All 152 stained glass panels were removed from the window, which dates from around 1440, in spring 2021 by experts from York Glaziers Trust to allow the Minster’s stonemasons to carry out urgent work to replace and repair eroded and decaying masonry.
The stained glass panels were taken to the Trust’s studios where its team of conservators are undertaking painstaking cleaning and repair work.
A selection of the newly conserved panels have been gradually going on display in the cathedral’s new exhibition since it opened in June last year, with the final four panels added in spring 2022 for St Cuthbert’s Day on 20 March.
As well as detailing the techniques and skills used for the conservation work, the exhibition explores the stories told through the stained glass about the life and miracles of St Cuthbert, one of Northern England’s most significant saints.
St Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop of Lindisfarne who lived between c.634 and 687 and was renowned for his good works and miracles.
Although his shrine was originally located on Lindisfarne, when the monks who lived there fled Viking attacks in the ninth century they carried St Cuthbert with them in his coffin and eventually settled at Durham, where his shrine can still be visited.
York Minster’s St Cuthbert Window was gifted to the cathedral in the 1400s by Thomas Langley (d.1437), Bishop of Durham, and a former Dean of York.
It is one of three great windows in the cathedral’s East End, which include the St William Window (c.1415) and the Great East Window (completed in 1408), both of which have undergone major conservation and restoration projects in the last two decades.
The exhibition is housed in a specially created gallery at the foot of the scaffolding which is currently surrounding the window to enable the conservation work to take place. It is anticipated it will remain in place until 2024 when work to return the conserved glass to the window is due to begin.