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When you think of York Minster, you think of a cathedral, but when I went in the autumn I was surprised by how much there was to do.
When you walk into the cathedral, you sense how imposing the vastness of the building is and notice such amazing intricacy. All of the pieces of art are fascinating to look it.
If you go up the tower, you get a fantastic view of the city, but beware: the steps are very steep and narrow, and will make you dizzy. I had a problem getting back down because my feet are too big!
Possibly the best part, however, was the undercroft. It's very eerie underneath and you can feel the presence of so many generations that have walked before, right from the Romans.
If you get the chance to go there when a choir is performing, then that is the time to go. They happened to be rehearsing when I was there. The acoustics were brilliant and especially haunting from below in the undercroft.
This review is of the historic York Minster, a cathedral situated in the heart of York. The present building dates primarily from around 1200-1400, but there has been a religious building on this site since around 650AD.
The Minster is easily accessible and easy to find given its size. Parking is available near the Minster, but as it is in the heart of York, there are many other parking locations. Buses stop nearby, and it is no more than a ten minute walk from York railway station. The building has the facilities that you would expect, a small restaurant, shop, toilets and volunteers are at hand if you have any queries.
There is a charge to enter the Minster, which is eight pounds. This includes admission to the Minster itself, the crypt and the undercroft. It doesn't include admission to the Tower, which is five pounds, and you can climb the Tower without paying to enter the Minster itself. You can however go back at any time during the twelve months following the date of your ticket if you keep the receipt which is issued to you.
It could be argued that Cathedrals should be free to go in and visit, but with buildings with such an impressive size and with such costs, this isn't always possible. Given the tourist interest that this building generates, it seems sensible to charge and the costs aren't too onerous. On my visit however, there was one rather objectionable gentleman who stormed in with his wife and said loudly "you have to pay to go in a Church, no wonder they're so quiet". His wife ushered him out embarrassed, with the volunteers and staff looking quite unimpressed! Personally however, although I agree that Cathedrals should be free where possible, I didn't object to paying for entry.
If money is an problem however, you are allowed to enter the building without charge if you wish to pray or have a quiet moment inside the Minster. It just seems to be a matter of asking the volunteers or staff to be allowed in.
One thing that I noticed when walking around the Minster was that there wasn't much history explained, it wasn't clear what to look out for beyond the basic guide which you receive and the building was hard to put into context. However, if you visit the undercroft (which is included in the admission) there is a superb exhibition which corrects this.
What I didn't know until I visited the undercroft is that the Minster is situated on Roman, Viking and Norman buildings, which are still visible as the walls of these form part of the foundations of the present day building. It was a fascinating exhibition which was bigger than I had expected, and you stand right underneath the Tower and see just what is underneath the structure. It's always fascinating to see areas like this, and a lot of effort had been put into this display.
Whilst walking through the undercroft, you can also see the treasury where valuables from the Minster and surrounding churches are kept, with descriptions of each of the items. You can then also walk through the Crypt, which has some exhibitions about the building and the people who work at the Minster. There are marks on the floor, and original pillars, of where the original churches used to be, as the building has been much extended over its lifetime.
If you wish, you can also climb to the top of the Tower. You will need to be reasonably fit to do this, as there are 275 steps to climb, which will take you some time, especially if you need to take a few breaks. The view from the top however is staggering, and well worth it as you can see the various roofs on the minster itself and most of York.
The building generally is suitable for the disabled and those who may have difficulty with mobility. The minster itself is all one level, but you are likely to struggle to access parts of the undercroft and crypt, and the Tower would be inaccessible. The staff and volunteers on the site were very helpful though, and would no doubt assist with whatever they could.
One very minor criticism is of the staff in the building itself, who although clearly do a superb job, do seem to intrude unnecessarily into the prayers and contemplation of some visitors. It may have been a coincidence when I visited, but two members of staff were having a loud and irrelevant conversation in a quiet area whilst an individual was in prayer and two others continually shouted to each other, which in a building like this does rather echo around when it is quiet.
