Views of Yorkshire

St Mary’s Abbey, York, Yorkshire

On one of the trips we made to Yorkshire in 2017, we actually went to have a look at the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.  Normally after exploring the city, or more like, fight your way around York, on the way back to the train or car park, you say to yourself, oh we will look next time.  So this time we looked first, the abbey is in the museum gardens and luckily the sun was shining for February   We still have to visit the Museum next to the abbey, as its full of lovely interesting items and to explore the gardens further, oh well something to see next time.

A little history……..St Mary’s Abbey in York was a great institution which sat opposite and mirrored the city’s cathedral for some 350 years.  Its story ties together two of the most important events in English history.  It was begun by William the Conqueror to reinforce his hold on the north after 1066 and ended by Henry the Eighth as a consequence of his Reformation of the church.  In its day it was the wealthiest abbey in the north and one of the richest in the country.  The abbey’s economic power and privileges brought benefits to the city but were also a source of conflict.  Its monks provided charity but were sometimes derided for their lifestyles.

After the abbey fell victim to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries 1539.  Its riches were confiscated and the building taken part, then left to collapse,  The ruins of the church today still give a sense of its scale and grandeur.

The museum stands in Museum Gardens, immediately beside the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.

The Multangular Tower is the western corner tower of the Roman fortress, and consists of both Roman and medieval architecture.

The Hospitium is located between the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey Church and the River Ouse and is thought to have originally been a guest house for visitors to the abbey of low social rank, or possibly a barn. It was originally part of a group of buildings in the abbey grounds that included a brew-house, stables, mill and, near the main gate, a boarding school with 50 pupils. The oldest parts of the ground floor were built around 1300, but the upper storey has been extensively restored in modern times. The ruined gateway at the side dates back to the 15th century, and was probably the entrance to a passage that ran towards the water-gate by the river.






Spofforth Castle & Half A Ghost, North Yorkshire

In 2016 we made a few trips to Yorkshire, mainly to Harrogate, but we did visit a few places and drove across some of the moors.  I am sorting through some photos and realised I forgot to post a visit to Spofforth Castle.  This castle was a lovely surprise, we were just driving past what looked like a large grassy field, when I noticed a ruin on the far side of it.  Stop……and stop my dear patient husband did.  It was March, grey and cold, and there was a big padlock on a gate, with a notice from English Heritage saying the castle wasn’t open until the spring.  Really, there were people walking in the field and I noticed that there was another gate that they had used, there were also people at the ruins.  So on we went to explore, well we had come a long way……

Spofforth was owned by the Percys, one of the most powerful Norman families in Northern England.  The first William de Percy who died about 1096, was a favoured companion of William the Conqueror and received large estates in Yorkshire.  Spofforth, originally an Anglo-Saxon manor, was among these. and de Percy made it his family home.

Henry Percy, first Lord Percy 1273 – 1314, was one of Edward I’s leading commanders and was actively involved in the kings Scottish wars.  Percy’s successes brought him estates and influence in the north.  He extended his family house at Spofforth, but soon afterwards, in 1309, he bought Alnwick Castle in Northumberland from the bishop of Durham.  The family’s power base moved north.

During the early 15th century, Spofforth was partly remodelled, probably by the second earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy 1394-1455.  Damaged shortly afterwards, by the 16th century it was largely in ruins.


One interesting little thing that I have found out after our visit, the castle is apparently haunted, by half a ghost, a female person throws herself of the castle ramparts, but only the top half, the bottom stays in what ever realm she has come from.  I must admit I didn’t go up some stairs that were covered over, husband had moved on, so did I, I just didn’t like the idea of going on my own, it just felt so cold.  I am sure it was just the weather, but who knows…….




Splendid Pickering Castle, Yorkshire


In 2015 we made a visit to Pickering Castle, situated in Pickering, a small ancient market town in North Yorkshire.  Pickering is famous for being the home of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which we had travelled on in the past, but ran out of time to visit the castle.  You catch intriguing glimpses of the castle from the train station, but it took two years to make a return visit and this time we ran of time to see the church……. Anyway back to the castle and a wonderful visit.

A little history………A splendid castle with a rich history, Pickering Castle served as a Northern base for a succession of medieval kings. Originally built after the Norman Conquest, the motte and bailey fortification were extensively developed throughout the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. 
Largely unaffected by the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War, it remains in excellent condition, 
offering stunning views across the Ryedale countryside.

