Several churches stood on this site before York Minster. The earliest were finished in 627, 637, the late 8th century and 1080. Building of the current cathedral began in 1220 under the orders of the Archbishop of York, Walter de Gray. In 1472 – over 250 years later – it was considered finished. Throughout its history, it was plundered during the English Reformation, threatened by civil war, suffered from fires in 1829, 1840 and 1984 and been endangered of collapse. On each occasion, the treasured landmark was restored. Measuring 524 feet long and 222 feet wide, it is Northern Europe’s second biggest Gothic Cathedral. This matches the Archbishop of York’s second highest rank in the Church of England.