Martyn Kirby first wrote his book about Beverley as a place of sanctuary in 1982 and it as been re-published with new material as part of our Sanctuary Project. Martyn tells us about the sanctuary crosses, the Saxon fridstool, the influence of King Athelstan and the demise of sanctuary under Henry VIII.
Beverley Minster has been deeply influenced by its historic role as a place of sanctuary, and it continues to draw inspiration from that tradition today.
After 1300 years the Minster is still the home of a Christian community inspired by a message of forgiveness and mercy, in which justice is understood chiefly as a matter of restoring relationships. It was this ideal which lay behind the early mediaeval Church’s initiative to offer sanctuary as an alternative to tit-for-tat vengeance when felonies had been committed.
The Minster remains a sanctuary in the spiritual sense of being a place where God is worshipped and encountered, where peace and forgiveness are offered and received, and where the wrongful actions of the past can be faced and put away.
This is also a place where the idea of sanctuary is being reinterpreted for today, and where the possibilities of a ministry of welcome and refuge continue to be explored.
This book tells afresh the story of sanctuary in Beverley, and in so doing I very much hope that it will touch the imagination of a new generation of local people and visitors alike.
Jonathan Baker, Vicar of Beverley Minster