THE £11.5 million restoration of York Minster’s 600-year-old Great East Window has been completed, 10 years after work started.

The final panel of 311 panels which had been removed from the window for conservation work by York Glaziers Trust was put back in place today (Tuesday, January 2).

It is called ‘The Fifth Day of Creation’ and shows the Hand of God blessing fishes and birds while an angel watches on.

The conservation and restoration work on the country’s largest single expanse of medieval stained glass has been one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe, with trust conservators spending about 92,400 hours on the window.

A Minster spokeswoman said the project had used pioneering technology, with the cathedral becoming the first building in the UK to install state-of-the-art, UV resistant external glazing to protect the glass. Stonemasons had also repaired and replaced hundreds of stones at the East End, which houses the window.

Trust director Sarah Brown said it had been a once in a lifetime project for the team. “The Great East 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,” she said, adding that the work would ensure the masterpiece was preserved for hundreds of years to come.

The Dean of York, The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: “It’s a triumph to have the Great East Window complete once again.” She said the completion marked the start of a multi-million pound campaign in partnership with the York Minster Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to provide state-of-the-art protective glazing to all 128 of the cathedral’s medieval stained glass windows over the next 20 years.

She said this would stop the corrosion and decay caused by the glass being exposed to the elements, buying time for conservation work to preserve it for generations to come.

The spokeswoman said scaffolding will be removed over the next few months followed by extensive cleaning, before a celebration to formally mark the completion of the project in May. The Lady Chapel at the foot of the window will then once again be used for worship.