Archive for October, 2018

York 2018: Barley Hall

Posted: October 31, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York
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Barley Hall is situated in the centre of York. Parts of the house date from around 1360, when it served as a lodging for priests and monks from Nostell priory visiting the Cathedral. In 1430 it was rebuilt and in 1466 was leased to William Snawshall, a goldsmith, who would become an Alderman and later Lord Mayor of York. In 1489 William moved away from York and a series of different tenants held the Hall. Following the dissolution of the Monasteries, it became the property of the crown and continued to be let to tenants. At some point in the 16th or 17th centuries, it was sub-dived into different dwellings and by the early 20th century had become used for workshops and storage. By the mid 20th century it was in a very poor condition and in 1984 it was bought by the York Archaeological Trust. In the 1990s following extensive excavations, the Trust took the decision to restore the Hall to its Medieval state. It was named Barley Hall after the founder of the YAT. they tried to preserve as much of the original building as possible but centuries of poor maintenance meant that some timbers etc was too far gone to be saved and had to be replaced.

As you walk around the hall today, it is set up exactly as it was when William Snawshall, Lord Mayor of York lived there.

As with many Cathedrals, the roof of York Minster sores upwards creating a sense of immense space. There was a lot of maintenance work going on including the restoration of the organ and so the centre of the Cathedral was full of scaffolding which rather obscured and spoilt the impression on this occasion though. Still, this work has to be done and I imagine it is one big headache trying to keep an 800-year-old building in tip-top condition.

There is some fantastic stained glass on display in the Cathedral.

York 2018: York Minster

Posted: October 29, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York
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The first church on this site was built around 627 AD by the Kings of Northumbria and 100 years later the first Archbishop of York was recorded. The Saxon Church, which had been rebuilt in the 8th century following a fire, was seriously damaged by William the Conqueror’s forces in 1069 during the ‘Harrying of the North’. William appointed a new Archbishop who set about building a new Cathedral on the site. The present building was built between 1220 and 1472 in the Gothic style.

York 2018: Medieval Streets

Posted: October 26, 2018 in History, Medieval History, UK, York


It is just a delight to wander down the Medieval streets of York city centre and see the wonderfully preserved Medieval buildings.

York 2018: King’s Manor

Posted: October 25, 2018 in History, UK, York


One of the venues for the talks at the History weekend was the King’s Manor. The original house on this site was built in the 12th century as a lodging for the Abbot of the adjacent St Mary’s Abbey. There was a substantial rebuilding of the property in the 15th century and on the dissolution of St Mary’s in 1539, it became the headquarters for the Council of the North, a regional government set up by Henry VIII. When the council was disbanded in 1641, the Manor became the home of the Governor of York. From 1668 until the 19th century it was let to private individuals. In the 19th century, it was purchased for the Yorkshire School for the Blind, who remained in the property until they relocated in 1958. It was acquired by York Council and leased to the University of York, where it housed the Department of Architectural Studies and the Centre for Medieval Studies. When the former relocated, it was replaced by the Department of Archaeology.

York 2018: Weekend of History

Posted: October 24, 2018 in Announcements, History, UK, York

A long weekend in the wonderful city of York to attend the York History weekend and the chance to hear some of the countries leading experts talk about history from the ancient world to Brexit.


Also, it was a chance to re-visit some of the fascinating historical sights in the city. Apart from day trips to the National Railway Museum, it is probably 20 years since I spent longer than a day here and much has changed.

River Ouse looking towards Lendel Bridge (top left), Medieval Houses (top right), York Minster (lower left), and Bootham Bar, one of the old city gates (lower right) 

The weekends’ talks were held in the Yorkshire Museum and in the Kings Manor and my focus this weekend is on Anglo-Saxon England. I also visited the National Railway Museum (a must for any visit to York), York Minster, Barley Hall, The Yorvik centre and The Richard III Museum.

Fungi at Formby.

Posted: October 23, 2018 in Natural History

Some great fungi around at the moment.


On Saturday I went for a walk in the pinewoods at Formby. The event was organised by the National trust and we were guided by Dave who is an expert on Fungi.

During our safari we spotted 61 different species. Dave encouraged us to touch, squeeze, smell, and in a couple of cases even taste a couple of the specimens. This seemed strange to me as from a photographic point of view as I am trained never to pick any wild flowers etc..

However, with Fungi it is different and close examination of the gills and the feel of the specimen is essential for identification. Even then it often requires close examination under a microscope to get a precise identification.

It was an interesting and informative morning out.

Here are a few of my images.










I shall not even begin to try and identify them.

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This lovely bronze statue is of two young lovers in an embrace. It is by George Ehrlich and is found in Festival Gardens, Cannon St.

On Sunday Keith and I went with Bexley RSPB group to Cley in North Norfolk. It was a welcome return for me as we had been there only a few weeks earlier during our trip to Norfolk, but the weather could not have been more different. In fact, it could not have been more different than the day before. On Saturday as we had visited local reserves it had been hot and sunny, but as day dawned Sunday it was overcast and wet, and so it continued all day.


But we did get some birdwatching, between dodging rain. We first went to Snipes Marsh, in search of Jack Snipe that had been reported there.


It wasn’t long before we were watching one in the reeds, although it proved difficult to get anything like a good picture of it due to the vegetation. This is the best one, taken by Keith.


On the Cley Marsh, there were a very large number of Eurasian Wigeon plus smaller numbers of Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and Gadwall. There was also a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits but surprisingly few other wading birds.

Eurasian Wigeon (top) and Black-tailed Godwit (lower left and right)

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)


Keith was staying with us for the weekend and so on Saturday, we visited some of our local nature reserves.


Our first stop was at Footscray meadows, a mixture of grassland and woodland along the banks of the river Cray.

One of our first sightings was of a Little Egret fishing in the river, but otherwise, it was fairly quiet – at least as far as wildlife was concerned – Saturday is probably not the best time to visit as it is a favourite place for dog-walkers and families.


We made our way up river towards the five-arch bridge, which forms the head of a lake in the river, where Mallard and Tufted Ducks congregate together with Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swans and Egyptian geese. We also saw a Terrapin basking in the sunlight. These now seem to be a permanent resident of many of our lakes in the area, released by pet owners who no longer want them or who can’t house them when full grown. Walking further upstream from the lake, we heard a couple of Cetti’s warblers calling, but there was little evidence of any small bird migration.


Terrapin (left), Mute Swan (top right) and Egyptian Goose (lower right) 

Our next stop was Sutcliffe Park LNR. Here it was evident that the vegetation had grown well this summer as the marsh area was completely covered and impossible to see into. The highlight was a Little Grebe on the Lake.


Our final stop was my home patch around the Tarn. here we found 2 Little Grebes, probably an adult and a juvenile along with a Grey Heron. Keith heard a Grey Wagtail, which winters here each year, but we could not locate it.


Little Grebes – adult (left and top right) and probable juvenile (lower right)

Grey Heron (left) and Coot (right)


Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)