THE final panels of stained glass in York Minster’s Great East Window are being replaced as almost a decade of restoration work nears completion.

In 2008, York Glaziers Trust removed all the glass from the 600-year-old window and, between 2011 and 2017, conservators have spent about 92,400 hours meticulously conserving and restoring each piece.

The £11.5 million restoration project on the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the UK is due to be completed by May next year.

In 2015, 157 stained glass panels were returned to the window as part of the five-year York Minster Revealed project and over the next eight weeks the remaining 154 panels will be added to the Tracery and Old Testament sections. The final panel is due to be returned to the window in early January.

Trust director Sarah Brown said: “It’s a huge milestone for the team to reach and exciting to think that, for the first time in nearly a decade, the Great East Window will again be complete.

“The window is one of the great artistic achievements of the Middle Ages, a stunning expanse of stained glass of unparalleled size and beauty in Britain. The work undertaken as part of this project will ensure this masterpiece is preserved for hundreds of years to come.”

The window was created between 1405 and 1408 by Master Glazier John Thornton, who was paid £56 by the Chapter of York. It is a work of enormous ambition, depicting the beginning and end of all things from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, known in the Middle Ages as the Apocalypse.

Centuries of exposure to the elements had left the stone so badly weathered that the window had begun to bow.

The size of the task prompted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which in turn led to York Minster Revealed – a five year, £18 million project generously supported by a £9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, matched by funding from the York Minster Fund and the Chapter of York.

The project has involved installing state-of-the-art UV resistant protective glazing, with York Minster being the first building in the UK to use the revolutionary external glazing.