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When in...York
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When in...York

Neptune York, our 16th store, sits just outside this historic city, with its medieval streets and impressive cathedral. It’s also our most northerly store in England, so we know that, if you’re paying us a visit, it’s quite possible you could have travelled some distance. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the area – with our recommendations for places to visit, eat and shop – so you can make the most of your trip (although we hope there’ll be something new to discover here for those living close by too).

To do

York Minster

Standing at the very centre of the city, and certainly not hard to miss, is York Minster – York’s cathedral and most famous landmark. It may not be off the beaten track, but its gothic architecture, serene atmosphere and intriguing history (there’s been at least three different versions of the building on this site, and it’s where England’s first female bishop was consecrated) are, in our opinion, not to be missed. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb the 275 steps to the top of its central tower for far-reaching views over the city.

York Art Gallery

Just along the road from York Minster is the city’s art gallery. Not only is the 19th-century, Italian-style building home to pieces ranging from the 1300s to the modern day, but it’s also where you’ll find the Centre of Ceramic Art – a large collection of British studio pottery.

Beningbrough Hall

This Baroque house outside the city – built after its creator, John Bourchier, came back from his grand tour of Europe in the early 1700s – is now filled with paintings on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Contemporary depictions hang alongside 18th century portraits, with a theme of influential figures on British history and culture. Around the house, there are eight acres of gardens to wander through, including a walled garden with over 50 varieties of fruit trees and an impressive display of bulbs in spring.

Castle Howard

A 15-minute drive from our store will bring you to Castle Howard, the ancestral home of the Howard family that took over 100 years to complete. As a result, it’s a bit of a mix of architectural styles, from the Arts & Crafts chapel to the Baroque façade (designed by a man, John Vanbrugh, with absolutely no experience of building houses). The interiors are certainly to be awed at, but it’s the surrounding park and formal gardens we love most, with temples nestled amongst the woodland and sweeping views back to the house.

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To eat

Bettys

Bettys, for the uninitiated, is something of a Yorkshire institution, with well-loved tearooms across the county serving local favourites like ‘Fat Rascals’ (a sort of fruity scone), curd tarts and their own blend of tea. They have two outposts in York – the larger, on St Helen’s Square, where you can take afternoon tea in the art deco, walnut-panelled Belmont Room; or the smaller, less well-known Bettys Stonegate, with its traditional shopfront and cabinets piled high with biscuits and cakes to take home.

Mr P’s Curious Tavern

A curious place to head to for supper indeed, Mr P’s Curious Tavern serves ‘small plates’ – so you can create a meal as little or as large as you’d like – in a supposedly haunted building. It’s located in The Shambles, a narrow street overhung with timber-framed buildings, and is an atmospheric place to spend an evening.

Shambles Kitchen

Also in The Shambles, this little shop is where we’ll turn to when we want lunch on the go. Their sandwiches, soups and daily specials (think butternut squash, lemon and ginger soup, and pulled pork served in a sourdough bun) are healthy, tasty and perfect for taking with you as you explore the city.

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To shop

Henshelwoods Delicatessen

This deli is also a good spot for picking up lunch to take away, but makes it into our ‘to shop’ category because of the vast selection of kitchen ingredients that fill its shelves. From cheeses and pickles to oils, pastas and organic spices.

Bluebird Bakery

This bakery started life at a kitchen table, but has grown into three shops, in Malton, Leeds and York. In the latter, find them down The Shambles, selling slow-baked, small-batch loaves and the occasional brownie or muffin.

Janette Ray

This charming little bookshop – with its beams, original fireplace, stone floors and handwritten signs – sells rare and out of print books on the arts, architecture and landscape design, as well as mounted drawings and photographs.

Blossom Street Gallery & Framing

So much more than just a picture framer’s (although they’re certainly very good at that), the front of this shop is filled with cards, prints and stationery by independent designers, as well as art supplies in case inspiration should strike. Continue through and you’ll come across a dedicated gallery space at the back, where all the work featured is by local artists.