The Minstrels’ Pillar

‘England’s first pop group.’

‘These five minstrels, with idiosyncratic costumes and hairstyles, might have been England’s first pop group.’ – Simon Jenkins, England’s Thousand Best Churches (1999)

The most north easterly column in the nave is home to St Mary’s famous Minstrels’ Pillar.

Here we find five colourful figures of musicians. Originally they would have all held instruments, but only the lute and oboe players remain fully intact. The central figure is the President of the Northern Guild of Minstrels. His status is indicated by the badge of office he is wearing around his neck.

When the church tower fell in 1520, the Northern Guild of Minstrels generously sponsored the repair of this pillar. Above the minstrels, writing on a small label stop marks the donation:
‘Thys Pyllor Made the Meynstryls’
(‘This pillar [was] made [by] the Minstrels’),

On the other side of the column is a second label stop, this one in Latin, requesting that prayers are said for souls of the Minstrels.

Music plays a vibrant part in the life of St Mary’s. Read about our collaboration with musicians from Beverley Early Music Festival in a blog by Dr Jennie England here.

WHERE TO FIND THE MINSTRELS’ PILLAR: on the last column in the nave, to the left of the altar.