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Beverley Minster, in Beverleymarker, East Riding of Yorkshire is a parish church in the Church of England. It is generally regarded as the most impressive (architecturally speaking) church in Englandmarker that is not a cathedral.

Originally a collegiate church, it was not selected as a bishop's seat during the Dissolution of the Monasteries; nevertheless it survived as a parish church, and the chapter house was the only major part of the building to be lost. It is part of the Greater Churches Group and a Grade 1 Listed building.


The Minster owes its origin and much of its subsequent importance to St John of Beverley, who founded a monastery locally around 700 AD and whose bones still lie beneath a plaque in the nave. The institution grew after his death and underwent several rebuildings. After a serious fire in 1188, the subsequent reconstruction was overambitious; the newly heightened central tower collapsed c. 1213 bringing down much of the surrounding church. Work on the present structure began around 1220.

It took 200 years to complete building work but, despite the time scale involved, the whole building has coherent form and detail and is regarded as one of the finest examples of Perpendicular design, the twin towers of the west front being a superlative example. These formed the inspiration for the design of the present Westminster Abbeymarker.

As with many English churches during the wars of religion in the sixteenth century, Beverley Minster was not immune to dissension. Church authorities cracked down hard on those they felt were part of the Popish conspiracy, contrary to Royal decrees. "Among those holding traditional beliefs were three of the clergy at the minster, who were charged with Popish practices in 1567; John Levet was a former member of the college and Richard Levet was presumably his brother. Both Levetts were suspended from the priesthood for keeping prohibited equipment and books and when restored were ordered not to minister in Beverley or its neighbourhood."

In the 18th century the present central tower replaced an original lantern tower that was in danger of collapse. This central tower now houses the largest surviving treadwheel crane in England, which is used when raising building materials to a workshop located in the roof. A distinctive feature of both the north and south transepts is the presence of rose windows, and a White Rose of York, with ten equal parts. Daily tours to the crane and rose windows are available to the general public, subject to other church commitments.


Close-up of Rose Window
Features of the interior include columns of Purbeck Marble, stiff-leaf carving, and the tomb of Lady Eleanor Percy, dating from around 1340 and covered with a richly-decorated canopy, regarded as one of the best surviving examples of Gothic art. A total of 68 16th century misericords are located in the quire of the Minster and nearby is a sanctuary or frith stool dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.

It is worth noting that the misericords, were probably carved by the Ripon school of carvers, and bear a strong family resemblance to those at Manchester Cathedralmarker and Ripon Cathedralmarker.

The organ is mounted above a richly carved wooden screen dating from the late 19th century. There is a staircase in the north aisle which would have been used in monastic times to gain access from and to the chapter house.

Improvements to the choir were made during the 16th and 18th century, and medieval glass which was shattered by a storm of 1608 was meticulously collected and installed in the East Window in 1725. The Thornton family, great craftsmen of the early 18th century, were responsible for the font and the west door. Another notable feature is the series of carvings of musicians which adorn the nave.


There is a large organ with pipes by John Snetzler from 1769. There has been subsequent rebuilds and restoration by William Hill & Sons in 1884, and Hill, Norman and Beard in 1962/63. The specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register


Assistant organists

  • Gordon Reynolds 1939 - 1942 (later organist of St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London)
  • Wallace Michael Ross 1948 - 1950
  • James Archer
  • Andrew Dibb 1990 - 1993
  • Colin Wright 1996 - current

See also the List of Organ Scholars at Beverley Minster.

See also


  1. Priests John and Richard Levet, Religious Life, A History of the County of York, East Riding, British History Online
  2. History & Directory of East Yorkshire, 1892, p. 346

External links

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