A Brief History of York Minster

York Minster Architecture

The history of York Minster is one of the main reasons to visit this iconic site. The architecture is the other. The large Cathedral Church of Saint Peter is located in York, England. It is home to the Archbishop of York. The archbishop of York is the third most important person for the Church of England. This makes for a very important building for religious reasons and for the size and grandeur of it.

Cathedral-York-England-United-Kingdom
Cathedral-York-England-United-Kingdom

The History of York Minster

The history of York Minster spans more than a thousand years and covers more than one church. Built-in a hurry so there would be a place to baptize the King of Northumbria, Edwin, in 627 the church feel in and out of repair for decades while the city grew up around it. By 670, the York Minter was a dilapidated mess until Saint Wilfrid took control of the See in York and began its restoration and improvement. Credited with building the church back up and adding an attached school and library to the grounds; the building stood proudly until 741 when it burned down.

York-Minster-The-Cathedral-Church-Architecture.
York-Minster-The-Cathedral-Church-Architecture.

The history of York Minster shows that burning the church down did not stop the see from rebuilding a larger and more magnificent structure which included thirty alters. The history of York Minster breaks off around this time. It was subject to numerous invasions and its controlling hands changed several times until around the 10th century. The church records show the damage done by William the Conqueror in 1069 which was extensive and continued through several other invading armies until the Danes destroyed it completely in 1075.

Remodeling and Expansion

The-Cathedral-Church-Architecture
The-Cathedral-Church-Architecture

The church stood untouched until around 1215 when the Gothic style of architecture introduced a new building design.  The history of York Minster shows that the construction started in 1220 and was completed in the 1250s. At this time, they constructed a central tower and a wooden spire. This sort of construction continued up through the 15th century.

Cathedral-York-England-United-Kingdom
Cathedral-York-England-United-Kingdom

The 400 years of construction saw the chapter house, a nave, the vaulting, and the out roof completed. It also saw the destruction of the choir and the construction of more chapels. The history of York Minster records the building of a new tower and the completion of ester towers; all this lead up to around 1472 when the cathedral consecration took place and construction halted.

Rosette-Church-Gothic-York-Minster
Rosette-Church-Gothic

The success was evident when the history of York Minster records six canonries in residence in 1866. The 20th century brought more restoration as the central tower was close to collapsing after years of neglect. Over £2,000,000 went into stabilizing the foundation and the roof of the structure as the history of York Minter shows. Old parts re-open for public viewing and exploration.

Cathedral-Church-Cathedral-Of-St-Peter
Cathedral-Church-Cathedral-Of-St-Peter

Today, the history of York Minster shows the most recent completed renovation which took place from 2007 until 2018. The restoration replaced much of the 311 stained glass panels in the building and helped stabilize the building for future generations to enjoy.

Visiting York Minster

York-River-Ship-Part-Wood-England
York-River-Ship-Part-Wood-England

When visiting York Minster, it is best to be prepared for a lot of tour groups and devoted followers. Many people visit the church to pray while others come to see the magnificent architecture. Families are welcome. They have visiting hours all day, every day with limited hours on Sunday for religious services.

Cliffords-Tower-York-England-Medieval-Castle
Cliffords-Tower-Medieval-Castle

The York Minster has a museum dedicated to its history which contains pieces of the past along with treasures saved from destruction and theft. The museum is open all week as well along with limited Sunday hours. There are also daily ceremonies to attend along with a gift shop where all proceeds go maintaining the glory of the York Minster.

York-Minster-Cathedral-Church-Cathedral-Of-St-Peter
York-Minster-Cathedral-Church-Cathedral-Of-St-Peter

This is a place of worship so it is good to dress appropriately and be respectful while visiting. They offer plenty of opportunities to learn more about the York Minster and to join in the prayers.  Entrance to the Cathedral includes the added ticket price of visiting the Towers which costs extra.

York Minster Tours

Guided tours are available in the purchase of full entrance tickets. The ticket is valid for a year so if you are unable to attend on your first visit to York, your ticket will remain valid for a year after the purchase date. There are different types of tickets available including student and senior tickets. Not all tickets give access to all areas of the cathedral so purchase ahead of time to make sure you have the tickets you want.

Nunnington Hall York North Yorkshire
Nunnington Hall York North Yorkshire

The cathedral is wheelchair and disabled friendly with hearing and visual aids available along with wheelchairs are available for rent as needed. This is encouraged for those unable to climb the 275 steps to visit the Central Tower which is the highest point in the city! It is also extremely narrow to be prepared for a squeeze.

When to visit

Planning your trip ahead to include this trip is advisable. There are often special events planned for the summer months with plenty of opportunities to hear the choir perform. The underground tours of the church are open for exploration as well though they do get hot during the summer.

Final Thoughts

The cathedral stands tall over the city and the proof of its beauty is in its construction. The history of York Minster reflects the history of the faith in England along with the way the architectural standards set by the time periods. Every restoration built in a new piece of history into the structure that stands today. It is a glorious sight to see. It also tells the tale of the city, country, and way of life.  Regular services occur frequently and a visit will show your eyes the glory of the building and your ears, the music sings over the centuries.

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