The Restoration of York Minster

Posted on 10th January 2020 by simonbeattie

After every catastrophe comes the opportunity for revival and, just as Notre Dame is rising out of the ashes today, so too did York Minster in the years following a disastrous arson attack in February, 1829.

Jonathan Martin (1782-1838; brother of the artist, John Martin) very nearly destroyed York Minster entirely when he lit a fire after hiding in the building overnight, and it was only the speedy drafting of a water pump which saved the structure from complete ruin. The damage was nonetheless catastrophic; the roof of the central aisle was almost entirely destroyed, as was most of the woodwork in the interior, including the organ and its screen, the tabernacle work, the stalls, the galleries, the bishop’s throne, and the pulpit.

This week we are highlighting a fine contemporary collection of pamphlets, all in first edition, with broadsides, relating to the ongoing restoration work at York Minster [Mostly York, 1829-42]:

The collection is bound together in a contemporary binding and, while we have no leads on who that original owner was, it’s always a treat to find such things lovingly collected and kept for posterity by contemporaries of such events. It also constitutes an invaluable record for architectural historians; several foldout plates illustrate the damage in detail, and plans for renewal:

‘View of the Porch of the Minster Screen shewing the part that will be destroyed if the Screen be removed’. Folding plate from A Letter addressed to the Ven. and Rev. Archdeacon Markham, on the Construction and Date of the Porch of the Organ-Screen in York Minster … York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons … 1831.
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