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Four newly conserved stained glass panels from the medieval St Cuthbert Window, one of the largest surviving narrative windows in Europe, will go on display at York Minster this week ahead of the saint’s day on Sunday (20 March).
The four panels, which show scenes from St Cuthbert’s life, will be displayed as part of the cathedral’s exhibition Light, Glass & Stone: Conserving the St Cuthbert Window, which opened at the Minster last summer.
The panels were among 152 removed from the 15th century window in spring last year as part of a five-year, £5m project to conserve the window and the stonework of its surrounding Transept.
Experts at York Glaziers Trust have been carrying out painstaking cleaning and repair work to the stained glass, with a selection of newly conserved panels going on display to give visitors the rare opportunity to see at close range the nearly 600 year old glass.
Dr Helen Rawson, Head of Heritage at York Minster, said: “The four panels show some of the key scenes from St Cuthbert’s life including his birth and death.
“Three are exquisite examples of the craftsmanship employed by the medieval glaziers, while the fourth highlights the accomplished work of 19th century stained glass maker J.W. Knowles of York, who worked on a previous restoration of the window.
“It’s fantastic to be able to complete the exhibition by adding these final panels to the eight already installed, and to give visitors the chance to explore both the life and work of this important northern saint, alongside the conservation work being undertaken to protect this medieval masterpiece.”
St Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop of Lindisfarne who lived between c.634 and 687 and was renowned for his good works and miracles.
York Minster’s St Cuthbert Window, which is located in the cathedral’s East End, was created in around 1440 and shows scenes from the saint’s life.
Work to restore the window and the stonework of the South East Transept in which it sits started in 2021 and will take around five years to complete.
The project includes installing state-of-the-art protective glazing to the window, to replace external quarry glazing installed in the 1930s. This will provide a barrier between the medieval glass and the elements.
The work is part of a 20-year partnership project between York Minster and York Glaziers Trust to ensure all 128 of the Minster’s mostly medieval windows have protective glazing to shield the delicate glass from decay and buy time for much needed conservation work.
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