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Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York

VISIT YORK, THEY’RE MORE FRIENDLY UP NORTH | Sharon Henry

Once considered ‘boring’ the City of York today is anything but, thriving with pubs, tea rooms and restaurants to water and feed the millions entering its medieval walls for a spot of sightseeing.  “It was considered to be very much a boring sort of place when I was at school,” smiles Barbara Boyce, Lord Mayor of York.  “It’s changed because of the development of the two universities.  Students have breathed life into the city and we are now more progressive.  York is becoming a modern, vibrant city.”

Yes – we are talking to the Lord Mayor of York, we do get around!  The fact that we’re natives of her bucket list destination, St Helena, got us through the door, Barbara’s always wanted to go.

A lovely honour to spend some time with the Lord Mayor of York, Barbara Boyce during our visit to the city.

The original Guildhall was built in 1445. Badly damaged by German bombs in World War II, the present structure is a rebuild. Each of the oak wood pillars weigh two tonnes and are made from a single tree trunk.
Inside The Walled City With The Lord Mayor Of York

Guildhall House Steward, Dean Leighton-Eshelby sharing with us the fascinating stories on a private tour of the historic York City Guildhall.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

The US flag hangs in the Guildhall above a tablet “affectionately inscribed as an expression of friendship and good will from her God-child in America, The City of New York.” Signed John F Hylan, who was New York mayor 1918-1925.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

The stained glass in the Guildhall shows a potted history of York and includes a picture of Robinson Crusoe, York’s famous fictional son, the book published in 1719.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

Bosses look down from the ceiling of the Guildhall.
Inside The Walled City With The Lord Mayor Of York

The crest of the city of York inlaid into the floor of the Guildhall.
Inside The Walled City With The Lord Mayor Of York

Guildhall House Steward, Dean Leighton-Eshelby shows us there are two secret passageways in the inner rooml, revealing escape routes designed for use if under siege. Small spiral stairways lead to an upper room and the roof.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

 

Secret Passages and Menacing Bosses

We’re in the inner room of the York Guildhall which is filled with artefacts older than the discovery of our home island.  Hidden behind the panelling are two secret stairways and menacing bosses stare down from the ceiling.  I love it.

Barbara, a former York councillor is a local to the city (as is Judi Dench and Guy Fawkes), she’s wearing a fancy gold necklace, the chains of office, and over coffee confesses she marvels of her role because her grandmother was born in the workhouse (1895), kind of a rags to riches story.  “The workhouse in the 19th century was where they sent people who were destitute, somewhere everybody dreaded.  The local paper described Barbara’s rise to Mayor as, ‘From the workhouse to the Mansion House in three generations'”.  Mansion House is the official abode of the mayor, like Plantation House is for St Helena’s governor.

The York city Guildhall and council chambers are located on the north bank of the River Ouse.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

Absolutely inspiring – The York Council Chamber at the Guildhall.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York

Many interesting details inside the York Council Chamber at the Guildhall, including the fact the desk inkwells are now used as microphone pots.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York

The York Council Chamber at the Guildhall.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York

 

The Medieval Walled City of York

We discuss flights to St Helena and Jonathan our 187-year-old tortoise, believed to be the oldest living animal in the world and ask what’s York’s biggest claim to fame?  “Railways and chocolate I think, and I’d quite like to come and see your tortoise!” adds Barbara.

Top recommendation from the Lord Mayor of York for visitors is to walk around the city walls. “It’s quite a hike and a bit steep but you get the best views absolutely free.  Tourist attractions can often be expensive,” she says honestly.  “But, there are things that don’t cost a lot.  Between Bootham Bar to Monk Bar is probably the prettiest part [of the wall] with wonderful views of the Minster, it’s something you can do for nothing.”

York City is most famous for its walls, also known as Bar Walls. At 2.5 miles long they are the most complete medieval city walls still standing in England.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

 

Afternoon Tea At Bettys Tea Rooms

Food-wise Barbara recommends Bettys Tea Rooms which is a bit of an institution.  “If you’ve never been, go once but it is expensive and you’ll have to queue.  There are other places that do just as nice food but less expensive.  Go to more local looking places, go down Foss Gate there’s a lot of eating places opened up down there, it’s getting well known for its food.

“I think people should come to York because we’re friendly!” Barbara laughs when prompted.  “When you come up North to Yorkshire people here are more friendly and outgoing.”  True that! Something we haven’t failed to notice.

On a more serious note we touch on the difficulties preserving a historic city like York.  “It costs a lot of money.  But York is not just a museum.  Yes, it’s a city with a great history but we also live in the 21st century and I think we’ve got to remember that.  We do need to attract jobs and industries that are going to bring high value jobs to give people opportunities.  There can be a lot of complaining about anything new or if anything changes.  I think we’ve got to embrace change.”

Founded in 1919 this is the famous Betty’s Tea Room in York. Note the queue of people on the pavement outside waiting for a table inside to become free.

It’s true, people up north are more friendly. We got chatting to Vera after she commented our camera must be heavy. She told us she was named after the Forces’ Sweetheart, Vera Lynn.

The narrow streets of York city are packed with tourists during the summer. In the background the majestic towers of the York Minster.

Two rivers, the Foss and the Ouse, provide a backdrop for the beautiful views around York city.

Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

A York street cafe almost on the double yellows! Over 7 million tourists visit York every year.

Clifford’s Tower, one of the most famous landmarks in the city of York. The tower is all that now remains of York Castle, once the centre of government for the north of England.
Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

The beautiful streets of York city with stunning towers and spires never far away.

Being The Lord Mayor Of York

The role of Lord Mayor of York is ceremonial rather than political, a one year ambassadorial position.  “The best thing is I am finding out about lots of people and things that are going on in York that I didn’t know about,” Barbara admits.  “There are so many interesting, involved and committed people doing so much good work for other people.”

The official duties are wide ranging from visiting schools and old people’s homes to judging at a dog show and part-taking in a beer festival. Enjoyable as it is, it can also be a tiring schedule at times.

“Part of my duties is to preside over citizenship ceremonies where foreign nationals are becoming British.  It’s something I’m very proud to do.”

And if there were such a thing as a magic wand, what would she change?  “I always would like to see more tolerance; I can’t stand abuse or neglect of anybody or anything.  So, more kindness really.  I can’t bear it when people neglect their kids or animals or whatever it is.  It’s actually about kindness and consideration to all people and all species.”

Our meeting came to an end and just like that the Lord Mayor of York was whisked off to attend another community event. We like Barbara Boyce, she makes a wonderful ambassador for York.

Inside The Guildhall With The Lord Mayor Of York.

York city at night takes on a whole new look, just as beautiful.

 

COMMENTS

  • Ruchard stroud

    October 3, 2017

    Welcome to god county beautifull part of the world hope you enjoYed

  • Nicole

    September 27, 2017

    Brilliant shots!! I must visit York next time but I’ve been other places up north and can definitely say THAt Northerner’s are much friendlier! Enjoy!!😃

  • Lawsonhenry

    September 26, 2017

    Great pics been there myself a few times great memories thanks for sharing xx

  • Claire Stroud

    September 26, 2017

    love you post I been to york many times over the years i totally agree the people are A LOT friendly then down south I have live in London and no one speaks

  • Alison

    September 26, 2017

    Yes we are much friendlier up North!

  • Patrick G Henry

    September 26, 2017

    Love your post and wonderful pictures of York, its amazing what can be offered to tourist and what cultures means to them, amazing story to read over a cup of tea.

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