York Minster

York Minster


While Christian presence had been n York since 300 A.D., the first church structure was built in 627 A.D. to baptize King Edwin of Northumbria. The wooden structure was quickly replaced for a more solid church made out of stone. The new church was completed in 637 A.D. and dedicated to St. Peter. Almost 40 years later, the church had fallen into disrepair. Saint Wilfred made efforts to restore the stone church and revitalize into a fully functional church. The church continued to expand and by the 8th century, the school and library had been completed. The church was completely destroyed in 741. The new church was built even more extravagant than the original. The new church had over 30 different alters. Records on York Minster were scarce due to the church and entire area changing invading groups hands. In 1069, York Minster was damaged when William the Conqueror ravaged Yorkshire and other parts of Northern England. Thomas of Bayeux started repairs on Yorkshire in 1070. The church was destroyed in 1075 by invading Danes. Again, the church was rebuilt in 1080. Another fire damaged the church in 1137 damaging the choir and crypt. In 1154, both of the structures were remodeled and a new chapel was constructed.

In 1220, the new Archbishop, Walter de Gray started construction on a new Gothic style church. Construction on the new Gothic style church lasted for 252 years. By 1250, the north and south transepts were completed. The Chapter House was built over a 30 year period and completed in 1296. By 1330, the outer roof had been added, while interior vaulting was completed almost 30 years later in 1360. Construction concluded on the massive and beautiful church in 1426. Between Queen Elizabeth I and the English Reformation, much of York Minster was looted, tombs and furniture destroyed and stained glass windows broke. Thomas Fairfax protected York Minster as Yorkshire was invaded by Cromwell and his armies. York Minster underwent a minor restoration from 1730-1736 as the entire first floor was redone in patterned marble. An intentional fire was set in 1829 by Jonathan Martin and much of the east wing of the church was damaged. 11 years later, an accidental fire destroyed the nave and the south tower. Augustus Duncome worked to begin restoring the church in 1858. Restoration on the church continued as needed into the 1900’s. The central tower needed additional supports, so it wouldn’t crumble. The last fire occurred in 1984 again destroying the spire on the south transept. It was rebuilt as ongoing restorations continued.

York Minster is located in North Yorkshire, England. There have been 96 Bishops and Archbishops since the first wooden structure was built in 627 A.D. The Royal Crown appointments the Archbishop of York to be the head of the church of England in the Northern Province. The central tower weighs over 16,000 tons and has 275 stairs inside. York Minster continues to be an active church holding over 1,750 services a year. It is 518 feet long and each tower is over 200 feet tall. York Minster is the largest cathedral in Northern Europe and the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second highest position in the Church of England.

The York Minster Historic Collection contains historical artifacts almost 2,000 years old. The library has over 120,000 books on the local history of the city, early York prints, church history and its architecture, history on Civil Wars and theology. A library card can be purchased to read books in the older section of the library. Artifacts kept at York Minster are specific to York Minster’s history. Precious metals, monuments, clothing, stones and other great artifacts present a rich history of York Minster and its construction over the past 1,500 years. The York Minster Historical Collection also includes Records and Manuscripts dated from 1,000 A.D to the present. The records include information on the Christian Church and local community. All Records and Manuscripts can be searched, but you will need a Records and Manuscripts Readers ticket in addition to scheduling an appointment with an archivist.

quick facts & figures

First Church: 627 A.D.

Gothic Style

Const. Started: 1220 A.D.

Const. Ended: 1426 A. D.

Width: 518 feet

Each Tower: over 200′ tall

Central Tower Stairs: 275

Library: 120,000 books