A DECADE-long project to conserve and restore the country’s largest expanse of medieval stained glass has been completed.

The work on the 600-year-old Great East Window of York Minster has been an enormous task for the cathedral’s team of experts.

All 311 stained glass panels were removed from the window in 2008 by York Glaziers Trust, and over the last ten years conservators have spent around 92,400 hours meticulously conserving each piece.

The work has been part of an £11.5m programme which has included extensive work by the Minster’s stonemasons to repair and replace hundreds of stones at the cathedral’s East End, which houses the window.

The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: “The Great East Window is one of the most magnificent pieces of medieval art ever created.

“It is an enormous privilege to experience this masterpiece in this glorious state: beautifully conserved and carefully restored for generations to come.

“We’re hugely grateful to York Glaziers Trust and all the people who have been involved in this epic undertaking for all their hard work and commitment. The end result is breath-taking.”

As well as restoring the 15th-century glass, the work on the Great East Window has involved using pioneering technology alongside traditional craft-skills.

In 2014 the cathedral become the first building in the UK to install state-of-the-art, UV resistant external glazing to protect the priceless stained glass - and it remains the largest world-wide use to date of the revolutionary protective material.

The director of the York Glaziers Trust, Sarah Brown, said: “It’s undoubtedly been a career highlight working on such wonderful glass.

“There’s no debate – the Great East Window is up there as an international work of art and we all feel immensely privileged to have been part of it.

“I think part of what the project has achieved is a massive increase in public awareness of the stained glass at York Minster and the treasure we hold.”

She added: “It’s a very, very special collection of glass and we’re hugely privileged to have it.”

With the completion of the Great East Window, work is now beginning on another mammoth project for the Minster - a 20-year, £11m scheme to provide state-of-the-art protective glazing to all 128 of the cathedral’s stained glass windows - 60 per cent of which currently have no protection from the elements.

The cathedral will work on the project in partnership with York Glaziers Trust and the York Minster Fund to provide the environmental protection, supported by a match-funding grant of up to £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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