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York Minster, York: Protecting Stained Glass From Zeppelin Raids

Secret bomb-proof shelters were used to protect the cathedral’s ornate windows

York Minster is famed for its ornate stained glass windows. During World War One, these were removed from the landmark building and hidden in purpose built, bomb-proof shelters in secret locations around the city to preserve them from Zeppelin attacks. More than one hundred windows were taken out and replaced with plain glass, although some materials such as lead were difficult to obtain. The lead eventually used was found at Rievaulx Abbey.

Among those hidden was the Five Sister’s Window, which was later dedicated to the women of the British Empire who lost their lives in active service during World War One.

The window was restored in 1924, after the funds for the restoration were raised by Mrs Little, who reported having a vision of her long-dead sisters beckoning her towards the window. She raised £3,000, which included a donation of £50 from HRH Princess Mary.

To the side of the Five Sister’s Window, there is also a wooden screen which lists the names of the women who lost their lives during WW1, including Edith Cavell.

Location: York Minster, York YO1 7HH
Image of the five sisters window reproduced with the kind permission of the Chapter of York
Presented by Jonathan Cowap

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8 minutes

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