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Yorkshire Beverley, the County Town of the East Riding

An attractive market town with a medieval feel.

Regularly voted as one of the best places to live, Beverley is an attractive market town and the county town of East Yorkshire. Popular with locals it tends to be missed by the tourists which is a shame as it is still retains its medieval feel.

Despite the presence of large Morrisons, Asda, Tesco and the Flemingate centre, the pedestrianised town centre has avoided the blight experienced by so many high streets. There are few empty shops and the cobbled streets with courtyards off support a range of traditional family owned shops as well as the usual chains. There is a lot of money in Beverley and up market boutiques and shops like Monsoon and Barbour are found here.


Beverley boasts two markets. The Saturday Market dates back to the middle ages and the stalls, selling bread, cheese, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables as well as clothes and hardwares, are set up around the splendid market cross. This was built in the early C18th and paid for by two local MP. Their coats of arms as well as the royal coat of arms of Queen Anne are painted round the top.

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The splendid brick built Corn Exchange overlooking the Market Place is now a cafe.

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On a Wednesday there is a smaller market in the smaller square at the other end of the town, in the aptly named Wednesday Market. The Wednesday Market concentrates of food and fresh produce from local suppliers.

There are plenty of eating places in the town as well as a range of pubs. Perhaps the best known is the C16th White Horse Inn, popularly known as Nellies, after the landlady who ran the pub until the 1970s. who ran the pub for many years. The pub retains many of its original features including gas lighting.

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The area has been settled since Saxon times and the most popular derivation of the name Beverley is from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Beoferlic’ or ‘Beaver Clearing in the Woods.’ This is probably a reference to the beavers that used to dwell on and around the River Hull around Beverley. Although the beavers have long since gone, the town's crest still depicts a beaver.

In the early C8th a monastery was founded here by John of Beverley who became a Bishop of York, and was buried here. Many miracles were attributed to him and he was canonised in 1037. Beverley became an important place of pilgrimage and a settlement grew up around the monastery.

The monastery was sacked by the Danes and abandoned. A small church was built around his tomb and was later replaced by a Norman Minster and then the beautiful Minster building still standing today. Pilgrim numbers continued to increase bringing wealth to the Minster and the town.

St Mary's Church was built at the opposite end of the town in the C12th as the parish church for the wealthy townsfolk.

Beverley grew rapidly during the Middle Ages and was the tenth most important town in England, with its prosperity mainly based on wool, although there were also brick and tile works and a leather industry. Beverley Beck was deepened and straightened in the early C12th making it navigable from Hull.

Unlike many town, Beverley never had a stone wall around it. Nothing remains of the ditch with a wooden palisade on top which surrounded the town. Access to the town was controlled by four stone gateways or Bars. Not only did they keep out ‘undesirables’ they also collected tolls from merchants bringing goods to sell. Only the North Bar with its heavy wooden doors survives. This was rebuilt in brick in 1409 and still traffic to or from the north still has to enter through its narrow gateway. As Beverley expanded, the suburbs outside the gate were called North Bar Without, to distinguish them from those inside referred to as North Bar Within.

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Medieval houses were timber frame with steeply pitched roofs. Few have survived but there is a good example on North Bar Within.

By the C15th the wool and cloth trade was in decline and hit by competition from the West Riding. Wealth from pilgrims also dried up after the Reformation. There were outbreaks of plague in the early C17th and many buildings were unoccupied or demolished.

Beverley’s fortunes revived in the early C18th when it became the administrative centre for the East Riding and the Quarter Sessions were held here in the Guildhall. The landed gentry visited for the racing as well as the Assembly Rooms and theatres. Many of the Medieval buildings were replaced by Georgian town houses.

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The population grew rapidly in the C19th with the arrival of industry - tanning, ironworks, cement, paint engineering and ship building. The Beck continued to bring goods from Hull and the arrival of the railway in 1848 transformed the town. Rows of Victorian terraces were built to house the increasing population of industrial workers.

Industrialists and wealthy tradesmen moved away from the town centre and built detached villas to the north and west of the town.

The splendid brick County Hall was built in 1906 to house the newly founded East Riding County Council.

