Giant Festive Joy at Beverley Minster and St Mary's

Fri 18th December 2020
25 Tickton Primary School

On the 1st December Beverley Minster and St Mary’s embarked on their Christmas challenge to create two giant advent calendars, one at each end of Beverley. Three weeks on, the calendars are almost complete as we approach the opening of the final windows on Christmas day.

“We have been overwhelmed by the community response” said Ali Bodley, Learning and Community Engagement Officer for the Sanctuary Project. “Over forty-five schools, home education groups, care homes, charities and individuals have provided us with fifty amazing windows. They look wonderful and are creating a real buzz around the town.”

Participants have been asked to focus on the sanctuary element of the Christmas story to link with the Beverley Minster Sanctuary Project. The sculpture and imagery from St Mary’s Curious Carving Project has provided inspiration for participants. Mary and Joseph, Kings, Shepherds, angels and all the normal Christmas imagery adorn the window boards. Every group has taken their own approach. It’s touching to see the hand-prints of children used in many of the windows sent by nursery and primary schools.

“The partnership with Beverley Minster has been a great success” said Roland Deller, Director of Development at St Mary’s Church “Together we have been able to connect with our local communities and to celebrate the incredible heritage of our beautiful town and its two churches. It’s also really cheering to see the calendar grow daily.”

The idea comes from Beverley Minster’s National Lottery funded Sanctuary Project which explores the Minster as a place of medieval sanctuary. The £700,000 project restores the Minster’s Lesser South Transept roof and stonework and tells the story of its fascinating medieval role in Sanctuary. The Minster recently also successfully secured a further grant of £600,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund to do further repairs to the Nave roof.

When the hoarding went up for the new project and the government announced the second lock down, Ali Bodley, Learning and Community Engagement Officer for the Sanctuary Project, had an idea to make a Giant Advent Calendar. So many people wanted to be involved that she persuaded colleagues at St Mary’s to get involved.

Like Beverley Minster, the church has been very successful with funding. St Mary’s Church is also in receipt of support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Curious Carvings Project focuses on the over stunning 600 medieval and Tudor carvings in the church. They can be found in the ceiling throughout the building and are known as roof bosses. St Mary’s had also been awarded £139,280 to restore the south nave clerestory from the Culture Recovery Fund. Grants from the Culture Recovery Fund were secured for both projects by Two Churches One Town Project.

Schools, nurseries, retirement homes, home educating groups, family bubbles and individuals are all taking part. They were all sent boards 120 x 80cm. A new board has been put up at each site every day. Details have been posted on and social media and shared with local radio. The completed Advent Calendars will remain up over the Christmas period until 6th January.

Along with the Giant Advent Calendar the Minster has created yarn bombing on the Minster Churchyard railings, making a vivid Christmas display.

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