Choir, Chapter House & Nave

sights / Religious

Choir, Chapter House & Nave information

York , England
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Entrance to the minster is via the south transept, which was badly damaged by fire in 1984, but has now been fully restored. The stained-glass windows, choir screen and chapter house within are superb examples of English Gothic architecture.

As you enter the transept, facing you is the magnificent Five Sisters Window , with five lancets over 15m high. This is the minster's oldest complete window; most of its tangle of coloured glass dates from around 1250. Just beyond it to the right is the 13th-century chapter house, a fine example of the Decorated style. Sinuous and intricately carved stonework – there are more than 200 expressive carved heads and figures – surrounds an airy, uninterrupted space.

Back in the main church, take note of the unusually tall and wide nave, the aisles of which (to the sides) are roofed in stone in contrast to the central roof, which is wood painted to look like stone. On both sides of the nave are painted stone shields of the nobles who met with Edward II at a parliament in York. Also note the dragon's head projecting from the gallery – it's a crane believed to have been used to lift a font cover. There are several fine windows dating from the early 14th century, but the most impressive is the Great West Window (1338), with its beautiful heart-shaped stone tracery.

Beyond the screen and the choir is the lady chapel and, behind it, the high altar , which is dominated by the huge Great East Window (1405). At 23.7m by 9.4m – roughly the size of a tennis court – it is the world's largest medieval stained-glass window and the cathedral's single most important treasure. Needless to say, its epic size matches the epic theme depicted within: the beginning and end of the world as described in Genesis and the Book of Revelations .