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The Victoria Barracks were built to the south of the town in 1878 to house two battalions of the 15th (The Yorkshire East Riding) Regiment of Foot, which later became the East Yorkshire Regiment. Most of the site was demolished in 1977 when Morrisons was built. All that remains is a single terrace which has been converted into flats.

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The industry is gone but Beverley remains a busy and thriving place as the county town for the East Riding.

Beverly Tourism

Beverley is increasingly being discovered by the tourist and is becoming a popular day out for tourists weary of the the honey pot of York. It has a lot to attract the tourists and is a lot less busy!

It is a very attractive town to wander round and there are several town trails. A leaflet is available from the Tourist Information Office, which is on the first floor of the TREASURE HOUSE, a stylish modern building near County Hall. This also contains the library, archives, Art Gallery and local museum as well as a cafe. There are good views of Beverley and the minster from the top of the tower.

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There are also different events and festivals held throughout the year in Beverley from the ever popular Christmas Festival and the Food festival held on the first Sunday in October. There is a literary festival as well as different music festivals catering for all tastes.

Beverley Beck (#2) is a short canal linking the centre of Beverley with the River Hull. Once an important communication link between Beverley and the Port of Hull, this is now a pleasant waterside walk.

MV Syntan was once part of a fleet of 16 barges working along Beverley Beck. It has been carefully restored and is open on Summer Sundays. Two other barges have been restored to carry passengers along the beck and onto the River Hull.

Beverley boasts two splendid churches; the Minster and St Mary’s at the opposite end of the main street.

BEVERLEY MINSTER (#5) dates from the C13th and is regarded as one of the finest Gothic churches in Europe and is architecturally better than nearby York Minster. It is also free! It dwarfs the Victorian housing around it. It is a stunning pale limestone building which catches all the available light. The inside is a stark contrast of pale limestone and dark polished Purbeck marble. Allow plenty of time for a visit as the inside is exquisite with carvings and decoration.

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At the opposite end of Beverley is ST MARY'S CHURCH, (#8 )another splendid church although overshadowed by the Minster. Don't miss the carved stone rabbit tucked away on the side of the sacristy doorway in the north aisle. This is supposed to have been the inspiration of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and John Tenniel's illustrations.

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BEVERLEY FRIARY is signed down a narrow lane to the east of the Minster and is the remains of a C13th Dominican friary . At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the friars were expelled and many of the buildings pulled down. The guest house escaped and was sold and is now a youth hostel.

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The GUILDHALL (#4) with its neo-classical frontage is tucked away behind County Hall, is open on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is described as ‘Beverley’s best kept secret’ and is well worth visiting for its unspoilt Georgian courtroom.

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Beverley RAILWAY STATION was opened in 1846 by the York and North Midland Railway Company and in its time was an important junction. It is still an impressive building with its wooden footbridge. It’s main claim to fame is that it still has one of the few surviving tile LNER railway maps on its wall.

One of Beverley’s other claims to fame is Beverley Grammar School, the oldest state school in England, founded in 700AD by John of Beverley.

To the west of the town is Westwood, a large expanse of meadow with sheep and cows grazing and ancient woodland, which was bequeathed to the town. This is a popular open green space with locals and there is a walk around it. The golf course is here as well as Beverley Race Course.. There has been racing here since the C18th and is still a popular day out for all. It is a very informal occasion and you don’t need to spend a fortunate on a hat!
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Beverley Beck and MV Syntan

Everyone has heard of Beverley Minster and Beverley Racecourse, but ask about Beverley Beck and chances are you will get a blank look, even from locals. It is very much Beverley’s forgotten history.


The Beck was a tidal tributary of the River Hull and has been used since the C12/13th to carry goods between Beverley to the River Humber and North Sea. Beverley’s prosperity in the C14th was based on the export of wool. Other industries grew up along the beck including tanning and leather working, brick and tile making, pottery and corn milling, with all goods being taken out by barge.


By the early C18th, the Beck had been canalised and an aqueduct built to carry it across the newly constructed Beverley and Barmston Drain. Grovehill Lock not only controlled access to the Beck but also controlled water levels in the Beck. Tolls charged on goods transported helped finance maintenance work including dredging.


