In June, a new exhibition at York Minster will offer the opportunity to explore the fifteenth-century St Cuthbert Window, which is among the finest extant examples of the art and techniques of medieval glaziers and stonemasons.
For centuries, Cuthbert was the most important saint in northern England. During his lifetime he guided kings, abbesses and ordinary people alike, and was renowned as a preacher, healer and hermit. The St Cuthbert Window shows the story of Cuthbert’s life on a monumental scale. Made around 1440, it is a rare surviving example of a narrative window, making it an important source for understanding medieval devotion, politics and storytelling, as well as past approaches to restoration.
The essential repair of the stone of the south-east transept has created a once in a lifetime opportunity to conserve the St Cuthbert window, last restored following the Second World War. In recent weeks, York Glaziers Trust have begun conservation work. A programme of cleaning, repair and stabilisation will be complemented by the introduction of a state-of-the-art environmental protective glazing system, creating a dry and stable environment that will ensure the window’s preservation for many generations to come.
The exhibition, Light, Glass & Stone: Conserving the St Cuthbert Window, offers the chance to learn about the creation and history of the St Cuthbert Window, including new discoveries from recent research, as well as the cathedral’s current project to conserve this magnificent window, which is one of the largest extant narrative windows in Europe.
Visitors will have the rare opportunity to see at close range panels which have been removed from the window as part of the conservation and restoration project, alongside a soundscape and projection depicting one of St Cuthbert’s miracles.
The exhibition is part of a series of activities at York Minster this summer to mark the start of the major conservation and restoration project. Two talks by experts will offer the opportunity to explore the history and conservation of the window in more depth.
In the first talk, Dr Katharine Harrison will introduce St Cuthbert and explore the history and significance of the window at York Minster. By tracing Cuthbert’s remarkable life and exploring the creation and design of the St Cuthbert Window, as well as the impact of nearly 600 years, she will offer insights into the importance of this captivating window and the ingenuity of its creators.
In the second talk, Professor Sarah Brown, director of the York Glaziers Trust, will explain the programme of conservation and protection now underway, ensuring the preservation of the window for many generations to come. This illustrated talk will take you into the studio to learn about the meticulous conservation processes. It will also show how approaches to the conservation of stained glass have been transformed since the post-war era, a development in which the conservators and scholars of the city of York have played a crucial part.
The exhibition is due to open on 25th June, and will run until January 2024. Entry to the exhibition is free with general admission to the Minster, which must currently be booked for a specific time due to pandemic restrictions.
Free tickets for the talks will be released in advance, with the option to watch via livestream from your home.
For more information, and to book tickets for general admission and the talks, please visit York Minster’s website (click here).