Saturday, 4 October 2014

My Trip to York Minister

Even at sunset its massive walls captured my breath, as I stood outside. Its grandeur was captivating. 

It wasn’t till the following day I ventured back to its massive presence, York Minster (Cathedral). After seeing it the night before with my cousin, I now know why so many speak so highly of it. The outside alone was just amazing beyond words.  Standing out front of the doors just made the hair on the back of my neck tingle with a familiarity I cannot describe.
A bit of history, York Minster is one of Northern Europe’s largest Cathedrals. Its presence has been noted since the time of Bede. Its beginnings began as a wooden church in 627 as a place of baptism for Edwin King of Northumbria, that year.  In 637, it was converted to a stone structure under Oswald of Northumbria and dedicated to St. Peter. Later in the 8th century and school and a library were attached to the structure. Various ups and down of the church happened afterwards, burned by the Danes, fires, the church was rebuilt a number of times. In 1215, Walter de Grey was made archbishop and ordered the church to be rebuilt to the likeness of Canterbury. In 1220 building began and in 1420 the building was considered finished and consecrated.

Now, on to my little tour.  Of course, I had to pay a bit to go in. Student discount YAY! One thing I learned on this trip was to never leave home without that ID, I probably saved around 100 British Sterling total. Overall, I was more than happy to pay the small sum of sterling they asked and made a small donation, especially since it went to the buildings upkeep. How did they maintain York Minister?  I asked a nice friendly church volunteer and got a very well informed answer. Well, it was being worked on while I was there. One of the facades to the west I believe was draped in a green cover and intricate scaffolding.  Stonemasons are rare these days I was told, so when the church gets wind of some in the area, work or maintenance is the first order of business to be done on the old stonework of the building.

Then it was time to explore the inside. By just walking in to the doors; I cannot tell you all, how massive the sight was and how it captivated my tired eyes and head. The organ was being warmed up for later in the day (At times, I believe the organ was made for angels.), visitors were meandering around at their own pace, and I saw a tour here and there. It was quite peaceful actually.  Various stain-glassed windows were filtering the sun below making it splatter on to the floor, illuminating various corners and isles of the minister. One could get lost in there for sure just taking all the sights and sounds in. Like any student or historian, I went straight to the catacombs and exhibits that I found and learned what I could in the short amount of time I had.  I had to run and catch the train in a matter of a few hours. 

Burial of Prince William of Hatfield, Infant son of Edward III
The catacombs were underneath the main priory screen in the center of the minister. It was dark, and had that musty old castle smell, but very impressive. They had a few exhibits and you could see and the old stones of the original cathedral were left over, as columns before they were moved the building outwards and larger. There was some pretty gorgeous wooden furniture, specifically a trunk.
I went back up stairs and out, and wandered around to see who had funeral vaults, saw some I knew and some I was not so familiar with. All quite impressive.

My gaze then shifted upwards. It was a sight I probably will never forget. The latticework and intricate design and stonework of the celling were astounding. 
Overall York Minister did far more than impress. It blew my mind away. I know now why Richard III had his son instilled Prince of Wales in its massive and captivating walls. It was built for a prince, and for a king.  A well-loved king of the north.

A little video I made of the inside:)

1 comment:

  1. York Minster truely is magnificent. I like it better than Westminster because it has retained its medieval character better and is less cluttered. Fewer tourists too. Thanks, Lauren.