Working In Stonegate - a Memory of York.

My first real job, not counting student employment, was working in Godfrey's Book Shop, Stonegate, York. The shop was at that time the largest antiquarian bookstore in the North of England - unfortunately it no longer exists. It was owned by Mr. Duffield and managed by Mr. Jan Janieurek. Originally from Poland, Jan was an extremely knowledgeable book man who had trained at Blackwells, Oxford. He actually encouraged the staff to browse among the books and read, even borrow what interested us. What a treat for a twenty-one year old book lover! I loved working in that three storey, Tudor building which was full of nooks and crannies and unexpected treasures. I was responsible for tracking down out of print books which we did not have in stock but which customers had requested and advertise the books which we wanted to sell through the trade magazine - "The Clique". The staff all had specific responsibilities but we all (Charles, Brenda and Andrew and I) served in the shop as required. Mrs. Rogan cleaned and made us all coffee at 11.00 a.m. My salary was very small so I could only afford to eat once a day and spent my lunch hours exploring the city centre. York is still my favourite city. There are so many layers of history and it is all so visible and accessible. The Minster, just on the photograph, was a favourite place. I spent hours there, exploring its art and architecture, listening to a choir practice, or occasionally enjoying a recital by that exceptional organist, Francis Jackson. A memory which will always be with me is attending a carol service on Christmas Eve in the Minster. It was dusk. A light snow fell gently outside complementing the warmth and flickering shadows from the candles and low light within. The lovely choral music soared to the roof and echoed off the glowing limestone of that magnificent building. I have lived in Canada for forty years but that memory evokes more than any other, Christmas in England.

I have rarely returned to Britain since leaving in 1967 but never leave without a visit to York. Last year it was exciting to see the Roman remains discovered in the foundation of the minister while repair work was being undertaken. Yet another layer. What a building, what a city!

A memory shared by Hilary Cass on Mar 18th, 2009.
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