These days when we think of the North East’s music venues, we probably imagine the Metro Arena in Newcastle or the Sage Gateshead. In the medieval period, though, the market town of Beverley was the lively centre for musicians in the region. According to the Ordinances (regulations) of the Beverley Guild of Minstrels, no minstrel could perform in public without becoming a Guild member. Each year, the biggest gig in the North East was the great annual meeting of minstrels at the Cross Fair held in Beverley in May.
Minstrels – and waits, or official town bands – were central to the cultural life of the region. They left their mark not only in music, but in some of the architecture of our churches and in precious objects. They can be considered as the north-eastern predecessors to likes of The Unthanks or Lindisfarne.