Weekly City Spotlight: York


Aerial View of York

The city of York is simply stunning and provides a wealth of attractions to those opting for a city break within this historic and picturesque location.  Situated in the North East of England, the walled city is home to countless architectural and historic delights from the imposing York Minster to the charming cobbled streets of The Shambles with shops, museums, parklands and the riverbank welcoming millions of visitors each year.

Historic York
Founded by the Romans, Eboracum as it was then known was a legionary fortress and in later years was captured by an army of Danish Vikings led by Ivar Ragnarsson and his brother Halfdan, and subsequently renamed Jorvik.

York’s incredible Viking history can be explored at the Jorvik Viking Centre located within the city which is now a world renowned archaeological site and a historic discovery which dates back over 1,000 years.  Having unearthed houses and workshops belonging to Viking settlers the original site has been developed into an authentic Viking city complete with over 800 artefacts found during the painstaking excavation operation.

Another of York’s popular and historic attractions is York Minster, one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals to be found in Europe. York Minster features gothic architectural styling which dates back the 12th century when work began on the current structure which was eventually completed in 1472, although there had been various churches located on the site dating back as early as 627.  The stunning structure measures over 158 metres in length, and features central and western towers of over 61 and 53 meters and is the seat of the Archbishop of York.  It takes the term Minster which is an honorific title and refers to a missionary teaching church that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times.

Popular Culture
York is an historic and cultural city, and has also been a focus in popular culture.

Films & TV
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint together with an all-star cast in the first of Harry Potter’s adventures.  Shot on location through the UK scenes for this hugely successful production were filmed in York including at York Station.

The Dresser (1983) explored the relationship between a veteran actor and his personal assistant and starred Albert Finney, Tom Courtney and Edward Fox. Filmed throughout Yorkshire, scenes from Halifax, Bradford and York featured in this Ronald Harwood screenplay.

The Bike Thief (2005) is a comedy set in the haunted city of York and features an American exchange student named Jack who borrows a bike to evade a ferocious dog hot on his heels, and the chaos that ensues.  Written and directed by Dan R Smarg, scenes were filmed in both the US and York in the UK.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum was written by Kate Atkinson and tells of the life of Ruby Lennox who lives in York and that of her mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Kate Atkinson was born in York in 1951 and was the recipient of the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year for this her debut novel.

Sovereign (2006) by C J Sansom is part of the Matthew Shardlake Series of novels with the historical mystery set in York in the 16th Century, and features Matthew Shardlake and Jack Barak his assistant as they try to solve a series of murders that have taken place in the city.

Social Media
Additional information on York can be found on its official website Visit York as well as its Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts.

Famous Faces
Guy Fawkes was born in York on the 13 April 1570 and was famously responsible for the Gun Powder Plot, a failed attempt to blow up the House of Lords and assassinate King James I in a move to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

The award winning actress Dame Judi Dench was born on the 9 December 1934 in York.  Dench has played countless roles on stage and screen and received numerous BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards throughout her varied career.  More recently she has starred as M in the James Bond movies and starred alongside Steve Coogan in Philomena.

Frankie Howerd was born in City Hospital York on the 6 March 1917.  The comic actor and comedian starred in many productions including several Carry On films as well as hits such as Up Pompeii! and was known for catchphrases such as Titter ye not and Oooh, no missus.



Clifford’s Tower, York Castle

A castle stood on this site as early as 1068 and was rebuilt following a devastating attack by a Viking Army with a reinforced structure that featured extensive water defences including a moat, providing a secure fortification in the city used as both a royal administration and military base throughout its history.  In later years the castle having been further developed was also used as a prison and today the national monument is owned by English Heritage and remains a popular historic attraction.

The National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum is located in York’s city centre and attracts over 1million visitors each year.  The museum is homes to an amazing collection including many iconic locomotive legends including The Mallard, a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket, the art deco design Duchess of Hamilton and the Evening Star.  The museum covers over 300 years of rail and transport history and makes for a fascinating visit for all the family.

York Guildhall
The original Guildhall in York dated back to the 15th century but was extensively damaged during the Second World War.  As a result rebuilding of the hall took place incorporating the stone walls that survived the attack and this impressive building is located on the banks of the River Ouse within the city.  Guests welcomed by the Guild throughout history include Richard III and Prince Albert.

Image Credit: