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East Riding
Beverley Minster.jpg
Beverley Minster
Grid reference: TA035399
Location: 53°50’42"N, 0°25’37"W
Population: 29,110  (2001)
Post town: Beverley
Postcode: HU17
Dialling code: 01482
Local Government
Council: East Riding of Yorkshire
Beverley and Holderness

Beverley is a historic market town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, standing between the River Hull and the Westwood, eight miles north-west of Kingston upon Hull.

The town is around 1,300 years old and dominated by Beverley Minster, which was once the church of one of the largest monasteries in the kingdom, and the town is also beautified along New Walk by buildings built to serve the Abbey. The market place is at the heart of the town, and around it stand many historic buildings.

On the secular side, Beverley has the oldest grammar school in the country, Beverley Grammar School and outside is a racecourse, Beverley Racecourse and

Beverley stands 10 miles east of Market Weighton and 12 miles west of Hornsea. According to the 2001 census the total population of the urban area of Beverley was 29,110 - of whom 17,549 live within the historic parish boundaries.

As well as its racecourse and markets, Beverley is known in the modern day for hosting various music festivals throughout the year, and also food festivals. In 2007 Beverley was named as the best place to live in the United Kingdom in an "Affordable Affluence" study by the Royal Bank of Scotland.[1]


The town was originally known as Inderawuda and was founded by John of Beverley during the time of the Kingdom of the Northumbrians. It throve as a monastic centre after the Viking period and in the Middle Ages became a pilgrimage desitination and a notable wool-trading town. Beverley was once reckoned the tenth-largest town in England, as well as one of the richest, because of wool and the pilgrims. The town was overtaken by near neighbours after the Reformnation and the end of pilgrimages, recovering its prosperity only later.

Northumbrian and Viking period

Inside Beverley Minster

The town was founded in the kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century. The area at the time was known as Inderawuda (meaning "in the wood of the men of Deira"), and there stood a church dedicated to St John the Evangelist,[2] founded by the Bishop of York who later became known as John of Beverley. John of Beverley was reputed to have performed miracles during his lifetime, and was later venerated as a saint.[2] Around the 850s the now developed monastery was abandoned in a hurry; historians presume this was because of the invasion of the so-called Great Heathen Army of Vikings who had invaded Britain, and who were to establish a kingdom in the north.

The population increased during the 10th century, as pilgrims came to the town to venerate the Saint, John of Beverley.[2]

Before the Battle of Brunanburh, possibly located further north than Beverley, King Athelstan visited Inderawuda. According to Simeon of Durham, he prayed all night and saw a vision saying he would be victorious: in return he helped the town to grow greatly.[2] The name of the town was changed to Bevreli or Beverlac, meaning beaver-lake or beaver-clearing, in the 10th century; a reference to the colonies of beavers in the River Hull at the time.[2] The last three Anglo-Saxon Archbishops of York helped Beverley to develop, through the prominence of Beverley Minster and the town in general; along with York itself, Ripon and Southwell, Beverley became one of the most important Christian centres of Northern England. Aldred was declared by king Edward the Confessor as "sole Lord of the Manor of Beverley". Beverley developed as a trade centre, producing textiles, and works wrought in leather and antler.[2]

The Middle Ages

After the Norman conquest, many pilgrims flocked to Beverley upon hearing reports of miracles wrought by the town's founder, John. However, much of the North of England rejected Norman rule, and sought to reinstate Viking rule.[2] Towns in Yorkshire were obliterated by the Normans in response, with the Harrying of the North; but Beverley itself was spared, upon the Normans hearing about the town's saintly history.[2]

In the 12th century Beverley developed from a settlement of several thousand, to an extensive town, stretching from around the North Bar area to the Beck in an elongated pattern, it was granted borough status in 1122 by Thurstan. Industry grew further, Beverley especially traded wool with the cloth making towns of the Low Countries.[2]

Westwood and the Black Mill

The town suffered a large fire in 1188 which destroyed numerous houses, and damaged Beverley Minster. Lady Sybil de Valines gave the Manor of the Holy Trinity on the east side of Beverley to the Knights Hospitallers in 1201, where they established a preceptory;[3] also to be found in Beverley during the 13th century were Dominican friars who were given some land by Henry III where they erected buildings, Franciscans were also present.[2] A dispute arose between local farmers and the archbishop during the 13th century, about land rights; after the locals demanded a royal inquiry, the archbishop granted the townspeople pasture and pannage in the Westwood and other places.

During the 14th century, England experienced periods of famine caused by poor weather conditions which destroyed crops. There were also other nationwide issues to contend with at the time, such as the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War and the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. However, Beverley continued to grow: and by 1377, had become the 10th largest town in England.[2]


Beverley was reliant on pilgrimage, but the Reformation ended them, and Beverley declined in status. In October 1536 there was a popular rising in Beverley in which 500 men in the town gathered at the Westwood under the leadership of a local lawyer named William Stapleton, which rising later becoming part of the larger Pilgrimage of Grace in York as part of the 30,000 rebels opposing Henry's new settlement of the Church of England.[2] Henry followed through with the break from Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, dissolving the Dominican Friary in Beverley and taking their land for himself, the Knights Templars in Beverley suffered the same fate in 1540.[2]

As a result of the tensions across the North of England, governance duties were handed over to the Council of the North so the Tudors could control the area at arm's length.[4]

