Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BEVERLEY

BEVERLEY, a town, four parishes, a subdistrict, and a district in E. R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the Hull and Scarborough railway, at the E foot of the Wolds, about a mile W of Hull river, 8 ¼. miles NNW of Hull. The country to the E is flat; but the parts adjacent are fertile and well-wooded. All was anciently swampy; then covered with forest; then cleared for fuel and for cultivation. Lakes frequented by beavers, in the swampy epoch, are supposed by many to have given rise to the name Beverley in the form of Bever Lac. The town, however, may possibly have been the Petonaria of Ptolemy, with Roman origin, dating from the second century; and it was known to the Saxons as Beoforlic and Beverloga. John, Archbishop of York, commonly called St. John of Beverley, founded a monastery at it in 700, and died and was buried here in 721. The Danes destroyed the monastery in 867. King Athelstane, after his great victory of Brunanburgh in 938, found the church of the monastery partly restored; richly endowed and extended it, as a collegiate church or minster; and gave it the right of sanctuary for a mile round the town, marked by four stone crosses, set up at the principal approaches. William the Conqueror, in 1069, encamped in the neighbourhood, and issued strict orders to his army to respect the property of the church. The principal part of the town, together with the church, was destroyed by fire in 1186. Edward I., during his wars against Scotland, in 1299-1316, frequently visited Beverley, and carried the standard of St. John at the head of his army. Henry I V. visited the town in 1399; Edward IV. marched through it in 1471; and Charles I. alternately took post in it and was dislodged in 1639 and 1642. The town early acquired a right of prize and toll over the shipping of the Humber; and, in later times, it struggled hard against the transfer of that right to the rising port of Hull. Many a legend exists respecting alleged miracles, in the old times, in the minster; and a monkish pretence runs through old history that the standard of St. John, together with the standards of St. Peter of York and St. Wilfrid of Ripon, had much to do with the victories of the English arms. An old ballad, speaking of the battle of the "Standard" in 1138, and putting a speech into the mouth of the Scottish king, says,-

The holy cross,
That shines as bright as day,
Around it hung the sacred banners
Of many a blessed saint;
St. Peter and John of Beverley,
And St. Wilfrid there they paint.
'Oh had I but yon holy rood,
That there so bright doth show,
I would not care for yon English host,
Nor the worst that they could do.

The town consists of several streets, and is well built. The principal street is nearly a mile long, and terminates in an ancient gateway, called the North Bar. The guild hall is a handsome edifice, new-fronted in 1832; and contains apartments for the corporation and for sessions. The county house-of-correction was erected at a cost of £42,000, and afterwards enlarged; and contains accommodation for 106 male and 21 female prisoners. The market cross is a modern erection, more curious than useful. There are also a corn exchange and assembly-rooms. One of Athelstane's crosses still stands on an eminence to the N. There were anciently a monastery of black friars, a monastery of grey friars, and an establishment of knights-hospitallers; and two gateways of the first may still be seen on the NE of the minster. There are a grammar school with eight scholarships at Cambridge, and a library; a blue-coat school; a mechanics' institution; a dispensary; three hospitals, for 6, 12, and 32 widows; a workhouse, and almshouses. The charities amount annually to £3,825; of which £1,559 are minster estates. The parish churches of St. Martin and St. Nicholas are extinct; and there are now the parish churches of St. Mary and St. John, a handsome chapel of ease erected in 1841, eight dissenting chapels, and a Roman Catholic chapel. St. Mary's church is cruciform, with a central tower; was originally Norman and early English, but now exhibits early decorated and perpendicular additions; has a very fine seven-light west window, between two beautiful octagonal pierced turrets; and contains an octagonal font of 1530, and some interesting monuments. A resolution was taken in 1859 to restore this edifice, and was carried out in 1865. St. John's church, or the minster, as it now stands, is supposed to have been completed in the early part of the reign of Henry III. It consists of nave, choir, presbytery, transepts, central lantern, and two western towers; and is altogether 332 feet long. It shows a mixture of styles; yet is considered equal in purity of composition, correctness of detail, and elegance of execution, to any of the great English cathedrals. Mr. Rickman says: "The north porch of Beverley minster is, as a panelled front, perhaps unequalled. The door has a double canopy, the inner an ogee, and the outer a triangle, with beautiful crockets and tracery, and is flanked by fine buttresses breaking into niches, and the space above the canopy to the cornice is panelled; the battlement is composed of rich niches, and the buttresses crowned by a group of four pinnacles." Of perpendicular fronts the same author says, "By far the finest is that of Beverley minster. What the west front of York is to the decorated style, this is to the perpendicular, with this addition, that in this front nothing but one style is seen; all is harmonious. Like York minster, it consists of a very large west window to the nave, and two towers for the end of the aisles. This window is of nine lights, and the tower windows of three lights. The windows in the tower correspond in range nearly with those of the aisles and clerestory windows of the nave; the upper windows of the tower are belfry windows. Each tower has four large and eight small pinnacles, and a very beautiful battlement. The whole front is panelled, and the buttresses, which have a very bold projection, are ornamented with various tiers of niche-work, of excellent composition, and most delicate execution The doors are uncommonly rich, and have the hanging feathered ornament; the canopy of the great centre door runs up above the sill of the window, and stands free in the centre light with a very fine effect. The gable has a real tympanum, which is filled with fine tracery. The east front is fine, but mixed with early English." The chief monuments are a magnificent altartomb of Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland; an altar-tomb of George Percy, grandson of Hotspur; a splendid altar-tomb of two daughters of Earl Puch, called the "Maiden Tomb; " and a monument to Major General Bowes, Who fell at the assault of one of the forts of Salamanca.

