Undeniably spectacular, the 13th centaury gothic Beverley Minster is one of the best-kept secrets in the UK. York Minster draws all the fire, but those who make it to this pleasant but bustling little market town are stunned first by the scale of the Minster; its stark, imposing vertical contrast to the rest of the surrounding land. Secondly, by the fact that even at the height of summer it’s refreshingly free of crowds. Unlike say Salisbury Cathedral where you’d be beating other tourists away with a stick (yes, even in a place of worship), unless coach tours of wrinklies are passing through you can have plenty of room and ambient atmosphere to yourself for quiet contemplation and appreciation.
Often overlooked, because the Minster does kinda’ catch your eye a bit, is the smaller but just as remarkable church of St Mary’s on the corner of North Bar Within & Hengate. Dating from 1120 (only really properly finished in 1530 would you believe), the interior is also notable for intricate wooden carving detail (such as a Rabbit said to have inspired Lewis Carroll) and a rare (in the UK) painted ceiling from the 15th centaury.
I defy even the most cynical Christmas scrooge to get seasonal upon visiting Beverley's 'Festival of Christmas. Trust me, I'm qualified to say that as usually I'm hardly thrilled by the prospect of Christmas, but after visiting the market I feel that little bit more into the spirit of things. Held on the second Sunday of December each year the festival has stalls selling everything from traditional crafts to foodstuffs and clothes. Many of the high-street shops in the town are also open throughout the day and in this respect compliment the festival rather than compete with it. However it can be a victim of it's own success should the weather hold - cafes and restaurants are packed as are roads into the town, and parking is a veritable nightmare. So much so in fact that a 'Park & Ride' bus services operates from Beverley Racecourse to try and ease pressure on routes into the town. However all this aside, the bustle in town and the Christmas lights twinkling above you can't help but get you in the mood.
Beverley Minster is one of Britain's finest example of gothic medieval architecture. There are some great information leaflets available which highlight some of the special features such as the Saxon sanctuary chair, 16th Century misericords and a large collection of medieval musician carvings in stone and wood. There is a lovely little gift shop inside the Minster, where you can pick up some souvenirs and more informative guidebooks.
The Minster is open from 9am every day although is sometimes closed for special events. It is advisable to ring ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment. Guided tours can also be arranged for a small fee.
A great feature which we noticed while exploring the streets of Beverley were the paintings by local artists which were on display on exterior walls around the town. We saw a number of them while walking around. It's a fantastic idea, especially for people who wouldn't normally go into art galleries.
The best day to visit Beverley is a Saturday – market day. In the imaginatively titled ‘Saturday Market’ area, at the top of Toll Gavel (the main shopping street), you will find just that. The market is huge and full of everything from fruit, to hats and electronics gear. The town is positively bustling on a Saturday, whatever the weather, and if some good buskers are in town it’s quite atmospheric indeed. Think a small, compact version of York with less unashamed pandering to the tourist £’s.
Beverley Minster is said to be the largest parish church in the UK, It's name is The Parish Church of St. John and St. Martin.
The Minster owes its origin and importance to Saint John of Beverley who founded a monastery nearby around 700 AD he died in 721 and his body was buried in a chapel of the Saxon church.
He was canonised in 1037 and the present church built around his tomb, His bones still lie beneath a plaque in the nave.
Work on the present structure began around 1220 and was completed in 1425
The font dates from 1070 and may have been used in the Norman Church that stood on the site before the present one. The Minster also contains the largest collection of medieval sculptures of musicians in the world.
The twin towers of the west front formed the inspiration for the design of the present Westminster Abbey and In the 18th century the present central tower replaced an original lantern tower that was in danger of collapse
This central tower now houses the largest surviving medieval treadmill crane in England, which is used when raising building materials to a workshop located in the roof by removing the ornate central boss in the ceiling above the round altar table
WINTER (1 November – 28 February) 9.00am-4.00pm
SPRING (1 March-30 April) 9.00am-5.00pm
SUMMER (1 May-31 August) 9.00am-5.30pm
AUTUMN (1 September-31 October) 9.00am-5.00pm
12 noon – 5.30pm
Visitors are always welcome at services. Service times are listed on this website and on notice boards inside and outside the building.
