After I’d had a look around the Minster in Howden, I decided to have a mooch around the town starting in the town square, which is immediately in front of the east end of the Minster.


It was a thriving town in medieval times with a connection to the Bishops of Durham. They would stay in the town when travelling down to London and had a palace built here. The remains, the Bishop’s Manor, is just off the market square and around the corner from the Minster .



Originally there was a complex range of buildings, inside an irregular walled courtyard. But the majority of these buildings were demolished in the late 16th century. Nevertheless the remaining structure is quite impressive for a small town.

The Minister towers over the buildings in the town centre


The old streets are narrow and twisty, probably reflecting their medieval origin.



but many of the buildings are Georgian town houses built for professional men and tradesmen




With a few grand houses


This is the town’s war memorial. An ornate Gothic monument.


During the First World War an airship station was built just to the north of the town, near Spaldington. The airships based here provided protection for ports and shipping along the east coast. After the war the station was closed but the hangers were converted into a manufacturing facility for airships including the R100, designed by Sir Barnes Wallis (who later designed the Vickers Wellington bomber invented the “bouncing bomb” used by the Dambusters).  The author Nevil Shute Norway (better known as Nevil Shute) was part of the team that created the R100 and lived in the town.


Another day, another Minster


Starting to feel like a prisoner in my hotel room, I drove over to Howden, a small town a five mile drive from my hotel. It’s not more than a village, really, but it’s dominated by a large Gothic church – Howden Minster.

The Yourhowden website tells us

The Minster was owned by monks from Peterborough Abbey in Saxon times, but in 1080 it was gifted to William of Calais, the Bishop of Durham. The Norman church was rebuilt in the early English style in the 13th century and rebuilding work was completed in the ‘decorated’ style around 1340. A small octagonal Chapter House was built after 1388, the last of its kind to be built in England.

and that

The church survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries as it was not a monastery, but fell victim to the Dissolution of Collegiate Churches and Chantries in 1548.

It was one of the first Decorated Gothic churches in the north of England


Over the years the church was neglected and started to fall into ruin lack of funds for maintenance. Today, only the nave survives intact, with the quire and chapter house in ruins, but preserved under the guardianship of English Heritage. The remaining, intact, parts of the building are still in use as a parish church.

I had a look around the outside of the building.  This is the octagonal Chapter House.


A view of the tower from the graveyard to the south of the building.


The south entrance. It’s clearly undergone some restoration.


A view of the tower from the north west


The view from the south. It’s considerably plainer than the Minster at Beverley


Although it was early evening the entrance wasn’t locked, so I decided to have a look inside.

Looking down the nave with it’s high ceiling supported by characteristic pointed arches.



The altar.


The ornate Quire screen.


A modern series of abstract sculpture by John Maine R.A. was installed outside the minster 2002 –2008, inspired by the four elements.

The churchyard itself represents “Earth”.

This star like pattern made of granite and inlaid into the pavement in front of the west entrance is “Water”. The granite is from the Himalayas.


Air” is represented by series of truncated columns of various heights, with patterns inspired by the carved columns in Durham Cathedral,




This is “Fire”, which stands in the north east corner of the churchyard, in front of the ruined Quire.


Beverley Minster


The minster very much dominates the centre of Beverley. It’s a massive building, comparable in size to many cathedrals yet it only has the status of a parish church. The designation of “Minster” may suggest to some that it is a cathedral, especially as the Minster in York has that status, but it isn’t the case. A minster is a designation given to church that was established during Anglo-Saxon times as a missionary teaching church, or a church attached to a monastery. So it’s the origin of the church that explains its designation – the first church on the site was attached monastery founded in Beverley in the 7th century.


The original building was destroyed by the Danes, but was rebuilt and then refashioned by the Normans. After this burnt down in 1188, the current Gothic building was constructed between 1220 and 1420. This prolonged period resulted in all three styles of Gothic church architecture can be seen in the Minster.  The Quire, which is the oldest part of the church, was built in the Early English style while the nave is the Decorated style with the west end of the church in the Perpendicular style.


