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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 15:56 UK
Marching up the Minster's tower
Denis Price
By Denis Price
Local writer and historian

A group of locals were given a rare glimpse of Beverley from the top of the Minster's north west tower.

The 165-feet structure is usually closed to the public.

The tour was the first one in over 30 years and was hosted by an expert from the Friends of Beverley Minster Group.

I went along for a privileged look behind the scenes at the medieval building and the spectacular views.

Here is one for the pub quiz; from where at any one time can you see the following: The Humber Bridge, Patrington Church spire, Hedon Church, Skidby Mill and the Sykes Monument at Sledmere?

Denis Price
Denis Price takes in the view from the top

I know the answer because as one of a group of hardy souls I climbed the knee-wrenching 212 steps to the top of Beverley Minster's 165-feet-high north west tower on Bank Holiday Monday.

Our guide on this experience was the knowledgeable John Phillips, secretary of the Friends of Beverley Minster Group. When speaking to John I realised that in allowing the public to climb to the roof of the tower, we were a privileged bunch as it had been 30 years since a similar opportunity had been offered.

During that period the only people visiting the roof were hardy choir members in the festive season and an appointed official to raise and lower the flag on appropriate occasions.

Peering over the stonework and admiring the medieval masons' craftsmanship all about us, people posed and cameras clicked and whirred to record the experience of a lifetime.

Comments such as: 'I was born in that house down there' and 'see that big empty space where the factory used to be, I worked there'.

It was remarkable how even to people long associated with the town, an extra 165 feet above street level provided a different perspective of the highways and byways they were so familiar with.

Taking photos
The tour group took the opportunity to photograph the unique view

Local residents, father and son Geoff and Mark Worrall were among the enthusiastic snappers capturing the various views for posterity.

As Geoff bluntly put it: "I'm not climbing those steps again for anybody, so I'm making a good job of it". My knee shared this sentiment.

A history student among us commented that the tower's height had been a mixed blessing in wartime. According to his information, the Minster tower had been an aid to navigation for locally based aircraft and unfortunately, to other aircraft less charitably disposed towards us.

History has many interpretations with the Minster remaining constant in spite of the ebb and flow of war and social upheaval.

Looking out from the tower and being aware of the changes to the town and landscape in the last few years, I wondered how our forbears had felt as their world and views had changed throughout the ages.

View over Beverley
The commanding view over Beverley and the Wolds

After our stooped, shin-cracking descent to ground level I made my way outside to the Minster's imposing West Gate, a favourite place of mine particularly when illuminated on a winter's evening.

As always, I stood in awe, looking up at the tower and never failing to wonder at the magnificence of its architecture brought about by the skill and toil of craftsmen throughout generations.

With my knee starting to grumble I knew it was time to leave, the steps had taken their toll but I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world, needless to say I haven't booked a place for the next tour.


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