Thursday, 26 May 2011

York Minster - I

So, here we are at the famous York Minster.   You can go there yourself and have a virtual tour, if you like.  It's a pretty amazing place.  The virtual tour shows it as empty, which is even more amazing.  When we were there if was full of chairs and people everywhere.  It's meant to hold about 2,000 people, but it can cope with 3,500 at a squeeze.  Bill and I have each been here a number of times, but never taken the free guided tour, so this time we hung around to wait for the next available tour guide.  Ours was a volunteer named Barry.

We learned about stained glass windows:  the long narrow parts are lancets; each square bit that makes up the lancet is called a light.  The round-ish bits at the top are called roundels.  

This particular window was made in 1310; remade in 1789 – the leading that holds the glass only lasts about 150 years; and repositioned in 1950.  That is to say, the windows of the York Minster were removed and placed in mines and vaults for protection during WWII and were only replaced into the church in 1950.  Those dates are in the lower right corner.   

Looking at the ceiling of the Central Tower
Barry said he wouldn't tell us the story of every window - he didn't know the story of every one - but one thing that was interesting to me was that they generally tell a story:  you read it from the left to the right, starting with the bottom light and reading across each row until the story ends at the very top.  The story might be the life of a saint or the whole Bible or in one case the glazier chose a cartoon to amuse the people waiting in a queue for absolution or to buy an indulgence or something.  What amazed me was that if Barry said look there and you’ll see X, I could actually see X, something I wouldn’t have predicted.  The optometrist must have done a good job with my prescription; that, and I am fairly familiar with English history and some of the religious stories and artifacts. 

In the Quire

This is the 5th York Minster; the first was a simple wooden structure built in 627.  They don’t know much about the first two  but they know quite a bit about the 3rd and 4th.  York was originally built by the Romans, but Barry said Christianity didn't fare so well under the Vikings.  Monasteries at places like Lindisfarne kept the spark of Christianity burning in the British Isles and under Norman rule the church thrived again.


Mollie said...

Now, did you sneak your pictures or did they allow it?

Cameras are a no no at Durham Cathedral.

Heh heh, I showed them.

Shelley said...

Mollie!!!! From Oklahoma!!!! In Durham!!!! (I'm a little excited...) Nope, photos were just fine. I had no idea Durham Cathedral didn't allow them. Some places allow photos if you buy a 'license'...a higher ticket price. I've always found it to be worth it.

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

It's been years and years and YEARS since Ive been to Yorkminster. I hardly rememeber it. This post has reminded me that I need to go again.