The Churches of Middle Ages York

Dr Emma Wells
A three-night walking tour of England’s finest group of medieval churches
Dr Emma Wells

Tour Dates

30/07/2021 - 02/08/2021 Book
20/08/2021 - 23/08/2021 Book

The churches of Middle Ages York

Founded by the Romans as Eboracum around 71AD, York’s two millennia of history seeps from every stone. 

Today, the city’s religious history is dominated by its glorious Gothic Minster. But as Simon Jenkins once opined, “York has England’s finest set of medieval town churches… evoking some sense of an English city in the late Middle Ages, each neighbourhood owing allegiance to an often-tiny place of worship, enclosed by lanes and alleys.” 

Join this expert-led tour through the centre of Christianity in the North to visit a selection of magnificent architectural gems and learn how to “read” a church and discover countless stories of the daily lives, experiences and beliefs of people past, from prince to pauper. 

From the Norman Conquest to the 16th-century Reformation, you will tour the breadth of the Middle Ages, with access behind the scenes of these great ecclesiastical edifices. 

Explore the lives, legends and scandals of the people who built these skyscrapers of glass and stone – both up the pinnacles and down in the crypts.
 


The expert leading your tour

Dr Emma J. Wells is an historian of religious and architectural history, specialising in the medieval and early modern eras. Her expertise covers everything from parish churches and cathedrals, the saints, pilgrimage and stained glass, to historic buildings in the modern age. 

She is the author of many publications, including Pilgrim Routes of the British Isles, and Heaven On Earth: The Lives & Legacies of the World’s Greatest Cathedrals, to be published by Head of Zeus (2020/21). 

Emma writes often and reviews for newspapers and magazines, including BBC History, History Today, the Times Literary Supplement, History Revealed and BBC Countryfile and is a lively broadcaster and frequent acclaimed public speaker.



Highlights of this three-night history holiday

Over your four day tour we visit a wide variety of fabulous churches, including: 
  • Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, among the oldest churches in England
  • All Saints Pavement, the burial place of 39 Lord Mayors
  • Bedern Chapel, the former precinct of the Vicars Choral of York Minster
  • St Martin le Grand, the perfect example of medieval meeting modern
  • St Olave’s, founded in 1055 by Siward, Earl of Northumberland
  • The ruins of one of England’s most powerful monasteries, St Mary’s Abbey
  • York Minster, one of the greatest artistic achievements of the Middle Ages
  • All Saints, known for its extraordinary surviving medieval glass
  • Kings Manor, once the headquarters of Henry VIII’s Council of the North
  • St Denys, often called ‘the unlucky church’ 
  • Holy Trinity, which once served a priory of Benedictine monks
  • Bar Convent Chapel, founded in 1686



Tour prices

This three-night walking tour costs from £999 per person, based on two sharing if you are taking part in the tours, and from £799 if you are not taking part in the daily tours.

There is no single supplement for individuals staying in single rooms, and a small extra charge for individuals in twin or double rooms. 



Included in your holiday

  • Expert guide
  • 4* hotel accommodation
  • Entry to all churches, including some exclusive access
  • Breakfast and dinner each day



Available dates

This three-night history holiday has two available departure dates, 

Accommodation

You'll be staying in a luxurious four-star hotel located in the centre of York. All rooms are ensuite and comfortable, with a TV, radio and complimentary wifi, plus tea and coffee making facilities. 
 


Your booking includes:

  • Ensuite room with tea & coffee facilities and wifi
  • Breakfast and dinner
 


There are extra charges for:

  • All food and drink outside of breakfast and dinner. 
 


Options for non-touring partners

York is an absolutely fascinating place to visit. Visitors can stroll through the streets to take in the medieval City walls, gate and many interesting buildings, enjoy restaurants that range from the quaint to the contemporary, and shop in small boutiques to the best known department stores. 

York Minster is the largest Medieval cathedral in Northern Europe. For the most atmospheric effect aim to approach through The Shambles, which is an ancient cobbled street that is easily compared to Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. 

Jorvik Viking Centre stands on the site of a 1000-year old Viking city and carefully reconstructs the sights, sounds and smells to take visitor back to the 10-century. 

For a complete look back into York's past, head to Yorkshire Museum for exhibits that reveal prehistoric, Roman, Viking and medieval lives. 

Or go to York Castle Museum, where there is a street of salvaged shop fronts that recreate the city's stories from the Georgian era to the 1980s. Climb to the top of nearby Clifford's Tower for incredible views of the city. 

The National Railway Museum features iconic locomotives from across the ages and across the world, and visitors can climb on board for a closer look.     

Browns is York's famous department store and the place to purchase designer brands. Another York institution is Betty's Tea Rooms, with an interior that was inspired by the Queen Mary ocean liner.

Picture credit: Janice Carlson / Shutterstock

Tour Dates

30/07/2021 - 02/08/2021 Book
20/08/2021 - 23/08/2021 Book

Itinerary

Day 1

We will begin your tour at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, tucked out of the way but in the heart of the circuitous medieval walls of the city. It is among the oldest churches in England and well-known for its irregular box pews, dating to the 17th to 19th centuries, and for its fine medieval stained glass. We then move on to All Saints Pavement, a beacon for York due to its striking octagonal 15th-century lantern tower and the burial place of 39 Lord Mayors.

Our final stop of the day is to the often-overlooked Bedern Chapel, which is the former precinct of the Vicars Choral of York Minster from the 13th century. The word bedern is derived from Early English bede (prayer) and ærn (house)

Day 2

We start at St Martin le Grand, Coney Street, which though originally constructed in 1080, was almost completed destroyed during a a WWII air raid in 1942. It was entirely rebuilt under the auspices of church architect George Pace and re-hallowed in 1968 and is the perfect example of medieval meeting modern.

Next we visit St Olave’s at the entrance to the Viking city. Founded in 1055 by Siward, Earl of Northumberland, and later the first home of St Mary's Abbey, the tower is said to have been used as a gun platform in the 1644 Siege of York.

The afternoon will see us visit the picturesque splendour of the ruins of one of England’s most powerful monasteries, St Mary’s Abbey, before the day culminates at the creme de la crème that is York Minster, the seat of the archbishop. Rebuilt in the Gothic style between 1220 and 1472, it is one of the greatest artistic achievements of the Middle Ages.

Day 3

The day begins at All Saints, North Street, known worldwide for its extraordinary surviving medieval glass including the "Corporal acts of Mercy", and the "Pricke of Conscience" window. Above all, however, it is home to the dwelling of Dame Emma Raughton, an anchoress who received visions of Our Lady in the 15th century. En route to lunch, we will make a quick pit stop at Kings Manor, the former Abbot's House of St Mary's Abbey and once the headquarters of Henry VIII’s Council of the North.

In the afternoon we take in two churches often forgotten. St Denys, Walmgate, is often termed ‘the unlucky church’ after a series of mishaps including losing part of the building to subsidence, being struck by lightning, and hit by Civil War cannon fire. Then on to Holy Trinity, Micklegate which once served a priory of Benedictine monks. We will pass St Martin-cum Gregory on our return, a redundant 11th-century church now operating as The Stained Glass Centre.

Day 4

For your final day we round off our jaunt through York’s medieval religious history with a visit to the small convent of Catholic sisters founded in 1686 and known as the Bar Convent Chapel with its splendid neo-classical domed chapel built in 1766 to designs by Thomas Atkinson.