As this week celebrates English Tourism Week and with a visit to York Minster THE magnet for ANY tourist – let’s slip beyond the sandstone walls of this Gothic architectural jewel and hear the briefest of tales about a spirited and charming Archbishop.
For on this day in 1070, the former chaplain to King William I of England, Thomas of Bayeux was appointed Archbishop of York, and despite the enthusiastic lobbying from the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury Lanfranc was reluctant to consecrate Thomas, particularly as Lanfranc’s concerns against the new Archbishop’s obedience to Canterbury as the primary bishopric were soon realised!
As the ambitious Lanfranc was determined to assert the primacy of Canterbury over the whole of England, Thomas remained equally determined to defend the right of independence for York and the two would clash over many ecclesiastical issues, much to the consternation of the King and Pope Alexander II.
However, a little closer to home and with the Minster destroyed by fire after the Harrying of the North in 1069 – Thomas proposed the construction of a new and very different cathedral on a new site, the remains of which can still be seen in the crypt of the Minster.
And with his generosity of spirit, passion for education, renowned charm and a legacy of effective church reform, he was by his death in November 1100, a highly respected Archbishop AND a faithful champion for the independence of the Diocese of York!