York Minster is bursting at the seams with prominent stats: it’s the largest medieval Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe; it’s home to the single largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world (600 years old and the size of a tennis court); its lantern tower weighs 16,000 tons – which, if you were wondering, is the equivalent to 220 million bags of Yorkshire tea. Prominent indeed – but meaningless. For when faced with it, from either outside or in, maps, tennis courts and teabags will be the last things running through your mind. You might venture a hushed "wow", but that will be about it.
There has been a Christian presence on the site since the 2nd Century, when the Roman Empire sent missionaries with the unenviable task of informing the notoriously cantankerous natives their dearly-held pagan beliefs were balderdash. The first church didn’t appear until the 7th Century – a clue, perhaps, to how warmly the latter information was received – and the magnificent cathedral we see today was built on the same site from the 13th to 15th centuries. If you make your way up the Central Tower, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable view of York, with its twisting, cobbled streets, and the archetypal English countryside beyond.