Southwell Minster

Said by many to be the best kept secret among the forty two English cathedrals, it is a gem dating from 1108.

About this church

In 956AD King Eadwig of Wessex grants Oskytel, Archbishop of York, lands in Nottinghamshire (possibly the estate of the former Roman villa) and over the next century or so a Collegiate church with a Chapter of canons following a distinct set of rules began to form.

The Archbishop of York authorised the rebuilding of the Anglo Saxon church and the building we know today was started. Very little of the early rebuild remains (on account of later construction) but by the 1120s work had reached the arches below the central tower, which still survive. Simon Jenkins notes 'it retains its three Norman towers, two of them with the conical spires once common to Norman churches'.

Around 1300AD the Minster's Chapter House, renowned for its extraordinary carved stone leaves and green men, is finished. It is today widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in England and the great architectural historian, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, devoted a complete book to its glories. The pulpitum (1340) is also notable. 

The Minster came through the Reformation's turbulent period relatively unscathed but in the Civil War the building was damaged and may have been used as stables by Roundhead forces (King Charles I spent a final night of freedom at a local Inn).

In 1851 the celebrated Victorian architect, Ewan Christian, begins a sympathetic restoration of the building. Two modern works of art, Christ in Majesty by Peter Eugene Ball (1987) and a west end window by John Piper's long term collaborator Patrick Reyntiens (1996) enhance the interior.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Train station within 250m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Non-accessible toilets in church
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café in church
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike
  • Church shop or souvenirs

Other nearby churches

St Mary the Virgin

The church has an idyllic setting within a quintessential English country churchyard.

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