Revealed: York’s revamped Minster

FOR YEARS it has been hidden from view behind its shroud of scaffolding.

Stonemason Lindsay Howgarth (left), 34, works on the final stages of the East Tower at York Minster. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA

But within weeks its “veil” of steel, boards and netting will be coming off York Minster, revealing part of its magnificent East Front to the world.

Masons are putting the final touches to the highest points of the 14th century Front, as part of the £20m project, York Minster Revealed.

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The top layers of scaffolding will be coming down 28ft from the top of the spire to the bottom of the seated statue of St Peter - the largest figure on the outside of the building and which stands at the apex of the Great East Window.

But visitors will only be able to see the statue close-up if they take part in a tour over the summer, as scaffolding further down the face - there are 17 miles in all - will continue to obscure views from ground level for some months yet.

Around 1,200 stones - some plain ashlar blocks, others grotesques, mythical creatures and mediaeval figures - have been replaced so far.

Some are copies of mediaeval designs, others, new creations on a Gothic theme. The centrepiece of the huge project is the ongoing conservation of the Great East Window.

This is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world, which has been removed from the East Front.

External protective glazing will begin to be installed in the next couple of months but the glass won’t be put back until next year.

Work on the East Front will finally be completed in March 2016.

Superintendent of works at York Minster Rebecca Thompson said: “It’s mind blowing when you think of the history of the building and our five-year project, five years of intense work, is just a tiny dot in its history.

This is a small part of the continuing maintenance and conservation of the Minster. Once it finishes we need to start another major project - and so it goes on.”