Thursday, 29 October 2015

4 Wonders Of Pocklington

Welcome to the four wonders of Pocklington, compiled for your visiting pleasure by the Pocklington Ministry of Information in association with the town Council.

The planning procedure took over five years in development to allow you, the discerning visitor, a more informed choice of Pocklington's premier attractions. The list was prepared by the Four Wonders Working Party from nine different name selection subcommittees. Once shortlisted, the Wonders were further scrutinised by twenty other oversight committees before being finally adopted.

Although this system might seem archaic, time wasting and needlessly expensive, the level of bureaucracy involved elevated The Four Wonders Choosing Procedure to almost become a Wonder in its own right.

We hope you enjoy the list of Wonders outlined and make them part of your visit; if you want to know more about the 'Lesser Wonders' of Pocklington that didn't make it on to the list but are worth a visit regardless, please call at one of many Pubs which can be found dotted around the town.

The Four Wonders Of Pocklington

1. Pocklington Church

Originally known for religion and the flying man, this 849m colossus is not only the highest building in Pocklington but it also has a very reasonably priced cafeteria. 

"Give me a tower I can jump off!" With those noble words flying man Mr David Murray John proposed the building of a skyscraper to give Pocklington the skyline it had lacked since the destruction of the Cathedral of St Xynxd almost five centuries before.

The amazing 849m high Pocklington Church
At first glance the plans for the tower seemed almost modest; a wind tunnel for skydiving 45m high with a roof terrace, clock and airship docking tower - all normal stuff. However, just before the 'great finish' in May 1875 a militant band of Surrealists wrested control of the Builder's Union and threatened not to stop working until the labour force was paid less money. Subject to a legally-enforcable agreement with the previous union, the owners of the tower were powerless - and could only watch in horror as their beloved tower continued to grow as the militant surrealists refused to stop building.

By Christmas and with negotiations breaking down at every level, the tower had gone 26 floors over the planned limit. Encouraged by sympathetic suppliers who continued to deliver the striking builders with much-needed concrete and steel, the tower was still being constructed at an astonishing rate a year later when the owners finally managed to persuade the suppliers to cease trading with the increasingly aggresive builders.

Extreme surrealist builders in a restored photograph
When it seemed like the strike could go no further due to the lack of materials, help came unexpectedly from the good folk of Pocklington itself, who, impressed by the builder's tenacity began supplying the beleaguered strikers with newspapers and wallpaper paste, allowing them to continue building the next three floors of papier mache. undoubtedly impressive, but short-lived. When anti surrealist legislation was passed the following month the union was disbanded and the strike called off, two years and three months after it began.

When the owners finally regained possession of the tower they discovered a 1086m (reduced to 849m when the papier mache became soggy) engineering marvel that was found by structural engineers to be eminently usable, and the tower has remained to this day, a 849M high testament to not only Pocklington's skilled workforce but the short-lived surrealist movement that swept England in the 1870s.

Although the tower never did get its airship docking station the roof garden remains, from where on a clear day you can see three coasts. The tower contains a mix of apartments and office space, several cinemas, three swimming pools and the Pocklington Public Records Office. The top three floors of the building are also the only habitable areas of England which are located within controlled airspace.

Visitor's Information: Visitor's centre and museum on ground floor. Roof garden, very reasonably priced cafeteria and viewing gallery open seven days a week. Special Vertigo Sufferer's viewing platform at street level.

How to find it: Go to Pocklington and look up. Nearest Public Transport: Pocklington Bus Station, Station Road.


Surely one of Pocklington's finest areas of horticultural calm, the famous hanging baskets of Sherbuttgate draw in excess of 92,000 visitors a year.

A relatively small basket of physinphentics greets visitors to Sherbuttgate
The only 'Four Wonder' that was never in any question over inclusion, the Hanging Baskets of Sherbuttgate are famous the world over for not only their colour and striking fragrance, but for their variety. Even the fussiest flower basket nonce will find something to please them in the twenty or so hanging baskets on display, ranging in size from a tiddler barely 7' across to the "Colonel's Basket" which is 23' in diameter and weighs three tons.

Inaugurated in 1929 by General Sherbuttgate in the parkland named in his honour, the Baskets have been recently incorporated into a new housing estate as the Colonel demanded in his will. The buildings on the site are constructed of steel girders to take the massive weights, and each basket can be lowered by a system of pulleys ingeniously hidden within the basement of each house. 

An ingenious pulley system operates the baskets
Each homeowner in the estate is responsible for his or her own hanging basket and in return is given reduced rent and as much peat and peonies as they need. Due to a recent environmental outcry the Sherbuttgate Trust is happy to point out that they only use peat from renewable sources.

During Winter the more valuable baskets are moved by low-loader to nearby The Mouse House flower shop, where a climate-controlled greenhouse keeps them fresh for the next season.

