Heritage & Restoration

Founded 900 years ago, St Mary’s possesses some of the finest architecture of any parish church in England. Here we celebrate its exceptional heritage as we work to restore the entire building over the decade ahead and make it better known.


See a timeline spanning nine centuries and the ‘Top Ten’ things to see in St Mary’s. In a constant state of building for 400 years, St Mary’s boasts a remarkable history.

Roof bosses

The first phase in our major restoration programme focuses on the vast collection of medieval and Tudor bosses on the beautiful panelled timber ceilings of the church. Click the button below to enter the website of the curious carvings project.

Narnia carvings

“Open the door and enter a new world.” In 2020, fourteen new carvings of characters from The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis are being made for St Mary’s as part of our project to repair the stonework of the north nave clerestory. Discover more about the project, see the designs for the carvings, and find out about the classic stories which inspired them here:

FX7FBY The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Year : 2005 USA / UK Director : Andrew Adam Georgie Henley Movie poster (Art work). Image shot 2005. Exact date unknown.

‘Unchained’ library

A variety of historical materials which illuminate St Mary’s heritage, gathered from various sources including national collections and local archives.

Our heritage newsletter

We highlight some of the splendours of St Mary’s below. You can also discover more about the heritage of this beautiful building in The Pilgrim Rabbit, our heritage newsletter. Read the current and all past editions here. You can also join the mailing list to receive the periodical automatically.

Ceiling of Kings

Constructed originally in 1445, the splendid chancel ceiling is one of the glories of St Mary’s. It depicts forty kings of England, from the legendary Brutus to Henry VI – who visited Beverley in 1448.

St Michael’s Chapel

The crowning feature of the church is St Michael’s Chapel, built between 1325-45. The window tracery and ribbed vaulting are a tour de force of Gothic art. The chapel’s carving of a hare with a pilgrim’s satchel is said to be the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit!

Danish soldiers plaque

Amidst the turbulence of 17th century life in the British Isles, an extraordinary event took place in Beverley – a historic moment of drama and tragedy, recorded for posterity in this stone tablet on the exterior south chancel wall of St Mary’s.

If Beverley had no Minster, St Mary’s would still draw crowds to the town.

Simon Jenkins
England’s Thousand Best Churches

Rating: 4 out of 5.