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Beverley Minster.jpg
Beverley Minster
Arms of Beverley Town Council
Population 29,110 (2001 census)
OS grid reference TA035399
Civil parish
  • Beverley
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BEVERLEY
Postcode district HU17
Dialling code 01482
Police Humberside
Fire Humberside
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
  • Beverley and Holderness
List of places
YorkshireCoordinates: 53°50′42″N 0°25′37″W / 53.845°N 0.427°W / 53.845; -0.427

Beverley is a market town, civil parish and the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The town is noted for Beverley Minster, Beverley Westwood, North Bar (a 15th century gate) and Beverley Racecourse. Its namesake serves as the origins for the cities of Beverly, Massachusetts, and, in turn, Beverly Hills in California.

The town was originally known as Inderawuda and was founded around 700 AD by Saint John of Beverley during the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. After a period of Viking control, it passed to the Cerdic dynasty, a period during which it gained prominence in terms of religious importance in Great Britain. It continued to grow especially under the Normans when its trading industry was first established. A place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages due to its founder, it eventually became a notable wool-trading town. Beverley was once the tenth-largest town in England, as well as one of the richest, because of its wool and the pilgrims who came to venerate its founding saint, John of Beverley. After the Reformation, the regional stature of Beverley was much reduced.

In the 20th century, Beverley was the administrative centre of the local government district of the Borough of Beverley (1974–1996). It is now the county town of the East Riding, located 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Hull, 10 miles (16 km) east of Market Weighton and 12 miles (19 km) west of Hornsea. According to the 2001 United Kingdom census the total population of the urban area of Beverley was 29,110 – of whom 17,549 live within the historic parish boundaries. The population of the parish had risen to 18,624 at the time of the 2011 United Kingdom census.

As well as its racecourse and markets, Beverley is known in the modern day for hosting various food and music festivals throughout the year.


See also: History of Yorkshire

Northumbrian and Viking period

Beverley Minster interior
Inside Beverley Minster, foundation place of Beverley.

The origins of Beverley can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century. The first structure built in the area, which at the time was known as Inderawuda (meaning "in the wood of the men of Deira"), was a Christian church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. This was founded by the Bishop of York who later became known as John of Beverley, who was believed to have performed miracles during his lifetime, and was later venerated as a saint. 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 England, and established the Kingdom of Jórvík in the Yorkshire area. However, the population was increased during the 10th century, by people who came to venerate the Saint, John of Beverley.

Before the Battle of Brunanburh, possibly located further north than Beverley, King of England at the time Athelstan visited Inderawuda, he prayed all night and saw a vision saying he would be victorious: in return he helped the town to grow greatly. 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. The last three Anglo-Saxon archbishops of York helped Beverley to develop, via the rise in 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, leather and objects made out of antler. Beverley Minster was constructed in 1220 and there were 3 phases to its construction. 1220–1260, 1320–1348 Stopped during the black death and again in 1420–1440 but Beverley Minster is not complete. The Chapterhouse was demolished in 1660 and only the doors remain in the church. St Martin's chapel was also destroyed and was a place of pilgrimage for many, was removed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Normans and 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. 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. 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.

Beverley Westwood showing The Black Mill
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; also to be found in Beverley during the 13th century were Dominican friars who were given some land by Henry III upon which they erected buildings. Franciscans were present. 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 other nationwide issues to contend with at the time, such as the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War and the Great Rising. However, Beverley continued to grow: and by 1377, had become the 10th largest town in England.

The earliest surviving secular drama in English, The Interlude of the Student and the Girl (c. 1300), may have originated from Beverley.

Reformation decline in Tudor times

John Fisher (painting)
Local man Saint John Fisher was martyred in 1535.

Beverley was reliant on pilgrimage, but changes brought about by the Reformation impacted upon this tradition, and so Beverley declined in status. Local Beverley man Cardinal John Fisher was martyred along with Thomas More for refusing to accept the Tudor King Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England. In October 1536 there was a popular rising in Beverley where 500 men in the town gathered at the Westwood under the leadership of a local lawyer named William Stapleton, later becoming part of the larger Pilgrimage of Grace in York as part of the 30,000 rebels opposing Henry's new religious laws. 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.

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. 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. 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. During the time of Elizabeth I, Beverley was endowed with its own mayor; Edward Ellerker was the first to take this position. The gap between Beverley's rich and poor became more pronounced during the Tudor era, due to large unemployment. The substantial drop in pilgrimage to Beverley in honour of its founder John of Beverley affected the jobs of the working class as that was Beverley's main industry.

