The Five Sisters Window in York Minster

Christine Smith

Grovedale, Australia

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FEATURED in Architecture The British Isles 26-11-2010
FEATURED in HDR Photography 27-11-2010
FEATURED in All Things Photographic 03-12-2010
FEATURED in The English Church 18-03-2011

Camera: Canon EOS 400D, Lens: @ 17mm, ISO: 800, Aperture: f4, Shutter: 1/25

Taken inside the North Transept of York Minster Cathedral at York, England. The north transept was built during the 13th century and is typical of the Early English style with its columns of polished Purbeck stone and central wooden vault. Dominating the whole area is the Five Sisters Window. Glazed with ‘grisaille’ glass, it the largest of its type to survive anywhere in the world. It was completed around 1250 when coloured glass was only manufactured abroad and would have been prohibitively expensive to import in such quantities. Each lancet is 16.2 metres high and 1.5 metres wide with the entire window containing over 100,000 pieces of glass. It has now been dedicated as a memorial to the women who lost their lives in the two world wars. York Minster is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe after Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by a dean and chapter under the Dean of York. The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472. It has a cruciform plan with an octagonal chapter house attached to the north transept, a central tower and two towers at the west front. The stone used for the building is magnesian limestone, a creamy-white coloured rock that was quarried in nearby Tadcaster. The Minster is 158 metres (518 ft) long and each of its three towers are 60 metres (200 ft) high. The choir has an interior height of 31 metres (102 ft). York as a whole and particularly the Minster have a long tradition of creating beautiful stained glass. Some of the stained glass in York Minster dates back to the twelfth century. The 76-foot (23 m) tall Great East Window, created by John Thornton in the early fifteenth century, is the largest example of medieval stained glass in the world. Because of the extended time periods during which the glass was installed, different types of glazing and painting techniques that evolved over hundreds of years are visible in the different windows. Approximately 2 million individual pieces of glass make up the cathedral’s 128 stained glass windows. Much of the glass was removed before and pieced back together after the First and Second World Wars, and the windows are constantly being cleaned and restored to keep their beauty intact.

Artwork Comments

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