New documentary film reveals race against time to save Beverley Minster and St Mary’s

A new documentary film, available to view on the homepage, produced for Two Churches One Town reveals how the town’s historic Minster and St Mary’s could be in danger of closing despite their national significance and international reputation.

The half-hour film documents how a further £15 million is still needed from independent sources or the crumbling fabric of these ancient buildings could see them closed on safety grounds before the end of the decade. This situation of one town having two such significant churches is thought to be unique in the country.

Breathtaking ultra high definition footage illustrates the unique beauty of these two buildings that represent thirteen centuries of British history and herirage. Trustees and local historians describe the unique features that define these local legacies while raising real concerns about their future preservation.

It’s hoped that this powerful new film will help the Two Churches One Town charity convey the value and urgency of financial support to major sources of funding from specialist organisations, trusts, foundations and philanthropists, not only in the UK but also overseas.

This is what leading figures in the Two Churches | One Town story told the filmmakers:

Tim Carlisle, Chairman – Two Churches One Town charity:

 “You’ve got two gothic churches that are famous in Europe and considered to be the best of that build. What nobody wants is the nightmare scenario of having to close these buildings because they’re unsafe. We want them to be safe. We want them to be free for people to come in and to view them.

 “If we do nothing their survival is in danger. That’s why organisations like East Riding Council, Beverley Town Council, businesses and people in this area have come to support the project. Two Churches One Town became a charity in 2019 to not only lead on the fundraising but also, critically, to focus on their heritage, the music they generate and the learning.”

Reverend Canon Jonathan Baker – Vicar of Beverley Minster:

“Beverley Minster is the largest parish church in England. It’s bigger than quite a number of cathedrals. We are just an ordinary…community – the same governance and resources as your local church at the end of the street – and yet we find ourselves custodians of this building of international importance.

“A place like this gives the impression of being very wealthy. It’s a magnificient building. The resources that were consumed in building it must have been fantastic. But actually, it’s the responibility of the local worshiping community. So the day-to-day operating costs of the Minster are a challenge. We have made some roles redundant, which increases pressure on staff who remain…we are not a well resourced organisation and the situation is very precarious.”

Reverend Becky Lumley – Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Beverley:

“For many of the congregation the building is a place of utter beauty. They love it and they cherish it. But the reality is that it’s also a huge responsibility because we don’t get funding from the Government or anyone else. All that keeps this building going is the volunteers and the people who are connected with this building.

“And we wanted to not oppose one another but to work together for the good of the whole town and the whole community. So the Two Churches One Town (charity) allows us to do that. It allows us to pool our resources, our skills and our wisdom, that’s been acquired over time, to make sure that neither building is overlooked or lost.”

The Director of the Society for the Protecction of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), Matthew Slocombe, who has visited Beverley, is featured in the documentary and underlines the significance of the town and these two churches, together with the work undertaken so far, which has already carried out over £5-million of major repairs and renovation projects at St Mary’s and the Minster:

“Beverley is such a wonderful place, a really fantastic historic town. The two churches are at the heart of everything. They dominate the town but they are also woinderful for visitors and everyone who lives there. For the SPAB it’s very often about the layering of history that makes a place special and Beverley’s got all of that: Its interest from many periods, the ancient pattern of the streets, the positioning of the churches. The whole atmosphere and ambiance of the place was wonderful…These magnificient buildings should last for ever…Keep up the good work. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

SPAB ambassador and patron, designer and ‘Grand Designs’ television presenter Kevin McCloud MBE is originally from East Yorkshire and says the importance of the churches should not be underestimated:

“Beverley I know…It’s incredibly important to remember the value these beautiful, historic, well crafted buildings make to the quality of place…they speak to us and continue to do so.

These are powerhouses of resource. They are great energy batteries, reservoirs of human integrity and commitment.”

Local experts add their voices to the campaign to protect these buildings and the work the churches carry out in the local community:


Simon Delaney – Chartered Building Surveyor for Beverley Minster:

“If we allow things to deteriorate we’re not going to let people in hundreds of years enjoy what we do. We have a ten year list of further repairs. The South Transept roof, the lead has oxidised. and the Retrochoir Roof, which is our worst roof, leaks really badly – estimated 200 to 250 roof leaks.   

