Visitors will have the chance to go behind the scenes at York Minster’s Stoneyard today to see the ancient craft skills used to preserve one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals.
The annual Stoneyard Open Day invites people to visit the cathedral’s workshops to learn about the work carried out by its craftspeople to repair, restore and protect the Minster’s historic fabric, using techniques passed down through the centuries.
Pieces of stonework on show will include four recently carved grotesques produced by stonemasons to replace four weathered figures removed from the cathedral last year, which were believed to date from the late 1700s. The new carvings include a figure of St George, his legendary foe the dragon, and a medieval doctor. and a figure inspired by a homeless person.
Visitors will also have the chance to join special tours of the Stoneyard’s plaster cast museum and the Master Mason’s drawing office, or take a trip up the South Quire Aisle scaffolding to see the stone conservation work taking place on this part of the cathedral.
Alex McCallion, York Minster’s Director of Works and Precinct, said: “Our annual Open Day always proves popular with visitors and it’s a great way for us to showcase the incredible craft skills which go into maintaining this 800-year-old building, from new stone to joinery and leadwork. Every stone replaced on the Minster is hand carved by our team of 15 masons and we have a rolling programme of conservation works needed to maintain the building for the next 30 years.”
“Our current project, to conserve and restore the cathedral’s 14th century South Quire Aisle, involves repairing and replacing stone in 15 window bays and will take 11 years and £11m to complete. Visitors will be able to see stone being worked in our workshop as part of this project, learn about the process for identifying, templating and producing the stones to be replaced, and see the actual work undertaken so far on the South Quire Aisle. We will also have displays showing lead casting, joinery, wood carving as well as an interactive children’s activity area for budding heritage experts.”.
The free event runs from 9am to 3pm at the Stoneyard in 4 Deangate, York. Tours of the plaster cast museum and drawing office with Master Mason John David run every hour from 10am to 2pm and no pre-booking is required – spaces will be given on the day on a first come, first served basis.
The South Quire Aisle scaffolding tours will run every 45 minutes from 9.30am to 2pm. All pre-bookable tickets for the tours between 9.30am and 12.30pm have now sold out but tickets for the tours at 1.15pm and 2pm will be available to book on the day on a first come, first served basis. Spaces are limited to 10 people per tour so early arrival is recommended to avoid disappointment. The tours are for people aged 18+ only, and health and safety restrictions apply.