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Review: Beverley

City/Town/Region/Island

United Kingdom

An attractive market town with a medieval feel

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2160 reviews

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  • 2013
  • Solo

13 people found this review helpful

Voted as one of the best places to live, Beverley is an attractive market town and the county town of East Yorkshire. Popular with locals it tends to be missed by the tourists which is a shame as it is still retains its medieval feel. The pedestrianised town centre has avoided the blight experienced by so many high streets. There are few empty shops and the cobbled streets with courtyards off support a range of traditional family owned shops, including an old fashioned sweet shop, as well as up market boutiques and upmarket shops like Monsoon, Jaeger, Barbour and Laura Ashley. There is a lot of money in Beverley. Morrisons and Tesco haven’t taken shoppers away from the town centre.

Beverley boast two markets. The Saturday Market dates back to the middle ages and the stalls are set up around the splendid market cross, built in the early 18thC. It was paid for by two local MPs and their coats of arms as well as the royal coat of arms of Queen Anne are painted round the top. On the top are Greek urns and an inscription to Sir Charles Hotham Bart and Sir Michael Warton, Knt who provided the funding. The pale grey roof is topped with a cupola and lantern topped with an obelisk and cross.

Stalls sell bread, cheese, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables as well as clothes and hardwares. On a Wednesday there is a smaller market in the smaller square at the other end of the town, in the aptly named Wednesday market.

Beverley Town Trail has 39 linked artworks placed around the town featuring the medieval guilds and craftsmen. Tourist Information has a leaflets with information.

Originally merchants bringing goods to sell in the town had to pay tolls at the main gateways (Bars) into the town. There were originally four gateways but only the North Bar still stands. It is a splendid brick structure across the road. As Beverely expanded, the suburbs outside the gate where called North Bar Without, to distinguish them from those inside referred to as North Bar Within. The street names are still called this.

There are plenty of eating places in the town as well as a range of pubs. Perhaps the best known is the 16thC White Horse Inn, popularly known as Nellies, after the landlady who ran the pub until the 1970s. who ran the pub for many years. The pub retains many of its original features including gas lighting.

Beverley has been a site of pilgrimage for centuries. John, Bishop of York died in a monastery he founded on the site of the present Minster. He was believed to have performed miracles and was canonised in 1037 and pilgrims flocked to his tomb. At this time, Beverley was the 11th largest town in England. Beverley Minster dates from the 13thC and is regarded as one of the finest Gothic churches in Europe and is architecturally better than nearby York Minster. It dwarfs the Victorian housing around it. It is a stunning pale limestone building which catches all the available light. The inside is a stark contrast of pale limestone and dark polished Purbeck marble. Allow plenty of time for a visit as the inside is exquisite with carvings and decoration.

At the opposite end of Beverley is St Mary’s Church, another splendid church although overshadowed by the Minster. Many of the guilds patronised the church and at the top of one of the pillars on the north side of the chancel are carved and painted figures of minstrels, presumably paid for by the relevant guild. Beverley was famous for its music in the Middle Ages.

On another pillar is a delightful carving of a rabbit holding a pilgrim’s bag and said to be the original for Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.

Unfortunately it was a Saturday when I visited Beverley, the one day a week St Mary’s is closed. I will have to come back another day to enjoy these again as well as the glorious painted chancel ceiling with 40 painted panels with portraits of the Kings of England from William the Conquerer to Henry VI.

Beverley Railway station was opened in 1846 by the York and North Midland Railway Company and in its time was an important junction. It’s main claim to fame is that it still has one of the few surviving tile LNER railway maps on its wall.

One of Beverley’s other claims to fame is Beverley Grammar School, the oldest state school in England, founded in 700AD by John of Beverley.

To the west of the town is Westwood, a large expanse of meadow with sheep and cows grazing and ancient woodland, which was bequeathed to the town. As well as a golf course, Beverley Race Course is here.

I always enjoy a visit to Beverley. It is a busy and thriving place. There is so much to see and enjoy.

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