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York - Minster
As the second city of the kingdom in
effect the northern capital and with the archbishop of York the second
most important churchman in England, York not surprisingly is home to what
is the largest cathedral in England and one of its most important
surviving medieval buildings.
The cathedral that dominates York's skyline almost as
much today as it must have done during the Middle Ages was
constructed between 1220
and 1472. It is distinguished not only by the predominantly Gothic
architecture, but also by decoration such as
numerous elaborately carved roof bosses some of these the original medieval pieces, others copies made after the
several fires which have ravaged the cathedral over the last two centuries.
The cathedral was built on the site once occupied by the fort of the
Roman legion based at York. The city had a bishop at the close of the
period of Roman occupation, and what is considered the first episcopal
church was built by the newly-Christianized Edgar, king of Northumbria,
in the 620s. Even under the rule of the Vikings, a line of archbishops
managed to survive, with a few interruptions. Destruction during
attacks on the city by the Normans in 1069 and the Danes in 1075, and a
fire in 1137 provided only setbacks to rebuilding initiatives. In the
early thirteenth century Archbishop Walter de Gray undertook not only to
reform the monastic chapter, but also to rebuild the Minster on a scale
rivalling Canterbury. The outcome was, eventually, the present building.
For further information about the cathedral, see the
history section of the
York Minster Web site.