Please note that the cathedral will be closed for sightseeing on Friday 19 July due to a Consecration. All are welcome to join us for worship.

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Topping Out the Heritage Quad

Cathedrals are well-known for their revered traditions, but the ‘topping out’ of a new Heritage Quad, a new state of the art home for York Minster’s team of stonemasons and heritage craftspeople, is perhaps not the first that springs to mind.

Celebrating the placement of the highest beam in a new building, the ancient rite of topping out can be traced as far back as the 7th century when Scandinavians would place a tree atop a completed building to appease the tree gods of surrounding habitats.

Despite its Norse history, York Minster’s ceremony instead sought God’s blessing on a new home for its stonemasons and craftspeople, built in the shadow of the city walls. The Very Reverend Dominic Barrington, Dean of York, led the blessing ceremony, which was attended by representatives from the diverse organisations who have contributed to the building.

The Heritage Quad is part of the Minster’s ground-breaking Neighbourhood Plan, which is transforming the Minster Precinct to face the challenges of the 21st century. As well as providing state of the art workspaces for the Minster’s masons, the Heritage Quad will include accommodation for apprentices, rooftop solar panels, and rainwater capture systems with the whole Centre built to low energy standards.

The public are already enjoying elements of the Neighbourhood Plan: two new green spaces have been created to the east of the Minster, free for all to enjoy, and the Minster Refectory, opened in spring 2023 by His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla, offers visitors unparalleled views of the Minster.

With the opening of the Heritage Quad, visitors to York will be able to walk the city walls and gaze down into the workshops to see the stonemasons at work in a building that has already won several prizes for its pioneering design.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said: “This is a symbolic milestone in this incredibly exciting project as we begin the final stages of construction ready for the team to move into their new facilities this Autumn.  This traditional ceremony also gives us an opportunity to thank our many benefactors who have supported York Minster Fund in this fundamentally important project to safeguard the future of York Minster, but the traditional crafts that are needed to care for a complex estate such as this”.

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80th Anniversary Commemoration Service at York Minster: The Battle of Kohima

80th Anniversary Commemoration Service at York Minster: The Battle of Kohima – the turning point in the Far East Campaign during the Second World War.

The Kohima Educational Trust, with 2 Signal Regiment and York Minster will hold a Service of Remembrance on Thursday 4th July at 11am in Dean’s Park at York Minster. The Service will commemorate all those who fought and died for their country during this crucial battle.  

The service will be attended by descendants of veterans and friends of those who fought, together with The Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, the Lord Mayor of York, and The Sheriff of York. 

In April 1944 the town of Kohima was besieged by a Japanese division spearheading what they hoped would be the invasion of India. The defenders, 1500 men of the Royal West Kents, the Assam Regiment and the Assam Rifles, held out for two weeks until relieved by their comrades of the 2nd British Division. The ensuing battle, fought at close quarters for two months, was the first defeat of the Japanese by the British army, and a turning point in the war in Asia. 

The town of Kohima was completely destroyed, but this did not prevent the local inhabitants from supporting the British and Indian troops as guides, porters and combatants. Without the help of the Naga people, it is doubtful if the battle could have been won. 

Sylvia May, CEO of the Kohima Educational Trust comments:  

“Our annual service, this year commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battle, is a marvellous occasion when families and friends gather in front of the 2nd Division memorial, a replica of the one that stands in Kohima, to remember those ‘who did not come home’. We are honoured to be hosted by the Dean who will conduct the service and we are delighted to welcome this year the Venerable Dr (Air Vice-Marshal) Giles Legood, Chaplain-in-Chief and Archdeacon for the RAF, who will give the Address. 

The Dean of York comments:

“In this major anniversary year, we are privileged to host this important memorial that recalls one of the significant events of World War II. The Kohima Educational Trust’s work with the Naga continues to be profoundly important and it is an honour for the Minster to be associated with this.”

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