24 December: York Minster

Every day throughout Advent, we'll be introducing a different cathedral from around the UK and occasionally beyond


Denomination: Anglican


Building began: 1220

About the cathedral

Seat of one of England’s two Anglican Archbishops, York Minster does things on a grand scale. The biggest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, it is home to the Great East Window, which is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain. The cathedral’s most famous window, however, is the Rose Window, which is found in the South Transept – created in 1515, it celebrates the union of the houses of York and Lancaster. In 1984, York Minster hit the headlines when a fire, probably caused by lightning, destroyed the South Transept roof.

Did you know?


Two figures dominated York Minster’s music-making in the 20th century – namely composers Edward Bairstow and Francis Jackson who, between them, served as the cathedral organist for a total of 69 years. Bairstow, whose choral works include the popular anthems Blessed city, heavenly Salem and Let all mortal flesh keep silence, served in post from 1913 until his death in 1946. At this point, he was replaced by Jackson, who eventually retired in 1982. Jackson will celebrate his 100th birthday in October next year.