Beverley is a spacious South Yorkshire market town with much good medieval and Georgian architecture. The town is famous for its splendid Minster, one of Britain's greatest churches and the main reason for the town's existence.
A walled town during the medieval period, the North Bar (north gate) is the last of five gateways dating back to the 15th century. The town crest in the Guildhall (1832) incorporates the beavers that once inhabited the local streams, and from whence the town it got its name.
Beverley was once the county town of the old East Riding of Yorkshire. Town council meetings are still held in Lairgate Hall (circa 1700); noted for its fine Adam ceiling and delicately hand-painted Chinese wallpaper.
In the heart of the town is a cobbled market place (Saturday Market) with a fine 18th-c pillared market cross. Georgian bow-fronted shops and some welcoming old inns, such as The Green Dragon and the King’s Head, surround the square. The town actually has two ancient markets: Saturday Market to the north and Wednesday Market to the south.
The redbrick Grade II listed Corn Exchange, on Saturday Market, was converted to picture playhouse in 1911; becoming one of the oldest working cinemas in the country. Sadly the cinema closed in 2003 and reopened as a department store.
Little remains of the Beverley's old Dominican Friary, apart from a brick, stone and timber structure that was probably the original guesthouse for pilgrims. The Great Hall can still be seen with its medieval wall paintings. The building is now aptly repurposed as a youth hostel.
The Gothic style St. Mary's Church, the second of Beverley's notable churches, is one of the largest parish churches in the country. An ancient Guild church, its associated trades made Beverley one of the richest towns in medieval Yorkshire. The magnificent west front (circa 1410) is comparable with that of King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The chancel boasts an impressive 'Ceiling of Kings', with 40 painted panels representing the kings of England up to Henry VI.
Beverley is known for its many music festivals including the Chamber Music Festival, the Early Music Festival, celebrating music from the Byzantine empire through to Medieval Europe, and the Folk Festival in June, with local folk music, dance and song.
This Grade I listed Palladian style building of 1320 boasts an elaborate Court Room, where the magistrate's chair has a large rococo backdrop, with by a royal coat of arms of George III, all overshadowed by a magnificent stucco ceiling. At the far end of the room can be seen some the original medieval timbered arches. The hall hosts a community museum with displays of civic silver donated to the town over the centuries.
Opening times: Wednesday and Friday: 10am–4pm - Free Entry
Location: Register Square, Beverley HU17 9XX
Tel: 01482 392783
Although built with cathedral like grandeur and massive proportions, Beverley's 13th century Gothic Minster is actually just a parish church. Founded by Bishop John in AD 706 and dedicated to St John, the original Saxon place of worship has been rebuilt here three or four times. The current magnificent twin west towers are some of the finest in England.
Among its many treasures is a series of fine misericords, a beautifully ornamented tomb and shrine to the Percy family, plus several fine 18th-century statues, including those of King Athelstan and St John of Beverley. King Athelstan (AD 924-939) is said to have prayed here for John's intercession on his way to fight the Scots. A Saxon frith stool, or chair of sanctuary, stands by the altar.
Opening times: Monday to Friday from 8:30am - Free Entry, Donations Welcome
Location: 38 Highgate, Beverley HU17 0DN
Tel: 01482 868540
The museum has exhibits covering the local history and culture of East Riding. The art gallery displays many portraits and local scenes by local artist Fred Elwell (1870-1958), the son of a woodcarver, plus a gallery of rolling temporary exhibitions.
Opening times: Mon to Sat from 9:30am - Free Entry
Location: Champney Road, Beverley HU17 8HE
Tel: 01482 392780