I have spent most of my life in Yorkshire, I moved here when I was 8 from Lancashire. Over the years I have travelled to York a lot for shopping and the occasional drinking evening. York is a lovely place, surrounded in history, the windy streets and bendy houses are something to see, above all this there is York Minster. York Minster has always amazed and intrigued me I remember one day going inside as a young boy and just feeling incredibly humble. This was the building that kicked off my love for architecture and my interests in building and the history surrounding them, you could even say this is why am I who I am today.
As you may know over the past 6 months I have been taking part in the Building Skill in Craft Programme with The Prince’s Foundation where I have worked at some amazing buildings throughout this time. I pushed straight from the word go to get a chance to work on the Minster, just to be given the chance to meet the people working on it and taking a look around the workshops would be good enough for me…I got that chance!
During the week I spent there I was given a tour around the masons workshops
The minster has a large team working on the stones that would eventually take pride and place on the minster. I was also given a tour inside the Minster and around some of the places where the general public don’t always see.
It was years since I was here and it felt amazing to be back and looking at the building that first inspired me. Everything about the building is fascinating, spotting the various restoration projects that have taken place to looking at some of the work that is currently taking part – I was astounded. There are still remains of the original Minster dating back to the Roman period
The axe marks are still clearly visible on the stone where they were cut all those years ago, some truly amazing, historic work.
During my short time at the Minster I spent some time working with the ‘fixing team’ on the east window. The ‘fixing team’ are responsible for fixing the new carved stones and also the repair of the original stones on and around the window. Not all stones are replaced as with most ‘proper’ restoration – If a stone is deemed in good enough condition not to completely take out and replace it isn’t. Instead, very integral, repairs take place using modern techniques and materials that still keep the historic, original look. A lot of time is being spent here at the moment as the Minster just recently received a well deserved grant from the National Lottery. There are some great examples of the work the current restoration team are doing,
I helped the team over a few days fixing new stones in and around the window and also repairing some of the original stone. I learnt a lot of new techniques along the way. It was a great feeling to know the work I was doing would be there for many years to come and I was personally helping keeping the history alive.
If you know anything about York Minster I can bet you have heard about the stain glass windows. There are some of the most impressive examples of such work in the country, maybe even the world! The team behind this are York Glaziers. I was given the very special opportunity to be given a tour around their workshop, I was told on good authority not a lot of people get to do this so I was very lucky. Once inside I was taken back (again) with some of the work they’re doing and have done.
The amount of time the team take to preserve such tiny pieces of glass is impressive. Everything is mapped out before and after to ensure everything is put back as it was. The workshop itself is spotless which is always a good sign.
I was great to see some of the glass panels up front before it is put back into the minster.
I am sure in years to come I will look up and remember the time I saw it all laid out on a table. It was great to learn how it all happens, from the cleaning to the fixing.
After my time working with the team at York Minster I can only congratulate them and wish them all the best with the project, they are producing some great work and keeping one of the most impressive buildings in the UK alive!