Beverley has a head post office,‡ a telegraph station, four banking offices, and two chief inns; and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Saturday; a fortnightly cattle market, on Wednesday; fairs, four times a year; and races on the Hurn pastures, in June. Waggons, carts, carriages, agricultural implements, artificial manures, whiting, and leather are manufactured in large establishments. A canal goes to the river Hull. Beverley is a seat of quarter sessions, the place of election for the east riding, and the headquarters of the east riding militia. The town sent two members to parliament once in the time of Edward I.; received a charter from Elizabeth; and has sent two members to parliament from her time until now. It is governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. The municipal borough consists of the parishes of St. Mary, St. Martin, and St. Nicholas; while the parliamentary borough includes also the greater part of the parish of St. John. Acres of the m. borough, 2,228; of the p. borough, 9,168. Direct taxes in 1857, £6,517. Electors in 1868, 1,474. Pop. of the m. borough in 1841, 7,574; in 1861, 9,654. Houses, 2,156. Pop. of the p. borough in 1841, 8,671; in 1861, 10,868. Houses, 2,403. Beverley gives the title of Earl to the Percys; and it numbers among its distinguished natives Alfred, the ancient biographer, eight archbishops of York, Alcock and Fisher, bishops of Rochester, Green, bishop of Lincoln, Julia Pardoe, author of the "City of the Sultan," and Mary Woolstonecroft or Godwin.

St. Mary's parish comprises 570 acres. Real property, £12,648. Pop., 3,831. Houses, 831. St. Martin's parish comprises 760 acres. Real property, £10,509. Pop., 4,413. Houses, 988. St. Nicholas' parish comprises 898 acres. Real property, £5,526. Pop., 1,410. Houses, 337. St. John's parish includes the townships of Thearne, Weel, Molescroft, Storkhill and Sandholme, Woodmansey-with-Beverley Parks, and Tickton-with-Hull-Bridge within the borough, and the township of Eske and part of the township of Aike, without the borough. Acres, 8,280. Real property, £17,903. Pop., 1,315. Houses, 261. St. Mary's is a vicarage, St. Nicholas' a rectory, and St. Martin's and St. John's vicarages, in the diocese of York. St. Mary and St. Nicholas form one living, of the value of £289, * in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. St. John and St. Martin, with Tickton chapelry, form also one living, of the value of £420,* in the gift of Simeon s Trustees. The subdistrict comprises the parishes of St. Mary, St. Martin, St. Nicholas, Bishop-Burton, Cherry-Burton, Walkington, and Skidby, most of the parish of St. John, and part of the Parish of Rowley. Acres, 24,639. Pop., 13,007. Houses, 2,854. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of South Cave, containing the parishes of Newbald and Brantingham, and parts of the parishes of South Cave, Elloughton, and Rowley; the subdistrict of Leven, containing the parishes of Routh and Wawne, and part of the parish of Leven; and the subdistrict of Lockington, containing the parishes of Lockington, Etton, South Dalton, Holm-on-the-Wolds, Lund, Scorborough, and Leckonfield-with-Arram, and parts of the parishes of Kilnwick and St. John. Acres, 78,434. Poor-rates in 1866, £8,62 1. Pop. in 1861, 21,029. Houses, 4,450. Marriages in 1866, 169; births, 661,-of which 52 were illegitimate; deaths, 387,-of which 133 were at ages under 5 years, and 20 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,547; births, 6,507; deaths, 3,884. The places of worship in 1851 were 29 of the Church of England, with 7,475 sittings; 5 of Independents, with 1,068 s.; 5 of Baptists, with 1,090 s.; 20 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3,755 s.; 11 of Primitive Methodists, with 1,407 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 63 s. The schools were 24 public day schools, with 1,894 scholars; 39 private day schools, with 994 s.: and 36 Sunday schools, with 2,456 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, four parishes, a subdistrict, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Beverley CP       Beverley SubD       Beverley RegD/PLU       Yorkshire AncC
Place names: BEOFORLIC     |     BEVERLEY     |     BEVERLOGA
Place: Beverley

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