Visiting York there is one building that is quite simply hard to miss. Indeed, when walking the York City Walls shown in the last post a quick look across into the centre would almost always include a tower or two of this great cathedral dwarfing the buildings below. York Minster! Where the Archbishop of York sits, the second highest office of the Church Of England. One of the largest ‘gothic’ churches in Northern Europe.
You don’t have to be religious in any way to admire the building and take the history in. Christian history has a huge connection with the very spot. Constantine , the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity was proclaimed Emperor in York, most probably in a building that stood where the minster is now. A church is believed to have stood here since at least the 7th Century, wooden and stone, left to ruin or destroyed by invaders such as the Vikings. After the Norman Conquests, Thomas of Bayeux built a large Norman cross shaped cathedral in the late 11th century. The foundations for what became the magnificent building you see today had been laid. Enlarged, repaired, fashioned to the day. It was completed in 1472.
Due to its prominence it is seemingly lucky it is still standing proudly tall in full splendour today. The Reformation brought about by Henry VIII that naturally changed practices and had shrines removed. The to-and-fro after between Mary and Elizabeth for Catholicism and Church of England. Plus there was the seige of York in the civil war that actually only caused minor damage. Floodings, fires caused by lightning and near collapses of towers. All and more has lent a hand for you to discover a rich history you can visit and experience.
The architecture is bewildering and the windows in such minute detail is a marvel. The Great east Window for example is the largest expanse of medieval stained window in the world. Believe me, if you think the outside is grand then see it from the inside.
I was here for a day and after walking the walls I wanted to just take in the building itself and take in some ‘York’. What better way than a climb up the central tower.
275 stone steps around and around, up and up. Narrower and narrower. At halfway you get a respite in the open. Together with another unique side view of some of the building.
Then back in and up and up and up! Eventually it open on the top of the tower. Over 230 feet up on the roof of it with an expansive 360 view over York and surrounds!
Just outside the Cathedral is Minster Gates, where the gates to the Minster once stood. This little street has a past going back centuries in association with selling books. We know there was a bookshop here as far back as the 16th Century because the inventory is still in existence, a very elite shop in those days one can imagine. All the way down the ages books have been associated with the street. On the corner you see above a door the statue in the pic below dated 1801. Minerva, The Roman Goddess of Wisdom with some books, erected by a bookseller here of the time.
A fascinating, historic building.. and that is only the outside. Next post – inside 🙂