The Minster is mainly built of limestone, mostly from Tadcaster near York so it is a bright creamy colour. However limestone as a soft stone of calcium carbonate is susceptible to damage from acidic rain and the elements, so there are signs of weathering and it has clearly been subject to repair and restoration. Black Purbeck ‘marble’ (actually not marble but a hard limestone from Dorset) has also been used for some of the shafts and columns inside the building.

These extremely ornate twin towers at the west end of the church are an outstanding example of Perpendicular Gothic


A close up of the west entrance.


The north west entrance (the main entrance into the church) – more Perpendicular Gothic


The south east of the building. Much less ornate Early English style


English Decorated style on the north side of the nave


The north entrance


The church is open to visitors until 5 p.m. so I was able to take a look inside. However, there was a Baptism service taking place which meant I had to be careful not to disturb the worshipers and restricted where I could wander.

I did, however, manage to get a quick look down the nave before the service started.


Typical of Gothic buildings it has a high ceiling supported by clusters of relatively slim columns with pointed arches.

The elaborate carved elements are typical of the English Decorated style


I rather liked the carving of musicians along the north aisle of the nave



The ceiling in the nave has relatively simple decoration but there’s a more elaborate section over the alter in the quire



As we’d expect with a major Gothic church, there’s some attractive stained glass.

The Great East Window contains the oldest glass in the Minster, dating from around 1220-30 to the early 1400s.

Nearby, this attractive modern design in the Pilgrim’s window at the right hand side of the Retro Quire


Also in the Retro Quire, this modern statue of two pilgrims, heading towards the Pilgrim window


There’s also several tombs and plaques representing members of the Warton family who were benefactors to the Minster, including this rather elaborate monument.


More attractive stained glass windows in the chapel at the north east of the building

I rather liked these  lancet windows in the “Retro Quire” at the east end


The very elaborate Percy Canopy which stands over the tomb of one of the Percy family who were one of the richest and most powerful families in the north of England in the 14th century.


It’s not certain who is buried here although it is thought that it is likely to be Lady Eleanor Percy who died in 1328.


These two large wooden doors below the west window were carved in the early 18th century by a York wood carver named William Thornton. On the doors are figures of the four gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Beneath the figures are their symbols – an angel, a lion, a bull and an eagle. Between the symbols and the figures are four carvings representing the different seasons of the year.


Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to take a photograph from directly in front.

There was more to see, but by now the service was in full flow so I felt it was appropriate to depart quietly.

The Minster’s website tells us

One reason the Minster is judged to be one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe is that the different styles have been carefully harmonised.

I have to say I agree. It’s a beautiful building and I was pleased I’d taken time out to drive over to Beverley to take a look.




I’m working in East Yorkshire this week, staying in Goole. I had an early start on Monday so had booked to stay over on Sunday evening. Sunday looked a promising day and I didn’t fancy being stuck in front of the telly watching the Wimbledon men’s final (I don’t get tennis I’m afraid) so I decided to drive over the Pennines early afternoon and find something to do. The small, historic town of Beverley is about 30 minutes further east from Goole and as I’ve never been there before (only seen it signposted off the motorway when driving over to Hull) I decided it might be a good bet to keep me occupied. I wasn’t wrong.

The town grew up around a monastery that was founded at the beginning of the 8th Century and there’s been a church here ever since. Today the town’s main attraction is the Minster which was built between 1220 and around 1420.


Although it has the size and grandeur of a cathedral, it isn’t the seat of a Bishop, and only has the status of a Parish Church.


The town has an attractive shopping street. Unfortunately it is mainly populated by the main high street chains. There were plenty of pubs and places to eat – a reflection of it being a tourist destination.


Most of the buildings in the town centre are Georgian and Victorian but there are some traces of the town’s medieval heritage. The North Bar is one of them.


It’s the last remaining gateway that protected the entrance to the town and at one time had  a drawbridge. There were originally five but the other four are long gone.

