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News Release - Issued by York Minster

A tale of fire and stone - timbers from 1984 fire join masonry in York Minster stone auction

Dean’s Park, York, 15 August 2014

York Minster’s annual Stoneyard auction has become a popular addition to York’s calendar, but this year for this first time, stone is set to be joined by wood, as members of the public are invited to bid for some of the timbers that were charred during the South Transept fire of 1984.

The timbers, taken from the roof of the South Transept during work to repair the damage from the fire, include a number of bosses – carved wooden ‘hubs’ where the ribs of the vaulted ceiling met – as well as pieces of the roof itself. Some of the bosses still contain some of the original paint and gilt-work alongside charred edges, whilst smaller pieces of wood have been specially branded with the York Minster logo as a sign of their authenticity. All are made from 14th century oak.

“Images of flames licking out of the roof of the South Transept have been widely used as we marked the 30th anniversary of the fire, so it seemed appropriate now to bring out some of the timbers that we have had in storage for three decades and make them available for people to buy,” comments superintendent of works for York Minster, Rebecca Thompson. “The wonderful thing about this auction is that people get to take home a piece of the historic building’s fabric, whilst also contributing to the on-going task of maintaining it for future generations, as all the money made is ploughed back into future works.”

The timber items will be auctioned off alongside many pieces of stone that have been removed and replaced during conservation works. In total, around 100 items are expected to be auctioned, with a number of smaller pieces of stone and wood available for fixed prices. Highlights of this year’s auction will include a couple of two-piece pinnacles which stand between four and five feet high. The square pyramid designs have crockets (leaf carvings) on each corner, and could either be used as stand-alone sculptures, or indeed adapted to make a bird table or bath.

Other stones include sections taken from the ‘tracery’ of the Great East Window, which is currently undergoing a major restoration, as part of the £20 million York Minster Revealed project. Many stones are also expected to be used for garden or interior design features, with a wide range of sizes, from those easily carried home to large pieces that will require several people to lift into a truck!

“Choosing which stones go into the auction is a task in itself, as there is enormous variety,” adds Rebecca. “Today, all the stone that is removed from the building is carefully examined by the Minster archaeologist and most pieces are numbered, listed and photographed as part of the ‘worked stone inventory’.” This is part of the Minster’s legislative responsibility under the 1990 Care of Cathedrals Measure.

Last year’s stone auction raised a total of just over £20,000 with prices ranging from around £20 to £1400 for a weathered grotesque.

All the items included in the sale will go on display in Dean’s Park on Thursday 14 August, from 2.00pm to 7.30pm, and again on Friday 15 August, from 10.00am to 12 noon. The auction itself takes place at 12.30pm on 15 August.

For more information, please visit or call 01904 557226.


For further media information or photographs, please contact:

Jay Commins
Pyper York Limited
Tel: 01904 500698