“We’ve also got two great windows. Plus there’s a lot of stone and a lot of weight at height. We need to keep an eye on what’s up there and make sure none of it wants to come down to ground. Those three projects are needed soon along with new boilers, new toilets, new lighting. So it is a constant battle.”

Professor Emeritus Barbara English MBE – Author and former Prof of History at the University of Hull:

“The churches are in some way the purpose of us being here I think. The town would not exist if they  were not there. And if we lost these great buildings Beverley would be greatly impoverished. We need to keep these two great churches going, and mended, and warm, and watertight, for hundreds of years.”

John Phillips – Beverley Minster Historian and Author:

“It is an important building in this town. It’s part of the heritage of this town, as is St Mary’s. There’s a story to be told between the two of them. So we need to continue to welcome visitors so they can enjoy it and future generations can also enjoy it, because it is here to be admired.”

Pamela Hopkins – Author, A history of Beverley:

“These buildings can be a source of great healing. I’m sure lost of people get a sence of peace there is because these buildings have been hewre for so long and so many people have come throughout so many generations, and continue to come.”

The half-hour documentary, a short featurette and two versions of drone flights ‘through history’ have been produced by international award-winning Beverley based Blue Aurora Media. The new drone footage was filmed by East Yorkshire cameraman Andy Crozier of Insight Photography.

Producer and researcher Claire Levy also supports the charity and manages its social media channels. Husband Jonathan Levy, who has produced international television series and live events, directed and edited the documentary. He said:

“I’ve travelled the world to document some remarkable stories but nothing is more powerful than to discover this incredible history on your own doorstep. It has been a privilege to help to capture images of the unique beauty of St Mary’s and Beverley Minster, to illustrate their international significance, and to help everyone who is so invested in their survival to reveal why they believe these ancient buildings are so special, historically, architecturally and spiritually.”

The film was produced for Two Churches One Town with the help of funding from East Riding of Yorkshire Council and a partnership with Beverley Town Council.


NARRATOR                                            Richard Avery

CONTRIBUTORS:                                     (in alphabetical order)

Rev Canon Jonathan Baker                 Vicar of Beverley Minster

Tim Carlisle                                           Chairman – Two Churches One Town

Simon Delaney                                      Chartered Building Surveyor for Beverley Minster

Prof Emeritus Barbara English MBE        Professor of History – University of Hull (Retired)

Cllr Jane Evison                                     Economic Development and Tourism Portfolio Holder

                                                            East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Pamela Hopkins                                    Author – A History of Beverley

Rev Becky Lumley                                 Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Beverley

Kevin McCloud MBE                              Designer, TV Presenter – Grand Designs,

SPAB Ambassador & Patron

John Phillips                                          Historian – Beverley Minster,

Author – Of a Fair Uniforme Making:

The Building History of Beverley Minster 1188-1736

Matthew Slocombe                               Director – Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY                   Jonathan Levy


MUSIC                                                                            PUBLISHED BY ARTLIST

Haunting Memories                              David Morton

Guardian Angel                         I           an Post

Mirrors (Strings Version)                       Will Van De Crommert

Hope                                                    Ian Post

Eclipse                                                  David Morton

Roots of Eve                                         C. K. Martin

For a Lifetime (Strings version)               Ryann Darling

Kings Requiem                                      Alon Peretz

Wind Whispers                                     Will Van De Crommert

Night of Heroes                                     Francesco D’Andrea





Reproduced with kind permission of East Riding Archives:

Beverley Pamphlets 1799-1865

Green’s Handbook to Beverley by J J Sheahan 1872

Ground Plan of St Mary’s Church by John Bilson 1895

Drawing of North-East Transept, Beverley Minster 1884


Copyright Jamie Newson-Smith – FlightSight Ltd

Amanda Beal – horse rider (pilgrim) and her horse Mary

All officials, staff, volunteers, congregations, performers, organists and choirs

of Beverley Minster and St Mary’s Church

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Beverley Town Council


TWO CHURCHES ONE TOWN                     Tim Carlisle

PRODUCER                                             Claire Levy

DIRECTOR/EDITOR                                  Jonathan Levy


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