Civil war and Restoration recovery

Charles II arms - Beverley Minster
Charles II's arms hanging in Beverley Minster

The 17th century began badly for Beverley as many people died of the plague. Due to the close geographical proximity to Hull, focus on the area became magnified when the people of Hull refused to open the gates to Charles I a couple of months before the fighting began in the English Civil War. After being turned away from Hull, 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. 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. Eventually the parliamentarians won the civil war and established the Commonwealth of England, in which alehouses were shut on Sundays and theatres and race meetings abandoned: the Puritans visited the then Church of England houses of worship and destroyed anything they thought to be idolatrous.

Beverley Minster managed to escape this fate, in part due to the prominence of the Percy family and the fact that the church housed memorials to their ancestors. Beverley's Quakers were not so fortunate, and were strongly repressed by the Puritans. The English Restoration with Charles II coming to power was generally well received in Beverley, and his royal coat of arms was hung in the Minster and remains there. In terms of trade Beverley was not rich in the 17th century but had improved slightly, the majority were based in agriculture. During the Georgian era, Beverley was the county town of 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. The replacing of old timber buildings with new ones in the Georgian style helped the town recover in prestige, with the religious structures also undergoing restorations.

Modern Beverley

Beverley on market day
Beverley during a market day
Westwood Road Beverley
Westwood Road
Hospital door
Westwood Hospital

Due to an increase in population, some of the entrances into the town (such as the brick-built Bars) were taken down to accommodate traffic. Although population figures rose steeply, the increase was not as much as in nearby Hull, or most of the rest of England. Beverley's association with religion remained during the 19th century: as well as the majority Anglican faith, there were several non-conformist religions practised such as Methodism with John Wesley previously having preached there; with the completion of the Catholic Emancipation and the refoundation of the Catholic hierarchy, the Diocese of Beverley in 1850 was chosen to cover Yorkshire, before being divided into two dioceses.

Communications were improved with the opening of the Beverley railway station during October 1846. During the Industrial Revolution Beverley's people retained most agricultural jobs, though there was a presence of iron workers within the town. In 1884 Andrew Cochrane founded a shipyard at Grovehill on the River Hull. It was purchased by Cook, Welton & Gemmell in 1901. The yard was a leading builder of trawlers for the Hull deep-sea fishing fleet. In both world wars the yard built minesweepers for the Royal Navy. The deep-sea trawler Arctic Corsair now preserved in Hull was built there in 1960. The yard closed for ship construction in 1977 and the site is now used for boat repairs.

A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Victoria Barracks in 1878. The barracks closed in 1977, and the only army presence in the area is now the Defence School of Transport at Normandy Barracks Leconfield, two miles to the north.

In the First World War the Royal Flying Corps had an airfield on the Westwood. The site is now Beverley Racecourse

The Second World War saw the nearby city of Hull suffer significantly from aerial bombardment: however, Beverley was more fortunate and did not endure such heavy attacks. Since the war, Beverley has gone through some remodelling, and has grown in size. It attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to view the religious buildings and visit Beverley Racecourse. 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.

Noteworthy landmarks

Planned expansion

Local authorities plan to build 3,300 new Beverley houses, which will increase the size of the town by 20%. East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: "The evidence recognises that the East Riding is generally a high demand area with strong levels of in-migration" Resident David Tucker, of the North Beverley Action Group, said: "Beverley is under attack in every direction. Why on earth is East Riding Council volunteering this town to be sacrificed by allowing ridiculously large numbers of houses to be built under its Local Plan? Beverley has taken a far greater percentage of housing development than any other town in the East Riding. Enough is enough, the future of this market town is under threat. It is very difficult for the average person in Beverley to deal with this huge number of attacks we are facing, it's coming from every direction." He added, "You feel you are being steamrollered... We are giving away our heritage."


St. Mary's Church, Beverley
St. Mary's Church.

Beverley's largest religious denomination is Christianity; 79.9% of the people in the area polled as part of the United Kingdom Census 2001 professed the Christian faith, 8% above the national average. Beverley Minster contains a tomb said to contain the bones of Saint John of Beverley who founded a monastery here and with it the town; another notable saint from Beverley is Saint John Fisher. The minster was designated a Grade I listed building in 1950 and is now recorded in the National Heritage List for England, maintained by Historic England.

