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Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, TX
Director of Music, Scott Detra
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York                                           The fascinating townscape of this walled city illustrates much of its nearly 2,000 years history.  York possesses in its Minster the largest medieval church in Northern Europe, the general scale of its building is small and human.  Even today York seems more medieval than almost any other English town.  The compact core is a treasure house for anyone interested in history, architecture or ancient crafts, and is best seen on foot.  The Romans called the place Eboracum, and built a fort in AD.71.  Under the Angles, York was capital of their Kingdom of Deira.  King Edwin was baptised here by Paulinus, who became the first Archbishop of York in 634.  The Danes captured and burnt York in 867 and it was their capital in England for nearly 100 years, they called it Jorvik and it is from this that the present name derives.  There is nothing left to see of Anglo Saxon and Danish York, but the use of the word gate for street is a reminder that the Danes did settle here.  The Norman's found a thriving little trading centre and burnt it in 1069 during their frightful ravaging of the North, and then rebuilt the walls, expanding them to take the present 263 acres.  Medieval York is everywhere, not least in the web of narrow streets.  The Shambles and Stonegate are two of the best preserved examples.  Too the East of the Minster is the half timbered St William's College.  Three of the nine Guildhalls still survive.  All the city walls are medieval rebuilt on the Roman and Norman foundations in the 13th Century.  A 2.5 mile footpath on the walls gives a circular tour of the city.  In the middle ages, York was England's second city a great religious and commercial centre.  A lovely city with much to see and enjoy.
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Web Link to Historic York

York Minster                    The Minster is York's chief glory, appropriate to the dignity of an Archbishopric, built between 1220 and 1470, it contains England's greatest concentration of medieval stained glass, principally from the 13th and 14th Centuries.  The two most famous windows being the five sisters and the magnificent 15th Century east window, the largest in the world.  The Ministers length is 518ft and is 241ft wide at the transept.  The central tower rises 198ft and is the largest lantern tower in Britain.  The 14th Century Chapter House with seven lovely window walls has no central support for its conical roof, just the great buttresses on the eight sides.  The Choir was completed by 1400 and its great climax the east window with 2,000 sq ft of ancient glass by John Thornton of Coventry was finished in 1408, the massive towers came last.
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York Castle (Cliffords tower)     In 1068 William the Conquer built 2 Motte & Bailey castles in York.  Both where later destroyed by a Danish fleet helped by the people of York. Eventually William rebuilt the two castles and the mound on which now stands Cliffords Tower became a part of the main fortress.  However except for the tower very little of the original castle now exists.  The tower was built between 1245 & 1272 and has been the scene of many historical events.  It is reported that the rebel leader Robert Aske was allegedly hung from the walls in chains and starved to death.  The tower also played its part in the Civil War siege of York in 1644.  Then between 1825 & 1935 it was used as a prison.  But its most infamous historical reference is the Jewish massacre of March 1190, when an estimated 150 Jews, the entire Jewish Community of York, Died after taking refuge in the Royal Castle.
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Beverley                                 One of the North’s most premier towns, the Minster in all it glory dominates the town and a tangle of old streets, cobbled lanes and elegant terraces of Georgian & Victorian homes make it a delight to the visitor.  Over 300 buildings are listed for preservation.
This is the oldest town in East Yorkshire. The North bar (circa 1409) is the only one of the original 5 Medieval Gatehouses to have survived.  The original town was not surrounded by a wall but by an excavated deep ditch.  The only right of entry therefore was by crossing one of the bridges and passing through one of the gates.  This made the town very wealthy.  Each vehicle passing through a gate had to pay a toll.
A wide market square is dominated by an elegant market cross bearing the arms of Queen Anne in who’s reign it was built.
The other Church in town is St Mary’s built in the 12th Century as a chapel for the Minster, it has a lively Medieval painted ceiling.
Lewis Carroll visited St Mary’s quite often when he stayed with friends in town.  It is said that a stone carving of a rabbit in the church was his inspiration for the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland.
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Beverley Minster          The history of Beverley Minster starts with the life of St John of Beverley who was born in 640AD. He was a monk at St Hilda`s abbey at Whitby and was consecrated Bishop of Hexham in 687.  He also ordained the Venerable Bede and features in the Bedes history of England.  John became Bishop of York in 705 and eventually returned to the Abbey he had founded in Beverley.  He died in 721 and his remains are buried in the Minster.
The Church St John founded was eventually destroyed by the Danes but rebuilt by King Athelstan some 200 years later.  The present building was begun on the site of the earlier Churches in 1220 and eventually completed in 1420. Very little of the earlier building remains except some re-used stone. Two pieces of furniture do exist which pre date the present building, one is the Fridstol or Sanctuary chair carved from a single block of stone, definitely a relic from the earlier Saxon Church on the site.  The other is the Font which definitely dates back to Norman times.
Beverley Minster fell on bad times at the time of the dissolution and it was only the efforts of the local people who persuaded Queen Elizabeth I to save some of the confiscated endowments that helped to preserve the Parish Church.
Today the twin towers of the Minster built of Magnesium Limestone soar above the town and the Minster is greatly admired for its architectural symmetry & harmony in the absence of a central tower.

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Castle Howard                        Seen against the backdrop of the Howardian Hills, the splendour of Castle Howard is all the more astonishing.  The largest house in Yorkshire, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh this was his first house (his second was Blenheim Palace).  The clerk of works was Nicholas Hawksmore, a partnership of brilliance.  It was started in 1700 but by the time of completion in 1737, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who commissioned it, Vanbrugh and Hawksmore were all dead.  The total cost of building was a then staggering £78,000.  The house is set in over 1,000 acres of parkland, has two lakes and is home to a vast treasure of pictures and antiques.
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Fountain Abbey  (Declared a world heritage site)          The majestic ruins of possibly the Greatest Abbey in England, stand in this scenic valley of the River Skell.  Just a few miles South West of Ripon.  Even today so much of the building is still visible.  From very humble beginnings, a rise to power then total Dissolution under Henry VIII.  It was from St Mary`s Abbey York, that the prior and some followers left to establish a new Cistercian order here at Fountains in 1132.  They started to build and over the years the community grew in property, prosperity & recruits. Unfortunately this power and wealth replaced the original Cistercian ideals and was a great prize for Henry VIII during the Dissolution.  He sold it to Sir Richard Gresham in 1540.  One can clearly see from the ruins the picture of what life in a Monastic institution was like during the middle ages.  The tower stands a remarkable 168ft in height with the church extending some 360ft.  In 1738 William Aisdale who owned the adjoining Studley Royal Estate purchased Fountains and continued to mould the two together.  Landscaping and gardening as he went along.  Today the Cistercian Abbey ruins are the largest in Britain blending in naturally with a landscape of ornamental lakes, cascades, bridges, river walks and eye catching vistas.  A 500 head deer colony live in the deer park and at night the whole area of the ruins are floodlit.
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