Despite living fairly close by (well, roughly a 40 minute bus journey away) I’d never been to Southwell Minster before and decided to rectify that in January. Thankfully I had chosen a day that was cold but otherwise bright, and before the chance of snow was something to worry about.
Located in the small town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, not far from Nottingham, it actually has quite an interesting architectural history, with Roman, Norman and Saxon influences.
There are some lovely examples of stained glass windows in the Minster such as those below, depicting angels, in the Great West window. These were installed in 1996 after the replacement of the original windows in the 15th century.
Another highlight is the Chapter House, reached through a gated archway from the north Quire. It was modelled on the Chapter House at York Minster, with a vault unsupported by a central pillar, but the vault here is made of local Mansfield stone.
In a monastery the Chapter House was the room where monks met each day to hear a reading and discuss business and some Minsters, such as Southwell, created Chapter Houses as similar areas for their clergy to meet.
The entrance and sides of the Chapter House are decorated with leaves and foliage and faces, like below, and also animals and strange mythical beasts.
Nottinghamshire has a large Polish community, and this is reflected in the Airmen’s Chapel where flags of the RAF and Poland hang to commemorate those who have lost their lives in conflict since the end of the First World War. Next to this is also the Katyn memorial, behind which is an urn containing soil from the forest.
The Minster is actually a really nice place to visit. All the staff I encountered were very friendly and welcoming. There is no fee to go in, though they strongly encourage donations and there is a £5 photography permit, which I obviously paid. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
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