The western end nearest Beverley was surrounded by wharves and industrial buildings. The remains of mooring rings can still be seen along the quayside providing a trip hazard for the unwary.


The source of the beck now runs through a culvert and the present brick built head of the Beck was reconstructed in 1984.


Over looking it is a statue of a porter carrying carrying a bag of corn.


The eastern end around the lock was home to two shipbuilders responsible for building and repair of the local keel barges . The remains of one of the docks can still be seen behind the lock keepers cottage.


Increasing amounts of traffic in the C19th led to the installation of a steam pump in 1898 next to the lock keepers cottage which drew water from the River Hull and pumped it up into the Beck. Now automatic sensors detect low water levels and trigger pumps.

Although the Railway arrived in 1848, Beverley Beck was still the main means of transport until the start of the C20th, although this gradually began to decline as it became a less efficient means of transport. Keels were originally hauled by men but it wasn’t until the C20th that powered keels arrived. Grovehill Lock was rebuilt in the mid C20th for the larger barges and continued to be used until the 1970s




MV Syntan is typical of the barges used on Beverley Beck in the mid C20th and her broad flat bottomed keel is very similar to that of the medieval barges.


She was built at Paull Shipyard on the River Humber and was used to carry coal and hides for Richard Hodgson’s Tannery based alongside the Beck.The tanning industry collapsed in the 1970s. The warehouses were left derelict and the barges sold off. In 2000 she was discovered at Doncaster Power station, vandalised and half sunk. The Beverley Barge Preservation Society was formed to rescue and restore her.

She is now moored at Crane Wharf on the south side of Beckside where she runs trips for visitors and is also used as a meeting venue.


The diesel engine can be seen at the front of the barge.


The back was the living quarters, a very compact space with box bed and small stove. This was originally reached by a ladder from the deck, although there is now a door giving access from the cargo area.



The bulk of the barge was used for cargo and is now a display area.


The Society have also bought two more vessels, Sun and Mermaid which can also be seen moored up at Crane Wharf.

Sun is a British Waterways powered Mud Hopper. Mermaid was originally a lifeboat tender to the Trinity House vessel Mermaid. She was used to take crew members to lighthouses, buoys and other navigational equipment.


Both these boats can be hired for short trips along the Beck and out onto the River Hull.

Crane Wharf is on the south side of Beverley Beck near the Beck Head. Access is off the B1230. The nearest post code is HU17 0GG.
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A walk along Beverley Beck

Beverley Beck was originally a tidal tributary of the River Hull and was an important commercial port carrying goods between Beverley and the River Hull and Humber. Commercial traffic eventually dwindled and had finished by the 1970s. Now the Beck is the preserve of fishermen and a few small pleasure craft. On a sunny day, it makes a pleasant walk.


Starting from the Beckhead, just off the main B1230 road from the centre of Beverley, there are well made footpaths on both sides of the beck. At first it is lined with attractive housing.



Beverley Barge Preservation Society have their base at Crane Wharf and their three preserved barges, Syntan, Sun and Mermaid are moored here.


Below the A1174 bridge the Beck becomes a tree lined sleepy backwater popular with fishermen.



On the south side is Figham Common, one of Beverley’s common pastures, which has been used by the Freemen of Beverley since the C13th to graze their livestock. Cows and sheep can still be seen grazing here.


Beverley Beck Boating Association have their base near Grovehill Lock, and pleasure craft as well as canal narrowboats are moored here.


Near it, behind the lock keepers cottage is one of the docks used by shipbuilders, responsible for building and repair of the local keel barges.


The lock controls access to the River Hull.



There is a choice of continuing the walk further along the River Hull, or crossing over on the lock gate and walking back to the Beckhead. It’s about 1.5 miles round trip and on a sunny day makes a very pleasant and easy walk. It is wheelchair and pushchair friendly although crossing the lock gate may present problems.
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Beverley Guildhall

n the early C12th, the Archbishop of York who was Lord of the Manor of Beverley granted the town a charter allowing it the right to have its own Guild Hall. By the C15th they were using four converted shops in Saturday Market for their meetings.

