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York Minster’s Great East Window

The fascinating story behind the restoration of York Minster’s Great East Window is set out in a new book by Sarah Brown, the international stained glass expert at the University of York who is leading the work, currently underway at The York Glaziers Trust (YGT).


Revelation 13:4-6 from York Minster's Great East Window
Apocalypse The Great East Window of York Minster explains how art historians at the University and stained glass conservators at YGT have worked with architects, masons, project managers and fundraisers since 2005 to plan, fund and execute one of Europe’s largest and most complex conservation projects.

The window, known as the Sistine Chapel of stained glass, depicts the biblical cycles of Creation and Apocalypse as described in Genesis and the Book of Revelation. The book, for the first time, reproduces panels from the window in full colour, presenting each intricate scene in detail, accompanied by expert commentary describing the narrative behind this medieval masterpiece and the circumstances of its creation.

In her role as Director and Chief Executive of YGT, Sarah oversees the painstaking work to restore of each of the 300 panels, using cutting edge techniques to preserve the astonishing beauty of the window for generations to come. Sarah is also course director of the University’s MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management.

She said: “The project offers an unrivalled opportunity to examine the panels up close at eye level in the glazier’s workshop, revealing details about the astonishing skill and artistry of John Thornton who created the window, and his team who remain anonymous and unnumbered.

“Above all, the book is a tribute to Thornton and his unsung collaborators.”

The restoration is part of the five-year York Minster Revealed project, due for completion in 2016.

Watch a short film showing how experts at the University of York, including Sarah Brown, are helping to preserve the magnificent stained glass and stonework at York Minster.