Minster's medieval window saved from fire

An "irreplaceable" medieval stained glass window has been saved after fire broke out at York Minster's stone yard, police said today.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the fire at the Minster Yard in Minstergate late yesterday evening.

The window, which was undergoing restoration, was safely removed by fire crews working with York Minster Police and other Minster staff.

The window was being housed in a store room close to where the fire broke out, York Minster Police said.

Fire investigation officers were at the yard today trying to find out how the fire started.

The Dean of York, the Very Rev Keith Jones, said: "The fire at York Minster stone yard is now being assessed. Our first concern, after being sure that no people were in danger, was for the precious things in store there.

"Thanks to the prompt actions by our staff who worked with the fire brigade, that is safe. In a few days we shall know more about the cause and the consequences."

A spokesman for York Minster Police said: "It was the great east window which is being restored. It is the size of a tennis court and there were a lot of panels to remove. It is irreplaceable."

The great east window is one of the largest areas of medieval stained glass in the world. The window was built by glazier John Thornton in 1405/08 and cost £58, paid by the then Bishop of Durham, Walter Skirlaw.

In July, the Minster held a service to mark the 25th anniversary of a devastating fire which swept through the south transept, destroying part of the roof and damaging the famous 16th Century Rose Window.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visited the site of the blaze and spoke of his gratitude to those who saved the window.

Dr Sentamu said: "I am glad to say that, apart from the two offices that were damaged, fire officers worked at such great speed that the damage was limited - and no one was injured.

"I am very grateful for the sterling efforts of the local fire service and the Minster Police in this regard.

"I am also grateful for the hard work of Reverend Canon Glyn Webster; the Chamberlain Dr Richard Shephard; the superintendent of works Rebecca Thompson; and the assistant head of works Adrian Hodges for working throughout the night to remove the east window to a place of safety.

"It was something of a shock for the stone masons and glaziers who were returning to work today, but not a great deal of damage has been sustained to the building so for that we must be thankful."