Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beverley Minster, England

Beverley Minster has a long history. The church was founded by St. John of Beverley, a Saxon bishop who wanted to be buried there. He was in 721. An new and larger church was built by Athlestan, King of Wessex, in 957. The final minster was built from 1220 to 1420, spanning the entire Gothic period. The elaborate choir stalls are from the 1500s. The town was known as a medieval sanctuary town, so the town and the minster avoided a lot of the damaged that occurred over the centuries in other towns.

Side view of Beverley Minster

Gothic flying buttress!

One of the two towers

The Highgate Porch (entrance)

The interior is a classic Gothic cathedral, full of light and wonderful adornments.


Ceiling decor

West end

West end door with the four evangelists on it

The medieval carvings are quite whimsical and many of the people are musicians, providing some insight into the kind of instruments that were in use circa the 1300s.

Musician with some sort of keyboard?

Lap harp musician


I'm ready for the iconoclasts!

Maybe Egyptian?


The baptismal font comes from the early Norman church (around 1170) but the canopy above is from the 1700s.

Baptismal font

Just east of the font are two statues of St. John of Beverley and King Athelstan, who endowed the church after a victory against the Danes.

Patrons guard an exit

St. John of Beverley

King Athelstan

A nearby statue of a bishop who probably built the bell tower

The site of St. John's tomb is noted in the floor marble near the center of the church.

Grave of St. John

The north transept has the minster's shop, which has been built around one of the tombs!

North Transept

The most patient customer ever

The choir stalls date from the 1500s and are also exquisitely carved.

Above the stalls

Human-headed lion?



The high altar is on the east end of the choir. To the right of the altar is the fridstol or peace chair dating from the 700s. If a person sat in it, they were given 30 days' sanctuary. It may have also been used as the bishop's chair.

Main Altar


To the left of the altar is a staircase that was used by the canons of the church to go to the Chapter House.

Chapter house stairs

Nearby processional cross

Another cool staircase

The east end of the church has the best medieval stained glass in the minster.

East Window

More modern glass

The church also has chapels dedicated to the East Yorkshire Regiment, including a fine memorial to World War I soldiers.

Cross from WWI

WWI Memorial

Detail from the memorial

The minster has the usual variety of tombs scattered throughout. The Warton family members were benefactors of the church, so many of them were buried inside.

Michael Warton Tomb (died 1725)

 Another Michael Warton tomb! (he died in 1655)

Rowan tomb

Another Warton tomb


Who was St. John of Beverley?

John was born of noble parents in the mid- to late-600s. He studied at Canterbury under St. Adrian. He was a priest in Whitby where he gained a reputation for preaching and teaching on Sacred Scripture. In 687 he became bishop of Hexham (also in North Yorkshire) and later became bishop of York in 705. He ordained the Venerable Bede as a deacon and a priest. John had founded a monastery in Beverley and decided to retire there in 717. He died on May 7, 721. He was canonized in 1037 and his feast day is May 7.

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