There are lots of things to see in the building, and there are small displays which explain what is going on. Two examples are the stained glass window sections which they have put into cases while the Great East Window is being repaired, explaining the conservation work and how they replace and mark the new pieces of glass. Another example are some partially burnt wooden beams from the fire of 1984, with an explanation of how the fire happened and what damage was done.
Before visiting, I was a little confused as to why York Minster was called this, and not called a cathedral. It was however explained that a a cathedral is the mother church of a diocese and a minster is a church built to be a centre for Christian worship. York Minster is both a cathedral and a minster, but not all cathedrals are minsters and not all minsters are cathedrals.
In summary, this is a beautiful building with a wonderful history. You are likely to be impressed just sitting and taking in the enormity of the building, but there is lots of details about the history available in the museum underneath the Minster. It is definitely a place that should be visited, and if you can, go at a quiet period so that you can contemplate on the beauty of the building more easily.
As the King George VI said "The history of York is the history of England. I don't know how right he was, but I would like to say the history of York Minster is the history of York indeed.
York Minster is Northern Europe's largest remaining medieval church, also one of the world's great masterpieces in design and construction.
Back in AD 627 York's first Minster was built to christen the Anglo Saxon King, Edwin of Northumbria. It was originally a small wooden church, and then later rebuilt to be a bigger stone one. However it was badly damaged by fire in the year 1069 during the Norman period.
Around the year 1080 Normans started building a cathedral, which was completed 20 years later. It was built on the very site of the Saxon church. Incidentally near this place Constantine the Great was proclaimed Roman Emperor in AD 306.
In the 13th century people started to build the South and North transepts, and then the East end with the building of the Lady Chapel and the Quire. In 1472 the Western towers were added and the Minster finally completed to be the one we know today. That said the Minster had taken about 250 years to take its final shape.
It was a Catholic church until 1534. Now it is an Anglican working church as well as a popular tourist site. It is open daily except for the service times. As a tourist you can enter the Minster, Undercroft, Treasury, Crypt and Tower. Currently the entry prices to all these sites are £9.50 for adults, £3.00 for children and £8.00 for concessions. You can also choose single site or mixed sites to visit. Of course individual site prices will be lower. Do remember children under the age of 8 may not climb the Tower and people who suffer from vertigo should think twice.
What you can see
York Minster is very important within the Church of England. It is the seat of the Archbishop of York, who is the most prominent bishop after the Archbishop of Canterbury. As the second largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, it is 158 metres long and 60 metres high. Besides admiring the magnificent buildings there are certainly a lot of things to see. Here I have selected just a few that attracted me the most.
1. The Rose Window
The Rose Window is something that no visitor can fail to miss. It's just at the front entrance and a stained glass window, which is considered to be the most beautiful window of the minster. It tells the story of the houses of York and Lancaster, who historically had fights for the crown and control of England and eventually were united under Henry VII.
2. The Great East Window
The Great Eastern Window is the largest single piece of stained glass in the world. It depicts the beginning and the end of the world based on biblical stories. It is almost the size of a tennis court and dates back to between 1405 and 1408. You really have to see it to believe it.
3. The Great West Window
The Great West Window is next to the nave, and is also known as the 'Heart of Yorkshire'. This is due to the heart shaped scenes in the centre. It was constructed in 1338.
4. The Five Sisters Window
The Five Sisters Window is in the north transept and is made up of five rectangular glasses. It is over 16 metres tall and the earliest window to be built in the church.
5. The Screen
It's 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.
6. The Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt
Walking down the stairs of the minster you will find skeletons of buildings that were on the site of the Minster before it was built. These include the remains of a Roman fortress as well as evidence of Viking and medieval constructions. You can also have a look at the collection of treasures.
7. The Tower
It is the largest church tower in England. That means you have to climb 275 steep steps to get the top. The views from the top by all means are breathtaking and outstanding. Walking along the tower you can see almost all of York, even more if the sky is clear. Not to mention the medieval streets and horse carriages down below that can take you back in time.
Needless to say I'm very 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.
However when I was there in the late night I came across the visit of the Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux. Mingling with the thousand visitors and pilgrims in the spacious and bright palace I was really fascinated by the power of religion. It became the clearest memory of my trip to the Minster and the city of York.
