English Churches - York
first impressions are the sheer size of the nave with its
slender pillars soaring up to the rib vaulted ceiling with
its golden bosses. Not only is it the largest Gothic
building in Northern Europe, it is one of the best.
On one of the pillars is the nave pulpit with the Archbishop’s throne beyond.
The solid Gothic pillars allowed the masons to build upwards making the Minster look much lighter and airier than its Norman predecessor. Above the pointed arches is a walkway and the stained glass windows of the clerestory.
The purpose of the red and gold dragon head on the north arcade is uncertain. It has a hole through its neck and may have had a chain through it to raise and lower the lid of the font.
The west end is covered with blind ogee arches. These were intended to hold statues, but these would have been removed during the Reformation. At the centre is the Great West Window, dating from 1338-9. This is often called “The Heart of Yorkshire” from the heart shape in the tracery. Along the base of the panels is a list of Deans and Archbishops from 314AD
In the arches on either side of the west door are small headless statues made of paper mache and placed here in 2004. They are often referred to as the ‘semaphore saints ‘ as they spell out the message “Christ is here”.
The Minster has one of the best collections of Medieval glass in England. Only Canterbury Cathedral has more. The windows date from the early C14th and the gothic tracery is less ornate than the Great West Window. They are also flanked by empty statue niches and arcading below. This window in the north aisle, was sponsored by William Tunnock, a bell maker and is decorated with a lot of small golden bells.
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