Beverley Minster – The Musicians

Beverley Minster Musicians

The minster is famous for its carvings of medieval musical instruments. There are over 70 such carvings, illustrating instruments that are familiar to modern viewers, but also a variety of unusual medieval instruments. Among the carvings are depictions of bagpipes, flutes, pipes, organs, tambourines, shawms, cymbals, trumpets, lutes, and more.

This was my favourite…

Beverley Minster Musician

Leicester City – Premier League Champions!

Ivan Vardy

Football was always important to my dad and from about the time I was old enough he to take me to Filbert Street to watch Leicester City.  The first game I saw was against Blackburn Rovers in April 1965 and Leicester won 2-0.   The team photo below is from around about that time and is one of many in the Scrap Book.

I think I can remember them all: Back Row: Riley, Norman, Cross, Banks, McLintock. Front Row: King, Appleton, Gibson, Stringfellow and squatting down  Sjoberg.

I can recall quite clearly going to the matches in my blue and white hand knitted scarf and bobble hat because this always involved a long walk of about three miles there and three miles back.  Very close to my grandparents house there was a bus stop with a direct service into the city but dad rather cunningly always started out for the match at a time that was certain not to coincide with the bus timetable.  I never caught on to this little trick of course and he had a very brisk walking pace that required me to run along side him just to keep up as he strode out ahead.   It turns out that dad just didn’t like paying bus fares which he considered to be an unnecessary expense.

Foxes in the Derby Pen

In the past dad must have seen some football ups and downs because Leicester were always a club who were not quite good enough to stay in the first division (the Premiership) and just a bit too good for the second division (the Championship) so they were up and down like a yo-yo.  The year that I was born, 1954, was a good year, he must have been happy when City were promoted as second division champions in May just beating Everton to the title by .3 on goal difference.  Their biggest win was 9-2 against Lincoln and their biggest crowd was 51,811, against Everton, I wonder if he was there in the crowd that day cheering them on?

The FA cup was always disappointing and I can remember 1961 when  Leicester reached the FA cup final for the second time and were beaten 2-0 by Tottenham Hotspur who did the league and cup double that year.  Full back Len Chalmers broke his leg early on and they had to play most of the match with ten men because they didn’t have substitutes in those days.  They reached the cup final again in 1963 and lost to Manchester United and again in 1969 and lost to Manchester City.  They had been there before in 1949 and lost to Wolves and this means that they have the unenviable record of being the only team to reach four FA cup finals and lose them all.

There were some good times though, especially when they won the League Cup twice in the 1990s and the best moment of all when they beat Derby County at Wembley in 1994 with two Steve Walsh goals to get promotion to the Premiership.  We had tickets and went to Wembley for the match and he was really happy that day.

My granddad Ted, wearing Blue of course – another lifelong City Fan…

Ted Petcher c1974

Football grounds were totally different to the all seater stadiums that we are used to now and were predominantly standing affairs.  I was only a little lad so it was important to go early to get a good spot on the wall just behind and to the left of the goal with room to swing my heavy wooden rattle.  This required an early arrival and although matches didn’t start until three o’clock dad used to get us there for the opening of the gates at about one.

This must have required great patience on his part because two hours is a long time to wait for a football match to start standing on cold concrete terracing and I really didn’t appreciate at the time that all of this was done just for me.  In the 1960s of course it was common to have pre-match entertainment when local marching bands would give a thirty minute medley of tunes up until kick off time so at least there was something to watch.

In 2002 Leicester City replaced the Filbert Street ground with a modern new ground close by and called it the Walkers Stadium after the club sponsers.  The last time that I watched Leicester City play with my dad was sometime in the Spring of 2003 when we went to the new ground to see a match.  I don’t remember the opponents or the score and I haven’t been since because he died in October that year and going to football matches without him would just never seem the same.

Beverley, East Yorkshire – A Minster and a Parish Church

St Mary's Church Beverley

The ‘Georgian Quarter’ is not a huge area, the main road ‘North Bar Within’ is barely two hundred yards long but it has been well preserved and is flanked with elegant town houses with handsome front doors with gleaming brass furniture.

It is rare that one small town boasts two wonderful historic churches, but that is the case for the East Yorkshire town of Beverley. The most famous of the two is without doubt Beverley Minster, a wonderful monastic church but at the other end of town, just inside the last surviving medieval town gate, stands the glorious medieval church of St Mary.

Sir Tatton Sykes, prolific nineteenth century church restorer, once famously remarked that the west front of St Mary’s was ‘unequalled in England and almost without rival on the continent of Europe’. Now, Sir Tatton may be forgiven for seeing the church with the rose-tinted spectacles of local enthusiasm but the truth is that St Mary’s is a beautiful church, and must surely warrant inclusion in any list of the great parish churches of England.

We had come to see the Minster of course but finding ourselves outside the church it seemed rude not to pay a visit and we were soon very glad that we did.  It is an eye-catching structure from outside and the doorway is framed with stone carvings of gargoyles with scary faces and bulging eyes but once past the ugly bug invitation committee we passed into an elaborate and sumptuous interior which is in contrast to the normal austerity of Anglican churches.

