If you mention The Minster in my part of the world, people automatically think you are talking about York Minster. I had been told that Beverley Minster could hold its own in the beauty stakes, and set out one day to verify this. I was already rapt in the intricate details when I learned that the Percy Canopy dates from around 1340, and is regarded as a masterpiece of the decorated Gothic style.
More importantly, the atmosphere in the church was warm and welcoming, and I didn’t feel like an intruder, which so often seems to happen. I entered through the Highgate Porch and was struck by the vastness of the building and the height of the Nave.
I was immediately captivated by the carvings that adorned the walls of the North Aisle. In the Middle Ages, Beverley was headquarters of the musicians fraternity in the north of England. These detailed medieval carvings illustrate the period.
The minster owes its origin to St. John of Beverley, who founded a monastery here in 700AD. He was bishop of Hexham and then of York before founding Beverley, and his bones still lie beneath a plaque in the nave. The organ dates from 1767, the beautiful wood carving added in 1880.
I know that Jude would absolutely love it here because she has a thing for misericords, and there are no less than 68. In medieval times clergy were required to stand when praying. The Normans tried to make life a little easier by providing a misericord- a shelf on a hinged seat, just enough to perch on. The name comes from ‘misericordia’, meaning pity, and decorating them with relevant carvings became an artform.
The High Altar is in regular use for Holy Communion, and behind it there is a beautifully carved altar screen. Accessed through the Quire, in the south east corner of the church, St. Katherine’s Chapel is a place for quiet contemplation.
Although I was in awe of this lovely building, still I felt comfortable there, and would love to return. Even the modern art work did not feel out of place. The Beverley Minster website has a self-guided tour, both useful and informative.
Pedestrian? I really don’t think so, though the minster did form part of one of my walks. Join me next Monday?