A short distance away is another Medieval Gothic church, St Mary’s. Like the Minster, a fine example of Gothic architecture. It dates from the 12th century and so predates the minster. It underwent a major restoration between 1844 and 1876 under the successive supervision of Augustus Welby Pugin, his son E. Welby Pugin, and Sir Gilbert Scott. So it’s appearance probably reflects the Victorian take on Gothic like many other churches (including our own Wigan Parish church)


There’s a medieval building more or less opposite St Mary’s – now converted into an up-market shopping centre


Lot’s of attractive Georgian buildings around the town.








There are also examples of other architectural styles. This is the local library built in the early 20th Century. I’d probably describe it as Edwardian Baroque


The old Corn Exchange, from the same period.


And an Art Deco style façade in amongst the Georgian buildings on the corner of the Saturday Market and main shopping street, Toll Gavel.


An interesting town, well worth the diversion (as the Michelin Guide would put it). It rather reminded me of a smaller scale version of York, minus the medieval walls.

St Margaret’s Tower, Staveley


St Margaret’s tower stands in the centre of the village of Staveley in Cumbria. It’s all that’s left of a church that used to occupy the site, which was demolished in 1865 when a new church, St James’, was opened on drier, higher ground. Since then the tower has stood proud in the small graveyard. The clock  at the top of the tower, was added in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

St James’ has a stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris and Company. I really must go and have a look next time I’m in the village.

Melrose Abbey


It was around midday when we dropped D and J off at Morebattle to pick up their car.We said our goodbyes and then we set off to drive over to Melrose. It was a pleasant day so rather than head off straight home, and get caught up in rush hour traffic on the Motorway, we’d decided to go and have a look at the Abbey that’s the start of the St Cuthbert’s trail and which we’d missed by starting at Morebattle.  Although it would have taken a couple of days to walk between the two Scottish Border towns it was less than an hour’s drive.


Just like Lindisfarne Priory, the ruined Abbey wasn’t the one where St Cuthbert lived. It’s a later Cistercian building founded in 1136. In fact, the original Celtic Christian monastery was located about two miles east of the town.


The Abbey is allegedly the resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce and it’s resting place is marked by this memorial


Of course, there’s no real evidence that his heart is actually buried here.

The original building would have been Romanesque in style (like Lindisfarne Priory) but being close to the border with England the area was regularly a war zone and, inevitably, the Abbey was seriously damaged. There are some traces of the original building, such as this doorway


but it is a Gothic structure, built after1385, with characteristic high pointed arches, large windows with ornate tracery and flying buttresses.






The remains of the ornate stone vaulting over the presbytery


Elaborate capitals


A good view of the nearby Eildon hills from the roof




There isn’t much left of the cloisters and the monks’ living accommodation.


However, there’s a good little museum in the restored Commendator’s House, built in the late 1500s – much of it’s stone being robbed from the Abbey buildings. (Commendators were lay administrators who, were placed in charge of abbeys in Scotland)




St Mary’s Church, Lindisfarne


St Mary’s church sits directly opposite the Priory Church on Lindisfarne (Holy Island). It’s the oldest, complete building on the island. Parts of the structure are thought to date back to the 7th century, several hundred years before the appearance of the Priory. However, it’s main structure is from the the 12th century, when it was built by the Benedictine monks from the Priory to serve the local population, with additions in the 13th Century and later.

It’s built from cream, pink and grey sandstone and architecturally it’s largely a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic.


Inside we can see Romanesque arches and piers along the north aisle. with an Early English Gothic arch at the east end of the nave leading to the Chancel. This wall is the oldest part of the church, dating back to Saxon times. The small door at the top of the wall is from this period.


The south aisle has pointed Gothic arches


This striking statue – The Journey – is by Fenwick Lawson, who also created the statue of St Cuthbert in the Priory ruins. It was carved from elm using a chainsaw and depicts the monks of Lindisfarne carrying St.Cuthbert’s body on the first stage of its journey around Northumberland when the monks deserted the island following the Viking raids. There’s a bronze casting of this work in the cathedral at Durham.


This is St Peter’s chapel in the north aisle, dedicated to local fishermen


There was some attractive stained glass, particularly these two lancet windows at the west end of the church, of St Cuthbert


and St Aiden


They were designed by Leonard Evetts