In 1501, the twelve locally elected Town Keepers purchased a C15th open hall house (a large two storey timber framed building) to use as their guild hall for their meetings and to conduct their business.

By the C18th the building was in a very poor state of repair and a new Courtroom was built in 1762, with a Council Chamber above it, which is now the Magistrates’ Room. The imposing classical facade was added in 1832 as the front of the building was in a ruinous condition.


At the time, two additional rooms were added which are now display areas. One of the rooms has a programme of changing exhibitions. The other has contains information about the history of Beverley and the Medieval Waits or town musicians. They attended the mayor in the performance of his public duties and welcomed noble visitors to the town. They also acted as public alarm clocks at the doors of important townsfolk. They had a livery and chains of office with shield shaped badges. Two of these chains are on display.


The Courtroom on the ground floor is in the original part of the building and was originally the meeting room for the Guilds. It later became the Council Chamber and was also used as the courtroom for the Quarter Sessions until 1810 and continued the Magistrates Court until 1991. Hearings included charges of Assault, breaches of the peace, drunk and disorderly behaviour, poaching, vagrancy or infringement of by-laws.

This is an impressive room with pale blue walls and white paintwork. At the top of the room is the mayoral dais with the Royal Coat of Arms of King George on the wall above. The rectangular projections on the walls are ‘Tobin Tubes’ installed in 1875 to help ventilate the chamber. The bottom of the tubes are connected to a source of fresh air which is drawn up through the tube and out through the open top. The paintings on the walls are by renowned Beverley painters, Fred and Mary Elwell.


The impressive stucco ceiling is the work of Guiseppe Cortese, a notable stuccoist from Switzerland who had settled in Yorkshire. In the centre is the figure of Justice which is unusual as she is not shown as blindfold.


At the end of the C19th, the courtroom was extended to allow a public viewing area at the back and was also used the Council Chamber. The timber framework on the back wall is part of the original building which was rediscovered during restoration work carried out in the 1980s.


Stairs lead to the Magistrate’s Room on the first floor above the Courtroom. This was originally the Council Chamber but was later used as a retiring room for the magistrates. It is an elegant Georgian room with white and yellow plasterwork and large windows. The wooden display cases contain part of a pewter dinner service used when ever the mayor entertained. Each piece is stamped with the Beverley beaver.


The Aldermen’s benches, the three seater mayoral bench and the treasurers table are all part of the original council furniture. The mayor sat in the central raised seat with the deputy mayor and Clerk of the Chamber on either side. The table had five hinged lids which conceal large storage areas which were probably used to hold documents as well as rents and money.


A short flight of stairs leads to a corridor and the Mayor’s Parlour. This was added in 1832 when the classical facade was built. This was used as a Council Chamber where Members of the Corporation met on the first Monday of the month to discuss the administration of the town. In 1896 a public viewing area was added to the Courtroom, which then became the Council Chamber. The room was then used by the mayor to entertain important visitors and is still used for civic receptions. The room is Regency rather than Georgian and is lit by two large fanlights set in the ceiling. It is a very elegant room with fireplaces at either end and display units containing silverware that has been given to the town. There are more pictures by the Elwells as well as ‘Tobin Tubes’ on the walls.


The heavy oak dresser is a C19th replica and has a display of pewter plates.


Another stairway leads back down to the ground floor and has a list of the Mayors of Beverley from 15773 to the present day.

This is a fascinating building and is often described as Beverley’s hidden secret. It is open Wednesdays 10-4 (10-1 November to April ) and Fridays 10-4. Entry is free and there are knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers to answer question.
There is no parking by the Guildhall. The nearest post code is HU17 9XX.

A floor plan can be found on p4 of the Guildhall information sheet downloadable from the website.
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Beverley Minster

Tourists flock to York Minster, but completely ignore the undiscovered gem of Beverley Minster, which is considered to be architecturally superior to it.

The first view of the Minster coming from the south on the A164 is unforgettable with the twin west towers dominating the surrounding housing.


Built of pale limestone, it gleams in the sunshine. It is particularly magical on a bright cold winters afternoon when the stone glows in the last available daylight, giving the building an ethereal appearance. At night the minster is floodlight.

