FOR the first time in a decade, the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the country is complete once more.

Following one of the largest conservation projects of its kind in Europe, York Minster’s 600-year-old Great East Window has been returned to its former glory.

The final panel has been returned to the world-famous masterpiece, 10 years after all 311 panels were removed by York Glaziers Trust.

Conservators have spent around 92,400 hours meticulously conserving each piece as part of an £11.5m project.

The programme has also included extensive work by York Minster’s stonemasons to repair and replace hundreds of stones at the cathedral’s East End.

The project has used pioneering technology alongside traditional craft-skills, and the Minster is the first building in the UK to install state-of-the-art, UV-resistant external glazing to protect the priceless stained glass.

Glaziers Trust director Sarah Brown said: “This has been a once in a lifetime project for the team and it’s a huge privilege to be part of this milestone in the Minster’s history.

“The Great East Window is one of the great artistic achievements of the Middle Ages, a stunning expanse of stained glass of unparalleled size and beauty in Britain. The work undertaken as part of this project will ensure this masterpiece is preserved for hundreds of years to come.”

The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, added: “It’s a triumph to have the Great East Window complete once again and we look forward to seeing it in all its glory when the scaffolding is removed and the project formally completed in the spring.

“Its marks the start of a multi-million pound campaign in partnership with the York Minster Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide state-of-the-art protective glazing to all 128 of our medieval stained glass windows."