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I think I skipped York Minster on my first visit to the city - the tourist hordes were just too much.
Last time (February 15) I got out of my hotel at dawn and was at the church by 7.30. Dead quiet. Wonderful. I was too early to go inside (except for worship) but the outside is impressive.
It is the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps, apparently. The current structure was started in 1220 and took 250 years to complete. The first church on the site was in 627.
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Five Sisters Window
The five sisters window is in the north transept of York Minster and is the worlds largest lancet window and is made of Grisaille glass. Grisaille is French for grey, which is the colour the window looks. Each lancet is 16 metres high [ about 52 feet ]
The Chapter House of York Minster is entered from the North Transept near the astronomical clock .Dates from 1260 , in decorated gothic style. It is an octagonal room with seven large stained glass windows in perpendicular style. The Chapter House was created as a meeting place for the Dean and Chapter of York Minster, it is still used for the same purpose today. The entrance to Chapter House is by a small doorway near seven sisters window in the north transept.
The York minster is a favourite with tourists & locals alike. The best photographic view is the side view unless you have a wide-angle lens with the cramped angle view. Visitors can sit & pray but a fee is required if you want to wander inside with your camera. A fee is also required to go up the cathedral towers to see the view over the city.
- Historical Travel
Eboracum - Roman York
Compared to other Roman cities, there's not a lot of Eboracum left, and what remains has often been co-opted into more modern buildings, like York Minster. But be in no doubt - this was a major Roman settlement in the north of England. Eboracum's greatest claim to fame is being the crowning place of Rome's first Christian emperor: Constantine the Great. He was staying in the city when his father died, and he was anointed on the spot. A statue of him can be found outside York Minster near the remains of the Roman basilica.
York Minster was built to be the greatest Cathedral in England, and it remains to this day one of the most magnificent medieval buildings in the world. The immense scale is more apparent than in some other cities, because it stands in such stark contrast to the small, tight low-rise nature of York's old town. It peeks out through the buildings as you approach it, and towers over the city when viewed from the city walls. It's the most iconic, most visible symbol of the city.
It's built upon some of the earliest vestiges of Christianity - the Roman's likely built a Basilica here when they adopted Christianity around the fourth century, but a church has been recorded in this spot since 627 when a hurried wooden structure was thrown up. Like York, it's survived a checkered history of Vikings, Normans and even King Henry VIII reformation, and remains today the home of a diocese second only to Canterbury.
The size of York Minister and its architecture are striking. It's over 500 feet wide and has a central tower almost 200 feet high. While you are looking around the Minster bear in mind it took over 250 years to complete and the only tools they had then were simple levers, pulleys and hoists. Many Masons and Carpenters spent their entire working lives helping to erect York Minster. Over the years it has had major repair and restoration works done and on our visit continuing maintenance work was underway.
The construction used huge quantities of magnesium limestone. It weathers and cleans itself turning from white when first quarried to the lovely pale golden honey colour which is the colour we see today. York Minster is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe along with Cologne Cathedral. The title "Minster" refers to churches built in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches.
The first church on the site was a wooden one built in 627 to christen the Anglo-Saxon King, Edwin of Northumbria. Later a bigger stone one replaced the earlier one. Work on the present Gothic building began in 1230 and was completed in 1472. Gothic style uses pointed arches to enable window sizes to increase and allow more light into the building.
York Minster was a Catholic church before 1534. Now it is Church of England. It is the seat of the Archbishop of York as well as a popular tourist site. As a tourist you can enter the Minster, Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt and Tower - while services are taking place restrictions will apply.
The Nave is the widest Gothic one in the country. Above the great West Window, installed in 1338, look for the heart-shaped carving nicknamed the heart of Yorkshire. The Chapter house, an octagonal building, because of it shape has good acoustics.
The North and South transepts were the first parts of the new church built. The Minster has a Gothic choir and east end, and Early English north and south transepts. Over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window. Finished in 1408, it the largest expanse of medieval stained-glass in the world. It depicts the beginning and the end of the world based on the Bible stories and is almost the size of a tennis court. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 metres (52 ft) high. The stained-glass Rose Window is something that no visitor can fail to miss. It’s at the front entrance and possibly the most beautiful window in the minster. It tells the story of the houses of York and Lancaster which historically fought each other and finally united.
The Screen is the most impressive screen I've ever seen. Instead of religious figures the screen displays statues of 15 English kings, from William I to Henry VI.
Walking down the stairs of the minster to the Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt you will find skeletons of buildings that were previously on the site of the Minster. Some date from the original Roman fortress on the site others from Viking and medieval times. You can also have a look at the Minister’s collection of treasures.
I’m impressed with the beauty of the Minster, in particular the windows I mentioned earlier, the Screen and the Nave. In my inexperienced opinion York Minster and Westminster Abbey are of equal magnificence. If visiting the Minster you should be aware the Minster is still a place of worship and while these are in progress access controls apply to certain areas. Anybody is welcome to join in any of the daily services though.
If you are energetic climb the Tower - the largest in England. Its 275 steps are steep and the stairway is very narrow but from the top the views are worth the climb for you can see for miles not to mention the medieval streets and horse carriages down below that take you back in time.
- Historical Travel
York Minster inside
The Minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic choir and east end and Early English north and south transepts. The choir has an interior height of 31 m.
The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window, (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 metres high. The south transept contains a famous rose window, while the West Window contains a famous heart-shaped design, colloquially known as 'The Heart of Yorkshire'.
You can watch my 3 min 13 sec Video York Minster part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Open daily from 7:00am until 6:30pm
Monday - Saturday: open 9:00am; last entry at 5pm
Sunday: 12.00pm - 5.00pm
No sightseeing on Good Friday and Easter Sunday or on Sundays before 12.00pm.