Inside the church is a treasure chest of stained glass windows, two magnificent ceiling paintings, one of the constellation of stars and another of Anglo-Saxon Kings of England and a trail of stone carvings that requires a printed map to try and find them all.  Most famous of all is perhaps the carving of the March Hare, a rabbit dressed as a Pilgrim and said to have inspired Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland although I can find no real evidence to support that particular claim.

Mad March Hare Beverley St Mary's

We spent half an hour or so in the Church which too be fair was long enough for Kim and Pauline because they now had plans to visit the shops.  I may have mentioned before that I am not a big fan of shopping and today I was ably supported by my friend Richard.  The trouble with English towns is that they all have the same shops, there is practically no individuality in the town centres.  Every shop that I can expect to find in my home town could also be found here.  These are not shops that interest me a great deal in Grimsby so it was completely unlikely that they would do so here in Beverley.

Even worse than this however is the fact that town centre shops are in decline and just as in every other English town there is an over-supply of banks, building societies and pay day loan money lenders.  The trouble with financial service providers is that they simply cannot make their window displays interesting and except for a different logo all they can display is a list of lending and savings rates most of which are much the same anyway.

To be fair there were some local shops here in Beverley and two iconic WH Smiths bookshops (Grimsby WH Smiths closed down in 2015) but nothing that was so interesting that it would get me through the door.  I was more interested in the road surface.  Beverley market place has traditional cobbles and in 2013 there was a lot of controversy when the local council wanted to tear them up and replace them with modern block paving in the interests they said of health and safety.  Luckily the residents of the town were having none of it, there were howls of protests and eventually the council was obliged to back down.

Beverley Minster

After lunch in smart little town centre café we made our way now along busy streets with buskers and street entertainers until we reached the Minster.  A magnificent Gothic structure which towers over the whole of the town.  Inside there was some music, an organ recital and we were told that we could only go in by paying £5 to listen to it.  That was enough for Kim and Pauline to abandon the plan straight away and return to the shops but Richard and I were assured that it would finish in five minutes and then we could go in for nothing.  Like true skinflints we decided to wait!

Minster is an honorific title given to particular churches in England most usually those that have been associated with monastic life sometime in the past.  Church hierarchy is a complicated matter because a Minster falls between Church and Cathedral but can confusingly stray either way.  Beverley Mister is a Church but thirty miles away York Minster is a Cathedral.  Beverley has a Bishop but he is based in York.  In London, Westminster is a Cathedral and an Abbey and a Minster and down the road there is a Roman Catholic Cathedral of the same name.

It is an impressive building for sure and inside there are soaring columns, high vaulted windows, chapels and tombs but decoration is sparse and compared to St Mary’s Church it seemed strangely austere and functional.  We stayed for a while until we were spotted taking photographs without a permit (£3) from which we were excused when Richard pointed out that he had spent an exaggerated £15 in the gift shop and then we left.

By now it was late afternoon so we returned to the market to collect our garden ornament purchases and then we left Beverley and made our way back to the Humber Bridge.

Beverley Minster

Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

Beverley Yorkshire Post Card

“East Yorkshire, to the uninitiated, just looks like a lot of little hills. But it does have these marvellous valleys that were caused by glaciers, not rivers. So it is unusual.” –  David Hockney

We have lived in Grimsby in the far east of England for five years.  I like Grimsby but it has to be said that it is an odd place.   On the south bank of the Humber Estuary it is so far east that the only place to go after this is the North Sea and there aren’t any ferries to Europe as there are in Hull on the north side of the river.  It is a dead end.  It is a place that you only go to by choice.  No one visits Grimsby by accident.  You cannot stumble upon it while taking a leisurely drive along the coast as say in Northumberland or East Anglia.  It can never be an unexpected discovery.

I mention this because we have friends who live in the charming town of Oakham in Rutland and who visit us here at least once a year.  When Richard and Pauline come to stay we need something to do but after two or three times I can assure you that there is little left to see of any interest in Grimsby.  On their most recent visit we needed to come up with something new.

My friend Dai Woosnam (who lives in Grimsby) is always chastising me for regularly flying to Europe but neglecting to travel in England and the UK.  He cannot understand why I have never been to Bath for example (one of the finest visitor cities in the UK) and to be fair he has got a point because I cannot explain why I have not been to Bath either.  Anyway, Bath is too far to go for a day trip from Grimsby so we studied the Reader’s Digest touring guide of Great Britain (1992 edition) for somewhere closer and came up with Beverley, the County town of East Riding in neighbouring Yorkshire, which from the description sounded rather hopeful.

Reader's Digest Touring Guide to Britain

It wasn’t a very promising start to the day weather wise however and grey cloud and drizzle did not fill me with enthusiasm for the forty mile journey west, then north across the River Humber.  The cloud was low and as sticky as toffee pudding and as we crossed the Humber Bridge at the highest point we drove through mist and fog but once across and toll paid the clouds began to break as we drove into the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The White Rose County of Yorkshire is the largest in England and for administrative convenience was once divided into Ridings, North, West and East, but no obvious fourth and I wondered why?