As you approach you realise how asymmetrical the building is as there is no centre tower. It collapsed in the C13th and was never rebuilt.


This is soon forgotten as you take in the glory of the outside with its flying buttresses, crocketed (nobbly) pinnacles, battlements, carved friezes, arcading, statues set in canopied niches... There is almost too much detail to take in.


Entry is through the C15th Highgate porch set under a delicately carved triangular portico with blind arcading and two statues of bishops. At the top is the seated Christ with the twelve apostles on the top.


To appreciate the inside of the church it is necessary to understand a little of its history.

A monastery was founded on the site in the early C8th by Bishop John of York. Little is known about the history of this church but it was sacked by Vikings and was refounded as a College of Canons in the C10th by King Athelstan.

John was canonised as St John of Beverley in 1037 and pilgrims flocked to his tomb. The tower of the Norman church collapsed at the beginning of the C13th. All that now remains of the once substantial Norman church is the font.

The present church was begun in the early C13th, when the chancel and transepts were built in the early English style.

The east window dates from 1419 when a large perpendicular window replaced the earlier lancet windows. This contains most of the medieval glass which survived the Reformation. The nave was added in the C14th, during the decorated period and the west end is late C14th/early C15th perpendicular.

At this time, Beverley was the eleventh largest town in England and the minster was a wealthy collegiate church and centre of pilgrimage. The College of Canons was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1548 when the crown seized its revenues. It was reduced to the status of a parish church. The chapter house was demolished and all that is left is the double staircase on the north aisle of the choir which gave access to it.

There was a major restoration in the C19th when many of the exterior statues were recarved or replaced.

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Beverley Minster cont...

The inside of Beverley Minster is a contrast of brilliant white limestone with dark polished Purbeck marble pillars. It is always impressive, but on a sunny day, it is stunning. The sheer size immediately fills you with awe. The nave is massive with tall elegant pillars with pointed arches separating the nave and side aisles.


There is a lovely vaulted ceiling with carved gilded bosses with painted tracery around them.



At the back of the nave is the magnificent west doorway is set under an ogee arch with the figure of St John of Beverley in pride of place at the top. It is surrounded by statues of Kings and others on plinths under carved canopies. The carvings of the four evangelists with their symbols on the sturdy wooden door are C19th.


Between the arches and clerestory windows is a band of complex arcading with dog tooth carving. Pillars between are dark Purbeck marble and they have elaborately carved capitals.



The side aisles have arcading with ogee arches with carved figures between them. Each is carefully carved and each is different.




At the base of the arches of the north aisle are carved figures playing instruments.



The stained glass windows in the side aisles contain C19th glass.


The tomb of St John of Beverley in the nave is marked by an inscription on dark slate and surrounded by a raised rim - a trip hazard if you aren’t watching your feet.

The massive carved Norman font is at the back of the south aisle and has an C18th canopy, a monstrosity of carved scrolls and cherub heads, produced by the same workshop as the carvings of the inside of the west door.


Between the nave and south aisle near the font is a C14th canopied tomb set under an ogee arch with crocketed pinnacles. This is traditionally referred to as the ’two sisters tomb’.

On either side of the south door are statues of St John and King Athelstan.

At the end of the nave is the C19th wooden pulpit and brass lectern with wooden stalls on either side.

The south transept contains the memorial chapel surrounded by a carved wood screen with a massive First World War cenotaph inside with gilt decoration. This commemorates the men of the East Yorkshire Regiment and their old colours hang from the walls. At the end are tall lancet windows.


On south wall is the royal coat of arms of Charles II and a C17th painting depicting King Athelstan handing St John a charter of privileges - an historically impossible scene.


The north transept contains the Beverley Heritage Display on the walls. Banners depict important stages in the history of the town. The shop is here and inside, sitting incongruously among the gifts, is a 14th priest’s tomb chest with the effigy thought to be that of Provest Nicholas de Huggate.

Beverley Minster cont...

Separating the choir and nave is a massive C19th oak screen, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and carefully carved to complement the choir stalls, with saints and bishops on the supporting pillars and angels playing instruments. Above is the C18th organ, reached by a carved wood spiral staircase in the north choir aisle. The organ pipes are brightly painted and have carved wood crocketed pinnacles above them.



