Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire


Saturday 10 May 2014. We are on our second Sabbatical jaunt. Having spent a night in Sheffield we went to Bolsover Castle and then on to Southwell, and had a lovely wander round the Minster. Southwell Minster – website – The Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a very special place. I did a placement here in 1992, while at Lincoln Theological College, with the Reverend John Wardle, who was Vicar Choral at the time. We got on extremely well, I loved being part of the Cathedral, was allowed to precent for the first time (“Well done Sir” said a chorister – I was so chuffed). Everyone on the staff has changed in the last twenty-something years except Paul Hale, the Rector Chori (Director of Music) – he won’t remember me (my singing wasn’t that bad!). Today as we entered, a large local choir were practising for a Mozart Mass tonight; they were a lovely background.



There was a Roman villa in this area – you can see a painted wall panel and some mosaic. There is a land grant dated 956, and by 1040 the minster church was the mother church of the southern area of the Diocese of York. Rebuilding of the Anglo Saxon Church started in 1108, and the pepperpot towers were completed by 1170.


At the east end of the nave is a 1987 Christ in Majesty by Peter Ball – details of him here – his other works in Southwell are a Pieta and “Light of the World” at the candle stand.









The west window is new since my time. It was designed by Patrick Reyntiens and made by Keith Barley of York.


I also like the Nativity panel on the north transept wall – no idea who carved it – and this Virgin and Child.


In the north transept is a very early Tympanum, a wonderful tomb to someone whose name I can’t remember, and a window by Helen Whittaker commemorating the 200th anniversary of the first planting of the Bramley Apple in Southwell.




DSC08088In the North Transept is the memorial to those who died at Katyn, and the East Window is rather special too. I seem to remember it was purchased from a shop in the Low Country and installed here. The Quire is an “Early English Gothic masterpiece” to quote the Minster website, and dates to about 1234 – it replaced a Norman quire. In the Quire are some misericords, and an impressive eagle.



The Pulpitum, in the Decorated Style, went in about 1340. Some good carving on it.





The best carving in the Minster, indeed unrivalled anywhere in the world, is The Leaves of Southwell, in the Chapter House. They are C13 carvings, and you can look closely at 26 examples here. They are worth looking at. I will just photo a few.

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They are angel windows in the corridor, but I’m not sure who designed them.


We also enjoyed (if that is the right work) Jonathan Clark’s “Stations of the Cross”. I’ll put them in a separate blog.


We had a late lunch in the refectory (a new addition since my day) – an excellent lasagne – looked at the books in the shop, then I had a walk round the outside and a chat with Jacqui (Canon Precentor). Sadly Evensong was not until 5.45, too long to wait.



Just down the road is Fiskerton station, with a signal box and manually operated gates. My bike lived under the box for the month of my placement – now I think the box might collapse on top of it. The box needs to survive for just a few more years – there is a resignalling project in the pipeline.


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3 Responses to Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire

  1. James Davy says:

    Lovely to read this appreciation of Southwell – a very special place. I was a chorister there at the time that you came on placement (and I might even be the boy you mention above!). I spent a few Summer days at the next signal box up the line (Fiskerton Junction) too. Best wishes. James

  2. Ann Chapman says:

    I stopped off here on the journey home in the North East after a week in Cambridgeshire visiting the big Cathedrals and found Southwell to be a real gem. I wish I had been able to spend more time there

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