September 2019

Posted 26.9.19


Today, Beverley Minster has received a £440,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project: ‘Beverley Minster – Place of Sanctuary since 937’. Made possible with money raised by National Lottery players, and match funding of £246,200, the project will explain why Beverley was once famous as a place of sanctuary for fugitives from rough justice. Today, sanctuary is still a priority for displaced people all over the world. The Minster’s project will enable people to find refuge in one of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe

The Minster will work with The National Lottery Heritage Fund to engage with a diverse audience, to include people that may not traditionally engage with the Minster and Beverley’s history of sanctuary. A Learning Officer and Project Manager will be appointed, as well as additional volunteers and tour guides, to increase the number of tours currently offered. Some of these tours will be in the medieval roof structure, part of which is being repaired, restored and made safe by this project.

Using the latest technology, the story of the sanctuary will be told through enhanced displays in the Minster. The creation of a guidebook will accompany updates to the website to ensure that the latest information and resources on the Minster’s history are available both on- and offline. The wider community is invited to take part in craft workshops and sanctuary-themed cultural and heritage events. An area of the Minster churchyard will be redeveloped as a sanctuary garden for peaceful reflection.

Founded in the eighth century, Beverley Minster is a long-established site of pilgrimage and has had a strong influence in the region. The Minster is the largest Parish Church in the country and larger than a third of English Cathedrals. In the centre of the medieval town of Beverley, it towers above the surrounding rural landscape of East Riding of Yorkshire. The project team expect this initiative to attract many new visitors, as well as local people, to wonder at the great heritage at the heart of Beverley.

Commenting on the award The Vicar, Revd Canon Jonathan Baker, said: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will engage a wide and diverse audience. It is also an emphatic endorsement of the recently formed joint fundraising initiative with St Mary’s Church called ‘Two Churches One Town’. St Mary’s Church also recently received an important grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”

David Renwick, Director of England, North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that Beverley Minster’s longstanding history of sanctuary and those that sought it can finally be shared with the wider community thanks to National Lottery Players. The use of augmented reality is a welcomed approach that will surely bring to life the historic setting and the centuries-old stories it holds. We’re also happy that this concept can be used to reach out to audiences affected by modern day issues who may need sanctuary themselves. The joint working with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and St Mary’s in Beverley is a great example of collaboration to benefit a place.”

Notes to editors:

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund


For more information on Beverley Minster contact

Tim Carlisle, Project Director

Beverley Minster, 38 Highgate, Beverley. HU17 0DP

T: 01482 868540

M: 07970 854579


April 2018

Beverley Minster, Place of Sanctuary since 937AD

Beverley Minster wins National Lottery support

Beverley Minster has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Beverley Minster, Place of Sanctuary project, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to repair and conserve the badly leaking roof of the lesser transept under which the famous Saxon Sanctuary chair is situated. It is the oldest object in the Minster (there is only one other example in the country), and is a survivor from the time Bishop John (later Saint John of Beverley) set up a monastery on the site of the present Minster. He retired to the monastery and died in 721.

In 937 King Athelstan granted Beverley the Right of Sanctuary – one of only two towns in the north of England with this status. People fleeing persecution or accused of wrongdoing travelled from all over the country to find protection for up to 30 days and a fair hearing. The priceless Beverley Sanctuary Book, kept in the British Library, has records from 1478 – 1540 containing a list of the names of fugitives and their misdemeanors.

Development funding of £32,600 has also been awarded to help the Minster progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

The project, as well as aiming to carry out essential conservation and repair work to the roof, will develop an exhibition to inform visitors of Beverley’s rich heritage and historical importance. It will relate its medieval status as a place of sanctuary with the contemporary plight of refugees and asylum-seekers. It will also appoint a Learning Events Officer to develop an educational programme. The large number of Minster volunteers will receive training so that they can enhance their knowledge of sanctuary, support the project activities and help visitors engage with the church’s history.

The project will commission a new publication to complement the exhibition outlining the importance of sanctuary in the history of Beverley.

Beverley Minster is England’s largest Parish Church and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to services and events as well as to appreciate the architecture of one of Europe’s most beautiful Gothic churches.

The Vicar, the Revd. Canon Jonathan Baker said: “We are of course delighted to have received HLF funding to begin the project to repair our roof so that the Minster is safe for visitors in the foreseeable future. At the same time we have the opportunity to tell Beverley’s largely untold story as a sanctuary town with rights granted to the Minster as a safe place over a thousand years ago.”

The Minster’s project is just the start of what we hope will be an ongoing relationship with the HLF working towards a joint bid working in partnership with St Mary’s Church and the Local Authority.

Notes to editors

Beverley Minster is acknowledged to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Its beauty and graceful proportions leave visitors in awe of the medieval craftsmanship and the unity of design in a building that took over 250 years to complete.

It has the largest collection of stone carvings of medieval musicians in the world. They were carved in the 14th century when Beverley was one of the 12 largest towns in England. With its thriving choir and one of the country’s finest organs, music continues to be a feature of worship and, as the largest venue in the town, the Minster hosts a wide variety of concerts and other events.

Beverley Minster and the town of Beverley exist because of Saint John of Beverley whose remains are buried in the Minster. He was a bishop, a teacher and a healer. There are many accounts of his miraculous healings and his reputation attracted pilgrims in large numbers to Beverley from a wide area.

The Minster is open every day of the year and the tours currently available will be expanded as the project develops and visitor numbers increase.

The Minster website ( is a rich source of additional information.


About the Heritage Lottery Fund

* HLF Heritage Grant applications are assessed in two rounds. Beverley Minster’s Place of Sanctuary project has initially been granted round one development funding of £32,600 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £440,000.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported

For further information, images and interviews please contact Revd. Canon Jonathan Baker on 01482 868540 or