Beverley, six miles to the north of Hull was once the capital of the East Riding of Yorkshire and is the home to Beverley Minster, regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in England. I
The minster has the architectural grandeur of a cathedral rather than a church and indeed many English cathedrals are more than overshadowed by Beverley. The first church, with an attached monastery was built at Beverley in the 7th century by St John of Beverley who had trained under St Hilda at Whitby. In 687 AD he became the Bishop of Hexham and later the Bishop of York
John later returned to Beverley, where he retired and was buried in his church. Later the Danes almost destroyed the church but it was rebuilt and visited by King Athelstan in the tenth century, sometime before a great battle with the Vikings. Pilgrims continued to flock to John's shrine and in 1037 he was canonized as a saint. In 1138 the saint's banner was carried with the standards of other famous northern saints at the Battle of the Standard near Northallerton.
Sometime after the Norman conquest the church was refashioned by the Normans, but their new building was destroyed by fire in 1188. Around 1220 rebuilding of a new minster church began and work continued until around 1420 culminating in the magnificent church of today.
Inside the minster is an elaborate shrine to the Percy family which was constructed in the fourteenth century. Nearby is a Frid Stool or peace stool, a primitive seat of Anglo-Saxon origin which is similar to one found at Hexham Abbey. The stool offered sanctuary to criminals similar to the sanctuary offered at Durham Cathedral.Beverley's organ is a Snetzer organ, one of the best surviving examples, dating from 1767.
The town of Beverley
The town of Beverley grew up around the minster church and received its first charter in 1129. Beverley was incorporated as a borough in 1573 during the reign of Elizabeth I and was a place of great importance and wealth.
As well as the minster there are a number of other historic features in Beverley worthy of note. The beautiful parish church of St Mary's, for example dates from the 12th century and predates the minster. The church is famous for a carving of a rabbit which is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll to create the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland.
Most of Beverley's town centre is Georgian and Victorian in origin but at the northern entrance to the town is marked by the medieval North Bar. It was one of five gateways that protected the entrance to the town and was supported by a drawbridge, in the days when Beverley was surrounded by a defensive ditch.
Beverley's Market Place is the home of a Saturday market and has a market cross dating from 1714, which is supported with 8 columns. Horse racing has been held in Beverley since 1690.
Meaux, a few miles to the east of Bevreley was the site of Meaux Abbey, founded by the Earl of Albermarle in the 12th century but virtually nothing remains of the site. At one time the abbey of Meaux owned the land that would later become the location of the town and city of Hull.
A couple of miles to the west of Beverley is the pretty village of Bishop Burton which is well worth a visit. It consists of white-washed houses with red roofs and is located in a dip with an extensive duck pond that adds much to its charm. The village was historically the property of the Archbishops of York.
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