PS. Welcome to visit my blog for more pictures.
Churches come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, but they don't come much bigger than York Minster. York Minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, which is the second most prominent seat within the Church of England, after the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is therefore not too surprising to find that the Archbishop of York's official seat is very grand, in fact York Minster is the second largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe, and only the magnificent Kölner Dom, known as Cologne Cathedral to us Brits is bigger.
Anyone that has been to the historic city of York can not have failed to see its Minster, it dominates and the town and as the land around here is so flat it can be seen from many miles around.
Dating from 1220 York Minster has the official title of The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York. It is built on the site of a much older church and it is known that a timber structured church stood here in 627AD. This was the place where Edwin, King of Northumbria was baptised in that year but shortly after this event work began on a more permanent stone structured church. This church was completed in 637AD and dedicated to St Peter. This particular church was destroyed by fire in 741AD and a further church was built. This elaborate structure was one of the largest in Europe and contained over thirty different altars. However by the 12th century Gothic Cathedrals had appeared and Walter de Gray, who was appointed Archbishop of York in 1215 ordered a Gothic Cathedral to be built that would rival the one recently constructed at Canterbury.
I remember visiting here many years ago, when I was still at school. Shortly after that visit in 1984 a fire destroyed a large part of the roof after the tower was struck by lightening so I am hoping that following my recent visit it isn't about to suffer from a further mishap. Back in those days I seem to recall that it was free to visit but these days that is no longer the case.
There are various different ticket options available nowadays and I pondered for quite a while outside, wondering what to do. A "do everything ticket" currently costs £9 per adult and £3 per child. This allows access to pretty much all areas as its name suggests including the Minster, Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt and Tower. Since there was myself, my partner and two kids we felt that £24 was a bit steep since our time was somewhat limited so instead we opted for a ticket that just allowed access to the Minster and the Tower. This still doesn't come cheap at £7.50 per adult and £2 per child. There are a whole range of other options too, including tickets that allow you into the Minster only, or just into the Tower or audio tours etc.
I never cease to be amazed by the sight of York Minster. It truly is one of Britain's most impressive pieces of architecture. To give you an idea of its size it is 158 metres long (519 feet) and 60 metres high (198 feet), whilst its central tower measures 20 square metres (65 square feet) and is the largest church tower in England.
As a rule I try to avoid the major tourist attractions but in the case of York Minster I did make an exception. My only compromise was that we visited midweek, early in the morning to avoid the main crowds, but even at before 10am on a Wednesday morning there were still plenty of people about. According to the statistics one third of the visitors that come here are from overseas and over 1.2 million people pass through its doors each year. The overseas visitors are actually well catered for here, something of a bit of a rarity in England and the audio tours and leaflets are available in many different languages and there are even multilingual staff on hand.
York Minster took over 250 years to build so it is only fair that any visitor should spend as much time here as possible. Unfortunately I only put aside about an hour on my recent visit as there was so much else in York that I wanted to see and this was not nearly enough. I would suggest that two hours is probably more realistic and even longer if you are planning to visit all areas.
My whirlwind tour did however manage to take in many of the highlights. The Great Eastern Window is something that no visitor can fail to miss. Dating from around 1405 it is almost the size of a tennis court and is amongst the largest pieces of stained glass in the world. In this modern world it is difficult to comprehend that it cost just £58 to make, although obviously then that was a terrific amount of money, which was paid for by Walter Skirlaw, the Bishop of Durham.
The Great Eastern Window was designed by John Thornton and may be the most famous window in the Minster but it is not the oldest. The earliest stained glass here dates from the middle of the 12th century and actually predates the building itself, having been salvaged, along with many of the stones, from the previous church that stood on this spot.
In addition to the Great Eastern Window there are many other huge stained glass windows too. These include the West Window in the nave, which was constructed in 1338 and the Five Sisters Window in the north transept. Both of these windows are over 16 metres tall.
The Tower was the part of the Minster that I was particularly interested in seeing. The climb to the top however would not be suitable for the infirm as there are 275 steep steps to conquer before you get there. The view from the top however is breathtaking and not only can you look down on the narrow, medieval streets of York below but you can see much further too. It is said that on a clear day that you can see as far as the Yorkshire Wolds and the White Horse carved into the chalk hillside at Kilburn on the North Yorkshire Moors.
