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The East Front of York Minster will be covered in scaffolding for the next 10 years. What is going on? Many of the stones on the outside wall need to be taken out and replaced. The 600 year old glass panels of the Great East Window must be taken out, so that the tracery can be restored. The southern pinnacle of the Lady Chapel will be dismantled and re-built.

Many of the stone figures that decorate the arch of the window will be carved again. The Minster has an appeal to raise ÂŁ30,000,000 to pay for the restoration.

Who will do the work? The work will be done by our own team of masons, carvers and fixers, known as the Minster Stoneyard. However, this project will need extra masons. Several new masons will be apprenticed over the next few years. It costs ÂŁ72,000 and takes 4 years, to train an apprentice mason.

The Scaffold The construction started in 2001. It slowly began to rise, as scaffolds removed from other parts of the Minster were added. It was complete by March 2005.

Facts and Figures The scaffold is made from: 16 miles (25.5km) of tubing 17,000 fittings hold it together 5.6 miles (9km) of boards make up the floors It weighs nearly 110 tonnes To account for the outward lean of the East Front, the bottom of the scaffold is over 1m away from the wall. The scaffolding is owned by the Dean and Chapter. Many thanks to Peter Carlill, foreman scaffolder, for these statistics.

The Great East Window 1408 . . . John Thornton, master glazier from Coventry, designed and glazed the Great East Window in the Lady Chapel from 1405—1408. He earned £56 altogether for his work; £10 of this was a bonus for finishing within 3 years.

2008 . . . Exactly 600 years later, scaffolding has returned to the Lady Chapel. The Great East Window, which contains the largest area of medieval stained glass in the world, is worn and damaged. The panels will be carefully taken out, cleaned and restored. Our own glaziers, the York Glaziers’ Trust, will do the work.

Scary Job?

How Many? The window contains 117 square panels with 27 canopy panels, and above them, 167 tracery openings. Each square panel is 1 metre square. It will take one glazier 600 hours to restore one square panel = 4 working months. 11 glaziers and conservators are working on the project. The restoration of the whole window will take 10 years.

The size of the window is almost 24 metres from bottom to top. Glaziers will remove panels using a scaffold that, at its highest, is more than 35 metres from the ground.

The cost to restore the glass will be approx £7,000,000. Six hundred years ago, Thornton was paid £56 to make this window!

What is going on behind the scaffolding  

The East Front of York Minster will be shrouded in scaffolding for the next decade. This two page PDF looks at what the restoration will ent...

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