Alongside Cologne Cathedral, this handsome gothic cathedral is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The Minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second highest office in the Church of England. It is distinguished by a very wide decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a perpendicular Gothic choir and east end and early English north and south transepts, but in particular its Great East Window, finished in 1408, which is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. Its other windows are no less remarkable: in the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 metres high; while the south transept contains the Minster’s famous rose window.
It is no wonder then that the cathedral is running a five-year project called ‘York Minster Revealed’, which with the aid of a £10m Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to expand training in the specialist crafts of stone masonry and stained glass conservation.
Its windows are just some of the ‘eight wonders’ of York Minster you should look out for when visiting: apart from the Five Sisters Window, dating from 1250, and the Great West Window, known as the ‘heart of Yorkshire’ the Minster’s wonders include the chapter house with its ingeniously designed wooden vault ceiling; the recreation of the medieval choir stalls originally destroyed by fire; and the King Screen depicting the kings that reigned during the construction of the Norman and medieval cathedrals. There is also the 13th-century Old Palace, home to York Minster’s Historic Collection; the nave, the widest in any medieval cathedral; and the Astronomical Clock, a memorial to the Allied aircrews from Yorkshire and the North-East. On one face is shown the precise position of the sun in relation to the Minster at any time and on the other, the position of the northern stars by which aircrew navigated at night.
There is always a full programme of concerts and recitals at the Minster, as well as free guided tours and the opportunity to tour the new Glass Conservation Studio at Bedern Chapel. On entering the Minster you will realise it is much more than just a place of worship.
York Minster, Tork YO1 7HH
Tel: 0844 939 0011