Beverley Minster

Jo’s Monday walk : A whizz around Beverley

Many of you had never heard of Beverley in East Yorkshire when I shared my recent visit to its magnificent Minster.  I’m back this morning to give you a whistlestop tour of the town.  Hold on to your hats!

It was another of those whims of mine that took me there on a coach trip one September day.  The journey seemed tortuous and I wondered why I was putting myself through it, but immediately I set foot inside the Minster I knew that it had been worthwhile.

I glimpsed the spires as we drove into town and as soon as the coach doors opened I was off and beelining for it.  I found the Tourist Information office on Butcher Row en route, and grabbed a map with details of the Beverley Town Trail.  Patience not being my middle name, when I realised that it gave a choice of 4 local walks I threw up my hands and just got on with the job.  Straight down Highgate brought me to the gates of the Minster.  It was a grey old sky, not bringing out the best of the old stone, yet the building had presence.

Bowled over by Beverley will take you inside, if you missed it.  Glancing at the map when I came out, I continued around the outside of the grounds to Minster Yard South.  I was quite surprised to find a grassy paddock with cows grazing contentedly, here in the middle of town.  I knew that it was a market town, but still, a little strange?  The white phonebox set a smile on my face as I continued onto Eastgate.

I detoured, as directed, on Friary Walk for a look at the former Friary, but this was planted firmly in the midst of a housing complex, and I did not loiter.  Back towards Wednesday Market- what an endearing name for the square, peaceful on a Thursday, with pavement cafes and coffee drinkers enjoying the mild temperatures.  On along Butcher Row, taking more notice this time of an interesting mix of shops and eating places.

I stopped occasionally to consult the trail guide, which was full of fascinating snippets of information.  Medieval Beverley was a wealthy town with a diverse population of skilled workers.  Carpenters, armourers, printers, locksmiths, weavers, hatters, brewers, ropemakers- the list is impressive and comprises 39 different medieval guilds.  Do you know what trade a fletcher pursued?  No- nor me! (He made arrows)  The trail encourages you to look for signs of each, but time was precious.  I was heading for Saturday Market and a handsome Market Cross.

It surprised me to read that Beverley was once the 10th largest town in England, and one of the richest, based on the wool industry and the pilgrims who came here to venerate its founder.  The town dates back to 700AD, when St. John of Beverley founded a monastery on the site of the Minster.

Market Cross sits most elegantly at the heart of the square known as Saturday Market, surrounded by attractive buildings.  Did you notice two more white telephone boxes?  Saturday is the main market day here and I can imagine traffic coming to a standstill.  Just beyond the square you can see the tower of St. Mary’s Church, and that’s where I headed next.  As luck would have it, closing was at 4, giving me half an hour to explore.

St. Mary’s was founded in 1120 and the foundations of the early Norman building are still visible in places.  A notable feature of the church are the stone carvings.  The Minstrel Pillar is shown below but I missed the carving of a rabbit dressed as a pilgrim, dated around 1330 and said to have been the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit.  (You can see him on this link)  The vestry ceiling is painted to represent a map of the heavens, and reminded me of Polish churches I’ve seen.

Amazing to have such a beautiful church and the Minster in one small town.  The ceiling of the chancel is quite breathtaking and I was thrilled to be able to get close to the 28 wonderfully carved misericords.  And who can resist that humble donkey, waiting in the wings?

Take a breath!  The misericords next…

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My time in Beverley was running out, and looking at the trail guide it seems I’d covered most of the 4 walks.  I was disappointed not to have found the Beck and its shipping heritage, but a bonus was the logically named North Bar Within and North Bar Without.  They sandwich North Bar, the earliest brick built town entrance in England.

Heading back to the coach, there was just time to stick my nose in the Coronation Garden, formerly owned by St. Mary’s Church, which explains the headstones.  The benches were empty but I couldn’t stop.

I grabbed a takeaway coffee and a few munchies and subsided onto the bus home, via the Humber Bridge.  But that will have to wait for another time.  I’m off to the Algarve on Wednesday and not sure exactly when I’ll be posting again.

Did you manage to keep up?  I hope you enjoyed it.  I’m onto my second cup of coffee and I’m hoping you’ll do the same.  Put the kettle on and have a good read.  All of these are worth it so please do visit them.  Thank you so much to everyone who’s taken part and kept me company all these weeks.  I’ll be popping in on you when I can.

Starting with an introduction- meet Nadja and her scene stealing photos of Austria :

The Maltese Valley

Fantastic memories of one lovely lady, from another!  Thanks so much, Becky :

An evening stroll for Jo

What would you expect to find at a zoo?  Violet had a bit of a surprise :

At the zoo

I adore dates, and here’s Jackie teasing me with date cake!

Matrimonial cake

Are you an early morning jogger?  Ju-Lyn has the nicest surrounds to tempt you out of bed :

Guess who I met at the Singapore Botanic Gardens?

Candy has some really lovely walks in Brittany.  This is just one of many :

A walk around Landerneau

Kathrin is determined to hike Half Dome one day, but this looks just as good!

North Dome Hike

Carol’s finally finished her English adventures.  What next?  I think I know :

The Last Afternoon

Woolly has a wonderful way with our feathered friends :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk38_Balyang-Sanctuary-2

Bringing a bit of desert heat our way, I wish I was looking over Drake’s shoulder :

In the sand

And with even more sand in the picture, this is a real beauty from Karen, if a little strenuous!

The Three Beaches Walk

Putting up a gutsy performance and us dilettantes to shame, I’m ending on a real high with Lexie :

High Tatras High

Ending on a high is always a good way to go.  Take good care of yourselves, and I’ll be back before you know it.

Bowled over by Beverley

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.

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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.

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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?