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Collecting tolls on the Ouse at York….

York from St Mary's, showing the Barker Tower slight right of centre

York from St Mary’s Tower, showing Barker Tower slight right of centre

How did the citizens of York collect tolls from vessels on the River Ouse? They had a great big chain across the river, between two guardian towers, the Barker Tower and the Lendal Tower on the opposite bank. Simple, but effective.

“This river-side tower was built in the 14th century. It was positioned at the boundary of the medieval city-centre and, in conjunction with Lendal Tower on the opposite bank, was used to control river traffic entering the city. A great iron chain was stretched across the river between the two towers and boatmen had to pay a toll to cross it. The chain also served as a defence for the city. As early as 1380 Thomas Smyth was named as the tower’s ‘keeper of the chain’.

“For boats coming downstream it would be the second toll in quick succession; St Mary’s Abbey had its own tower and toll collection system a little further up the river.

“Barker tower was leased for long periods to various ferrymen (and at least one woman) who ran passengers across the Ouse until Lendal Bridge was built in 1863. The ferry ran ‘in summer and winter, fair weather and foul, Sundays and weekdays’.

“The ferry was put out of business when Lendal Bridge opened in 1863. The tower has had plenty of other uses over the years, including as a mortuary for a brief time in the 19th century.”

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This blog is brought to you …

… by a thing called the internet. The internet may only have been invented by (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee (left) during the eighties but it has a much older patron saint – the seventh century Archbishop of Seville, Isidore.

 

St. Isidore (right), who died in 636, was chosen because he wrote the Etymologiae, an early encyclopedia that unified several classical works that would otherwise have been lost to us.

So, if you are deeply religious and your connection drops out, instead of cursing, you know exactly what to do …

George III revealed

This documentary, presented by Robert Hardman of the Daily Mail, unveils some of our longest-serving King’sgeorgeiii secrets, such as a draft abdication letter after American independence was achieved. It also discusses his health issues in greater detail. Until recently, it was thought that he suffered from porphyria, a physical disease that Mary Stuart carried to her descendants but now it appears that he was afflicted by some form of insanity and was aware of it in the early stages. Hardman tells us that George, as a prolific writer, is likely to have appreciated the many scientific and georgetechtechnological advances that followed his reign.

We are also told how, at the onset of his reign, he micro-managed his royal duties, possibly wearing out his formidable mind. Just like Henry VI, George III had an early attack, in 1782 when his favourite son died and the letter was drafted, but recovered within months, only to lose that mind irrevocably at a later stage. Fortunately, George had several adultoldgeorgeiii sons, the eldest of which could serve as Regent, whilst he stumbled around unaware, either mentally or visually, of his granddaughter Charlotte’s death in childbirth or of her cousin’s birth. At least he knew about the “discovery” of Australia.

Here  is a link to the recently released “Georgian Papers Online”, now part of the Royal Collection and here is Hardman’s original article.

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