York Minster – the Magnificent Medieval Cathedral of Northern England
The Chapter House
Windows cover almost all of the upper wall space of the highly decorated Chapter House, filling it with light.
Innovative design and a light wooden roof meant that the buttressed walls could support the ceiling without the need for a central column, creating a beautiful open space.
Grotesques are fantastical or mythical figures used for decorative purposes. Gargoyles are forms of grotesque that include a drainage spout to help prevent heavy rainwater running down the face of the building.
York Minster is covered with grotesques inside and out.
Current stonemasons working on the finishing touches of the York Minster restoration have carved sometimes amusing grotesques doing unusual things.
This chap will eventually be baring his derriere to all and sundry from a lofty position above the city, affixed to York Minster.
The 11-ton Great Peter Bell
The clock bells ring every quarter of an hour during the daytime and Great Peter strikes the hour.
Great Peter is the name of the northwest tower’s bell, weighing in at almost 11 tons. The six other bells that ring every quarter of an hour weigh 3 tons each.
Before Evensong each evening, hymn tunes are played on a baton keyboard connected with the bells, but occasionally anything from Beethoven to the Beatles may be heard.
Reformation and Restoration
The English Reformation led to the looting of much of the cathedral’s treasures and the loss of much of the church lands.
Queen Elizabeth I was determined to have all traces of Roman Catholicism removed from the cathedral. Tombs, windows, and altars were destroyed.
During the English Civil War the city was besieged and fell to Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1644, but York Minster was spared damage thanks to the influence of parliamentary general Thomas Fairfax.
In the 1850s services were suspended as the cathedral slumped deeply into debt.
To date, tens of millions of pounds have been spent on restoration work, but the results speak for themselves. York Minster will continue to reach to the skies for millennia to come.