South Transept of York Minster

Picture of the South Transept of York Minster. Includes a view of the central tower rising up behind.

Larger picture of South Transept of York Minster

The South Transept is the main entrance to York Minster. The famous stained glass of the Rose Window is above the entrance. This window was damaged by a fire in 1984. Inside you can go down to the undercroft, which shows remains uncovered during excavations. Also you can climb up the Central Tower, for great views and memorable photo opportunities. Additionally, outside are a bronze statue of Constantine and a Roman column.

Main Entrance

When you arrive to visit York Minster you will probably be greeted by a cue at the South door. This is part of the South Transept, where the public enter and exit the building. There is also a ramp for disabled access here. You are required to pay a small fee before you enter. The kiosk here is where your fee is paid. A paper guide and more information about tours of the Minster will be available here.

Picture of the Rose Window of York Minster at the top of the South Transept.

Larger Rose Window Picture

The Rose Window

The South Transept is home to the Rose Window. Look up to see it before you go in or as you come out. It is the large circular window above the South Door. The centre of this window depicts a sunflower. It is surrounded by 24 panels containing alternate red and white roses. The red rose is the symbol of The House of Lancaster. The white rose is the symbol of The House of York. Both being in the window signify the end of the 'War of the Roses' with the marriage of Elizabeth of York to the Lancastrian King Henry V11 in 1486. More recently the Rose Window was cracked into some 40,000 pieces by a terrible fire.

Fire of 1984

The South Transept was very badly damaged in the fire of 1984. The fire was caused being a lightening strike, during a storm. Fortunately the Rose window was not destroyed. However the window had to be carefully restored and strengthened over a number of years. The fire did destroy the roof of the transept. The roof and vaulting had to be replaced completely. Today, within the bosses of the new roof are six designs by children, who won a competition run by the BBC's Blue Peter television program.

Undercroft, Treasury and the Crypt

The entrance to the undercroft, treasury and crypt are here. These are all underground. The undercroft is part of a relatively recent excavation. In it you will see the supporting columns of the central tower. Also Roman remains, Norman remains and many artifacts relating to periods before York Minster. The Crypt is used for special religious services in the Minster.

Picture of the Central Tower of York Minster.

Larger picture of the Central Tower

The Central Tower

Additionally the steps up to the central tower are here. The top of the central tower is open to the public, weather permitting. It gives a magnificent view over York. You can literally see for miles on a clear day. The 275 spiral steps lead up 60 metres. So you need to be fit. The staircase is not big on space, so it may be best to avoid it if you are claustrophobic.