York: Castle Museum, Clifford’s Tower, Aimless Wandering

After taking the train from London, I didn’t settle into my hotel in York until mid-afternoon. Hence, this will be a rather brief post. I did, however, check out a couple of smallish attractions—the York Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower—and did some aimless wandering. I’m rather good at wandering aimlessly, if I do say so myself. Aimless is as aimless does.

York Castle Museum

One wing of the York Castle Museum
One wing of the York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum spreads over two connected buildings. The displays were, to say the least, eclectic. They started with a York and York Castle timeline printed on a wall. Next, there were rooms furnished and decorated in olden style. (Damn! I should have written it down. I forget. As best I remember, they were mainly nineteenth century. Maybe some eighteenth too. Maybe even a twentieth century room. Did I mention that I forget things? I forget.)

Another area focused on World War I. Another couple of rooms contained old toys. Others displayed old clothes.

There was a great recreation of a shop-lined, cobblestoned Victorian street, with a couple of side streets off it, all inside the museum. The shops were mostly fake, although the confections shop did sell confections. A couple of horse-drawn style carriages sat in the street and side-street, one with a fake horse in front of it.

Another section presented a tribute to the 1960s.

Then there was a body-shaming area. That’s not what they called it. They called the exhibit “Shaping the Body.” The exhibit included clothes and devices people used in the past and use today to shape their bodies. But it also talked about obesity and excessive thinness. Um. OK.

Another exhibit bore the title, “Museum of Broken Relationships.” It included objects given in love and representing the loss of love. What would I know about that? I’ve heard about relationships. Interesting concept, that.

The last part of the museum was the castle prison. There were no cell doors, although I assume there were back in the day. The cells were open for us tourists to enter. Inside each cell, a video played on a whitewashed wall. Actors played real prisoners and told their stories.

Clifford’s Tower

Clifford's Tower
Clifford’s Tower

Just about the only part of York Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror in 1068-69, that remains today is Clifford’s Tower. It stands on a hill. The tower, such as it is, is a circular double wall that is uncovered in the center for most of its volume, but covered between the two walls.

You can, for a small fee, climb to the top and walk on the roof of the circle. You can, and I did. The views of York from atop were beautiful. You would be able to see that beauty in the pictures below if I were a halfway decent photographer. I’m not. Sorry.

The tower has at least one rather despicably gruesome historical note. In 1190, the townsfolk decided that the York’s Jewish population had to either give up their religion or be killed. (The small plaque at the base of the hill says the Jews refused to give up their faith. But in the tour book I’m using and on a site I found on the web, it doesn’t mention anything about the option of giving up their faith rather than being killed, just that the townsfolk were going to kill the Jewish people of York.)

The Jews took refuge in the tower and, rather than allowing themselves to be killed by the mob, some of them killed themselves by their own hands. Others set fire to the tower (which was wood at the time) and perished in the fire. Some managed to survive and were then murdered by the mob.

Rose Theatre

On a less depressing mote and not connected to Clifford’s Tower by anything other than proximity, beside Clifford’s Tower I, unexpectedly, found a Rose Theatre. Obviously, it’s not the original or even anywhere near the right location, which I believe was in London. But, despite being new and only a “pop-up,” it is designed like a classic Shakespearean theatre, with an open groundling area and covered seats behind. I haven’t been inside yet, but I assume it also has a Shakespearean thrust stage.

I know about the seating because I, on a whim, decided to ask if they had a ticket available for tomorrow night. They did. I’ll be going to see Hamlet. But don’t expect to read a review of it here tomorrow. I’m not a bloody theatre critic, now am I?

Aimless Wandering

After visiting the the York Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower, I did some aimless wandering around the older part of York. So far, I think it’s great

There’s a tree-lined path beside the river just behind my hotel, with some handsome buildings on the other bank. The streets aren’t too wide and have mostly quaint, low-rise buildings beside them. I also came across one narrow, shop-lined, pedestrian-only street. I’m already wishing I’d booked more time here.

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