York Walks /3

Bar walls – Bootham Bar to Monk Bar

Photographed in July & August 2004

'The souls of cities respond even less easily than those of men to mere cataloguing; a hundred pages of it would never suffice to render the strong, unmistakable, yet word-elusive personality of York.'

A G Dickens, 1952

  Bar walls, summer evening, between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar
Bar Walls, between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar   Well-worn steps, city walls by Bootham Bar

I've attempted on many occasions since summer began to get photographs of this stretch of the wall, but during the daytime when I've tried it's been very busy with visitors. These photographs were taken one summer evening in early July, just after a rain shower, which may explain why the walls are so quiet. It's difficult, in the summer season, to find peace and quiet up here on this most popular stretch of the walls, but when you do, it's certainly worth staying a while. With the trees in full leaf, and the gardens below, it's easy to forget that you're in a city centre.

'For quiet and immediate withdrawal from busy city life into a literally higher region of contemplation, I do not know where you could find their like. To mount the walls at any of the numerous points of ascent, and, leaving the bustle of every-day affairs down below, spend a short time in the quiet stillness and solitude which they are always ready to give, affords indeed a delightful refreshment of spirit'

C B Knight – This is York (1954)

City walls under a canopy of green leaves

  The walls in summer, under a canopy of branches

Below: the gardens visible from the walls reach summer perfection, July 2004

Gardens from the walls   Garden from the walls, July 2004

Below: York Minster from the walls. In summer, the massive trees by the walls obscure the Minster from view in places, as you walk this stretch of wall, but it reappears into view between them.

York Minster, summer evening   York Minster

'The sunlit flank of the great church is as public as St. Paul's, but its north side is silent, lapped by the trees of the Dean's Park, and to east and west are tiny cobbled lanes perfectly scaled to set off its size. The precinct is defined by the angle of the Roman walls, terminating in Monk Bar to the east and Bootham Bar to the west. . .'

Lord Esher, 1968


'let the castle rise foursquare out of the moat, let the moat be a ring and the water deep, let the guardians guard it, let there be wide lands around it, let that country where it stands be within me, let me be where it is. '

Denise Levertov – Psalm Concerning the Castle

  Detail: city walls
Monk Bar: entrance to the Richard III Museum   Monk Bar: steps

Above: the view from the walls into Monk Bar, and the entrance to the Richard III Museum. These steep steps (above right) are the entrance to the walls (and the museum), shown here from pavement level. The flash on the camera has lit them up, but ordinarily they're atmospherically dark and somewhat spooky – maybe best not to negotiate these steps alone if you've just been on one of the city's many ghost walks.

Monk Bar – outer face   Monk Bar – inner face
Monk Bar, detail  

Monk Bar is one of the impressive bars (or gateways) in the city walls. Above left: shown from the outside of the walls, and above right: from inside the walls, the view of the bar from Goodramgate. Left: a detail from the front of the bar.

Related pages:

For more information on this stretch of the walls, and photos from different seasons, see York Walks /1: Bootham Bar to Monk Bar (winter) and York Walks /2: Bootham Bar to Monk Bar (spring).