The north west end of the Tower is where the Minster's gigantic bell can be found, weighing 10.8 tonnes it is affectionately known as "Great Peter". The Tower itself weighs a staggering 16,000 tonnes, which is equivalent to about forty Jumbo Jets.
Back at ground level walking around is quite a sobering experience, there are huge supporting columns everywhere and there are even mirrors available so that the visitors can look at the roof without straining their necks, which I thought was quite a clever touch.. These mirrors can be found in the nave, which has an impressive ribbed roof. The nave at York Minster is the widest in the England.
Obviously the main purpose of York Minster is as a Christian place of worship and seeing the large crowds of people I could not help but feel some of this original purpose has been lost. Of course, there are many people that come here to pray and find solitude and services take place regularly but for the majority of the visitors these days this is purely a destination to add to their photo album.
The services that are held here are described as being on the high church Anglo-Catholicism side of worship, with long services that more closely resemble Catholic Mass than more typical Anglican services, the Minster also has its own choir.
York Minster is open daily throughout the year. During the Summer it open from 9am until 5pm and during Winter from 9.30am until 5pm. On Sundays it is open from Midday until 3.45pm.
If you are in York then a visit to York Minster is highly recommended.
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I love york and whenever possible go for a weekend. Whilst there I always visit York Minster. The first thing that strikes you is the size of it and the fabulous architecture (it's over 500 feet wide and has a central tower almost 200 feet high). Visitors come from all over the world to admire York Minster Cathedral.
Whilst you are looking around the Minster bear in mind it took over 250 years to complete and the only devices they had then were simple levers, pulleys and hoists. Lots of Masons and Carpenters spent their entire working lives just helping to construct York Minster.
Some of the features of the Minster:
This is the widest Gothic nave in the country. Look for the heart shaped carving at the top of the great west window which is nicknamed the heart of Yorkshire.
Octagonal building which because of it's shape helped to provide good sound.
The East End
One of the last parts of the minister to be built. The East End has one of the largest medieval glass window in England.
Traditionally where services where sung.
It's great to climb to the top of the tower but be careful the steps are steep and the stairway is very narrow and it's a fair climb and you may find yourself slightly out of breath when you get to the top. But the views at the top are worth it you can see for miles and miles and you also get a closer view of the architecture, I found York Minsters flying buttresses ( I think thats what they are called, photos of these are on ciao) really impressive.
This is the oldest part of the present building and has the largest area of 'grisaille' glass to have survived anywhere in the world, it looks lovely and all the colours sparkle and shimmer when the sun is shining behind it.
Their are lots of Tombs and plaques which remember many notable figures from the past.
This is one of the earliest sections of the Minster to be built and is home to the beautiful rose window, this also looks magical with the sun shining behind it.
The Crypt is the earliest part of the minster to be built.
Huge quantities of stone were quarried, this magnesium limestone weathers and cleans itself turning from white when first quarried to the lovely pale golden honey colour which is the colour we see today.
Although I love York Minster I have only been down in the foundations once. Whilst walking among the stone coffins which have been excavated from the walls (these look like large stone bath tubs and have a hole the same size as a plughole, we where told this is to allow the bodily fluids to drain away). I felt faint, icy cold and covered in goosebumps a really weird unexplainable feeling (I'm not supersticious and don't believe in ghosts-maybe it was the air quality down there who knows?). Although we always visit the Minster when in York. I have never been down in the foundations again, might be brave enough on our next visit.
I love the sound of the minster bells ringing. We were there once at christmas time and it was magical walking by the Minster at night time when the bells were ringing out Christmas carols.
If visiting the Minster you should be aware that the Minster is still a place of worship and sometimes when we have visited access to some areas has been restricted whilst services are taking place. Anybody is welcome to join in any of the daily services though.
Situated a few minutes walk from the city centre. Rail under two hours from London and Edingburgh. Road A64 leeds to York approx 208 miles from London.
E-mail: info @ yorkminster.org
£5 per person, free if you want to attend services.
