York Minster Apocalypse © Gordon Plumb

York Apocalypse

York Apocalypse panel back in Minster after restoration

York Minster takes pride in one of the great artistic achievements of the middle ages – the Great East Window. The size of a tennis court it contains 311 glass panels, which for some years have been under restoration by the York Glaziers Trust. In October part of it was restored to its original setting after having been studied, conserved and covered with a protective glazing. The painstaking restoration has taken 8 years and the completion signals the ending of the first phase of the project sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The window is the masterpiece of Coventry glazier John Thornton and was commissioned in 1405, taking three years to complete. It cost to York Minster’s Chapter £56, according to information gleaned from 17th century copies of the medieval contract.

The window is a work of immense ambition, depicting the beginning and end of all things, from the creation of the world as described in the book of Genesis, to the events that will presage the end of the world and the second coming of Christ.

Thus, the window includes a remarkable sequence depicting that most inspiring and controversial Biblical text, the Revelation of St John – also known as the Apocalypse. The four horsemen, the Archangel Michael and the dragon, the whore of Babylon, the coming of the New Jerusalem – all of the famous phantasmagorical images of John’s vision are here in searing colour and detail.

As part of the York Minster Revealed project, the Apocalypse scenes from this extraordinary window are being studied, conserved and returned with revolutionary protective glazing that will secure its future for many generations to come.

For further details see the York Glaziers Trust website.

More details about the work to restore and conserve the Great East Window are available here.

The Director of the York Glaziers Trust, Sarah Brown, published the result of the research in 2014.


Apocalypse window york CoverApocalypse: The Great East Window of York Minster
By Sarah Brown
Third Millennium Publishing, London, 2014.


Stream of Photos by Gordon Plumb

These photos are a real joy since the York Minster restricts publication of photos of the panels on the internet. The photo above is made available by  © Gordon Plumb