There are two unusual features to Pickering Castle. The first is simply that it has been so little altered since the original wooden castle was rebuilt in stone. The second unusual feature is the layout of the site. Most early Norman castles followed a similar motte and bailey plan, with a timber pallisade atop a high mound, or motte. The base of the motte was surrounded by a large earthwork enclosure, usually with a further timber pallisade on top of the earthen banks. This enclosed area was called the bailey. At Pickering the layout is different; there is not one bailey but two, and the motte with its stone keep stands between the two. The motte is striking, standing 20 metres high, with a base 60 metres in diameter.

Throughout the late medieval period no construction was carried out – and not much in the way of maintenance. In fact, just the opposite occurred, one castle constable, Sir Richard Cholmley, robbed stone from Pickering to build himself a fine new house at Roxby. The castle served no defensive purpose and was used as a prison and local courthouse. Since it was in no fit state as a defensive structure it played no part in the Civil War. The castle was sold into private hands under Cromwell’s Commonwealth government, but returned to the crown when Charles II was restored to the throne. It remained in crown hands until 1926 when it passed into government care. It is now looked after by English Heritage.

Valley Gardens, Harrogate, Yorkshire

In 2015, we had the chance to visit the Spa Town of Harrogate a couple of times, on one occasion, along with Eddie, my smallest dog, I spent an hour exploring ‘Valley Gardens’  We did’nt get to see the whole of the gardens, as Eddie has little tiny legs and has to walk really fast, so we just pottered along the walkways.  I could have carried him, but trying to take photos while carrying a little dog, is a complete no no, so we just ambled along while I took photos one handed.  I remembered visiting many years ago as a child, and was so glad the pavilion looked the same.

A little history…….The Valley Gardens Harrogate are English Heritage Grade II Listed gardens situated in regal Low Harrogate, which along with woodland, are known as The Pinewoods covers 17 acres.

The Valley Gardens Harrogate contain a greater number of mineral springs than any other known place – visit the area known as Bogs Field where 36 different mineral wells were discovered.

Valley Gardens was developed as an attractive walk for visitors to the Spa town, part of their health regime between taking the waters, and as a means of access to the mineral springs of Bogs Field. The waterside walk with flowers and trees became a place for promenading, socialising and taking exercise. Photographs of the gardens in the early 20th century testify to their enormous popularity with crowds around the tea room, boating lake and bandstand. The Sun Pavilion and Colonnades were built as an added attraction and facility for the spa, intended as the first phase of a covered way linking the Pump Room and Royal Bath Hospital. Visitors to the mineral springs declined but the horticultural reputation of the Gardens grew with the staging of the Northern Horticultural Society’s Spring Flower Show in the Gardens and the addition of special garden areas.

The Cherub Fountain
In 1972 a leading Harrogate Councillor was visiting the Chelsea Flower show, where he saw a sculpture created by a young Australian called John Robinson, the Councillor took it upon himself to order the piece, which was presented to the then Director of Parks, Mr Alan Ravenscroft, on the 23 May 1972, where it was installed upon a circular stone surround in the centre of the Valley Gardens.


A Snap Shot of Harrogate, Yorkshire

In 2015, I must have had a thing about black & white, as I have found some more photos while sorting through my never ending collection, this time Harrogate in Yorkshire.  I think these were odd ones that I had taken, when taking photos of the ‘The Valley Gardens’ in the town.  They are a random collection of captures, but hopefully give a tiny insight into this lovely Yorkshire Town.  Hopefully the garden will follow shortly, but this time in colour.

Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire, England, east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Its heritage as a fashionable spa resort continues in the Montpellier Quarter with the Royal Pump Room Museum, documenting the importance of local mineral springs. Nearby is the restored, Moorish-style Turkish Baths & Health Spa. To the west, leafy Valley Gardens features the art deco Sun Pavilion.


A Trip Across The Yorkshire Moors

Last year 2016, we had a chance to visit Yorkshire a couple of times, and once across the Yorkshire Moors.  As both trips were at the beginning of the year, the weather was a little overcast, but I did manage to salvage a few photos.  I can’t remember exactly where we were, but we had left Ripley and its castle to head for Whitbey on the coast, the drive is lovely and one I would like to do in the summer.  At the moment we’re in a really nice hotel in Charmouth, Dorset, but the weather is awful, the wind is howling outside and rain is lashing down.  It’s the early hours of the morning and I just hope the weather improves, as Charmouth has a wonderful beach for fossil hunting, but not in the pouring rain.  Oh well there’s always churches to fall back on 🙂