York Minster - Notable Cathedrals

York Minster has 128 stained glass windows.
York Minster has 128 stained glass windows.

The York Minster is the cathedral located in York and one of the biggest in Northern Europe. The York Minster is the York’s archbishop’s seat and the mother church of York province and the York diocese. The cathedral is under the chapter and dean from the York-dean. The term minster is ascribed to all the churches which were founded during the Anglo-Saxon era and operated to date. York Minster has a wide nave, perpendicular gothic, chapter house and numerous transepts.


The first recorded church structure was the wooden structure constructed in 627 to provide a site for the baptism of King Edwin of Northumbria. The construction of a substantial fabric began during the 630s. Oswald dedicated the stone structure to St Peter in 637. The library and school were established around the 8th century, and they were the most substantial in Europe. The church was destroyed by fire in 741 and then rebuilt into the 30 altars structure. The history of the cathedral is obscure until the 10th century since different invaders took over the city and the Minster. The structure was damaged during William’s harassment of the north in 1069, but it was repaired in 1070 by Archbishop Thomas. It was later destroyed by the Danes in 1075 and then reconstructed in 1080 in the Norman style. The new church burned down in 1137. In 1154 a new chapel was added and the crypt and choir were remodelled.

The Gothic style arrived during the mid-12th century, and the archbishop Walter de Gray ordered the construction of Gothic structures in 1215. The development of the south and north transepts ended during the 1250s and building of the Gothic structures continued until the 15th century. The construction of the Chapterhouse, which lasted for almost 36 years, began around the 1260s. The outer roofing was constructed in the 1330s while the vaulting ended in 1360. The consecration of the Gothic cathedral was done in 1472 after the construction was complete. The Minster fell into debt in the 1850s, and all the services were stopped until 1868 when Augustus Duncombe revived the York Minster.

Unique features

York has a long tradition of building beautiful stained glasses and some of the old stained glasses which date back to around the 12th century are in the minster. The 128 stained glass windows are made up of 2 million pieces. The northwest tower holds 6-clock bells which weigh around 3 tons while the southwest tower contains 14 bells. The cathedral also homes numerous shrines including the tomb of Walter de Gray which is in the southern transept.


Funded by the chapter of York, York minster fund, and the Heritage lottery fund, the £20 million conservation project was the biggest of its type. The restoration included the 600 years old window which was dismantled piece by piece before being restored. The panels illustrate different scenes from the book of revelations in graphic details. Each window was cleaned and documented before being reinstated. Restoration of the east-front window lasted for over a decade and during this time the stonemasons repaired over 2,500 stones. The windows conservation project involved the use of new materials including the Ultra-violet resistant glasses. An attraction was developed beneath the Minster for visitors to enjoy the over two century’s worth of history.


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