The C16th choir stalls are one of the glories of Beverley Minster.


The back row of stalls are set in a tall carved canopy with carved tracery, crocketed spires, foliage, and figures of saints and bishops.



The stalls have carved ends with poppy heads and misericords. These are now very fragile and visitors are asked not to touch them. These are considered to be some of the best in the country. The C18th marble flooring made up of white and grey slabs is cleverly designed to give the effect of raised steps.

There is a gilded carved altar rail in front of the large table altar.


Behind is the most amazing carved stone reredos. The original reredos dates from 1320-40 but the side facing the choir was mutilated and statues defaced in the Reformation when the college was suppressed. It was covered with plaster and the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments and the Creed were painted over it. In the C19th the reredos was restored, statues recarved and painted mosaic figures added. On either side of the base are stone carvings of kings, bishops and saints. Immediately behind the altar are 12 painted and mosaic figures. Above are paintings and mosaics of saints and angels holding banners with inscriptions.


Above the altar is a C19th painted ceiling, again the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott.


To the right of the altar is the simple Saxon stone sanctuary chair, or Frith stool. The right to sanctuary was granted by King Athelstan but was abolished by Henry VIII. The only other surviving Frith stool is in Hexham Abbey.


Next to it is the impressive Percy Tomb, thought to be that of Lady Eleanor Percy who died in 1328. This has a carved ogee arch decorated with Percy shields, foliage, fruit, small heads and angels. At the top on the south side is the figure of Christ receiving the soul of a dead person into Heaven. On the north side is Christ showing his wounds with angels carry the instruments of the Passion. It survived the Reformation and the Puritans and is thought to be one of the finest example of stone carving from that time.


In the north choir aisle adjacent tothe Percy Tomb, is the Northumberland Chapel with a wrought iron gate. This was built to house the tomb of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. He was born in 1446 at Leconfield Castle, the Percy estate to the north of Beverley. Although he supported Richard III, he withheld his forces at the Battle of Bosworth. He was imprisoned by Henry VII but was later restored to his estates. While collecting highly unpopular taxes to finance Henry’s defence of Brittany against the French crown, he was dragged from his horse by the mob and killed near Topcliffe. His funeral was an expensive affair with a multitude of banners and shields, 500 priests and over 13,000 mourners, all paid to attend. The old Percy standard hangs above the tomb with a very ancient and threadbare Union Jack. In the window is a small bit of C15th stained glass with the Percy coat of arms; the only C15th glass in the Minster.

Behind the choir and the high altar is what is described as the Retro-choir. St John of Beverley’s remains were originally housed in a shrine on top of the reredos, before being moved to the nave. The back of the reredos is the original C14th work and is beautiful. Black Purbeck marble pillars support a vaulted ceiling with elaborate carved stone bosses with foliage and small heads. On the walls is carved arcading.


At the centre is the splendid alabaster tomb of Michael Warton who died in 1655, with his figure picked out in gold and kneeling on a cushion in front of a small desk with a bible.


On the north wall is a small memorial to John Warton, his second son who died aged 6 in 1656.

On the east wall is the massive tomb of Michael Warton who died in 1725, with two grieving female figures on either side of a sarcophagus. Below is a list of his many charitable endowments.

On the south side is a double tomb. One side commemorates Michael Warton, who died in 1688. On the other is his wife Susanna Warton who bore him four sons and three daughters.

On the south side of the chancel is St Katherine’s Chapel, which is set aside for private prayer. Sunlight streams through the stained glass lancet windows staining the floor.


I always enjoy Beverley Minster as there is always so much to see and each visit I notice something new. Normally the Minster is very quiet and often I am the only visitor. Unlike its more popular neighbour York Minster, there is no charge for entry. There is a small free car park opposite the Minster. The post code is HU17 0DP

St Mary’s Church

St Mary's Church is at the opposite end of the town to the Minster.