Beverley was visited by John Leland, the man known as the "father of English local history", he wrote of the town in some detail, estimating the population of the time at around 5,000.[2] Beverley Minster was almost demolished by its new owners who wanted to profit from selling its stone and lead, however the local people led by wealthy merchant Richard Gray saved it from this fate.[2] During the time of Elizabeth I, Beverley was endowed with its own mayor; Edward Ellerker was the first to take this position.[5]

Civil War and Restoration

Charles II's arms hanging in the Beverley Minster

The early 17th century brought the plague to Beverley. Later, as the Civil war began, Hull refused to open the gates to King Charles I a couple of months before the fighting began,[6] and so the king spent three weeks as a guest in a house at North Bar in Beverley, where he was openly greeted with the ringing of St Mary's Church bells.[2]

Beverley was initially royalist: however it was taken by the parliamentarians of Hull, forcing the king to flee. A royalist army led by William Cavendish]] defeated Thomas Fairfax]] to reclaim the town for the royalists; from here they launched another Siege of Hull]].[7] Beverley Minster managed to escape too much destruction from Cromwell's commissioners, in part due to the prominence of the House of Percy, for the church housed memorials to their ancestors. Beverley's Quakers were not so fortunate, and were strongly repressed by the Puritans.[2]

The Restoration of King Charles II was generally well received in Beverley, and his royal coat of arms was hung in the Minster and remains there.[2]

In terms of trade Beverley was not rich in the 17th century but had improved slightly, the majority were based in agriculture.[2] During the Georgian era, Beverley served as a centre for the East Riding of Yorkshire and became the prime market town in the area during the 18th century, beating out competition from Pocklington, Howden and Market Weighton.[2] The replacing of old timber buildings with new ones in the Georgian architecture style helped the town recover in prestige level, with the religious structures also undergoing restorations.[2]

Modern Beverley

Beverley during a market day

The modern age pulled down the brick-built Bars that served as gates to the town, to accommodate traffic. The population climbed, though nothing like that of nearby Hull.

The railway came in October 1846.[2] During the Industrial Revolution Beverley's people retained most agricultural jobs, though there was a presence of iron workers within the town.[2] Since the war, Beverley has gone through some remodeling, and has grown in size. It attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to view the Minster and visit the Beverley Racecourse.[2]


St Mary's Church

Beverley Minster is regarded as the most impressive church in England that is not a cathedral. It contains a tomb which once contained, it was said, the bones of Saint John of Beverley who founded a monastery here and with it the town.

The Bishop of Beverley is a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of York; the office was created in 1994 to provide a provincial episcopal visitor for the Province of York, ministering to parishes in the Province which do not accept women as priests.


Beverley Racecourse

As a market town, the market day is central to culture in Beverley; a smaller market day is held on Wednesday: however the main event is on Saturday, with all of the stalls.[8][9]

Beverley hosts an annual literature festival, kite festival, a biannual puppet festival and Beverley town fair.

Throughout each year there are various annual music festivals in the town, catering for different kinds of music. These include the Early Music Festival in May; the Beverley Folk Festival in June, which features two days of folk music, comedy and workshops; the Jazz Festival in August, followed by the Chamber Music Festival in September.[2] Held monthly at the Beverley Memorial Hall is a local music event Sunday Live.

Since 2006, Beverley Town Council has run an annual food festival in October. Including 70 stalls selling food produced in Beverley and East Yorkshire, a 200-seat food theatre marquee, cookery demonstrations from top local chefs, street entertainment and more, the day-long event is enjoyed by upwards of 10,000 residents and visitors.

Beverley town has a variety of public houses, some of which have become tourist attractions.[10] Examples include the Sun Inn, the town's oldest public house dating back to around 1530.[11] There are over 40 public houses in Beverley - the vast majority have been there for over a century.[10] Beverley is also home to one of the last pubs in the world to still use authentic gas lighting; The White Horse Inn (or "Nellie's" to the local population) is owned by the Samuel Smith Brewery company.[12]


  • Horse racing: Beverley Racecourse. Evidence of a permanent race track reaches back as far as 1690, while its first grandstand was built in 1767.[13]
  • Football: by Beverley Town
  • Golf: The Beverley and East Riding Golf Club: the oldest golf club in Yorkshire, founded in October 1889

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Beverley)


  1. "Beverley 'is the top place to live in Britain'". Yorkshire Forward. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Hopkins, Pamela. The History of Beverley, East Yorkshire. Blackthorn Press. ISBN 0954053591. 
  3. "Houses of Knights Hospitaller". Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  4. "Pilgrimage of Grace". 24 October 2007. 
  5. "The Mayor of Beverley". Beverley Town Council. 24 October 2007. 
  6. "Seeds of the English Civil War". BBC. 25 November 2007. 
  7. The Sieges of Hull during the Great Civil War. 24 October 2007. 
  8. "Market Days" (PDF). November 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  9. "Council Markets". East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "About". 3 September 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2007. 
  11. "The Sun Inn". 3 September 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2007. 
  12. "The White Horse (Nellies)". 3 September 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2007. 
  13. "Beverley Racecourse". 24 October 2007. 


  • Isaac Taylor (canon) (1898). Names and Their Histories. London: Rivington's. p. 68. 
  • Gazetteer – A–Z of Towns Villages and Hamlets. East Riding of Yorkshire Council. 2006. p. 3.