Yorkshire History
A Journey Through Time

Picture of the Toll House and Lendal Bridge in historic York City

Yorkshire history is long, turbulent and fascinating. The Romans, Vikings and Victorians all played their part in forging this area into the Yorkshire we know today. The Industrial Revolution changed the landscape forever. The gem that is the World Heritage Site of Saltaire was built by Sir Titus Salt to house the workforce that toiled in his new textile mill. If you are intrigued, as I am, by the industry and daring do of our forebears then you're sure to love Yorkshire. In these pages I hope to tempt you with a flavour of Yorkshire history.

Be Happy!

"Happiness itself is sufficient excuse. Beautiful things are right and true; so beautiful actions are those pleasing the gods. Wise people have an inward sense of what is beautiful, and the highest wisdom is to trust this intuition and be guided by it. The answer to the last appeal of what is right lies within a person's own breast.
Trust thyself."

Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)

On your travels throughout Yorkshire you'll find many opportunities to learn about our history. You'll come across interesting and well presented museums. When you think of museums, does your mind switch off because of memories of boring visits to dry, unimaginative displays in cold, dank-smelling buildings? Here in Yorkshire we are blessed with museums that encourage interaction, designed by historians with flair and imagination. Yorkshire history isn't just about the Kings and Queens, aristocracy and national events. What brings our history to life is fascinating stories of ordinary folk. No better is this brought to light than in York and Kirkstall. Here you'll find atmospheric Folk Museums with Victorian streets lovingly recreated in every authentic detail. Bradford and Leeds boast Museums of Industry, housed in gigantic mills. Their dark satanic atmosphere replaced now with the excited chatter, shrill oohs and aahs of children as they soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the hard work of yesteryear. Nostalgic sighs, perhaps, as their parents remember with a warm glow, the almost forgotten, boy-meets-girl thrill of encounters at the mill gates.

In the past, Yorkshire folk have always travelled to far distant lands across the globe. Perhaps seeking a new life, perhaps transported for committing some minor misdemeanor. So it comes as no surprise to find their descendants all over the world want to learn about them. To find out how to trace your family's past in Yorkshire click here to visit the Yorkshire Ancestors page.

Picture of York's Guild Hall from the Lendel Bridge

City of York
The City of York has many museums. Perhaps none so assaulting on the senses as the Jorvik Viking Centre. It takes you back in time, telling the tale in sight, sounds and smells of the vikings in York.

York's fifteenth century Guildhall still commands an imposing view of the River Ouse. Extensively damaged during the second world war, this historic building was rebuilt during the late 1950's and reopened in 1960 by HRH Queen Elizabeth II ...

Picture of The Abbots Lodgings at Kirkstall Abbey near Leeds - Click the picture for more about Kirkstall Abbey

Who were the Lay Brothers?
No - they weren't an early version of the Blues Brothers! But they were a very important part of Yorkshire history! When you visit Kirkstall Abbey near Leeds in West Yorkshire you'll have a chance to learn who they were and why they came about. This ancient abbey was home to medieval Cistercian monks and is one of the best preserved Cistercian abbeys in Britain. You'll find an informative and enjoyable visitor centre and you could combine your visit with an exploration of the Abbey House Museum located alongside. For more about Kirkstall Abbey...

Picture of the stepping stones across the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey. Click to read more

Rival group build religious sancuary by the River Wharfe!
Technically a priory, Bolton Abbey was established in 1154 by Augustinian friars on sheltered land beside the River Wharfe between Ilkley and Burnsall. Considered by many to be “the heart of Yorkshire” the romantic ruins sit well by the river and contain an active church within a church. The Priory Church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert is a Church of England parish church serving the spiritual needs of the local community. Read more about Bolton Abbey

Picture of one of the lions of Saltaire - Click the picture to visit Saltaire

Industrial Revolution creates new Village of Saltaire!
The brainchild and creation of Victorian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Titus Salt, the model village of Saltaire grew around his new, massive and revolutionary textile mill. Influencing the lives of millions of people, his role represents a major piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is Yorkshire history. More than 3,000 people were employed in his mill in Saltaire ...

Yorkshire: Once home to the most feared castle in the whole of England...
Yorkshire was once home to one of the most fearsome castles in the whole of Britain. Pontefract Castle was the spot where King Richard II was murdered. With such a gruesome reputation it was even featured in Shakespeare's plays!

Picture of a contemporary painting of Pontefract Castle. Painted by Flemish artist Alexander Keirincx

It was, in its time, one of the biggest castles in England, but was reduced to ruins after the English Civil War. As an important part of Yorkshire history, it's very much worth a visit today.

Picture of the cellarium at Fountains Abbey - Click the picture to visit Fountains Abbey

STOP PRESS - Rebel splinter group form richest abbey in Europe!
From the austere, simple desires of a twelfth-century splinter group of Benedictine monks rose Fountains Abbey - a Cistercian abbey destined to become one of the richest in Europe. Down through the centuries ...More about Fountains Abbey

Picture of folk in medieval costume walking across the battlefield of Towton. Click the picture to read about the Battle of Towton

Latest News from the Battle of Towton!
The Battle of Towton was to prove a crucial turning point in the “Cousins War” as the Wars of the Roses were known in the 15th century. The war had been rumbling on for decades as the two rival families, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, fought for supremacy and the throne of England.
Click here to read more

Reflections of the Yorkist Realm...
A new website created by historian David Santiuste and photographer Rae Tan.
The Yorkist era is best known for the Wars of the Roses: a series of bloody civil wars. Many of the period’s most famous personalities – including King Richard III – died through violence. For many years, however, there were no battles, so Rae and David (the web site creators) have also chosen locations that have connections with more peaceful aspects of this time, such as religious life and trade. The website features places from all over England that are particularly relevant to Yorkshire history. It also encompasses pertinent historical sites in Belgium, France and Wales.

Micklegate Bar - one of many stunning photos to be found on www.yorkistrealm.com

Reflections of the Yorkist Realm provides a unique interpretation of the heritage around us. It will appeal to anybody with an interest in England’s medieval past. Click Reflections of the Yorkist Realm to read more.

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Seaside places to visit...

Picture of Filey Brigg from The Crescent

Picture of brightly coloured beach huts at Scarborough on the Yorkshire Coast. Click to see more...

Picture of the seafront at Bridlington on the Yorkshire Coast. Click to see more...

Picture of colourful boats moored in Whitby's harbour. Click the picture to see more...

Dales places to visit...

Picture of barges at Skipton

Picture of the Upper Falls at Aysgarth

Picture of the bridge and pub at Kettlewell

Walks to try?...

Picture of Tunnel End in the Colne Valley. Click for my description of a walk along the canal towpath.

Picture of Pen-y-Ghent taken from the village of Horton in Ribblesdale. A good place to start a walk. Click for more details.

Picture of the Leeds Liverpool Canal near The Fisherman's Pub. Click for my description of a walk from Saltaire to the Bingley Five Rise Locks