Despite its grand scale, I found sweet human touches that made me feel at peace and at home as I delved into the nooks and crannies of the minster. According to legend, within 200 years of Jesus’ death, his followers began to gather at this spot in northern England (the Romans took control around 71 CE). The minster is still active as a house of worship, and one can tour all parts when services are not in session.
It was built essentially in three sections: Early English (c.1225-1255), Decorated (c. 1290-1350), and Perpendicular (c. 1361-1470), though it has been repaired and restored multiple times, after fires and other damage. The latest addition to the minster is called “York Minster Revealed” and is in the Undercroft, which was excavated/created between 1967-1972.
You can stand in the pulpit of the minster after climbing a few steps into it. Or stare at the glorious stained glass windows throughout, many of which are medieval. In fact, the Vestibule has original 13th-century glass. I noticed many carvings depicting the Green Man, a pagan symbol co-opted by the church to represent new birth/beginnings. The attached Chapter House has an incredibly complicated roof – no central column holds the roof up, but a wooden vault supports it. The Canons of York met in the Chapter House – 44 seats for them are in this octagonal room.
As I roamed around the Minster’s Nave, North and South Transepts, and East End, I was struck by how many memorials, tombs, and other commemorations are scattered throughout. Turns out that this church, like many historic churches, moves things around periodically. For instance, in the Lady Chapel in the East End originally was filled with tombs and monuments, but over time, they have been moved to other spots.
On my second visit to the minster, we climbed the 275 winding steps to the central tower, enjoying the exercise and ultimate views from the top. My third visit found me exploring more of the undercroft, which now contains an interactive exhibit detailing the history of the minster as well as pilgrimage information. All in all, an enjoyable 2 hours spent in this historic and holy spot.
The Skinny: York Minster, Church House, Ogleforth, York, YO1 7JN. Ph: +44 01904 557200. Touring Hours: Mon-Sat: 9.00am – 5.00pm(last entry), Sun: 12.45pm – 5.00pm. Admission: Minster-Only Adult: £10 Senior/Student: £9, Under-16: Free with paying adult. Minster and Tower Adult: £15, Senior/Student: £14, 8-16: £5.
If you want to attend a service, the minster has daily services (Mon-Sat 7.30; 7.50; 12.30 (12 Sat), 5.15, as well as Sunday: 8.00; 10.00; 11.30; 4.00)
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