The Church of England are in the majority with three parishes; the ancient Beverley Minster, St. Mary's Church (designated a Grade I listed building in 1950 and is now recorded in the National Heritage List for England, maintained by Historic England) and St. Nicholas Church. Beverley is a suffragan bishopric of the Diocese of York represented by the Bishop of Beverley, created in 1994 to provide a provincial episcopal visitor for the Province of York. The form of Anglicanism in Beverley is more on the Anglo-Catholic side of the scale, represented with the bishop being a member of the Society of the Holy Cross. There is one Roman Catholic church in Beverley called St. John's, it is covered by the Diocese of Middlesbrough; when the Catholic Emancipation was complete in 1850 the Diocese of Beverley was inserted to cover all of Yorkshire, but it was later broken up into smaller dioceses. Methodism is also represented in Beverley with around three places of worship.

Since their suppression in the 17th century, Quakers established a meeting house and have worshipped in Beverley ever since. Their present meeting house – the third – in Quaker Lane – was built in 1961.

Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the United States first arrived in Beverley in 1850 and quickly established a local congregation. In 1963 a large new chapel on Manor Road was built by local church members. Due to the continued growth of the Beverley congregation both the building and car parks were enlarged in the late 1990s.


Beverley Racecourse
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. 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 three days of folk music, comedy and workshops; the Jazz Festival in August, followed by the Chamber Music Festival in September. Held monthly at the Beverley Memorial Hall is a local music event Sunday Live. It is also home to the popular Beverley Male Voice Choir.

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

In terms of sport, the most noted field of participation is horse racing with Beverley Racecourse. The sport has a long history in Beverley, with evidence of a permanent race track reaching back as far as 1690, while its first grandstand was built in 1767. The town is represented in football by Beverley Town, who currently play in the Humber Premier League. Beverley was the host for the 2006 British National Cycling Championships. Beverley Westwood is home to the oldest golf club in Yorkshire the Beverley and East Riding Golf Club founded in October 1889.

Beverley town has a variety of public houses, some of which have become tourist attractions. Examples include the Sun Inn, the town's oldest public house dating back to around 1530. There are over 40 public houses in Beverley – the vast majority have been there for over a century. Beverley is 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.

Since 2006, Beverley Town Council has run an annual food festival in October. Including 70 stalls selling food produced in Beverley and the East Riding of 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.

In 2012 St Mary's Church in Beverley hosted the first real ale and cider festival. Over 2,000 people attended the event. The festival has now moved to the Beverley Memorial Hall and still attracts over 2,500 people.

The East Riding Theatre, housed in a former nonconformist chapel originally built in 1910, is a community initiative launched by a group of local volunteers and film and television actor Vincent Regan. First opened to the public in December 2014 and seating 200, it is run as a not-for profit organisation and a registered charity and presents regular drama productions and musical performances.


Beverley Railway Station, inside
Beverley railway station

The town is served by Beverley railway station on the Hull to Scarborough Line with services currently run by Northern and a limited service between Beverley and London King's Cross provided by Hull Trains. Before the mid 1960s there was a direct York to Beverley Line via Market Weighton; the Minsters Rail Campaign is seeking to re open the closed line.

Beverley railway station was opened in October 1846 by the York and North Midland Railway and gained junction status nineteen years later when the North Eastern Railway opened its line to Market Weighton and York. The railway station, designed by George Townsend Andrews is now a Grade II listed building and has an elegant overall roof.

The five-mile (8 km) £13 million A1079 Beverley Bypass opened in May 1980; the road links York and Hull. East Yorkshire Motor Services provide good, regular bus links with Hull city centre as well as links to local surrounding villages and places such as Hessle, Pocklington, Driffield, Market Weighton, Bridlington, York and Scarborough. Beverley Beck is a canal which gives boats access to the town from the River Hull. The beck is used by fishermen for catching a large variety of fish such as pike, bream and carp. Previously the Beverley Beck used to form a more significant role in transport as part of the trade industry, where Beverley was a trading post of the Hanseatic League. It remains as home to the Beverley Barge Preservation Society in the modern day. Beverley is home to the notorious Grovehill junction which has 42 traffic lights.


Beverley is the main setting for Domini Highsmith's "Father Simeon" trilogy: "Keeper at the Shrine" 1994, "Guardian at the Gate" 1995 and "Master of the Keys" 1996.

Twin towns

  • France Nogent-sur-Oise in France
  • Germany Lemgo in Germany
  • United States Beverly, Massachusetts – named after Beverley in 1688

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