Key dates

King Ina confirmed the right of churches to offer sanctuary in 693 but at Beverley in the 10th century this was given royal approval by King Athelstan who granted fugitives the ‘right of sanctuary’ in Beverley; a privilege that was to last until 1540.


Key dates in the story of sanctuary in Beverley

693  King Ina confirmed that churches could give sanctuary

c 706  Bishop John of York founded a monastery where Beverley Minster stands today

714   John retired to the monastery

721   John died and was buried in the ‘Chapel of St Peter’

859   The monastery was abandoned

c 900   The community was re-built and pilgrims flocked to visit John’s tomb.
c 900   John was added to a calendar of saints

c 934   King Athelstan visited John’s tomb to pray for victory in battle

938  Tradition has it that Athelstan bestowed privileges on Beverley, including the right of sanctuary

1023-51  Aelfric was Archbishop of York and translated John’s remains to a new shrine

1037   John was formally recognised as a saint

1154   Thomas Becket was appointed Provost

1190-1400   The present building in the Gothic style was built

1296   A new shrine was commissioned for St John’s remains

1377   Beverley was now one of the 10 largest towns in England

1478 – 1539  Records of fugitives were kept in a ‘Sanctuary Book’

1531  Rights of sanctuary were drastically curtailed

1534  Henry VIII was made Supreme Head of the Church by an Act of Parliament.
1534  John’s shrine was robbed and destroyed

1540   Rights of sanctuary were dissolved in Beverley

1624   Rights of sanctuary were abolished

Engraving by Daniel King after Richard Ralinson and published in William Dugdale’s Monsaticon Anglicanum…
First published 1655-73. Photo credit: