A quick recovery
Following the fall of the tower, the townspeople of Beverley quickly sprung in to action to help rebuild the church.
The town council provided oak timber from the Westwood, and the local great and good gave money to support the building works. Some of these donors are recorded in the very fabric of St Mary’s.
Columns on the south side of the church bear carved faces and words describing who paid to restore the building.
One states that John Crosley and his wife Joanna paid for two and a half pillars; the next that the Good Wives of Beverley paid for two pillars; and then our famous Minstrels’ Pillar, which records that the Northern Guild of Minstrels paid to restore the final pillar in the nave. Little ornate carvings bearing the date 1524, tell us that the columns in the nave were finished that year.
But that was not the end of the building works: it is likely that attention was then shifted to the nave ceiling, which today remains one of St Mary’s greatest treasures. The ceiling is made up of a timber lattice, and at every join there is a wooden carving about a foot square in size. These carvings, which are known as roof bosses, are designed to educate and entertain those viewing them from below. The result is a cacophony of colour and carvings.
Just over a decade after the tower fell, the restoration of St Mary’s was complete. The building reopened for services on 27th March 1531, and the parishioners would have walked into their church to find new books, new liturgical items, a new font, and a glorious new ceiling.
The speed of St Mary’s recovery is remarkable. That the building could reopen so quickly after such a devastating event speaks to the great reverence and affection the people of Beverley must have had for the town’s church.
Watch our video podcast about the fall of the tower and the rebuilding of St Mary’s here.