and I have a particular fondness for these words. One of the first that springs to mind is "flaneur", a word borrowed from the French and, in the course of a linguistic evolution spurred on by Charles Baudelaire, meaning a person who wanders about aimlessly with the purpose of discovering the area he or she saunters. A similar meaning can, I will argue, be given to the word "vagrant", especially in its poetic ornithological meaning, referring to a bird found outside the customary range of its species. In addition we also find "vagabond" and, in almost allegorical rendition, the "knight errant" of so many wonderful Medieval and Medievalesque romances. I will happily adopt all these sobriquets as a way to describe how I have gone about exploring York during my stays there.
In this blogpost I aim to present some of my various findings as I roamed the streets of York in September trying to take note of as many quaint curiosities as I could. There is no unifying theme here except from the difficulty to put them in any other category than "sundries", but as a topic for an anthology I trust this will suffice.
Outside York Castle Museum
And you you're always the same, you persevere
On the same old pleasure ground
- It Never Rains, Dire Straits
Two sights from Micklegate
This pun might actually be better than the punner had intended, since redolence in Medieval hagiography was considered to be a token of sanctity or at least a virtuous life. Exhumated bodies of aspiring saints are often described as smelling of a flowery perfume, while Aldhelm of Malmesbury claims in his book De Virginitate that Ambrose of Milan's doctrine had a "mellifluous sweetness" to it.
A cruciform lantern hook situated, if I remember correctly, at the junction of Finkle Street and Swinegate.
Two findings from Walmgate
I sort of regret I never had the courage to try this venue.
Yes, I am ashamed of my gritty sense of humour displayed here.
York was having a Canada day.
This little fellow was found on the cellar stair of Constantine House, having sought indoor warmth in the approach of winter. It is an English house spider, the largest species of arachnids I've ever come across, and it looked so scared I didn't want to use the flash in case it would find it disturbing.
Yes, this is what matters to a true Yorkshireman. And Yorkshirewomen too. I'm not absolutely certain whether it is meant to be a guide of good beer or a beer guide which is considered good.
Mild warning found on the lintel of a shop purveying coat-of-arms customers design themselves.
Next time around I'll be looking for more of these.