Beverley

views updated

Beverley. Yorkshire town, in the marshlands of the Hull valley. John, bishop of York, founded or restored a monastery there, where he was buried (721); he was later canonized as St John of Beverley (1037). The monastery was succeeded by a collegiate church or minster, which became a major pilgrimage centre thanks to John's shrine. A town developed north of the church, and its rights of sanctuary included the whole town. The archbishops of York were lords of the town, and in the 1120s Thurstan granted its burgesses the same liberties as York. The minster, rebuilt c.1220–1400, surpasses in both size and beauty some English cathedrals. The town flourished not only as an ecclesiastical centre, but through textiles, and by 1377 was one of the twelve largest English towns. Its trade and industry decayed in the 15th and 16th cents., and the suppression of the college (1548) further impoverished the town. In the 17th and 18th cents. prosperity returned as Beverley became effectively the administrative and social capital of east Yorkshire. In the 19th cent. it became a byword for electoral corruption, and was disfranchised in 1870 after a scandalous election, in which the novelist Trollope unsuccessfully contested the seat.

David M. Palliser