Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. Catherine's Church, Barmby Moor

Jacob and I went on a run and ended up in Barmby Moor near Pocklington here in East Yorkshire. We came to St. Catherine's Church and as we walked around the church and graveyard, we saw an older woman walking toward the church and said hello. She was very friendly and had a key to the church, so invited us in with her! Her name is Joan. We didn't have long so I didn't learn much of the history while there, but the St. Catherine's Church website has some information. There's a cute little pipe organ. Outside there's a special section of the cemetery for Commonwealth war graves, including fallen soldiers from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

Church of St. Giles, Burnby

In the little village of Burnby is the Church of Saint Giles. Burnby is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the church is not. That means its age is not certain but is thought to date from the 11th or 12th century, and the first documentary reference is from 1288. Major renovations were done in the mid-1700s, the mid-1800s, and 1904. The baptismal font was rescued from a farmyard, stands on the original pedestal, and reads "I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sin." The church was open and unattended when I visited. Neighbors were outside the house next door and gave a friendly wave.

St. James Church, Nunburnholme

Last week I went on a bike ride with no particular destination, and ended up in a tiny village near Pocklington called Nunburnholme. There are so many old churches here in East Yorkshire! The village church and graveyard looked old and interesting:

Nobody else was around and the church was locked. A sign on the door said to ask to borrow the church key from Rose Cottage, so I did. Here's Rose Cottage, just up the road a few yards:

A friendly older woman opened the door, gave me the key, and said I could put it in the mail drop when I was done.

The inside of the church was quiet except for the wind and birds up in the rafters. Right near the door is a Norman-era arch dated to 1100-1140 that has carved human faces in various attitudes:

And behind that is an Anglo-Saxon cross or stele that was rediscovered in 1873 during demolition of part of the church. It had been built into a wall, and is partially damaged due to that. Being Anglo-Saxon, it is thought to be from roughly the 10th Century.

There is a little pipe organ, or at least what appears to be one. (I've since learned that sometimes older pipes are left as a facade for newer electronic organs.)

And the rest of the small church:

It is a delight to be entrusted to visit such an old treasure of a church as this alone in peace and quiet. There are a few more details at the St. James Church website.

Monday, June 24, 2013

York Minster and other news

The kids and I visited York Minster this week. The present building was built between 1230 and 1472. It is the Anglican (Church of England) cathedral in York and is the seat of the Archbishop of York. I've heard that it's the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe but read that it's the second largest. I've also heard differing things about why it's called a minster. At any rate, it's beautiful and has a lot of very old, fantastic stained glass. Zed, Phin, and Seth paid the extra £5 each to climb the 276 narrow and steep winding stairs up to the tower, where they had a great view of the city.

The rose window from the outside:

Looking towards the front from the south side:

Here's a short, interesting video about York Minster (although I think it overuses the fish-eye lens a bit):

I went to Evensong at the minster twice last week, the first time with all the kids and the second time by myself. It's a beautiful worship service, almost all of it sung by a combined boys' and men's choir, sometimes accompanied by the big organ, sometimes by a very small portable self-contained organ with just a few flute stops, and sometimes without accompaniment.

Here's the organ, which is situated between the Quire (where Evensong is held) and the nave, the main part of the church.

Here are Seth, Lillian, and Mira in York:

I'll write more about York later, but for now, suffice it to say that there is an overwhelming amount of old stuff. Everywhere you look, there are ancient buildings leaning towards each other across the street, narrow, winding cobble-stone streets, old stone churches every block or two. The bus drivers in York are especially talented, because they drive those massive double-decker buses through the narrow streets, sometimes within inches of the old buildings on either side. It's fun to be up on the top of those buses.

Just one more piece of news: Zed and Lillian had their first organ lesson today at the All Saints Church here in Pocklington. Their teacher is the organist at the church and director of the Pocklington Singers, whose performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor we heard just a few days after our arrival. Zed has played the organ a few times in church before and has done really well, and now he's learning a couple of Bach preludes for organ. Lillian hasn't played the organ much and is excited to learn some basic technique. She also fits into my organ shoes, which helps her reach the pedals. The organ in the church is a 20+ year old electronic organ, with the speakers cleverly hidden behind a small pipe facade from the old pipe organ. Even though it's just an electronic organ, it sounds pretty great in that 800-year-old stone church.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Burnby Hall Gardens

Last week, Mira and I went to Burnby Hall Gardens, just down the road from us in Pocklington, where resides the U.K.'s largest collection of hardy water lillies. This was our first time going, because it costs money to get in and I'm cheap. But it has been recommended to us many times by locals, and with reason. It's really lovely.

See the white birds? They looked like doves to me and were really pretty.

I failed to take pictures of the lake with all the lillies, but they weren't blooming much yet and we'll go back, so I'll get pictures then. There were certainly a lot of lillies, but also ducks and the feistiest goldfish I've ever seen. They were easy to spot roiling up the water along the edges. You can hand feed them!

There were these cute, fuzzy ducklings, who kept climbing out of the lake right next to us. Mira's voice got pretty shrill while she was exclaiming about their cuteness. I admit that they were pretty cute!

Behind the lakes, there is the stumpery, which is sort of like a rockery, but the foliage is planted in upturned stumps. The stumps form a ring around this little hobbit-y house:

That door is maybe 2 1/2 feet tall. It's built into a little hill, so the top and back of it are covered in grass and flowers. I'm not sure what's it's supposed to be, but it was very intriguing. I guess stumperies were a Victorian fad and this one is still under construction (if you can call it that), so we couldn't go up to the little hut thing and investigate.

Here's Mira on the way out of the stumpery, which was secluded and hidden away inside a heavily forested area.

And then there was the rockery, which had lots of delightful winding paths and stone steps and a little stream running through it.

Would it be too much to ask to have something like this in my front yard? I love this!

There was a lot more: a small aviary, a Victorian garden, a Secret Garden, and a small museum housing all the weird stuff Major Stewart, the creator of the gardens, brought back from his eight trips around the world. We'll be going back, and I'll take the rest of the kids and more pictures next time!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Walking in Pocklington

There are so many beautiful gardens and hedges and walls here.

I especially love the climbing plants. I think this is lilac on the balcony, but I'm not the most fabulous gardener, and I could be wrong.

Pocklington is a good place for walking holidays, which is actually a thing here in the UK. We are at the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, which are the low hills in this area. There are lots of footpaths and bridle paths and cycling paths. A few days ago, Mira and I took a walk on one of the footpaths. It led us up onto a hill, where we had a beautiful view of the countryside, through a field with several draft horses grazing (including three foals), into Pocklington Wood and then between the wood and a golf course, and then back through the wood down to the fields we'd just been looking at from above. It was a nice 3 1/4 mile loop. I'm excited to do more walking.