The Great East Window of York Minster: An English Masterpiece (2018)

University of York, the York Glaziers Trust and York Minster

Cover: The Great East Window of York MinsterThe Great East Window of York Minster: An English Masterpiece

By Sarah Brown
Photography by York Glaziers Trust
Published by The York Minster Fund and Third Millennium Publishing, 2018

ISBN: 9781781259788, 9781781259795

The book offers an in-depth, fully illustrated history and catalogue of the Great East Window at York Minster, and highlights research and conservation carried out during the major Great East Window project 2011-2017, during which Sarah Brown was lead investigator for the stained glass. 

Publisher’s description:

A fully restored English medieval masterpiece is revealed afresh.

After an immense process of careful restoration and conservation, the outstanding artistry of the Great East Window is revealed afresh through state-of-the art photography that captures the complete sequence of major panels, in corrected placements, for the very first time. At the size of a tennis court, it is the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain and one of the largest medieval windows ever made. This visual feast is brought to life by expert author Sarah Brown, who explores the history, artistry, meaning and restoration of the window, revealing new insights on a fragile masterpiece that has been described as England's Sistine Chapel.

Ground breaking new research has shed exciting new light on the window's complex narratives, relating its story to the Minster's history and liturgy. The Great East Window of York Minster explores the window's biblical presentation of the beginning and end of time, the window's relationships with other media and the technical processes behind its creation. This stunning, illustrated hardback presents an engaging contextual analysis of the window's unequivocal position as an English masterpiece.

"The Great East Window of York Minster tells the story of Time: from the Creation, Genesis, at the top, to the end of time, when a new heaven and a new earth is brought into being by Jesus Christ according to the Revelation of St John, at the bottom. It is a truly timeless masterpiece, with a message as relevant today as it was 600 years ago when it was painted." (John Sentamu, Archbishop of York)


As well as a fully illustrated catalogue of the glass panels that make up the window, divided into their narrative schemes of the Creation, the Apocalypse and the Tracery, contents include:

  • A Miraculous Survivor: A Brief History of the East Window
  • John Thornton and his Patrons
  • Sacred Time and a Holy Place: The Meaning of the Great East Window
  • Preserving a Medieval Masterpiece: The Conservation Programme of 2011–2017
  • A Medieval Masterpiece? The Great East Window in Context


The author is renowned for her study of stained glass [...] She has written an erudite and readable book that tells us all we want to know about this wonderful masterpiece that Yorkshire is so proud of.'

- Bill Spence, 'Book is a Glass Act', Malton Gazette & Herald, 30 June 2018

'A magnificent book, running to more than 260 pages, which reproduces, in full colour and on high quality paper, every one of the window's major panels, in the correct order. [...] perhaps for the first time ever, the book makes it possible to fully enjoy the wonderful works of art that make up the great window - while at the same time following the story they tell.

- Stephen Lewis, '"And They Gnawed Their Tongues for Pain": The Story Told by York Minster's Great East Window', York Press, 23 July 2018

This book is a significant contribution to the growing body of literature surrounding the east window [...] This catalogue alone - the first complete publication of the window in colour - makes Brown's book an indispensable resource for future scholars of English stained glass [...] Brown's is an important and beautiful book, which should appeal to both scholars and the interested public.

- Oliver Mitchell, Burlington Magazine, March 2019, pp. 253-254

Page views of 'The Great East Window at York Minster'

Main image: Cover detail of 'The Great East Window of York Minster' by Sarah Brown (The York Minster Fund and Third Millennium Publishing, 2018)

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