It was a very welcome sunny day, following long periods of rainfall, when members of the Hallam Ascent group boarded a coach to take them to Beverley. The group met at the parish church of St Francis of Assisi to celebrate Mass together before setting off. Once the coach made its way through the gridlocked Sheffield traffic, the pace picked up and we arrived at Beverley to be welcomed by two very knowledgeable guides, Ian and John, to take us round the magnificent Minster.
We learnt about the historical background of the Minster that is mentioned in Bede’s book “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” and owes its origins to John of Beverley who was Bishop of Hexham and York. He retired to Beverley and built a church where the Minster now stands. Miracles through the intercession of John of Beverley made the church a place of pilgrimage. The original church was possibly destroyed by Vikings, but its prominence was restored when King Athelstan was successful in battle and awarded Beverley the freedom for the church to become a Minster, amongst other freedoms. The priests did not live in the Minster but ‘ministered’ from it to the surrounding communities. Beverley Minster’s status was reduced to a parish church after 1548 when it ceased to be a Roman Catholic church, but restoration which began in the 18th century saved it from collapse.
- Beverley Minister was used as a background for many historical dramas. It is used to stand in for Westminster Abbey for the scene of the coronation of Queen Victoria.
- The Quire contains the Percy canopy which commemorates the death of Eleanor Percy and is of a superb quality, arguably one of the best stone carvings to be seen anywhere.
- The choir stalls date from Tudor times and are made of richly carved wood.
- The Font made of Frosterley marble is possibly one of the oldest items in the Minster, far earlier in date than the building in which it stands. The heavy wooden structure that cover the font when it is not in use can be lifted with a single finger, due to a restored cantilever system in the loft.
Following on from the tour of the Minster we were then free to look around the lovely town of Beverley. The coach collected us at the prescribed meeting place and thanks to the fact that the traffic was much lighter on the way back, we returned in time for tea.