Southwell Minster


Blessed Sacrament windowFounded in Saxon times but the present building was begun in 1108. The Nave, towers and transepts are Romanesque; the Quire, early English; the Chapter House with its very fine “Leaves of Southwell” is transitional and the Pulpitum is Decorated.

The Minster became the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Southwell in 1884. It is set in the heart of rural Nottinghamshire in a delightfully unspoiled small town with some very fine Georgian and Queen Anne Houses.

Sitting next to the Minster is the Archbishop’s Palace. A place alive with heritage, our site reflects history in a dynamic way. From the new, multisensory gardens and grounds to the Palace itself, to a stimulating programme of special events and workshops — you�ll find a place steeped in history and new ways to engage with our shared heritage as never before.

The story of the Archbishops Palace is a richly diverse and complex one. Over Centuries this seemingly tranquil spot has seen change and turmoil.

Once the site of a Roman villa, an Anglo Saxon church was built from the Roman ruins. In the 10th Century it is believed archbishops built the first residence, which evolved and changed over time. The Palace that exists today was created atop medieval ruins of an earlier Palace of the Archbishops of York.

As it belonged to one of the most important men in the kingdom, the Palace was suitably grand, hosting many as they journeyed across the land, including priests, archbishops, kings and a cardinal. The Palace sheltered two pivotal men whose actions shaped the nation: Cardinal Wolsey (c 1473-1530) stayed here after failing to get Henry VIII�s first marriage annulled by the Pope. So too did King Charles I (1600-1649), whose struggles with Parliament led to Civil War. During the Civil War the Palace was partially dismantled and left in ruin for more than 150 years.

In Georgian times the Palace was home to a �respectable seminary for young ladies� as well as used for the �Soke of Southwell�, the magistrate�s court. In 1884 the Palace was first restored as a residency under Bishop Trollope, when the Minster obtained cathedral status. Today the building is filled with the vitality of youthful singing from the Song School, an integral part of the Minster since 1234.
Today the Archbishop�s Palace is home to the Song School. A choir has sung daily in the Minster for more than 900 years. It is believed that the school had its origins since before the Norman Conquest, making it one of the oldest schools in the country. Today choristers are educated at the Minster School, a Church of England Comprehensive & Junior School with music speciality specialism. The men’s choir has in recent years been augmented by a girls choir and a voluntary community choir, the Minster Chorale.
Here at the Palace the children rehearse and are taught the art of singing, music theory, and music appreciation. Each choir has a dedicated room and rehearsal space. The Education Garden is a fantastic place to explore and discover the history of the site through living plants. The features of the enclosed garden are inspired by medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian gardens, reflecting the timeline of the Palace.

A wonderful landscape with wide open lawns, it is full of herbs, shrubs and flowering plants chosen not only for their historical relevance, but also for their shape and beauty. Special areas of the grounds have been set aside to encourage wildlife. The woodland area provides links to the famous �Leaves of Southwell� � the thirteenth century carved stone leaves in Southwell Minster�s Chapter House.

The Archbishop�s Palace at Southwell Minster is a wonderful day out for clubs, coach tours, organisations or a group of friends. We welcome everyone; come discover the history, beauty and tranquillity of our site. Steeped in rich heritage and with a truly fascinating history, there�s something for everyone.



The Minster contains some fine modern works of art including the 9 feet Reigning Christ by Peter Ball. The West window has recently been reglazed to the design of Patrick Reyntiens.

Local Interest

From summer 2014, visitors to the Minster will also be able to enjoy a visit to the newly renovated medieval Archbishop's Palace and gardens. Follow us on Twitter @ABPSouthwell. Situated on the south side of the Minster, this is a site of considerable historical interest.

Southwell Workhouse is a National Trust property a short distance away, and the town has some lovely shops, tea rooms, trails and walks available.