England’s Sistine Chapel

On Thursday 17 May, the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the UK was unveiled for the first time in over a decade. After a major £11.5 million restoration and conservation project – which has spanned 12 years – The Great East Window of York Minster has been restored and conserved for future generations.

Created between 1405 and 1408 by Master Glazier John Thornton of Coventry, the window consists of 311 stained glass panels. Each panel has taken between 400 and 600 hours to restore and has been reinstalled with state-of-the-art UV resistant external glazing.

The window has survived for 600 years, through vandalism, wars and multiple fires, and we were so thrilled to be able to produce a book that would tell its fascinating story and do justice to the reproduction of such a magnificent work of art on the page.

The Great East Window of York Minster: An English Masterpiece delves into the history of the window, profiles John Thornton and his patrons, discusses the meaning and intention behind the biblical imagery, outlines the conservation programme at the Minster, and considers the project in its wider context, looking at the validity of Thornton’s claim to authorship of a masterpiece.

With brand new imagery, the book captures the panels as they’ve re-emerged after conservation: lighter, brighter and less heavily loaded. Thornton’s true genius as designer, storyteller and leader of a workshop of artistic talent has been confirmed in The Great East Window as it stands in 2018.

Author Sarah Brown is the national expert on medieval ecclesiastical architecture and Director and Chief Executive of the York Glaziers Trust. She is speaking about the book in York on 31 May 2018 and you can purchase tickets here.

Follow Sarah Brown on Twitter @SarahatYGT and York Minster @York_Minster