Images of vines, grapes and vine leaves abound in the Cathedral – particularly on the south side.
Take a look at the window to the right of the South Door, close to the Bookshop, and you will see it depicts St Edward the Confessor and St Hilda of Whitby. Each image is surrounded by vines bearing leaves, which can also be found in the clear parts of the windows.
Close to the door itself, you can see a niche with a small basin for Holy Water, known as a ‘stoup.’ The niche is surmounted by see a carving of grapes and a vine leaf on the left and stylised oak leaves with acorns on the right.
Further up the South Aisle, just before you reach the South Transept, you will find a window dedicated to William of York, who lived in the twelfth century, was twice Archbishop of York and is rumoured to have died after poison was slipped into the chalice with which he was celebrating Mass in 1154.
The decoration around his image is of golden vine leaves and blue and green flowers with six petals and there are oak trees and red roses in the lunette.
William was thought to be related to King Stephen, who helped to become Archbishop, but was opposed by the Cistercian monastic order.
He was deposed following the election of the Cistercian Pope Eugene the Third in 1145, but was re-instated following Eugene’s death in 1153 only to die himself a year later.
William was canonised in 1226 after miracles were reported at the site of his tomb.
Just past the window, on the last columns on either side of the aisle, is a vine with grapes and an oak tree with acorns.
As we mentioned earlier, vines represent the growth of the church, grapes symbolise abundance, prosperity and fertility, but above all Christ’s Blood, received during Mass in the form of wine and oaks and acorns are also symbols of growth, specifically the growth of the church.