King Athelstan

Tradition has it that King Athelstan gave Beverley the right of sanctuary after visiting St John’s shrine in about 938. He attributed his subsequent defeat of the Scots to his prayers to John.

The statue of King Athelstan, seen as you enter the building, dates from 1781. Together with St John of Beverley he established Beverley as an important place in the medieval period.

Tradition has it that King Athelstan, the first King of all England, stopped at Beverley on his way north in 934 so that he could pray for success at the shrine of John of Beverley. Four years later he took the banner of St John into battle against the Scots at Brunanburh. In recognition of his success in battle he gave a number of privileges to Beverley including the right of sanctuary. Beverley became a place where fugitives could find a safe place until justice took its course.

After King Athelstan most medieval kings visited Beverley at least once to venerate the relics of Saint John.

A list of the visiting monarchs is available here >

There are many references to Athelstan in the Minster including this 14th century carving of John and Athelstan.