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York Minster

York Minster is the largest medieval building in England and the biggest gothic cathedral north of the Alps.

Originally, the Minster was built on what was the headquarters of a Roman fortress. This period of the building's history is recorded in the Foundations Museum, which contains a number of Roman relics.

The first York Minster was a small wooden church built under the care of Paulinus, the chaplain of Princess Ethelburga, who came north to marry King Edwin of Northumbria. It was then transformed into a stone church by Edwin after he was baptised, but it fell into disrepair before being rebuilt by the Bishop of York, St Wilfrid, in 670.

The current building was started in 1220 by Archbishop Walter de Grey, who decided to rebuild the Norman Minster on a scale to rival Canterbury. It wasn't completed until 1472, although the Minster was in use for much of the ensuing period. Walter de Grey died in 1255 and is buried in a beautiful tomb in the South Transept.

Highlights of the interior include the Great West Window, dating back to 1338, and known as the "Heart of Yorkshire", due to the heart-like shapes which decorate it. Below the Choir lies the Minster Crypt, which was originally the area below a platform built to raise the High Altar (the focal point of worship). Inside the crypt are late Norman pillars and vaulting and the Roman coffin of St William. The York Virgin, one of the Minster's most important treasures, was discovered there after the 1829 fire.

York Minster, York. © Dean and Chapter of York

York Minster Information

When: Daily

Where: York

Cost: Daily; hours depend on day and season

Opening Hours: Depends on entry to undercroft, tower or minster

Address: York, YO1 7JF

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