In the winter, Tower Trips may be affected by the weather and will only be available on the day.
Please note there are occasions when York Minster is open for services only.
There are a range of ticket options to suit every visitor, from families to individuals and those wanting to visit more of York’s brilliant attractions. For those traveling in a group of 10 or more people, find out about Group Visits.
Plus, your admission ticket to York Minster is valid for 12 months!
Combined Ticket (Minster and Tower)
Seniors and Students £14
Child £5 (ages 8-16)
Family Pass (1 adult + up to 4 children) £10
Family Pass (2 adults + up to 4 children) £20
Seniors or Students £9
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York Minster outside
York Minster is a famous cathedral as one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.
The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472.
It has a cruciform plan with an octagonal chapter house attached to the north transept, a central tower and two towers at the west front. The stone used for the building is magnesian limestone, a creamy-white colored rock that was quarried in nearby Tadcaster. The Minster is 158 m long and each of its three towers are 61 m high.
You can watch my 5 min 18 sec Video York Minster part 1 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
- Historical Travel
Statue of Constantine
Close to the southern door of the Minster, there is a statue of Constantine the Great. He was proclaimed Emperor of Rome in 306A.D., right here in York! Of course the Minster was not there at that time, but at the very spot there were the headquarters of the Roman fortress and it is highly probable that the proclamation took place there.
Constantine was the first Roman Emperor who became a Christian and therefore was utterly important to the course of European history.
Three weeks after my visit to York I travelled to Milan and saw a statue of Constantine the Great in front of the church of San Lorenzo alle Colonne. Constantine stopped the prosecution of Christians through the Edict of Milan in 313A.D. Seeing two statues of the same person about 2000km away from each other made me realize how huge the Roman Empire actually was!
- Historical Travel
Renovations at the Minster
A huge cathedral such as the Minster needs to be constantly renovated and fixed, and there are several places where you can see this process going on.
Walking to the rear of the Minster, you pass a small hut surrounded by fencing. There are many stones kept here and if you are lucky, you can even see masons at work! There are many elaborate carvings that are finished and are waiting to be installed somewhere on the Minster, and it is fascinating to see them up close.
When I visited, the north-eastern façade was totally scaffolded. At the moment (2012), the window on this side has been taken out and is currently repaired and worked on. There is a huge cloth installed at the wall which shows an original-sized photograph of the window so that visitors can imagine what it will look like when it is there again.
Dean's Park was one of my favourite places in York. It is the wonderful green park that is surrounding the Minster, and a great place to relax and sit down while enjoying spectacular views of the Minster. You can see the Minster from very different angles and it is a great photo opportunity as well.
There are benches along the walk ways and it seems that this is a popular spot not only for tourists, but also for the locals. In the evening, it becomes quieter and is very peaceful. On my very first evening in York, I came here after my long train ride from Germany and my grocery shopping on Bootham Road, it was the first place I visited in the city and I sat down and immediately enjoyed the atmosphere and the spiritual presence of the grand building surrounded by the park.
This once was the Minster Close and only the people associated with the Minster were allowed to come here. It is still surrounded by buildings belonging to the Minster, such as the Dean's House, the Treasurer's House and St William's College. It still feels like another world within the city, and it is easy to imagine how secluded this world once was.
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Minster - climb the Central Tower
Visitors can climb the Central Tower, which is the square one you can only see from some special angles, such as from Dean's Park. You need to climb 275 steps in order to get to the top, where you can enjoy a wonderful 360° view of York and its surroundings. It really is a fine view, and what I enjoyed even more were the glimpses on the Minster's architecture. I find it very fascinating to see the outside of stained-glass windows, struts supporting the walls, pinnacles and other decorations. You can also see the two southwest towers from a unique perspective. It is amazing that they look so massive and huge from the ground when you are standing in front of the Minster, but much smaller when you look on them from the neighboring Central Tower.
The climb upon the tower is not included in your general entrance fee to the Minster, you need to obtain a special ticket.
Opening times differ a lot from season to season, so please refer to the website to get current information!
Admission fee: Adults £6.00, concession £5.00, children £3.50
Minster - the Chapter House
When I entered the Chapter House, it took my breath away. This place was so beautiful and stunning that I could not believe it! And it seemed that everybody felt the same, because the handful of people present all wandered around in awe, nobody was talking, everyone was just admiring the architecture and glancing at the ceiling and the high windows.
The construction of the Chapter House was completed in 1290 and some of the windows still retain the original glass from that time. It has an octagonal shape and along the walls there are forty-four seats for the canons of the Minster. The Chapter House was built as a meeting place for them and is still used as such. It is an unusual feature that there is no central column in the middle of the room, the roof supports itself by timber structures. The wonderful painting on the ceiling was added in 1798. I could not stop looking at it because I thought it so beautiful.
When I visited the Chapter House for the second time, there was a young couple who suddenly started singing together, a classical piece of music with two parts. They did not sing that loud, but everyone stopped and listened to them. It was just magical.
- Religious Travel
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St Williams College
St Williams College is a beautiful half-timbered building located close to the Minster. It was shown to me during our VT meeting and I thought it strikingly beautiful at once, especially when the sun was shining and the white looked so bright.
The house was built in 1461 and it was a school for the young men educated at the Minster to become priests. It was named after St William, a nephew of King Stephen and maybe a descendent of William the Conquerer. During the 16th and 17th century it was altered a lot and was used as simple tenements. In the Civil War, it was used by King Charles I as home for his printing presses. Today, it can be hired for venues and is also home to a restaurant.
You are free to walk into the inner courtyard and admire the fantastic framework!
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