‘Race against time’ to save York Minster’s world-famous stained glass windows

A conservator at work on the Great East Window of York Minster. Photographs: York Glaziers Trust
21 Jul 2017 @ 8.41 pm
| Environment, History

York Minster is in a race against time to protect its irreplaceable stained glass windows for future generations.

So the cathedral authorities have announced an innovative partnership with York Glaziers Trust to safeguard the windows.

York Minster holds the largest collection of medieval stained glass in the country.

But 74 of the cathedral’s 128 stained glass windows, which date back to the 12th century, have no protective glazing.

That leaves them exposed to the elements to corrode and decay.

But the 20-year partnership with York Glaziers Trust – paid for by an £11m fundraising campaign – can ensure all of its 128 windows have the benefit of environmental protective glazing.

Wonders of the world

Painstaking work… inside the trust’s studio

Dean of York the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull describes the Minster windows as “one of the wonders of the world” – but warned they could be lost forever.

Currently almost 60% of this precious and irreplaceable glass has no external protection from the environment, which means that moisture in the air is causing damage to our windows faster than we can conserve them.

Condensation which builds up on the glass causes it to corrode and the paint to deteriorate and flake away.

We’re therefore in a race against time to protect these irreplaceable works of art for future generations.

The new partnership and funding were announced by the Dean and Nicolas Barker, chairman of trustees of the York Glaziers Trust, at the trust’s 50th anniversary celebrations on Thursday night (July 20).

Mr Barker said their job was “to protect one of the most important collections of medieval stained glass in the world”.

How will it be paid for?

The York Glaziers Trust studio in the late 1980s
How to donate

Text YORK16 £10 to 70070 to donate £10

Visit the York Minster Just Giving page

The work will be funded by a new fundraising approach between the York Minster Fund (YMF), the charity which works to raise money for restoration work at the cathedral, and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Heritage Lottery Stained Glass Endowment will involve a four year campaign where every £1 donated by the public will be matched by both the YMF and HLF, up to £1m.

This means that if a member of the public donates £1 and opts to include Gift Aid, £5 will go into the endowment fund. The money will then be invested and the returns from the fund used to pay for the ongoing conservation work.