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As medieval cathedral choir screens go, I think the York Minster Kings Screen is definitely the most memorable. As I was initially writing the post about things to do in York, I realized I’d taken at least one photograph of every king on the York Minster choir screen. Here’s a post devoted specifically to them, with a photo gallery and a description of each king. We also have another post about things to do and see at York Minster.
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Medieval cathedrals commonly have a choir screen (sometimes called a rood screen) separating the nave from the choir area. To our modern ears “screen” may sound like a flimsy partition, but in a medieval cathedral, the choir screen is commonly made of stone or metal and is ornate.
York Minster’s choir screen is the most memorable choir screen that I’ve seen.
The screen includes fifteen expressive carved stone kings ranging from William the Conqueror to Henry VI: seven to the left and eight to the right.
Henry V originally commissioned this fifteenth-century rood screen.
However, he died before its completion. William Hindly, the master mason at York Minster at that time, completed the screen during the reign of Henry VI.
According to this post, the statue of Henry IV has a fascinating history. The original was destroyed in the late 15th century as people had taken to coming to the cathedral to worship the statue, praying and lighting candles to it — unwelcome behavior to the archbishop! Finally, in 1810, a new figure replaced the old.
The Kings of the York Minster Kings’ Screen
Below the big photo of the entire screen (which is, unfortunately, blurry) are individual photos of the kings in order from left to right. You can click on a single picture to open the lightbox to navigate through the images or to read more information about each king.
King by King: The Kings of the York Minster Choir ScreenHere are the kings of the York Minster choir screen from left to right. You may click on the name to open a single image, or you can jump down to the gallery, which has more information about each king.
- William the Conqueror (1066-1087)
- William Rufus (William II) (1087-1100)
- Henry I (Primus) (1100-1135)
- Stephen (1135-1154)
- Henry II (1154-1189)
- Richard I (the Lionheart) (1189-1199)
- John Lackland (1199-1216)
- Henry III (1217-1272)
- Edward I (1272-1307)
- Edward II (1307-1327)
- Edward III (1327-1377)
- Richard II (1377-1399)
- Henry IV (1399-1413)
- Henry V (1413-1422)
- Henry VI (1421-1471)