A view backstage at Beverley Minster

A royal wedding in Beverley?

Beverley Minster virger Neil Pickford gets over-excited
I know I should be writing about Christmas this week but I can’t help it, my mind is elsewhere. It’s The Royal Wedding, of course.
It’s not just that the impending nuptials have dominated the news media for the last few weeks since they were announced; it’s not even that the beauteous Kate will be married to the man who, if the British Constitution isn’t changed over the next few years, will become the Head of the Church of England. This will make him, theoretically, my boss. No, it’s because I firmly believe the wedding should take place in Beverley, not Westminster Abbey as currently planned.
Don’t mock – these are not the ramblings of a royally-fixated saddo but the considered conclusions of an individual sympathetic to the plight of the poor father.
We all know that Charles has offered to pay for the ceremony and reception, relieving the bride’s father of this traditional burden but, in the current mood of financial uncertainty, even he has got to be worried about where the spondoolicks are going to come from. Granted he could sell off a chunk of Cornwall but after the recent extreme weather down there the value might have dropped a bit. How much more sensible it would be to scale back the costs rather than throwing endless millions into the pot.
And there are so many reasons to think that Beverley Minster is the perfect, cost-effective alternative to Westminster Abbey.
For a start, they look the same and, in fact, we are the more historic and authentic venue.
It’s true – Nicholas Hawksmoor so admired our two 14th century towers that, as soon as he got the contract to redesign the west end of Westminster Abbey he just copied them, realising he couldn’t improve on perfection. So the famous backdrop that is seen around the world after major royal and state ceremonials in London is actually a pastiche of our own minster – a sort of 18th century Disneyland version of the original.
I accept that we are smaller than Westminster Abbey but that’s all to the good – it helps cut down on the number of guests that Charles will have to cater for.
Simple for the BBC too – all they’d have to do is dust down the schematics they drew up when they visited for Songs of Praise and Antiques Roadshow back in May and they can start planning the lighting and cabling now.
And think of the boost to the local economy with all the guests coming to stay – although I suppose I should declare an interest here. My wife runs a little three-star bed and breakfast operation (Hunter’s Hall, thanks for asking, very convenient for the Minster and shops/restaurants – please look it up at and with our reasonable prices it would be ideal for, say, the head of an indebted nation such as Ireland and their entire affordable entourage of three or four.
Mind you, Charles will have to be quick if he wants to make a booking because the Minster’s 2011 calendar is already filling up. It’s very likely the 18th June is taken – provisionally that’s the date Gill and I are hoping to celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary and if we’re in first then Charles will have to go somewhere else.
Ah well, back to reality – and Christmas reality doesn’t come crashing down to the ground faster than when we start preparing for the County Choir concert.
For this annual extravaganza of chorus and orchestra John and I have had to turn all the seating in the church through 180 degrees to accommodate a huge structure that will display more than 100 singers. Then we have to put out another 200 to 250 extra seats to accommodate the audience – so they’d better turn up or we’ll have wasted our efforts. That’s would be especially annoying because we’ve to pack up everything and rotate the seats once more after the concert for a normal Sunday. The first service starts roughly nine hours after we manage to wrestle the final chair back in place so don’t expect a happy, smiling virger this coming weekend.
Unless we’ve heard that Kate and Will are coming to Beverley because, of course, everyone loves a Royal Wedding.
First published November 2010 


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