York Minster

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Opening Times:

Mon-Sat 9am (9.30am Nov-March), last entry 5.30pm;
Sun 12 noon-3.45pm

No sightseeing on Good Friday and Easter Sunday


The Minster inc. entry to the Undercroft, Treasury & Crypt:
Adult: £9
Senior (60+) & student: £8
Children with family (under 16): free

The Tower:
Adult: £6.00
Senior & student: £5.00
Children: (8-16) £3.50

Venue contact details:

T: 0844 9390016
E: info@yorkminster.org
W: www.yorkminster.org

York Minster

York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps, is one of the great cathedrals of the world and Turner would have been drawn to its sheer magnificence.

Turner visited York several times, with major sketching visits in 1797 during his first tour of Yorkshire and in 1816 during his tour when making illustrations for Whitaker, as well as other trips to the city.  Although he made only one finished watercolour, he made numerous highly detailed pencil sketches, many of great historical significance.

In 1797, he spent a few days in York, probably late August, whilst waiting on a summons to stay with the Earl of Harewood at Harewood House.  He used his time to make a major study of the city, taking views of the river, the Ouse Bridge, St Mary's Abbey, the city walls and gates, and of course, the Minster, both inside and out.


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Turner's Viewpoint

Turner's sketch of the south side of the Minster from Deangate (York Minster: South Side from Top of Minstergate, 'Tweed and Lakes' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXV 86), illustrates that the Minster only reveals itself at the last minute, filling the space around it.

Turner made five sketches within the Minster, one from the north transept looking to the south (York Cathedral: South Transept and Crossing from the North Transept, 'Tweed and Lakes' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXV 73), two from the south transept looking across the crossing (York Minster: Crossing and Choir Screen from the South Transept, 'Tweed and Lakes' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXV 74 and York Minster: Crossing and Choir Screen from the West Aisle of the South Transept, 'Tweed and Lakes' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXV 76), and another of the south transept aisle from the nave (York Minster: West Aisle of South Transept from Nave, 'North of England' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXIV 66).  His final sketch looked from the nave to the crossing and choir (York Minster: Crossing, Choir and Choir Screen from the Nave, 'Tweed and Lakes' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: XXXV 75).  Although these were some of the most detailed and important sketches that he made on this tour, he never developed them into watercolours.

However, during a further visit to York in 1817, Turner painted a superb large watercolour of the view of York Minster from along the River Ouse, with the rising sun behind (On the River Ouse, with a view of York Minster in the distance, Private Collection, Wilton number: 275).  This is broadly speaking a view from the north-west, but quite where from is a little hard to determine.  It is possible that Turner actually painted it from memory following a morning boating expedition on the river.

Enjoy Turner's viewpoints from outside and inside the building as part of a visit to the architectural jewel that is York Minster.

Discover The Landscape

The Turner Trails bench is located in front of the railings to the Minster School, facing the Roman Column, giving a perfect view of the Minster's south window.

York podstroll

Take a Turner Tour around York, including a visit to York Minster, with your iPod, the 21st century version of a sketchbook/guide.

The Turner Trails podstroll will work with any colour-screen iPod. Each podstroll comprises a sequence of images, specifically created for the iPod screen and arranged into a folder that can be easily added to your iPod.

Turner's Religious Houses

Listen to Episode 4 of our Turner podcast series when Turner expert, Professor David Hill, is joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, as they look at Turner's sketches and paintings of Yorkshire's historic religious houses.

The Venue


The Visitors' Department, Church House, Ogleforth, York, YO1 7JH

Map reference: SE603521

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Located in the heart of York within the medieval city walls