“Last time”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/195345-review-beverley-friary I visited Beverley Friary, it was shut and I had to make do with peering through the the windows.
Research showed that it was open as part of the Heritage Open Days 2019 – too good an opportunity to miss! Not only would I have chance to see the wall paintings, it was also an opportunity to look round the rest of the Youth Hostel.
I began in what is described as the exhibition room with plenty of display boards as well as a large inglenook stone fireplace, containing artefacts found from around the site. Beyond it on the ground floor is the refectory with self catering kitchen and another huge fireplace, Beyond that is the men’s dormitory.
A spiral staircase leads from the exhibition room to the great hall above. This seems to be used as a meeting space with chairs and folded tables stacked up. The oak roof is the original. The wall paintings are on the end wall as well as to the wall to the left of the doorway. These are charcoal outlines of flowers covering the structural wooden beams as well as the plaster between them. The paintings date from after the Dissolution of the Friary when it became a private house. Later, the walls were covered with wood panelling and part of this can still be seen round the fireplace.
Don’t miss the antechamber – its easy to miss as you have to turn back on yourself away from the great hall. This has two remarkable wall paintings from the C16th. The larger depicts the Holy Trinity and Crown of Thorns. The other is the Tree of Life and is probably all that remains of a larger painting that would have covered most of the walls in the room. The two blackbirds are a pun on the Dominican Order, the Black Friars, who wore black cloaks.
Through the anteroom is a small room referred to as the retiring room. This has another wall painting, which is different to the rest, not only in style but also it was filled in with colour which has oxidised to black over the years. There was no information about it and none of the volunteers were able to help. It looks later in style and reminded me of the wall paintings in the “Painted Room “:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/presocialhistory/socialhistory/social/social/ledbury_painted/index.html at Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Beyond the great hall is the lounge with another inglenook fireplace and wood beamed ceiling. Beyond this is the women’s dormitory. The massive wood beams are the originals although the roof is new. The showers and toilets are in the modern extension beyond.
This was a very well worthwhile visit and these are some of the best preserved domestic wall paintings in the country. It was also interesting seeing how an old friary had been adapted for a new purpose while still retaining many original features.