God back in place above York as glass master work is pieced together

Nick Teed from York Glaziers Trust with ‘God the Father’, the first restored stained glass panel to be returned to York Minster’s Great East Window. Photographs: Duncan Lomax
15 Jun 2015 @ 5.38 pm
| Environment
Nick Teed from York Glaziers Trust with ‘God the Father’, the first restored stained glass panel to be returned to York Minster’s Great East Window. Photographs: Duncan Lomax
Nick Teed from York Glaziers Trust with ‘God the Father’, the first restored stained glass panel to be returned to York Minster’s Great East Window. Photographs: Duncan Lomax

God the Father has returned to his rightful place, surveying York from on high.

In this case God The Father is a piece of medieval stained glass, returned to the Great East Window of York Minster for the first time in seven years.

The fitting is a major milestone in the restoration of the window, which is bigger than a tennis court and the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the country.

‘It seemed fitting to start with God the Father and work downwards’
‘It seemed fitting to start with God the Father and work downwards’

Altogether 311 stained glass panels were removed from the medieval masterpiece in 2008. Experts from the York Glaziers Trust have so far spent more than 70,000 hours on the work to restore and conserve them.

The trust has already conserved 157 panels depicting the Apocalypse of St John, the last book of the Bible and historical figures. These will be painstakingly returned to the Great East Window over the next three months.

Handling the 600-year-old glass is a delicate task
Handling the 600-year-old glass is a delicate task

Sarah Brown, director at York Glaziers Trust said:

The Great East Window is one of the great artistic achievements of the Middle Ages, a stunning expanse of stained glass of unparalleled size and beauty in Britain.

The work undertaken as part of this project will ensure this masterpiece is preserved for hundreds of years to come.

In terms of returning the glass to the window, it seemed fitting to start with God the Father and work downwards, with the medieval perception of human history unfolding beneath his feet.

The first piece in the Great East Window jigsaw is complete
The first piece in the Great East Window jigsaw is complete

The window was made under the direction of medieval master glazier John Thornton of Coventry between 1405 and 1408. He was paid £56.

York Minster’s stonemasons and carvers have worked alongside York Glaziers Trust, conserving and replacing nearly 3,500 stones on the cathedral’s East End. It is all part of the £20 million York Minster Revealed project.

The Great East Window before restoration
The Great East Window before restoration

Work to restore the remaining stained glass from the window will begin in August and will take around two years to complete, before being returned to the window in early 2018.

However, from early next year visitors to the Minster will be able to see the Great East Window free from scaffolding, with the already completed panels returned to their rightful places and clear glazing protecting the areas being worked on by the trust.