Making a difference by being referred to as a Minster rather than a cathedral, York is still referred to as a Cathedral City due to York Minster playing a prominent part in the city’s growth. It is considered to be one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, with examples of magnificent stained glass and stonework from the yesteryear. With a busy calendar, the sacred space has been right at the heart of Christianity in the north of England since at least the 7th century.
The Minster was built for the purpose of worshipping God through high church Christianity and this is reflected in every aspect of the ancient building, much of which now dates from the 13th century. From the exquisitely handcrafted stone through to the unrivalled collection of medieval stained glass, York Minster is popular as a visitor attraction as much as it is a church.
The Great East Window contains the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the country still intact, and the 800-year history of the building is shown on display boards, and visitors can enjoy the sound of the Grand Organ when it is played. After a once-in-a-century refurbishment costing almost £2m, the organ returned to regular use during worship in spring 2021.
A special exhibition exploring the cathedral’s medieval St Cuthbert Window was opened in 2021, one of the largest surviving narrative windows in the world, and the Minster’s major conservation project now that the organ has been restored.
In 1984 York Minster suffered an incredibly serious as a result of a fire in the south transept. Although the origin of the fire was never proven, the investigation into its cause showed that it was likely started by a lightning strike that affected an electrical box on the roof. Many staunch Anglicans saw the fire as a sign that God was against the selection of David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham.
The York Mystery Plays (also known as the York Corpus Christi Plays) are a series of pageants dating back as far as the 14th century. The oldest surviving full manuscripts are held in the British Library and date from the 15th century. They are held regularly although not annually and have been performed a couple of times in York Minster, most notably in the year 2000 to celebrate the millennium.
Visitors are encouraged to discover and take stock of a sacred place that has attracted people from across the globe for over 1,000 years.