Travel UK York

Travel || York Minster

When I registered at the library (which was literally one of the first things I did when we moved to York), I was given the option to get a regular card or pay £5 for a York Card. I opted for the York Card, which gets you in free to the Minster and gives you a discount to all the other museums and tourist attractions. Since I’ve been to the Minster twice now, I’ve already made my money back. 

York Minster is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, which is a pretty awesome claim to fame. The most recent incarnation of the Minster was started in 1230 and completed in 1437. It’s really the second Minster that has stood on that particular spot as it was built over the Norman one. (And that was built over some of the Roman city.) Because it’s a living church and not just a historical monument, you’ll need to time your visits around services and events (unless you want to take part, which the Minster more than welcomes you to!) 

Pretty cool facts about York Minster: 

  • York Minster holds 60% of England’s medieval stained glass.
  • The Central Tower is large enough to fit the Tower of Pisa inside.
  • The Chapter House hosted Edward I’s parliament in 1297.
  • The Central Tower collapsed once in 1407 and nearly did again in the 1970s.
  • It was one of the first Cathedrals to introduce girl choristers into the mix.

Slightly unsurprisingly to people who know me well, I’m a bit of an obscure history nerd. And by a bit, I mean, I’m a hardcore history nerd and I’d never believe if you’ve seen one church you’ve seen them all. (And saying museums are boring is as close to sacrilege as you can get with me.) 

The point of that introduction is to explain one of the reasons I was really excited to look around the Minster in depth: I was really hoping that there would be some kind of plaque or marker pointing out where Tostig Godwinson was buried originally. (Spoiler: there wasn’t). 

Who is this crazily named man you might wonder? He was the brother to the last crowned “English” (i.e. Anglo-Saxon) King of England. He was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, having convinced Harold Hadrada of Norway to invade and help defeat his brother, King Harold Godwinson. Even after Hadrada, King Harold was getting zero peace. He lost in the end, pretty famously to William the Conqueror. Laters Anglo-Saxons, hello Norman rule. 

If you read back on some of my old posts, you might even see me re-enacting King Harold’s death at Battle Abbey because I’m a weirdo. 

carving ceiling central-nave central-tower chairs chapel christmas-decor explaining-something
*I’m pretty sure I was telling Sam a story about an English king (I just talk a lot with my hands). So here I am in full-on nerding out!* 
from-behind-podium inside-york-minster kings minster mother-theresa pews praying-reliefs reading-exhibit reading-fact-book relief-statues side stianed-glass through-grate trying-on-robes-2
Playing in the children’s dress up box.
trying-on-robes-4 trying-on-robes window york-minster

But you don’t have to be a massive dork like me to enjoy the Minster. It’s steeped in history. It’s stunning. (And if literature is more your thing, you can pretend you’re in “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” and picture all the statues coming to life.)

Now a complaint I’ve heard from people is “Why do I have to pay to go into York Minster? Why isn’t it free to go into a church? Doesn’t the Church pay for everything?” The Minster costs about £20,000 a day to keep it open. First, the Minster receives no state funding. Second, if you are there to pray or attend service, or even just to light a candle, you don’t have to pay. Third, the Church of England argues that it can’t take on the sole burden of financial upkeep themselves through the coffers. And you know what? I buy that. Museums in England are largely free because they are cross-funded. Without an entry fee, and with the sheer number of tourist visitors and corresponding upkeep, the only other option would be to close the site to worshippers only. Cathedrals are an extremely important part of the heritage of Northern Europe, and in a debate of heritage vs tourism, I’ll side with whatever keeps them standing and open to everyone. 

Adults pay £10, children are free. Tickets are valid for multiple entry for the entirety of that year. Entrance is also free to residents of York with their York Cards. It’s open for sight-seeing from 9-5pm. 


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  • I for one think this is an excellent investment!

  • YOU’RE HERE! YOU’RE HERE! We must organise a get together in the new year of sorts. The York Card is awesome, I had one when I lived in York and it saves so much money. They also do a York Residents day (I think they still do it?) and you can get everywhere free (I think!)
    Bee |

    • Yes please!!!!! I had a lightning quick trip to Leeds the other day but post Christmas I should have a much more relaxed weekend schedule. xx

  • It looks so gorgeous! We didn’t go in when we visited as the grandparents weren’t keen but I definitely want to go in when I next go back!

    Jasmin Charlotte

  • I love a cathedral or church, they’re so peaceful and steeped in history! I also love how much symmetry is in the design, and as a result, your beautiful photos! Alice xxx

    • My photos are only good because it was so so so incredible in there. I honestly don’t think that you can take a bad photo of the Minster! x

  • Laura Torninoja

    So many beautiful pictures! I’ve been to York once, years ago, but I never visited the Minster for some strange reason! I’ve always wanted to go back, and I think now even more so.. It’s such a beautiful little city! x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  • Love these photos and your history-nerding! Are you going to attend a Christmas service there?! :))

  • I’m a history nerd too and seek out cathedrals everywhere I go. I’ve always wanted to go to York Minster. It’s absolutely stunning!

    Stamp, Please! Travel & Life

  • beautiful cathedral!

  • I don’t ever feel really settled anywhere until I have my library card! 🙂 I’ve always wanted to visit York Minster, but haven’t made it to that part of English yet. I’d definitely come off of 10 pounds to see it–and, as long as it helped keep it open for future generations, I’d happily pay it!

    • And I think it’s really cool that your ticket is valid for 12 months. Obviously, this is more beneficial to English visitors but if you’re an international traveler and you’re in York for a weekend, you can go both days and divide up the sightseeing load, etc.

  • TravelWithNanoB

    Your photos are stunning!

  • Miu

    I have to admit, I would be hesitant to pay 10pounds for the entry, but it would be the same for me with a museum, so I guess I just have to get rich 😉

    • Haha, don’t worry- I’m so far away from being rich that richness is not even aspirational. Just the constant slog of paying rent and trying to save as much as possible (which was the biggest reason to move out of London.) But everyone has totally different priorities. I’d rather skip lunch or dinner to pay to go to a museum or exhibit. Sam would disagree with me here – he’d skip a museum for a meal and that’s okay too. xx

  • York Minster has been on my list for YEARS!!! I am sooo jealous, but I’m loving this post!

  • After hiking Hadrian’s wall last year I spent a few days in York and visited York Minster and joined in an Evensong service. It was wonderful – the acoustics are amazing. I also took the tour climbing up all the stairs and getting some fantastic photos. Then they took us down into the crypt and explained how it has had to be shored up with tons of cement! Scary! Would love to visit York again – loved every second of it.

  • I always kind of find it slightly shameful how the Vatican is so expensive and lavish inside, and so many beauties around the world like this rely on expensive entry fees to survive. Bit sad. But anyhow, it looks gorgeous and seems worth it (and I love a good dress up area haha)! And love the fun facts 🙂

    • t’s especially sad that the Minster nearly collapsed due to disrepair twice. There’s an amazing exhibit in the undercroft explaining how they’ve stopped the main tower from toppling! x

  • I really love the photos Sam takes of you. He always catches you at quiet moments and takes such lovely photos!
    Merry Christmas Amanda xx