York Minster

York Minster is England’s largest medieval cathedral, complete with stained glass windows, lovely wooden carved choir seats and Gothic everythings. It also has the Semaphore Saints, but more on that later.

We approached the cathedral from the side, and could see the massive bell towers.

This is the south transept entrance, where they shake you down. No, I didn’t mean that exactly, but the cathedral does exact an entrance fee. Luckily we’re readers of Rick Steves and knew to wait until the evening song service: Evensong, when they don’t charge you to go to church.
The first church on this site was a wooden chapel built around 627, and after that was a Roman basilica, followed by a church built by St. Wilfred (which was destroyed during William the Conqueror’s reign). I’m getting all this from my guide book, which goes on to detail the first Norman church, which we saw fragments of when we took the tour of the undercroft. This present building dates from 1220 and took about 200-plus years to complete.

They ushered us for Evensong, and we sat in the carved choir seats. The choir filed in: men on one side, young women (ages 17 down to about 7, I guess) on the opposing side. Listening to the organ, sited atop the choir screen, and the voices of the choir was a subliminal experience. I enjoyed the topic of the evening prayers: first, for those who are judges in the land, and secondly, those who are victims of knife crimes. The prayer’s specificity really made me think about these two sub-groups of society. Usually we bless the “poor and afflicted,” and leave it at that. But during the prayer I did think about judges, and the difficulties they must face. I am less familiar with knife crimes, but did feel blessed that I am less familiar.

After the last notes of the organ faded away, we were allowed to walk around the cathedral and take photos. This is of the choir area.

If I looked directly overhead, these angels were in the carved wood of the seat.

The ceiling of the cathedral is wood, painted to look like stone.

Stained glass window.

View from the choir area to the back of the church. The large rose window in the choir area is under reconstruction, so we couldn’t see it.

This window is known as the Five Sisters Window, with sections over 15 meters high. It is the minster’s oldest complete window, dating from around 1250 AD.

The organ pipes are painted decoratively.

From the back of the nave, looking toward the organ and the choir screen.

The choir screen depicts the 15 kings from William I to Henry VI, and they all have wonderful and wild hair.

The Semaphore Saints. It’s a sculpture from 2006, and is at the very back of the church. On the last chair, they’ve left a chart so the viewer can figure out what they’re saying. I didn’t, but did enjoy them.

Detail of screen.

Outside, looking up…

…and up…

…and up…

And up again!

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