Once Roman and then Viking, York, England, has done a better job than most towns of preserving and showcasing its past. There are still archaeological digs operating, and some streets, like Stonegate, still look positively medieval. Near Stonegate’s top Ruth and I found this image of the Roman goddess Minerva on a corner building. Great road builders, Romans were the first residents to put down stones and make an actual city street here. Once called Bookland Lane and then Bookbinder’s Alley after printing was invented, the intersecting street to Stonegate is now called High Petergate, and it sports a decoration showing the Goddess of Wisdom reclining on a pile of books above everyone’s head.
Just down Stonegate and to the left is Barley Hall. This one-time hospice was built by monks in 1380, but the original building was still around in the 20th century because over time it became hidden behind other buildings and was forgotten. It was found well-preserved but in horrible condition. Many wanted to demolish it but others fought to preserve it, and Barley Hall was an archaeological site before becoming restored to appear to be a 1483 house/museum.
Inside Barley Hall it’s not hard to understand why York is said to be the most haunted city in England with more than 500 recorded ghostly encounters. If you believe in drifting spirits, this is the place to come because enterprising locals conduct ghost walks through snickleways regularly.
At the bottom of Stonegate is Betty’s because the English still love and preserve their tea rooms. We never walked by this one without a line outside its door because it was celebrating its 100th birthday on this spot. In 1919, a Swiss gentleman by the name of Frederick Belmont opened a cafe here. Betty took over in 1937 but kept the art-nouveau stained glass. Her food is considered ordinary but her cakes and teas are exceptional. We didn’t know about the birthday until we were there to experience traditional dessert trollies and limited edition teas and treats available only during the celebration.