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Southwell Minster is also known as the Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As it is the seat of the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, it is a Cathedral, but like York, it maintained the historical honorary title of Minster. In Southwells case, it came about from being a collegiate, where clerics lived in communal dwellings, and were under charter to deliver daily prayers (This continues today, with daily services - see below for days/times)
Southwell Minster is considered to be a 'hidden gem' amongst the 42 English Cathedrals!
Arthur Mee wrote.....
"Is there in England, we wonder, a greater surprise for most of those who come, for here is the least known Cathedral in our motherland, with a dignity and beauty unsurpassed. The rushing tide of life has passed it by and left it standing in a quietude of loveliness, like some dream of time gone by"
Although the architectural structure is mainly Norman (look for the arches, the twin towers with their pepper pots (lead spires or "Rhenish caps"(pic 1 and 2)- the only examples to be found in England) and dog tooth carving as well as the many gargoyles), there are examples of Roman remains (particularly in the Crossing and The Nave), and Saxon carvings. The oldest carving in the Minster is found in the North transept --On a tympanum above a doorway is the image of St Michael and a dragon.
There are some additions from the 20th and 21st Centuries too!
One of the most recent is a stained glass window by Helen Whittaker, which was installed in March 2009, commemorating the bi-centenary of the Bramley Apple, This apple originated in Southwell (There are references to the Bramley Apple throughout Southwell)
A 9ft high Christus Rex by Peter Ball can be seen in the Nave
The West window -'The Angel Window' was dedicated in 1996 The colour and texture of the glass were chosen to be similar to that used in the mid-15th century when the window was originally inserted. (pic 5 shows it from the outside - I couldn't get a photo from the inside)
The West end of the minster is considered to be the finest Norman west front in the country dating from 1140 . Its door is a magnificent piece of 12th century woodwork with iron hinges and ornamental scrollwork.
The Minsters Chapter House is one of the main attractions for visitors. Built in 1286, Not only is it unique, for being the only octagonal chapter house in England with a stone vault unsupported by a central pillar, it also has an incredible display of carved foliage - oak and thorn ivy bramble and vine - the famous Leaves of Southwell, which festoon the 36 stalls and the capitals of the chapter house and the corridor and vestibule leading to it. The carvings show their botanical likeness. Amongst the foliage you can find 'green men' and animals too.
From the Minster web page are an article about Robin Hood and the green men and a slide show of the carvings
Other hi-lights are the 28 carved mice hidden on the pews lectern etc, carved by furniture-maker Robert `Mousey' Thompson, better known as the Mouseman of Kilburn. I've had a fascination for these carvings, since finding my first (carved) mice in a church in the Yorkshire Dales. I purchased a couple of cards for 75 pence each with photographs of these mice from the small gift shop in the Minster
The Quire, with its carvings of faces and figures-one is scratching his bottom!
The Baptism Font-dated 1661 - this was a replacement for the original one that was destroyed by Cromwells troops
Open daily 08.00 to 19.00 in summer and 08.00 to dusk in winter.
Entry is FREE. ( There is no fee for admission but a suggested donation of £5 for those waged and £3 for unwaged and children)
Photography-Check with the stewards-the night I was there, there were notices saying that a permit was required - I checked with one of the stewards, who said (hesitantly) that I could take photos without a permit, and this was something they'd been discussing recently, owing to the number of people owning 'phones with cameras. I took a few photos inside-and left a small donation for this.
Free Car Park opposite the Minster
Guided tours for parties can be arranged through the Minster office: Tel (01636) 812649; Fax (01636) 817284;
Foreign language guides available.
Hour-long audio tour - sorry don't know prices etc of this.
Book and Gift Shop open
Toilets, including disabled and baby changing facilities
The Minster has easy access. A wheelchair is available for the less mobile.
There are large-print and braille guides for the visually impaired and a loop system for the hard of hearing.
Days and Times of Services
Holy Communion (BCP) 8.00 am
Family Eucharist (CW1) 9.30 am
All Age Service on third Sunday each month
(Crèche provided in the Edwin Hoskyns Room)
Sung Eucharist (BCP) 11.00 am (See the month’s Calendar, for variations)
Choral Evensong (BCP) 3.15 pm
Morning Prayer (Said)
Monday and Saturday 8.30 am
Tuesday to Friday 8.00 am
Monday to Saturday 5.45 pm
(Evensong is usually said on Monday and Wednesday)
Monday 9.00 am (CW1), Sacrista Prebend Retreat House
Tuesday 7.30 am (CW1), Pilgrims’ Chapel
Wednesday 7.30 am (CW1), 12.15 pm (CW1), Sacrista Prebend Retreat House
Thursday 7.30 am (BCP), St Thomas’s Chapel, 9.45 am (BCP), Airmen’s Chapel
Friday 7.30 am (CW1), St. Oswald’s Chapel
Saturday, 9.00 am (CW1), Pilgrims’ Chapel
Southwell Minster has a good reputation for its music, with its traditional male choir. Choristers are educated at the Minster School. A former head chorister was Ben Inman, one of the founder members of a 'TV Talent show' winning trio known as The Choirboys.
