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Mystery, Magic & Barley

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

I’m looking at Barley Hall in York, one of five tourist attractions under the Jorvik Viking Group banner. The other four include the Jorvik Viking Centre itself, Henry VII & Richard III Experiences and Jorvik DIG.

Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse. It is hidden right in the centre of York, and if you’re planning to visit this gorgeous city, Barley Hall is a must for you!

It was built in mid-fourteenth century by the Nostell Priory monks, and in mid-sixteenth century, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was transferred to the Crown property. It became privately owned once more after the Civil War. After falling into decline, it was rediscovered and restored in the late twentieth century.

The house itself is a recreation of medieval life, along with its Great Hall and the numerous replicas of medieval furniture. For me, one of the best things about this location was their exhibition. It’s entitled ‘Magic & Mystery’, illustrating the way people in the past looked at medicine, science, religion & magic. Throughout the medieval period, all of these were one connected, and Barley Hall explains how and why. Exploring these links in a place like this, it definitely felt like time-travelling! Utterly recommend.

The second best thing about this lovely location, is its Gift Shop, which is very much mystery-and-magic-themed, with all the loupe glasses, owls, quills, pewter cauldrons, potion bottles, candlesticks, hour-glasses, globes, incense sticks, and book-ends one could want. You feel like you’re in John Dee’s or Dumbledore’s office. What’s more, you can actually buy all the hour-glasses, etc. Altogether, this was a very illuminating afternoon for me, thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining.

Kudos to a museum and its Gift Shop that is all about the magic, witches & prophecies, and a certain famous wizard is not mentioned even once!

N.B. It was named Barley Hall after the chairman of the Trust that bought the building in the 1980's.

Here's Barley Hall official website for the latest information.

Address: 2 Coffee Yard, York YO1 8AR

Entry: £6.50 or £8 with a Medieval Pass which also includes access to the 'Henry VII Experience' at Micklegate Bar and 'Richard III Experience at Monk Bar'; alternatively, you can opt for a Pastport for £20, which gets you in to all of the Jorvik Group attractions in York, the most famous being the Jorvik Centre with their recreated Viking village underground. Time-travelling vibes aplenty.

Public Transport Access: 12 minutes walk from the main train station, 16 minutes if you take Dame Judi Dench walk (yes, that's the actual name of the embankment along the river Ouse).

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