Thanks for reading may also be posted on other review sites.
Towering over the north Yorkshire city of York, seen for miles around, is the magnificent York Minster. This cathedral is still as beautiful as ever, despite a fire destroying part of it over 20 years ago. The restoration project is ongoing to prevent the Minster decaying further and an admission charge was introduced fairly recently to help this cause.
The cost as in August 2006 is around £4.00 per person, less for concessions.
Step inside and admire the vaulted roof, the stained glass windows and the general peace and calmness in this inspirational building.
There are guides available to explain things and guidebooks will of course tell you more about this magnificent building, there is simply too much detail to go into on here.
When there is a service on, admission is free, and it is worth visiting at this time to listen to the voices of the choir, and to join in the service if you wish.
If you climb to the top of the tower the views are stunning, but do be warned, even for the fittest the steps are narrow and very steep - and there are a lot of them!!!!
The gift shop has a selection of gifts and books etc. But this is very small and can get crowded. To avoid this, there is another Minster shop just across the road.
If you visit York then you can't fail to miss the Minster, it is visible from most of the city - use it as a landmark when you wander around the city's narrow streets, but don't miss out on going inside. It really is worth a visit.
I have lived in York for many years and always remember visiting York Minster with my parents. I would spend many hours walking around taking in all the details I could. There are so many sights to see that I couldn't possibly give every detail in this review. Here are a few of my favourite places inside this beautiful Gothic style building
The St William Window
This a beautiful window near the north transept showing the life and work of St William. It has 100 stained glass panels with fantastic colours. The light shining through them is a sight to see.
Here you will find skeletons of buildings that were on the site of the Minster before it was built. These date back to Roman times when the Romans used York, then called Eboracum, as their headquarters for the North
You can actually climb to the top of one of the Towers. There are 365 steps from bottom to top and the stairs are narrow and only just allow two people to pass on thier way up or down. The views from the top of the tower are superb. You can see for miles.
The Minster is situated in the centre of York and no one can say that they could not find it. Wherever you are stood in the town centre you can see the towers. As you drive into York on the main by pass (B1237) you can see the Minster.
It is easily accesible by foot but now York has been made into a pedestrian zone, cars have to be parked outside of the City walls.
Entrance is now £5.00 per person with concessions for children and old age pensioners. Due to the fact that The Minster does not recieve any funding from the government, this is their only way of raising money to pay for the restoration
I remember after that last big fire on 9 July 1984 they started selling the "bricks" of the Minster to raise money. Each "brick " was bought for £1.00 and you recieved a certificate stating that you were a friend of York Minster. I remember my Grandfather buying one and proudly showing his certificate everytime someone came to visit.
If you ever visit the North of England, especially York you have to visit this beautiful building. You have not seen the heart of Yorkshire until you do
well i have been to both durham and york cathedrals many times, and i think durham is that little bit better, but york minster is certainlly impressive too,like all cathedrals you can't really miss it where ever you are in the city, so it wont be hard to find, inside there are some magnificent stain glass windows, pillars etc, remember york minster was badly destroyed in 1984 by a fire, and i think you can tell as the roof etc doesnt look as old as the rest of it, but they have still done a great job of reparing it. for the people who are feeling fit, you can climb the tower for 3 pound, all 275 steps, the effort is well worth it, as you get some wonderful views over york and the surrounding countryside, the stairs are very narrow and of course tiring, so if you have health problems or a fear of confined spaces, i wouldnt recommend you attempt to go up. there are free guided tours of the minster, so its worth waiting for one to start, a the guides of course are very interesting and knowledable,