The Market Cross was opened in 1714 and was used for ceremonies, recitals and concerts; to this day it is stil used for musical concerts. The four shields depicted on this grand structure depict those who contributed towards the cost for its' construction; Queen Anne, Beverley Council and the Warton and Hotham families.
Merchants supplying goods to the town of Beverley had to pay a toll to pass through a Bar. Originally, there were four bar's in Beverley, North Bar, Norwood Bar, Keidgate and South Bar. North Bar is the only remaining Bar in the town. It was re-built in brick in 1409 costing £96.17s 6d. As the town grew the suburb outside the gate was renamed North Bar Without and the buildings inside were called North Bar within.
The first sight of this astounding church tells you why it is ranked as one of the finest churches in this country -or even abroad-. It resembles an small minster. This XIVth century building resembles King's College Chapel at Cambridge, but the difference is this one is older and it has no rival around for it stands at a side of this small village -with the exception of the minster at the other side-.
It is praised for its grace and beauty and you only have to enter to discover it. Soon we discover the wooden XVIth century ceiling, that shows golden constellations over a blue layer or ancient England kings on the chancel's roof, which is an unique feature. There are polychromed musicians and other figures carved over the pillars and stalls with a collection of original misericords carved on it.
But the small stone star and recently adopted symbol of St. Mary's is the "Pilgrim rabbit", a small smiling rabbit carved at St. Michael's Chappel and here accepted as the inspirator for Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". Who knows...
Sir Tatton Sykes, the nineteenth century church restorer who was no mean judge of architectural beauty, once exclaimed while contemplating the west front of the Church,
"Lovely St Mary's, unequalled in England,
and almost without rival on the continent of Europe!"
Even though this enthusiastic verdict may owe something to the local patriotism of an East Riding man, it may fairly be claimed that St Mary's holds very high rank among the great Parish Churches of England, and such was the view of both Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Betjeman.
St Marys is indeed a beautiful church - I am no expert on chuches but on occasional visits have never failed to see the beauty and grandeur of this Norman church.
Open through the day to visitors and the volunteers on duty will gladly answer questions and show visitors through the church.
St Mary's Church was originally a Chapel to the Minster. This attractive 12th Century Church has some beautiful Gothic architectural features including a ceiling in the chancel which consists of 40 panels representing the kings of England up to Henry VI and fine carved misericords.
Beverley has not got nor never has had a town wall but in the 15th century there were Bars (Gates) at Newbegin, Norwood, North and South or Keldgate. Without walls to aid in defense the gateways were only used as toll collection points and to aid in the restriction of movement in times of plague and pestilence.
Of these only the North, Newbegin and Norwood Bars survived into the 16th century. Newbegin Bar was demolished in 1790 and Keldgate Bar was found to be in 'a very bad state of repair' and was demolished in 1808.
While looking on Beverleyweb.com for info i found these facts interesting
The North Bar is the earliest surviving brick gateway of its type in the country. It was built of Beverley made bricks at a total cost to the town of £96 17s 4 ½d. As it was replacing an earlier structure collections were made in the town towards the cost.
-Some 20 local brick makers produced the bricks including Agnes Tiler and John Mudfysch
-112,300 bricks were used, costing about 3s.7d (18p) per thousand
-A Bricklayer was paid 6d a day, a labourer 4d
Building work began in 1220 and was completed in 1425. It is generally regarded as the most impressive (architecturally speaking) church in England that is not a cathedral. The design of the Minster formed the inspiration for the design of the present Westminster Abbey in London.
Ground Floor Tours
Monday - Saturday from 10.30am onwards
Tour lasts about 45 minutes
Thursday - Saturday 11.15am & 2.15pm
Other times are available by appointment - please contact the Parish Centre.
Charges are (as of February 2009):
Adults: Ground Floor Tour £4, Roof Tour £5, Ground Floor and Roof Tour £7
Children (7-16): Ground Floor Tour £2, Roof Tour £2.50, Ground Floor and Roof Tour £3.50
At the end of Toll Gavel shopping precinct is Wednesday Market. As the photos show this is a pleasant square which has been improved in recent years to include new out door seating and the restaurants and the pub all have outdoor tables in the summer. A very pleasant place to sit - traffic is minimal on the main road that passes through and there are a number of interesting shops and restaurants here.
There is of course a small market here on Wednesdays.