Catastrophe! The cracks are getting larger and the stones are moving apart. If something isn’t done, there could be a huge disaster. In the 1960′s, all was not well at York Minster. The tower foundations were failing and the structure was cracking. In response, the engineers Arups created a huge concrete underpinning structure and, during the excavations, elements of the previous history back to Roman times were discovered. I remember visiting the work at the time – an astonishing feat of engineering and, in the process, Arups created a new undercroft area to house exhibition displays interacting with the modern engineering.
While there has been some religious presence here since the 4th century, York Minster as we see it today was built from 1220 onwards, replacing the Norman Minister. With its soaring gothic vaults and stunning stained glass – much of which was removed for safety in the first and second world wars and then reinstated -, it is one of Europe’s largest and most splendid cathedrals. with a beautiful vaulted Chapter House.
Continuing the tradition of enriching the cathedral with contemporary art of the time, on the west wall are the modern semaphore figures spelling out ‘Christ is here’, a cheeky modern version of some of the impertinent sculptures in the minster’s stonework.