St. Mary’s Church

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 :


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.

Jo’s Monday walk : Whitby in Winter

In short supply, the winter sun sets over Whitby harbour

In short supply, the winter sun sets over Whitby harbour

I’ve taken you walking along the Whitby cliff tops in summer time, but winter can be a very different proposition. Yet I was amazed at how many people thronged the narrow cobbled streets, leading to Whitby Abbey, on New Year’s Eve day this year.

It was bitterly cold, but I expected the numerous steps around Whitby would soon warm me up. And on such a day, fish and chips would be almost compulsory.  Anyone fancy joining me?

James Cook has a beautiful, if chilly, view

James Cook has a beautiful, if chilly, view

The road across the York Moors had the merest dusting of snow- delicious and crisp, though I don’t know if the sheep would be impressed.  I didn’t stop to ask.  Stepping out of the car on West Cliff, the air was bitingly brisk.  The good news, though, was that parking, often scarce in this town, was free of charge until the end of March.

My destination was St. Mary’s Church, clearly visible on the cliff top across the bay.  That meant either steps down, a meandering road downward, or a combination of the two, and then steps up the other side. I paused for breath, and to admire the view, alongside the statue of James Cook, who served his apprenticeship in the town.  HMS Endeavour, commanded by Captain Cook on his voyage to Australia and New Zealand, was built in Whitby, in 1764.

I started down the steps from the Whalebone Arch, symbolic of the town’s whaling past.  A ‘halooo’ in the ‘Screaming’ tunnel, allegedly associated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, just had to be done.  Childish, I know!  If ghost walks are your idea of fun, it’s possible to tour the town with a guide who will point out all the Dracula connections.

Through the tunnel, the steps continue on down, winding between the backs of houses until you reach the quayside. Easy going from here, as you make for the Swing Bridge.

The Swing Bridge spans the River Esk

The Swing Bridge spanning the River Esk

There are plenty of shops and cafes to distract you in the cobbled streets beyond the bridge, but inevitably you will arrive at the foot of 199 steps.  The Abbey, and St. Mary’s Church, await on the cliff top above.  Take your time.  It doesn’t matter if someone overtakes you.  There is space, and opportunity, to loiter and enjoy the view of Whitby harbour down below.  Fill your pockets with goodies from Justin’s before you start.  It might help!

Justin's can tempt at any time of year

Justin’s can tempt at any time of year

You may think I’m a sadist dragging you up here, but there is a purpose.  Originally the Church Stairs were wooden steps leading to St. Mary’s.  The church can be reached by road, by a circuitous route, but more often a coffin would be carried up the steps for burial in the churchyard.  There are resting places to make this an easier passage.

Our journey today is not so sad.  I’m climbing the steps to see the Christmas trees donated to St. Mary’s by local businesses each December.  Schools take part as well, and it is a lovely enterprise. I noticed this year a Prayer tree where you can tie on a shred of ribbon to leave your personal prayer.  My Six word Saturday featured many of the tree decorations so here I’ll concentrate more on the church.

There was a lovely atmosphere as people came and went, and the volunteers shared their knowledge of the church, some of which dates from the 12th century.  The link will give you much more information.  Meantime, I had a rendezvous with the pier in mind.  The decision whether to have your fish and chips before or after is up to you.  I should tell you that Rick Stein favours The Magpie Cafe, over on Pier Street, but I have a preference for Hadleys, which is just around the corner from here, at 11 Bridge St.

At the bottom of Church Stairs there is a right hand turn into Henrietta St., a row of fishermen’s cottages.  If you follow it past the Smoke House, where you might catch the delicious aroma of smoking fish, it will take you down steeply to one arm of the pier.  This is the point at which you will need that warm hat!

Access to the pier is a little steep

The steep descent to the pier

Beware people doing a crazy dance

Beware people doing a crazy dance (to keep warm?)

And turn your attention to the view

And turn your attention to the view

Or look out to Saltwell Nab

Or look out to Saltwell Nab

I think it must be time to go

But I think it must be time to go

Retrace your steps to the Swing Bridge and you will see a narrow street ahead of you, rising towards the West Cliff. It’s a little steep for the first few yards, but then you can distract yourself by looking in the shop windows as you follow the gentle curve back around to the car park.

NB. You can walk out along the other arm of the pier, which is less strenuous but just as chilly!

