A view backstage at Beverley Minster

York branch of Guild of Vergers visit to Thirsk

Tuesday 26th July 2011

A brief half-day visit to Thirsk, located centrally in our region, saw more than 20 virgers, family and friends gather in the structurally-unchanged C14 parish church of St Mary’s. A splendid high building  dating largely from 1430, with later clerestory, chancel and tower, the church boasts six hatchments from the Bell family beneath a fine mediaeval carved roof. Of particular note are the chantry screens and (largely) C15 21 foot tall font cover, while two Georgian pew doors survived the inevitable (but quite sympathetic) Victorian restoration of 1876.
During the C16 an apprentice-hermit lived above the south porch, reaching his solitary residence by means of a rope ladder before graduating to a cell in the Old Lady Chapel in Osmotherley. Today there is a spiral staircase to the room and no hermit.
The crypt has an unusual history as well – originally built when the chancel was extended over a dropping hillside it probably served as overnight accommodation for visiting priests and now, after a bad flood last winter, has been remodelled to form a versatile café area.
One particularly unusual stained glass window dates from 1932 and records the life of Sir Robert Bower who was, supposedly, the most handsome officer in the British Army. It has to be said the window doesn’t really do him justice if this was truly the case.  
We were guests of verger John Lazenby, the longest-serving member of the branch who has been proudly serving what is often called ‘The Cathedral of North Yorkshire’ for 48 years.
After our welcome by Rev Canon Richard Rowling we were given a talk about the church by Tourism Officer Margaret Hunton, followed by a communion conducted by Rev Graham Bowkett. The party then dispersed to eat our way through the various catering establishments in the town while several also enjoyed a visit to the James Herriot museum in the town – the famous writer was the local vet and was married in St Mary’s, as were his daughter and granddaughter.
For further information about the CEGV York branch or membership enquiries contact Branch Chairman Richard Babington on 01964 630263 or via

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