2nd October 2018

Happy Birthday Stephen, how are you enjoying France.

Today was family day, when Stephen was able to catch up with a number of his relatives at a luncheon kindly hosted by his cousin Brenda, and her husband Brian at their home in Beverley. It was great for Stephen and Rona to renew aquaintances, and for Steve and Debbie to put a face to the many names of family members that Stephen and Rona have talked about.

Beverley Minster

After the guests had all gone home, we settled down for a nice, quiet evening, however the Minster bells went berzerk at around 7.40pm and continued until around 9pm. Apparently it was Tuesday night practice. Brian filled us in with some interesting information about campanologists (studiers of bells) and bellringers. It is a prestigious position which the bellringers take very seriously. Encouraged by the local residents, they practise weekly; people even buy into the area to be close to the Minster.

Old Tom. Photo: Graeme Browne

Bell ringing is a fine, age-old art which is inherent in the culture of the people. There are many different musical patterns associated with bell ringing, requiring much study and dedication. Beverley Minster has three teams of bell ringers. The north tower has the pealing bells which are rung manually on special occasions, and the south tower has the chiming bells which play a pre-set tune and chime every 15 minutes. Each chime gets longer, until it reaches the hour, which is the longest. Then Old Tom, the oldest and biggest of the bells, tolls the hour.

3rd October 2018

We couldn't leave Beverley without looking through the Minster which we felt an instant attachment to, possibly because we were staying at the Old Vicarage which adjoins it, and was once an essential part of it. The minster has the architectural grandeur of a cathedral rather than a church and indeed many English cathedrals are more than overshadowed by Beverley. The first church, with an attached monastery, was built at Beverley in the 7th century by St John of Beverley. In 687 AD he became the Bishop of Hexham and later the Bishop of York.

Beverley Minster

John later returned to Beverley, where he retired and was buried in his church. Later the Danes almost destroyed the church but it was rebuilt and visited by King Athelstan in the tenth century, sometime before a great battle with the Vikings. Pilgrims continued to flock to John's shrine and in 1037 he was canonized as a saint. Around 1220 rebuilding of a new minster church began and work continued until around 1420 culminating in the magnificent church of today. Beverley's organ is a Snetzer organ, one of the best surviving examples, dating from 1767.

North Bar, Beverley

Later we went for a walk around Beverley, through the shops and market place to the North Bar, which was one of the original gates to the town. Close by was one of the town's other churches - St Mary's - another grand old stone building with Norman roots. Founded in 1120, the building has evolved over the years. On the 29th April 1520, during a service, the huge norman tower collapsed into the church, killing a large number of people.

Guild of Minstrels statues, St Mary's Church

St Mary's church and Beverley Minster between them contain a quite unparalleled collection of medieval carvings of musicians and their instruments - pipes and tabors, viols, rebecs, bombardes, shawms, citterns, hautboys, bagpipes, twin horns and nakers - no doubt because the town was the headquarters of the Northern Guild of Minstrels. St Mary's has other notable carvings including the Beverley Imp (arguably more frightening than the one at Lincoln) and a so-called Pilgrim Rabbit which is supposed to be the inspiration for the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'.

Sand sculpture of Alice and the statue of the Pilgrim Rabbit on the wall of St Mary's Church

Beverley Minster with the Old Vicarage (behind the wall, centre) and our accommodation, the Carriage House (the smaller brown building behind the wall, right)

4th October 2018

Today was our last day in the UK (sniff). After a month travelling around the UK, Steve and Debbie had developed a love and appreciation of England on this their first visit here, and were reluctant and sad to say goodbye. Before heading to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to catch the ferry to Amsterdam, we were priveleged to the shown through Brian and Brenda's home, the Old Beverley Vicarage. Standing three stories tall, this very old (1703) and well maintained residence has six bedrooms, three bathrooms and gorgeous views of Beverley Minster beyond the home's picturesque walled garden.

Old Beverley Vicarage

Two reinforcement beams in the ceiling of the dining room led to the retelling of the story of why they were there, when no other rooms had them. They supported the bedroom of a vicar who lived there. Known as "The Fat Vicar", Rev. Joseph Coltman MA (1776-1837) was a brilliant scholar and a very popular member of the community who weighed 37 1/2 stone when he died; that is 238kg. He had an Italian manservant who had to turn him every 15 minutes as he slept to keep him breathing and alive. Unfortunately the manservant fell asleep one evening, and the vicar wasn't turned in time; his internal organs were crushed and he died, aged 60 years.

Gardens of the Old Beverley Vicarage

The stairs and doorways inside the Vicarage were widened to ensure he could get through. To get into the pulpit he required assistance and had to be pushed up a ramp. He supported the emancipation of Catholics at a time when Catholics were seen as enemies of the State, and it is believed he was once of the clergy behind William Wilberforce's reforms, including the movement to stop the slave trade, and improve conditions in Britain's prisons. This included the push for the humane treatment of transportees to the penal colony of New South Wales (Sydney), by granting them emancipation and land in the colony, rather than transportation back to Britain when their sentences had been completed.


Our last destination in the UK was Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, an industrial city in the north of England, from which we caught our ferry to Amsterdam. We had an hour or so to look around, so we decided to check out the city centre and then head down the river and catch some photos of the city's well known bridges. The Tyne Bridge (opened 1928) was built by Dorman Long and Co. of Middlesbrough, the same company that built the similar-looking Sydney Harbour Bridge a few years later. The similarity between the two bridges seems to support the argument that the design of the latter bridge was not the work of JCC Bradfield, but a Dorman Long and Co. engineer.

Bridges across the River Tyne, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

The red and white Swing Bridge over the River Tyne connects Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, and lying between the Tyne Bridge and the High Level Bridge (1849). The latter, from which our photo was taken, is a road and railway bridge with the railway deck built above the road deck. The bridge was to be designed by Robert Stephenson, an early English railway and civil engineer and son of George Stephenson, the man who pioneered rail travel using locomotives.

Princess Seaways

At 4pm we boarded our ship, the Princess Seaways, for Amsterdam; our journey had now included every mode of transport - air, road, rail, ferry, coach and ship. Our cabins were tiny, but at least we were able to sleep during the 15-hour journey. As we farewelled England, we watched the sun go down while enjoying a lovely meal in the Explorer's Kitchen restaurant before retiring.

Stephen Yarrow and Debbie Hall

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