A DECADE of dirt and dust are being removed from two Victorian altar screens inside York Minster’s East End as conservators complete the final phase of work in a ten-year project to restore this area of the cathedral.

The ornamental screens, called Reredoses, sit behind altars in the cathedral’s St Stephen’s and Lady Chapels, and were covered by scaffolding for about ten years while an £11.5m programme of work was undertaken on the Great East Window and East End to restore its stained glass and stone.

Fine art conservators have spent the last five weeks removing a decade’s worth of dust and dirt from the decorative carvings, carrying out repair works and using museum vacuums and specialist cleaning gels to unveil the detailed carvings and paintwork.

The St Stephen’s Chapel Reredos, which dates from the late 1800s, shows the Crucifixion of Christ and the Lady Chapel Reredos shows the Holy Family with the Shepherds and Wise Men. It sits immediately below the Great East Window – the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the country.

The Lady Chapel Reredos was created in 1905 as the Minster’s memorial to Queen Victoria, replacing an earlier framework which was last restored in 1844.

Both Reredoses were unveiled in May 2018 when the work to restore the 600-year-old stained glass in the Great East Window was complete and the scaffolding removed, but have been waiting to undergo their own conservation and specialist cleaning.

The work has been undertaken by Francis W Downing ACR, the Chapter of York’s Fine Art Conservator, and team assisted by York Minster Conservator Lee Godfrey.