What’s on : Activities

Tour the Minster Precinct

21 Apr 2023
Start time
2:00 PM
Tour the Minster Precinct

Event Information

Tour the Minster Precinct and learn about the new Neighbourhood Plan

2pm, Friday 21st April 2023

Cost £5 per person

This event is now fully booked; please contact us to be placed on the waiting list.

Meet outside the West front of the Minster (underneath the new statue of Queen Elizabeth) to join Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct, for a short walking tour as he explains York Minster’s Neighbourhood Plan. This signals the largest programme of planned works at the Minster and its precinct for 150 years. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders including the City of York Council and the local community, the plan is designed to sustain and enhance the cultural significance and environmental value of the precinct and its buildings. The walk will include information on the proposed centre of excellence for craftsmen working at the Minster, the new refectory and how to heat the Minster.

To book, please return the booking form below to the Lodge with your cheque, made out to Yorkshire Philosophical Society (in full) or send the form by email to info@ypsyork.org and pay by Paypal at https://www.ypsyork.org/donate-to-yps/

You can download a copy of this flyer in Word by clicking Minster precinct flyer

YPS terms and conditions apply. See the website https://www.ypsyork.org/groups/social-group/yps-activities-booking-terms-conditions-2/  or ask at the Lodge


Member’s report

Alex McCallion treated YPS members to a truly informative talk as he walked us through York Minster’s 15 year Neighbourhood Plan. Starting at the West End of the Minster, Alex explained how the statue of the late Queen Elizabeth had become a symbol for the planned Centre of Excellence at the east end and the driving force for what is to become a new civic space known as Queen Elizabeth Square at the west. The intention is to provide a pedestrian area in front of the Minster, partitioned off by Victorian style bollards with access only provision for vehicles, offering a community space with tables and chairs in a more European style plaza.

This was only the beginning of the new chapter in the life of the Minster Precinct, embodied in the first Minster development plan since 1958. Although the concept is settled, the question of funding is of course a major consideration; the plan alone had cost £250,000 to produce and the total cost is likely to be in the region of £40,000,000. One of the issues is the status of the Minster as all the buildings are listed and the most important are Grade One. Large though the Minster may be, it is nevertheless a very fragile building.

A key objective is sustainability, with the Minster aiming for net zero by 2030. Walking through Dean Park, Alex explained that thirty boreholes would be dug to the depth of 200 metres for the insertion of ground source heat pumps to service the Minster. The nearby Minster Library is currently unfit for purpose and the modern-now sinking-accretion would be demolished to enable a new state of the art building to be constructed up to the city walls with disabled access onto the walls. The Minster has no climate controlled museum at present and this new building would be constructed to modern indemnity standards to enable borrowing between museums. The Met and the V & A have already joined in partnership.

Concern for the stoneyard facilities and equipment led to the thinking behind the Centre of Excellence which will be located by the Deanery stables. This will be a training centre and will provide for six apprentice masons, four from York and two from partner organisations, in addition to the existing staff. A glass wall to the east of the building will enable walkers along the wall a sight of the masons at work. Again, sustainability featured with solar and green roofs over both the centre and the hospitality area, together with an air source heat pump powered by the solar energy provided.

St William’s College will become the Chapter’s main office, but will also offer space for conferences and banqueting. Alex pointed out that until Frank Green (of the Treasurer’s House) employed Temple Moore to restore the building it was in ruins and what we see today is more of a ‘disneyfication’ than a true mediaeval building, but this should not detract from its value to the plan. The nearby College Green has already been opened with new planting and benches, the central bench echoing the apex of the Great East Window.

We were lucky to see inside the old stoneyard where Alex explained that recently the main saw had needed replacing and Laura Cotter had travelled the world to research the best possible equipment. Three brand new saws are to be installed in what is to be known as the technology hub with the Master Mason’s setting up room and computers. All stone on arrival will be given a QR code and tracked throughout its progress. The new roof on the hub will be covered with solar panels on each arch.

To the south-east of the Minster, Number One Minster Yard will become the new Visitor Experience Centre and the windows replaced with double-glazed wooden sash windows. Across the way, the former Minster School has now been turned into a refectory and outdoor café with plastic solar tiles on the roof resembling Welsh slate. Excess electricity will be stored in batteries for future use. As Alex reminded us none of this would have been possible without a joint venture partnership.

The neighbourhood plan is available on line for those wishing to read a more detailed description of this ambitious and exciting project.

Dorothy Nott