From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

York Minster

53° 57′ 43″ N, 1° 4′ 55″ W

  • History
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  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
York Minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the third-highest office of the Church of England, a cathedral devoted to Saint Peter, located in York, Yorkshire.

The first known church on the site was a wooden structure built hurriedly in 627 to provide a place to baptise Edwin, King of Northumbria. A more substantial building began in the early 630s and completed in 637 by Oswald, dedicated to Saint Peter, but the church soon fell into ruin and was dilapidated by 670 when Saint Wilfrid ascended to the See of York. He repaired and renovated the building.

The church was destroyed in a fire in 741 and was rebuilt as a more impressive structure containing thirty altars. A number of Benedictine priests became archbishop in succession, including Saint Oswald of Worcester, Wulfstan and Ealdred. Ealdred travelled to Westminster to crown William in 1066 but died soon after in 1069 and was buried in the church.

The church was damaged in 1069 during William the Conqueror's harrying of the North, but the first Norman archbishop, Thomas of Bayeux, arrived in 1070, who repaired the damage. The Danes destroyed the church in 1075, but it was again rebuilt from 1080, in the Norman style, rendered in white and red lines.

Walter de Gray was made archbishop in 1215 and ordered the construction of a Gothic structure to compare to Canterbury,with building beginning in 1220. The north and south transepts were the first new structures, completed in the 1250s, both were built in the Early English Gothic style but had markedly different wall elevations. A substantial central tower was also completed, with a wooden spire. Building continued into the 15th century.

A 1967 survey that revealed the building, in particular the central tower, was close to collapse, so £2,000,000 was raised by1972. During the excavations that were carried out, remains of the north corner of the Roman Principia were found under the south transept. This area, as well as remains of the Norman cathedral, re-opened to the public in spring 2013 as part of the new exhibition exploring the history of the building of York Minster.