This Friday morning we got on our buses bright and early at 7:15 headed towards Yorkshire. Specifically the city of York, which is known for the York Minster and as a tourist city. We spent most of the day on Friday at the Chatsworth house, which is where they filmed some of the scenes for the movie Pride & Prejudice (both BBC and Hollywood versions). My nerd levels were extremely high as we toured the house and the estate. It was a beautiful day, we were really lucky to have sunlight for most of our visit. The house and gardens reminded me so much of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Although between you and me I prefer the Biltmore Estate. There were definitely design elements borrowed from houses like these that helped design bigger and grander houses later on. Chatsworth is definitely an amazing house, I mean who has their own art gallery in their house?!I’m glad we had several hours at the house, because the gardens alone take hours to cross, and to walk to every corner would be indeed an endeavor. The gardens are well planned, much better than most English gardens. As lovely as the highly engineered angular bushes and small flowers are, these more “wild” gardens were beautiful. It’s amazing what kind of life comes with having a title, I can’t imagine growing up in a house like this. I would be grateful just to be a servant here!Although there was no Mr. Darcy walking ’round the estate, doesn’t mean I’ve given up quite yet!
We arrived in the city of York sometime in the evening, and we walked around a little to find some food and to see what the city was like. Even with the veil of darkness covering the city, I could already tell that I would love this small cobblestone city. On Saturday we took two tours: a tour of the city centre and a tour of York Minster. By the by, city centre here is the equivalent to a cities’s downtown, just so you know. Our darling tour guide John was full of quips and facts about the city, and I was very thankful for his honesty about the cities’s design. Many of the streets are cobblestone with pseudo-Georgian or Tudor styled buildings, which apparently is a very new change. Until the mid 20th century many of the roads were still plain pavement and modern buildings, until the city officials realized how profitable it was to act as a historical city. York has thousands of years of history behind it, but because there was no large export from the city, it needed to find a reason to stay relevant. Apparently it’s relevancy comes from wearing a mask of history. It was funny to look at “old” buildings and see a fresh coat of paint upon a Tudor style pub.
The Minster is an incredibly beautiful cathedral. It was originally built out of wood in 627 a.d., but as you can guess, it burned several times before being constructed out of limestone in 1220, I believe. After the tour I returned at 17:15 for an Evensong service, which is held in the quire. The quire is the small section behind the nave of the cathedral. It has smaller seating section, it can probably hold a little over 100 compared to the huge sanctuary right outside of the doors. As one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe, it’s quite a sight. On the farthest wall back is the largest stain glass window in Northern Europe, if not of all Europe. It was currently in the process of being restored, so most of the window was clear. Before modern restoration tactics were developed, they would fill any cracks with more liquid metal, so that’s why many old stained glass windows seem practically covered in metal lines. After the tours we had the rest of the day off, so I spent most of my time walking around or getting a bite to eat. York’s most famous citizen is the actress Dame Judi Dench, and they are very very proud of this. Their river walk is even named after her! It was so much fun to just sit and listen to the Yorkshire accents around me as I thought back to my dialect classes with Jaime. I couldn’t help but think of the many scenes in The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickelby that are set in the moors of Yorkshire.
On our drive back on Sunday we stopped in Hayworth, which is where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote their novels. I didn’t realize that all three sisters were authors, but Anne, the youngest, was also the least successful in her writing. The parsonage is set up right next to the wide expanse of some moors, with a beautiful view of a lake (now a water reservation) and the patchwork hills surrounding the area. It was frightful cold this weekend, there was always a heavy wind that slapped us all on our rosy cheeks and permeated every coat into our bones. Although I am not personally a huge fan of the Brontës’, it was cool to see where these great works of literature had been written. The town is very quaint and small, but extremely hilly unlike the city centre of York, which was pretty flat. I was surprised by how romantic the moors seemed to me. Maybe it was the wind rustling the heather, or the sheep eyeing me that made me feel this way. Either way I felt like standing and yelling “HEATHCLIFFE!” over the valley. I also kept being reminded of a very odd Monty Python sketch parodying Wuthering Heights.The actual sketch doesn’t start until 1:02 into the video, but give it a watch if you’d like.