There is also a girls choir, a voluntary adult choral society and a Junior choral society (with members from age 7-11)
The concert that I saw here was Sir Willard White, with his tribute to Paul Robeson, accompanied by the Choral society, and 3 songs from the juniors - a wonderful sound, in a stunning location.
Other musical events including organ recitals are held at the Minster
For upcoming events or
Facebook for upcoming events etc
Updated Jul 27, 2010
Address: Church Street Southwell Nottinghamshire NG25 0JD
Phone: 01636 812649 Fax: 01636 817 284
This 3 day music festival is held in mid-June and has all you would expect from folkies...crafts, workshops, open-mic sessions,street theatre, 40 real ales and cider etc. If you buy a ticket there are 3 stages and camping but lots of events take place around the town if you want some free entertainment.
Written May 27, 2010
Address: Ten minute walk from town
Phone: 01636 812933
The National Trust have restored the huge Victorian building and claim it's the best preserved workhouse in England. It's on the edge of the town and is not well signposted so ask in the tourist info for directions (next to the minster)! It's a pity it doesn't get more visitors as workhouses are an important part of England's social history. (Read George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London")
It is very imposing as you approach and the interior is suitably grim, no cosy tearooms here!! For me, most moving were the dormitories, the mens' empty except for marks on the floor where tired legs heaved themselves out of bed every morning.
Updated Mar 2, 2010
Dr Beeching is probably responsible for the creation of the "Southwell Trail" which leads you along the old railway track to Bilsthorpe (nearly 8 miles away). We got sick of being in a green 'tunnel' after a mile or so so...maybe at Kirklington?? ...we left the path by a huge millhouse, then followed the River Greet back into town...passing a nice-looking campsite on the opposite banks.
Written Nov 3, 2008
Address: Station Road
Yet another of Byron's familyhomes! I think this maybe a museum too but anyway it is an elegant Geargian buliding and overlooks a gorgeous, leafy green. The cute police station (best posting in Nottinghamshire??) and former Victorian prison are just next door.
Written Oct 20, 2008
The nostalgia factor of seeing rows and rows sweetie jars definitely make the goodies taste better! The shop has been on the site since the 1930's.
Paper bags of chocolate limes ( a Friday evening treat when I was little) and Gray's teacakes are always on my shopping list. The shop also sells chocolates, milkshakes and icecream.
Written Oct 20, 2008
Address: 34 King Street
Have a drink (or stay the night) at the Saracens Head Hotel. King Charles stayed here (then The Kings Head) at the start of the Civil War and again the night following his final defeat of 1646. The building is Elizabethan with Georgian, and more modern, additons. If you stay the night in the Bramley suite then you'll have the privilege of seeing Tudor period wall paintings.
The pub/hotel is at the posh end of the market ....four poster beds available!. We've enjoyed a good pint and tasty filled baguettes there on a cold autumn afternoon.
Written Oct 19, 2008
The minster is beautiful inside and out. It's most famous for it's carvings of leaves, heads and animals....seems quite pagan especially with several green men hiding in the undergrowth. There is also part of a roman mosaic that may have once been the floor of the saxon church. Besides the carvings my favourite thing to show visitors are the fish swimming downstream which once graced the ceiling of a roman villa.
There is no admission charge but they do ask for a donation for the upkeep.
Written Oct 16, 2008
Address: Church Street
This pub won awards a couple of years ago under different management. It is on the edge of the town heading toward Southwell racecourse. It has a charming courtyard beer garden and is quirky inside.
Written Oct 20, 2008
Southwell is the location Mr Matthew Bramley 'discovered' the apple in his garden in 1856 and apparently the tree is still fruiting. If you are British you will be familiar with the fruit as great for pies and crumbles!! Nearby to the Bramley house is the Bramley Apple pub, there is a community newspaper called the Bramley and Southwell even holds an apple festival!
Written Oct 16, 2008