Once upon a time, a man named John, born in Harpham, East Riding of Yorkshire, decided to trade his already quiet life for an even quieter divine adventure, becoming known as St. John of Beverley. Now, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill holy man. In fact, tales of his miracles spread faster than juicy village gossip or the latest royal scandal. Rumour has it he even cured a lad of dumbness, making dinner table conversations a lot livelier for the youngster’s family, and saving them the need for charades every evening.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, St. John decided to build a monastery on the banks of the River Hull. Perhaps he fancied a bit of riverfront property and a community of monks to share the divine ‘banter’? Or maybe he was just looking for some peace and quiet away from all the miracle requests.
As it turns out, building a monastery in the middle of nowhere can draw quite a crowd – sort of a Holy Hogwarts, minus the magic wands and flying broomsticks, of course. Around this buzzing monastery, a settlement began to sprout like a stubborn mushroom in a damp forest. Traders, travellers, and a fair few lost souls looking for direction found themselves drawn to this religious outpost.
Inspired by the monastery’s ‘beaver stream’ (Old English: Beverlac), the town was christened Beverley. Because nothing quite says ‘thriving market town’ like a semi-aquatic rodent and a body of water, right? The name change from the original Inderawuda was a good call, we reckon. It’s a lot easier on the tongue, and “Beverley” fits better on the town signs.
As if the excitement of the beaver-named town wasn’t enough, Beverley is also home to the ancient Beverley Sanctuary Stones. These stones, scattered strategically around the town like breadcrumbs in a fairytale, marked a medieval ‘safe zone’. Anyone on the run from the law could claim sanctuary within this boundary for up to thirty days. And who do we have to thank for this medieval version of a ‘get out of jail free’ card? You guessed it – our very own St. John of Beverley! But don’t get any ideas; the law doesn’t quite work that way anymore. You’d have more luck finding a beaver in the stream!.
Now, you can’t talk about Beverley without mentioning the Beverley Minster, an architectural masterpiece and a beacon of faith in the North of England. The construction of the present structure began in the 13th century and included the twin towers of the west front and the beautifully detailed interior. The Minster was a pro-cathedral, a sort of junior cathedral, if you will, serving the archbishops of York. This grand building, standing tall and proud, still hosts a range of concerts, exhibitions, and events throughout the year, making it a cultural hub as well as a religious one. Yes, there’s more to this place than just Sunday services.
So, whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, a fan of beavers, or someone on a spiritual quest, the story of St. John of Beverley and the town he helped to establish has something for everyone. It’s a tale of faith, community, and the enduring allure of riverfront property!