Well it turns out that there is a simple explanation because the word Riding is derived from a Danish word ‘thridding’, meaning a third. The invading Danes called representatives from each Thridding to a Thing, or Parliament and established the Ridings System.  I rather like the idea that Parliament is called a Thing! To this day, Yorkshire consists of three ridings, along with the City of York, and that’s why there is no fourth, or South, Riding.

We arrived in Beverley in the late morning and by the time we had interpreted the complicated car park payment process at a pay and display machine the sky was blue, the sun was shining and a day that started needing a pullover did not now even require a jacket.

Beverley Georgian Quarter

The name of the town came into use sometime in the tenth century and I always find it interesting how far the name of an English town or city has travelled world-wide.  In the United States the U.S. Board on Geographic names have for some reason dropped the third ‘e’ but there is a Beverly in Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia.  Beverly Hills in California is named after Beverly, Massachusetts so can indirectly be included in the list.

In Canada, as in USA the drop the third ‘e’ in Beverly, Toronto but in Australia they retain the correct spelling in Beverley, Adelaide and in a small town in Western Australia.

Beverley Market Place

The place was busy and we followed a stream of pedestrians who seemed to know where they were going and arrived quite quickly at the Market Place.  Ordinarily I would not find this an especially thrilling experience, even now after nearly sixty years I can recall being dragged around Leicester Market by my mother on a weekly basis, but Beverley Market, I have to say, was quite wonderful, busy, vibrant and full of life and I was so overcome by the moment I was talked into a rash purchase of a rusty garden ornament for £25 – my entire pocket money for the week.

I knew it was going to take me a while to get over that moment of shopping weakness so I steered us all away from the market and towards the ‘Georgian Quarter’ which I hoped would give me the time that I needed to recover my composure!

Rusty Garden Flower

What A Difference Thirty Years Can Make (1)

14 Amalfi Coast  Vallone di Furore 2004

… the village of Vallone di Furore, a narrow fjord where steep rock walls sheltered an enclave of fishermen’s houses and a tiny harbour with a beach littered with small hard working fishing boats all resting for the day.  I had seen this place before and thirty years later it was completely transformed.  In 1976 it was a shambles with dilapidated buildings but now it was renovated and restored but had kept its charm intact.

Have you ever returned somewhere years later and found it greatly changed?

Read the Full Story…

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Entrance Tickets – Palazzo della Ragione, Padova

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On a visit to Padova it is impossible to avoid the magnificent medieval market hall, the Palazzo Della Ragioni, which is a huge building that dominates the centre of the city and separates the two sections of the daily market.  At ground level there are food stall, butchers, bakers, fishmongers and purveyors of dairy produce and the assault on the senses from the competing cacophony of sights and smells was wonderful, eye-popping and a true sensory symphony.

It was here that I decided that the next time I visit Italy, or France or Spain or anywhere else for that matter, I will find some self catering accommodation so that I can enjoy shopping in places like this, selecting the ingredients for myself, cooking simple food and eating and enjoying my own interpretation of local recipes.

Padova 2

It was with some difficulty that we located the entrance to the upper floors but after circumnavigating the building we found the steps and paid the modest entrance fee.  The two-story loggia-lined “Palace of Reason” is topped with a distinctive sloped wooden roof that resembles the upturned hull of a ship and is said to be the largest of its kind in the world. It was built in 1219 as the seat of the Parliament of Padua and was used as an assembly hall, courthouse, and administrative centre to celebrate Padua’s independence as a republican city.

The magnificent hall is eighty-one metres long and is considered to be a masterpiece of civil medieval architecture and today is a must-visit site for both its floor-to-ceiling fifteenth century frescoes that are similar in style and astrological theme to those that had been painted by Giotto in the nearby Scrovegni Chapel and a wooden sculpture of a horse attributed to Donatello which is massive but simply dwarfed by the interior scale of the building.

Padova_Palazzo_della_Ragione_BW_3

I stayed in Padova in preference to nearby Venice, it is a lot cheaper, not nearly so crowded and has a fast and reliable train service to its more famous neighbour.

If you are thinking of going to Venice then I recommend doing the same.

Green Doors of Europe

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Santorini Greek Door

Santorini Island, Greece

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy

Portugal Door 3

Algarve, Portugal

Northern France Wimereaux

Wimereux, France

Valletta Malta

Valletta, Malta

Dingle Ireland Green Door

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

More Doors…

Doors and Windows of 2015

Sardinia – Doors and Windows

Brittany – Doors and Windows

Blue Doors of Essaouira

Doors of Catalonia 1

Doors of Catalonia 2

Doors of Catalonia 3

Doors of Catalonia 4

Doors of Dublin

Doors of Northern France

Doors of Portugal

Doors of Siguenza, Spain