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York History

Archaeological discoveries suggest that the area surrounding the city has been inhabited for as long as 10,000 years, but York didn’t really get going until the Romans arrived. In 71AD, the Ninth Legion marched here from Lincoln and set up a city called Eboracum. Parts of the Roman fortress can still be seen, particularly the Roman baths and remnants found under the York Minster cathedral.

Two Roman Emperors died in Britain, both of them in York – Septimius Severus in 211 and Constantius I in 306. The city was an important strategic base for the Romans in their northern campaigns until the withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century.

Soon after, the Anglo-Saxons took over the region and renamed the city Eoforwic. In 601, Pope Gregory sent a mission to convert the British to Christianity with York as its religious centre, leading to the construction of churches. In 867, the Vikings captured the city and renamed it Jorvik, from where the name York stems.

In the 10th century, York became part of the Anglo-Saxon state, but invasions from Scandinavian forces were frequent. In fact, the routing of a Norwegian occupation of York by King Harold in 1066 was a direct factor in the Norman Conquest. When William the Conqueror met Harold at Hastings, he faced an English force weakened and tired after its engagement in the north.

York was subdued by the Normans and the Minster was rebuilt. Clifford’s Tower was constructed in 1244 and the city walls were completed in the early 14th century. But after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, York’s churches fell into disrepair.

Having been one of the most important English cities in the Middle Ages, York began to decline in the 15th century. During the English Civil War, it was besieged by parliamentary forces for its support of the Royalists, after which it lost its prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1942, Nazi Germany’s Baedeker Blitz dropped bombs on the city. The Guildhall and the Bath Assembly Rooms were damaged, but many of the city’s historical buildings were left unscathed.

Did you know?
• The House of York was one of the most powerful in England and produced three kings, including Richard III, who was defeated in the Wars of the Roses in 1485.
• York’s iconic Clifford’s Tower once formed a part of the medieval Norman castle, but later became a jail.
• The city’s location was selected by the Romans for being near the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, giving it strategic superiority.

Featured Hotels

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The Bar Convent

Situated in the oldest existing convent in England (established in 1686), The Bar Convent offers accommodation with a difference, in elegant surroundings and with a unique and informal ambience. This Grade I listed Georgian building was renovated in the summer of 2006.

The Churchill Hotel

All of the rooms in this hotel are individually decorated and its historic charm is guaranteed to beguile. Housed in a Georgian mansion built around 1827, the Churchill offers a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. The restaurant is very good, sourcing its ingredients locally and in accordance with the seasons.

The Grange Hotel

A Grade-II-listed Regency townhouse, The Grange exudes good taste - the attached Ivy Brasserie (which received two AA rosettes in 2006) is worth a mention too. Elegant and luxurious, the hotel also offers modern comfort and convenience, including Wi-Fi access.

Middlethorpe Hall

This country house, built in 1699, offers the optimum in lavishness: set in 20 acres of gardens and parkland, it is decorated with antiques consistent with the period of the house, yet also manages to be modern with its own health and fitness spa.

Romley House

This family-run guest house provides a friendly and efficient service at bargain prices. Rooms are homely, decorated in white and floral patterns. Romley House is also renowned for its pictorial and ceramic clown collection - a typical touch of such child-friendly accommodation. Staying here is a way of receiving some classic Yorkshire hospitality.

York International Youth Hostel

This youth hostel's good service and clean and comfortable rooms guarantee good value for money. Although located just outside the city centre, the 10- to 15-minute walk is a delightfully scenic one along the river. The hostel's bedrooms range from single rooms to dorms accommodating up to eight people.