Beverley’s medieval carvings

St Mary's Church, Beverley, East Yorkshire

St Mary’s Church, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Though Beverley is famous first for its magnificent minster its parish church of St Mary is well worth visiting, not least for its carvings.

After the tower collapsed into the nave during Divine Service on April 29th 1520, killing many of the inhabitants, the generous donations that paid for its rebuilding were commemorated in the north arcade of the nave:  the merchant John Crossley and his wife gave “two pillars and a half” and the “good Wyffes of Beverley…gave two pillars – God reward them”.

Most enjoyable of all, the “Maynstrells” gave the easternmost pier, on which five of them, including their robed and badged president, appear.

Indeed, St Mary’s church and Beverley Minster between them contain a quite unparalleled collection of medieval carvings of musicians and their instruments – pipes and tabors, viols, rebecs, bombardes, shawms, citterns, hautboys, bagpipes, twin horns and nakers – no doubt because the town was the headquarters of the Northern Guild of Minstrels.

St Mary’s has other notable carvings including the Beverley Imp (arguably more frightening than the one at Lincoln) and a so-called Pilgrim Rabbit which is supposed to be the inspiration for the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2016 ‘Humber Heritage’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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