Restoring the historic windows of York Minster

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 March 2019

The glass is showing the signs of six centuries of exposure to the elements and has buckled and cracked in places

The glass is showing the signs of six centuries of exposure to the elements and has buckled and cracked in places

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Glaziers start work on a long term conservation programme to save a medieval window

Medieval glass in the South Quire Aisle is to be restored as part of a £11million, 11 year conservation project at York Minster Photo: York Gaziers TrustMedieval glass in the South Quire Aisle is to be restored as part of a £11million, 11 year conservation project at York Minster Photo: York Gaziers Trust

Work begins this month to restore and conserve medieval glass as part of the £11million, 11-year South Quire Aisle project at York Minster. It’s one of the cathedral’s main conservation and restoration projects for the next decade.

Experts from York Glaziers Trust are removing glass from the upper clerestory windows which contain panels dating from the early 1400s. The glass is showing the signs of six centuries of exposure to the elements and has buckled and cracked in places allowing water in.

The area suffered serious damage during the 1829 fire, started deliberately by local resident Jonathan Martin, in the cathedral’s quire. The graffiti marks of the 19th century glaziers, and even those of their sweethearts, who repaired the windows following the fire can still be seen.

The scheme involves repairing and replacing stone and glass in 15 window bays.

Glazier and stained glass conservator  Helen Bower workin on an earlier project for York MinsterGlazier and stained glass conservator Helen Bower workin on an earlier project for York Minster

Initial conservation work began in 2016 and work to date has included the carving of new grotesques and the restoration of pinnacles and buttresses.

‘For over 600 years the grotesques and windows above York Minster’s South Quire Aisle have looked out over the city of York,’ says Neil Sanderson, director of York Minster Fund. ‘They have survived civil and world wars and several fierce fires. Now the ravages of time, wind, rain and pollution are finally catching up with them and so it is down to us to save and preserve these great works of art and history.

‘The continuing 11-year project, working on both the stonework and windows of this section of the cathedral will stabilise the structures around the windows, preserve the precious medieval glass and see the fitting of state of the art protective glazing, securing this magnificent building for generations to come.

‘With no direct Church of England or government funding, it is the support of our donors that makes it possible for us to carry out this vital work and we are especially grateful to all those who give so generously.’

The Minster has announced a 20-year partnership with York Glaziers Trust and innovative fund raising campaign led by the York Minster Fund and supported by a £1million grant from National Heritage Lottery Fund. u

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