York Minster

The first Minster was built for the baptism of the Anglo Saxon King, Edwin of Northumbria. Edwin was christened in a small wooden church that had been built for the occasion in the year 627. Almost immediately Edwin ordered that this small wooden church should be rebuilt in stone. This small stone church built on the same site as the original wooden one was enlarged over time. It survived through the Viking age in York but was badly damaged by fire in the year 1069 when the Normans finally took control of the city of York.

Once the Normans had taken control of the city a decision was taken to build a new Minster on a fresh site to replace the old fire damaged Saxon Minster. Around the year 1080 the Norman Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux started building a cathedral that in time became the Minster we have today. This vast Norman church was completed around the 1100.

During the mid twelfth century the Norman church was enlarged at both East and West, this may have been due to fire damage sustained in 1137, but this now seems unlikely.

In 1215 Walter Gray became archbishop. It was Walter who started to transform the Norman Church in to the Minster we have today. Firstly, the South and North transepts were built. In 1291 work began on the Nave (western end) which was completed around 1360. Work then transferred to the East end with the building of the Lady Chapel and then the Quire, which was completed by around 1405. In 1407 the central tower collapsed and work on its replacement was not finished until 1433. Between 1433 and 1472 the Western towers were added and the Minster finally completed. The Minster that we know today had taken about 250 years to build.


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