York Minster is the most beautiful cathedral I have ever had the pleasure to visit. It is situated in the centre of York near to Bootham Bar, which is one of the ancient gates in the wall round York. The Minster is the largest medieval cathedral in England, and one of the largest in Europe, being 519 feet long with a central roof 198 feet high. The building was started in 1220 and it took more than 250 years to complete. It was partly destroyed by fire some years ago (I admit I cried when I watched the pictures on the TV news!) and has since been restored to it’s former glory. The Minster today is almost entirely Gothic in design but it houses a museum, where you can see the Roman foundations of the site and parts of an 11th century Norman burial ground. It is famous for it’s stained glass, some of which dates back to 1150. The best of the glass, however, comes from the workshops of John Thornton in 15th century. Among the stained glass windows is the east window, which is the size of a tennis court. My personal favourite is the round window (sorry if that sounds a bit like Playschool!) which was one of the things destroyed and rebuilt exactly as it had been before. The nave has a rib vaulted roof which can be easily viewed through mirrors set in tables strategically placed at intervals along the floor. That way you can look down to see the roof rather than looking up and feeling dizzy! There are also 100-foot high limestone pillars in this part of the Minster. At 12 noon every day there is short prayer said for peace in the world. Everyone is asked to stand still and join in the prayer whatever their denomination, or, if they have no particular faith, to stand still just for a minute or so in respect of the faith of others. In a world where everyone seems to be in a hurry and respect for one another is fast disappearing I found this a profoundly moving experience. I also once we
nt to the evening service in the Minster, but I found it too ‘high church’ for my liking. We sat in the choir stalls and the service contained no hymns – and I do like a good sing – and a lot of chanting, which I didn’t understand! I’m glad I went though, just for the experience. The Minster is visible from almost everywhere in York, but some of the finest views can be had from the walls that almost surround the city. You can walk almost all the way round the city on the walls; there are only two places where you have to get off and back on again and the views of The Minster are lovely because you get to see it from all different angles. From what I can remember there is no charge for visiting the Minster, but you are encouraged to make a donation towards the upkeep of this magnificent building. There is a shop that sells a good selection of souvenirs of the Minster. You won’t believe it but I have a little teddy wearing a York Minster sash – now you would never have guessed that of me would you? LOL The peace, which pervades the whole of the Minster, is such a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
York Minster remains categorically my favourite building in the world. Having lived in York for nearly two years now, I make regular visits - not necessarily to services. I wouldn't consider myself to be a particularly religious or Christian person, but there is something about this Cathedral that is deeply moving for me. Built between the 12th and 14th Centuries, thousands of generations have grown up under the shadow of the Minster, the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe. From the crypt and Roman foundations to the largely Norman Central tower, every era has left its mark on this fascinating historic structure. From the outside its majestic stonework architecture dominates the York skyline - from the inside its tall tower and high-roofed transepts adopt a certain serenity - no matter how many times you've seen the numerous intriguing artifacts, memorials, epitaphs and suchlike the Minster always has an appeal as simply being a nice place to be. Having said that, there are so many little features in the Minster that it'd be very hard to have seen them all - the beautiful narrative Stained glass windows, the astronomical clock - there really is a lot to see if you want to be busy, all of which is basically free. However, there are three paid features: The Foundations, Treasury & Crypt This is a fascinating museum really, set up under the Minster. You can see the collosal supports that hold the building up, through to the graves of ancient York people - you can view the Treasury, a collection of priceless relics including those found in the graves of ArchBishops - the Crypt is not spooky - there are no skulls or bones. It's basically an ancient chapel underneath the altar. It's quite a long attraction, so you may want to put aside an hour just to look around this one feature. The Chapter House Traditionally where the Chapter meet, this is a circular annex to the Minster- the main attraction of which a
re the elaborate incredible narrative stained glass windows. The Tower Not so much an attraction of the Minster, but of York - because it's York that you see when you get to the top. The cramped spiral staircase with nearly 300 steps means it's not suitable for the disabled, infirm, or chlaustrophobic, but for those who do manage to get their legs to take them to the top the view is incredible. The Minster does get crowded in the peak season and around Christmasm, and year-round on Saturdays - but try a weekday afternoon for a quieter experience. Entry is technically free for individuals, not school groups etc, although they appreciate a voluntary donation of £3 - and the paid attractions mentioned earlier cost from between £1.50 to £4. There is also a nice National-Trust style shop selling non-tacky souvenirs. But that is all in relation to it being a tourist attraction. Hopefully if you do visit this wonderful place, you'll be able to see and respect it's value as a place of worship for many local people, a haven of tranquility, and testament to our ancestors and the dedication and love that went into the construction of this incredible place.