Royal Visits

In 2016 Beverley Minster was chosen as a location for the filming of VICTORIA, an acclaimed production by Mammoth Films for ITV. The Minster doubled as Westminster Abbey for the coronation, the Chapel Royal for the wedding, and the Palace of Westminster for a scene with Lord Melbourne and Prince Albert.

The relationship between Beverley Minster and British royalty goes back into the Saxon period. Tradition has it that around 934AD King Athelstan, then just the ruler of Mercia and Wessex, called in at Beverley to pray at the tomb of Bishop John for victory in a forthcoming battle against amassed northern forces that would decide the royal destiny of all England.

The monks were so impressed with his piety that they gave him the flag of Bishop John to take into battle and he won an overwhelming victory at the Battle of Brunanburh “uniting all England under one Saxon throne for the first time”. In gratitude he bestowed huge wealth and privileges on to the institution, helping it become the second-richest non-cathedral institution in the entire north of England.

It is believed that the Saxon charter formally establishing the institution of Beverley Minster itself dates from this same raft of privileges granted in the wake of his victory in 937AD.

After Bishop John became St John of Beverley, patron saint of the deaf and dumb, in 1037, his shrine became even more important and after the Conquest in 1066 the Normans regarded his tomb as a jewel in their new English crown, second only in status in the north of England to the tomb of Cuthbert of Durham. They continued to believe that the flag of St John guaranteed success in battle and elevated John to one of the patron saints of the Royal Family alongside St George. Men of Beverley were exempted from answering any call to arms issued by the King provided the flag of St John was sent in their place.

Neil Pickford

During the Middle Ages almost every monarch visited Beverley Minster to pay homage to St John at least once during their reign.

These are the recorded visits.

  • 1201 King John (1199-1216)
  • 1299 King Edward l (1272-1307)
  • 1300 King Edward l (1272-1307)
  • 1306 King Edward l (1272-1307)
  • 1310 King Edward II (1307-1327)
  • 1314 King Edward II (1307-1327)
  • 1316 King Edward II (1307-1327)
  • 1319 King Edward II (1307-1327)
  • 1335 King Edward III (1327-1377)
  • 1399 King Henry IV (1399-1413)
  • 1405 King Henry IV (1399-1413)
  • 1413 King Henry IV (1399-1413)
  • 1421 King Henry V (1413-1422)
  • 1448 King Henry VI (1422-1461)
  • 1474 King Edward IV (1461-1483)

The tradition died out after Henry VIII’s reforms when the Minster was closed and due to be sold for salvage by the King’s agent, (only saved when it was bought to become Beverley’s civic church).

Subsequent royal visits are as follows:

  • 1640 King Charles I (1625- 1649)
  • 1642 King Charles I (1625- 1649)
  • 1795 Prince of Wales (later King George IV)
  • 1905 King Edward VII (1901-1910)
  • 1934 Queen Mary (Queen Mother)
  • 1950 Princess Elizabeth
  • 1960 Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother)
  • 1977 Queen Elizabeth II (1952- )
  • 2002 Queen Elizabeth II (1952- )