York Minster is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The present building was begun in 1230 and completed in 1472. The Minster (word developed in Anglo Saxon times for a church established as a missionary teaching church) is 158m long built in the shape of a cross with a central tower and two towers at the West front.
It is built from a light creamy coloured stone and has a golden glow in the late afternoon sunshine.
There are numerous sculptures of figures and gargoyles decorating the outside of the building. The Minster has its own masons and carvers using the same traditional craft skills that would have been used in medieval times. They are currently replacing 3,500 stones at the East end of the Minster which have been eroded over the centuries. It takes 4 months for one mason to carve one new stone. It is estimated that it will take 10 years to complete the work.
Inside the cathedral you can see the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world in the Great East window which is roughly the same size as a tennis court. It was only when I was close to the window that I realised I was looking at a copy as the window is undergoing major restoration. In total 311 panels have been removed. Once restored some of the panels are being put on display so that visitors can have a closer view of them before they are put back into the window. In the 1950s the windows were restored but not accurately, so now they are taking out the 50s restoration work and trying to recreate the original colours and glasswork.
This was the panel before conservation. Notice the different colours on the cloak.
|This was the panel afterwards. Conservators have restored God's purple cloak to its original colour where the previous restoration had patched it with different shades of red.|
The Rose window
This is the Kings'screen surrounding the archway into the organ and Quire.
Below the Quire is the crypt where there are many relics dating back to medieval times. This is the Doomstone.
It shows ' Hell's cauldron'or 'the mouth of Hell'. It is a gruesome scene of lost souls being slowly pushed into a boiling cauldron by demons. More grinning demons stoke the fire under the cauldron.
These 700 year old stones were part of a sequence telling the story of the beginning of the world according to Genesis. They were removed in the 1990s from around the West door of the Minster and are now in the Undercroft. The rest of the stones were either unsafe or beyond repair and new stones have been carved by the Minster masons to replace them.
This book is 1000 years old and describes the life of Jesus. It is still used in the Minster today.
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