A Brief History of York Minster

Jan 10, 2018

Sitting in the heart of York, The Minster is a breathtaking sight. Its lofty spires reach high above the skyline, whilst the chime of its bells can be heard across the city.

At 72m high and near 160m long, the ancient Gothic cathedral is the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.

Over two million people visit The Minster annually, making it York’s most recognisable landmark. 

The seat of the Archbishop of York, The Minster was completed in 1472. However, the site itself has a history stretching back near 2000 years. It was first used in 627, when a wooden church was erected for the baptism of Edwin, King of Northumbria.

The original lands have changed hands many times over the millennia, with the Romans, Danes and Normans all staking a claim for this hallowed ground at some stage throughout history.

Work on the current Minster first began in 1220 and was completed 250 years later, in 1472. Since then, The Minster has been raided by looters during the Reformation years and suffered a huge fire in 1984 that destroyed much of the south roof.

York Minster boasts one of the most impressive collections of Medieval stained glass in the world. Much of the beautiful artwork here still possess their original panels, dating back as far as 1270.

Look up at the southern tower and you’ll see the Rose Window. This iconic glasswork commemorates the end of the War of the Roses, between the red and white roses of Lancaster and York.

The cathedral’s central tower is a staggering 230ft tall. The highest point on the city skyline, climbing the steps to the top offers wonderful views of the old city.

The Minster is one of only two churches in the world to employ its own police force, the other being St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It also employs a group of stonemasons and glaziers, who work on the building to this day, maintaining the style of their 13th century peers.

Must See:

Be sure to admire the beautiful Great East Window. This 15th century artwork is the largest example of medieval stained glass in the country, at a heady 23m tall.

The size of a tennis court, the window depicts the beginning and end scenes from the Biblical books of Genesis and Revelations.

In 2008, each pane of glass was removed and painstakingly repainted as part of a huge restoration project to preserve the window’s beauty.

Fox’s Fact:

It is said that lovers who kiss under the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ window will stay together forever.

Admission:

York Minster is open daily, from 9.00am to 5.00pm, though service may restrict opening hours.

Each purchased ticket guarantees unlimited return visits for 12 months after purchase.

Click here for more information on ticket prices.

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