The church was founded in the C12th, originally as a chapel of ease for the Minster. The church was extended and the nave and aisles were rebuilt in the C13th, when a crypt was added. The west front is late C14th and the clerestory was added then. The central tower fell down in 1520 killing several of the congregation and damaging the church. The church was rebuilt and most of the building is perpendicular in style. It was a wealthy church and patronised by the craft guilds. It had a Victorian makeover by Pugin and Scott.


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It is a splendid building, best seen from the west end with its tall perpendicular window with two small turrets at the corners. The lovely west door is not used.

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The nave has a clerestory with battlements and crocketed pinnacles. On either side are buttressed side aisles. The tall central tower has round windows with perpendicular windows above and is topped with sixteen crocketed pinnacles.


The south porch has more crocketed pinnacles and a beautifully carved ogee arch with faces and leaves lining the arch.

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Steps lead down into the large nave which is flooded by light from the plain glass clerestory windows. Above is a glorious painted ceiling with blue panels with gold stars, divided by ribs painted in brown, gold and green.


Pillars with pointed arches separate nave and side aisles. Small heads are carved at the base of the arches. Those in the north arcade are of benefactors who helped finance the rebuilding of the church after the tower collapsed.




At the back of the north aisle is the War Memorial Door commemorating the dead of the parish in the Second World War. It was carved by Robert Thompson of Kilburn and his signature mouse can be seen on the bottom row of names.


Also in the north aisle is the massive carved Derbyshire marble font dating from 1530.


The pulpit in front of the rood screen is also carved marble but dates from the C19th restoration of the church.


On the pillar by the pulpit is a painted carving of five minstrels, although their instruments have been damaged or lost. In Medieval times, Beverley was famous for secular music and had a powerful guild of musicians which controlled all the minstrels of the north of England. The musician's guild contributed to the rebuilding of the church and their donation is commemorated by this carving.


The crypt is off the north aisle and is lit by a small window. Mason's marks can be seen on the ribs of the vaulting.


Above the crypt is the vestry which was originally the Chapel of the Holy Trinity and has fragments of Medieval stained glass in the window opposite the stairs. The ceiling panels are pained with depictions of the constellations as well as the sun and moon.


Tucked away on the side of the sacristy doorway in the north aisle is a carved stone rabbit, dating from about 1330. This is supposed to have been the inspiration of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and John Tenniel's illustrations.


St Michael's Chapel is at the end of the north aisle with its vaulted ceiling and gilded bosses.


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St Mary's Church cont...

The very tall and narrow chancel arch has a wooden rood screen across the base. There is a simple altar with green altar cloth. On the reredos is a painting of the last supper. Above is the huge perpendicular stained glass window. On the floor are old grave slabs.


The chancel ceiling dates from 1445 and is one of the glories of the church. Each of the panels has a painted representations of the Kings of England from Eggbert in 827 to Henry VI, along with four legendary kings, Ludbracus, Eboracus, Lochrine and Brutus. Each is set in a gold panel surrounded by scarlet ribs and gilded bosses. The style, dress and facial features are remarkably similar on all of them. A table mirror is provided to see these in their full glory.


The ceiling was restored in 1939, and George VI was added to replace Lochrine.


The carved choir stalls date from 1445 have carved angels on the arm rests and beautifully caved misericords.


Most are original although seven are C19th replacements. Each is different. There are wild men of the wood, green men, stag hunting scenes, bear baiting and even an elephant.






Even the backs of the choir stalls facing the side aisles are beautifully carved.


At the end of the south aisle is St Katherine's Chapel with a modern cast iron altar.


In the south transept is a delightful model showing model showing the medieval masons at work.


The Priest's Room is accessed through a doorway and up a spiral staircase and was probably used to store valuables as well as being used as a Sunday School in the C19th. Now it contains artefacts linked to the history of Beverley including a scold's bridle, stocks, and the parish bier. It is only open on heritage days or by special arrangement.

This is a delightful church. It lacks the visual impact of the Minster, but is well worth a visit if in Beverley. The church is open Monday to Friday 10-4 (4.30 in the summer), but it shuts for lunch between 12-1. There is no parking immediately by the church. There is some short term parking in the Market Place, failing that there are several larger signed car parks around the town centre. The nearest post code is HU17 8DJ.


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