I hope you have enjoyed our outing today.  I know some of you will have seen parts of this walk before, but I thought that it was a story worth telling.  As time goes by I will probably need to revisit a few old haunts, but they look different as the seasons change.  I will try to keep them fresh for you.

walking logo

Over the festive season, people have been too busy to do much walking, but I’m happy to say that I still have some walks to share with you.  If you’d like to share a walk in the future, that would be great!  My Jo’s Monday walk page gives you the details, or you can just click on the logo.

Extra special thanks to my contributors this week.  Let me just pop that kettle on and we’ll  start.

It was so peaceful with Jude this week, I was compelled to sit a while.  Yes, even me! :

Garden Portrait : Harmony and Balance

Meanwhile, Drake has excelled himself, again!  Don’t miss his beautiful mill in Samso :

The Walking Mill

Gilly has a gentle riverside walk for us and you’ll love it!

Strolling the Byes

Anyone chased their grandbaby round a zoo lately? And in the heat of the day, too!  Thanks a lot, Rosemay  :

Zoo tales from Perth 

Hope to see you all out walking again next week.  Till then, take care!

Six word Saturday


Just a last remnant of Christmas!


On New Year’s Eve I paid a visit to St. Mary’s Church in Whitby.  High on the cliff top, the chilly graveyard looks out to sea but, at this time of year, inside the church is bathed in a warm glow.

It’s the light of numerous Christmas trees, contributed by the community, and a huge boost to the church funds.  If you’re lucky you might even catch a carol service.

There are some beautiful Advent scenes

There are some beautiful Advent scenes

A last dusting of WordPress snow sets them off rather nicely.  I saw a little of the real thing on the road across the Moors- but not much!  I guess you know now where my Monday walk will be taking us next week?  Winter woollies will be required.

Until then, enjoy your weekend, and don’t forget to call in on Cate at Show My Face.  You wouldn’t want her to play Six Word Saturday all alone, would you?


A Special Place


We all have places that we regard as special.  St. Mary’s Church at Whitby holds that special quality for me.  During the Summer I was there, proudly showing my Polish neice, Basia, our English Heritage.  A lovely elderly gentleman was holding court, comfortably seated, with coffee in hand.  He explained that he was waiting for his wife to finish walking the dog, a task he was no longer up to.  Whilst he did so, he was more than happy to entertain all comers, with tales of the church and it’s history.

Reluctantly, we pulled ourselves away.  My own elderly gentleman (dad) was waiting in the car, not able to walk too far himself, and we still had awe-inspiring Whitby Abbey to see.  Before we did so, we were urged to come back again in December, when the church would be alight with dozens of Christmas trees.  On Monday I returned, and this is what I found.

Trees in every style and colour

Trees in every style and colour

Each sponsored by a local business

Each sponsored by a local business

A local gallery

A local gallery

Craft shop


Commemorative trees

Gift shops

Natural products

Natural products

Modern style

Modern style





The Captain Cook Museum

The Captain Cook Museum

Put the kettle on Ma!

Put the kettle on Ma!  Teashops galore.

And, of course, the fishmongers

And, of course, the fishmongers

Just to complete the occasion I was treated to a carol service from one of the local schools, busy rehearsing for the real thing.  They sounded wonderful.

Small voices raised to celebrate the birth of Jesus

Small voices raised to celebrate the birth of Jesus

St. Mary’s is a delightful church.  The tower and basic structure date from Norman times, around 1110.  A hodge podge of styles have been added since, but it is the box pews that draw the eye, each carpeted and upholstered with cushions.  Overhead galleries are rarely used today, but the large charcoal stove is an essential element with our coastal chill.

Whitby is probably best known for its association with Bram Stoker.  He lived there from 1890 to 1896, and set an important scene from Dracula at the church.  I imagine that the graveyard on a dark Winter’s night is a scarey place indeed, but the church interior is a joyous space.  It was described by Simon Jenkins in “England’s Thousand Best Churches” as “part folly, part museum, part large parlour”.  You should see it for yourself, and I can think of no better time than when the Christmas trees are in residence. (10.00- 15.00 daily until 3rd Jan., excepting Christmas and Boxing Day)

The graveyard and Whitby Abbey

The graveyard and Whitby Abbey

St. Mary's from the Abbey grounds

St. Mary’s from the Abbey grounds

Looking back at church and Abbey from Whitby pier

Looking back at church and Abbey from Whitby pier

It is a bit of a climb up to St. Mary’s and the Abbey, but it’s also possible to get there by road if you can’t manage the steps.

Do you have a special place to share?  Please do.