The Minster owes its origin and much of its subsequent importance to Saint John of Beverley, who founded a monastery locally around 700 AD and whose bones still lie beneath a plaque in the nave. The institution grew after his death and underwent several rebuildings. After a serious fire in 1188, the subsequent reconstruction was overambitious; the newly heightened central tower collapsed c. 1213 bringing down much of the surrounding church. Work on the present structure began around 1220.
It took 200 years to complete building work but, despite the time scale involved, the whole building has coherent form and detail and is regarded as one of the finest examples of Perpendicular design, the twin towers of the west front being a superlative example. These formed the inspiration for the design of the present Westminster Abbey.