Visitor's Information: Sherbuttgate is situated in the West of the Town near nothing. Visitor's centre on site and caters for all basket cases ; courses run in the summer months.  

Closest Public Transport: B1426 Bus Stop (signposted).
01759 303427  

3. The Lighthouse Of Railway Street Roundabout 

Constructed during the Great Global Warming Scare of 1832, this famous Pocklington landmark is unique for being the only lighthouse in the world invisible from any navigable waterway. 

Very useful landmark if you've had a skinful and need to find the bus station.
The Lightouse which now stands outside Franks Kebab shop is the only survivor of the Great Global Warming Scare of 1832 when local councils all over England were persuaded that rising sea levels would make inland towns like Pocklington a major shipping hazard.

When the danger had receded by 1838 and the instigator of the building process jailed for fraud, the Pocklington Town Council were embarassed but ingenious - what better way to give a reading light to the good folk of Pocklington in the dark days before electricity? For sixty years the lamp swept around the city between the hours of eight and ten, allowing those within its influence a chance to read in bed, albeit in only two second bursts every half minute.

When electricity and a drop in the price of candles doused the great lamp forever, the lighthouse's future looked bleak until it was converted into a bell tower for the local Chapel of St Xynxd, a use that ensured its survival into the twentieth century.

Now restored to its former glory, the Lighthouse on Railway Street roundabout is known equally well, not only as a tourist attraction but also as a useful landmark for Pocklington residents who have got a bit pissed or stoned and need to get their bearings to the bus station.

Visitor's Information: Visitor's centre open all year round but with limited entries - best book early for a time slot. Allow half an hour for a conducted tour to the restored lamp room.

How to find it: The Lighthouse can be found on Railway Street, just off Station Road. Visitors to the Pocklington Church nearby can make use of a 'two for one' ticket offer. Another Wonder, the Cathedral of
St Xynxd (site of), is only a short walk away. 

Nearest Public Transport: Pocklington Bus Station, Station Road.

Telephone: 01759 306612

The Cathedral Of St Vynxd (site of)

4. The Cathedral of St Xynxd (site of)

Despite the fact that nothing whatsoever remains above ground, the medieval cathedral that once graced this site was an equal to Chartres or York. On-site tours available.

Pocklington's Great Cathedral was founded in 1289 by St Xynxd and grew to be not only one of the finest and richest exponents of the medieval cathedral builders art, but also a seat of great learning and stability within the region. Although destroyed by fire during the reformation in 1536 and subsequently demolished, its enduring memory and undeniable regional importance ensures that it remains, despite its non-existence, as one of the truly great wonders of Pocklington.

Standing here in 1432 you would be looking along the arcade of the South aisle. 
Unique as the only medieval cathedral of any importance that no trace whatsoever remains, the vanished Cathedral of St
Xynxd remains one of the strongest tourist attraction of the Pocklington area.

So what did it look like? There are only three drawings of the cathedral itself, so details of its precise architectural finery are frustratingly sparse. There are many contemporaneous accounts of the richness of the building style, and by comparing these notes and studying similar cathedrals of the period and in conjunction with an archaeological survey conducted in 1822, we can gain a fairly clear picture of what the Cathedral once looked like.

The North Transept and Rose Window (site of)
As far as can be determined, the cathedral conformed to the 'cruciform' layout along an East-West axis with North and South transepts and a massive crossing tower augmented by two smaller towers at the Western entrance, roughly where
the end of the car park is now situated. If you stand near the recycling bins the south arcade runs directly into the rear of where Sainsbury's now stands - the central tower and transepts are centred on the checkout aisles.

Remains found in the 1822 archaeological survey and historical references suggest that the internal roof was rib vaulted and fragments of tracery point to a vast seven light window in the East and West ends - small shards of stained glass and sections of the central mullion can be seen in Burnby Hall Garden's museum, along with accurate reproductions of the rose windows that allegedly adorned the North and South transepts.

Site of the original font and entrance to scriptorium.
The last remaining above-ground section was a small stone arch that survived until St Xynxd's dramatic resurrection in 1988. Despite protestations the remnant was demolished to make way for an extension to the trolley park.

Visitors to the site today can be taken on a tour bus around the car park and guided tours amongst the shopping aisles of the present day Sainsbury 's will do much to re-invoke the flavour of medieval Pocklington. If preferred you can walk around the car park on your own, stopping at the occasional information boards which give explanations of where
parent and child parking bays are located

Visitor's Information: Visitor's centre open all year round with tour guides happy to take visitors on lecture tours of the site. The cathedral (site of) has the unique privilege of being the only World Heritage Site where you can also do your weekly shopping. Physical remnants of the cathedral can be found in the Burnby Hall Garden museum.

How to find it: The site is on the Sainsbury's superstore off The Balk not far from the bus station
Nearest Public Transport: Pocklington Bus Station.

01759 305974  

That's all four folks

With thanks to Jasper Fforde