Chapter XII.
Southwell Minster, Newark, Lincoln.

Southwell Minster.
Southwell Minster.

St. Mary's Cathedral* stands well back from the street in an extensive old burial ground. Before entering, take a look at the whole from the north-west, and you will see what an effective grouping is made by the three towers and the projecting north transept and chapter house. The large Perpendicular window and battlement over it are not part of the original church, and only break the harmony of the Norman work. This is very fine in the mouldings of the west door and the north porch, which has a chamber over it, a rarity in Norman work.


In the Interior we get a fine impression of space com­bined with strength. The arcades of the nave are supported on massive circular columns. The triforium and clerestory are uniform with the lowest tier, being formed of round-headed Norman arches, but the outer apertures of the clerestory windows are circular, a very peculiar feature. The central tower is supported by magnificent arches, ornamented with bold cable-moulding. The aisles have stone-vaulted ceilings, while the nave has a fine oak barrel vault, restored in 1882. The transepts consist of three stages, like the nave, and out of the northern one opens a beautiful chapel of Early English design. At the end of this transept is an alabaster tomb of Archbishop Sandys, who died 1588.

The old Norman choir no longer exists, and the alterations at different times account for the differences of style which can here be observed. The Stone Screen, supporting the organ, belongs to the Decorated period, fourteenth century, the foliage of the capitals and diaper work of the backs of the stalls being beautifully carved.


The light, graceful Early English style of the CHOIR is in strong contrast with the massive Norman work of the nave. The piers supporting the main arches consist of clusters of filleted columns ; the combined clerestory and triforium windows are graceful lancets, two being above each main arch. The characteristic of the Early English window is its pointed head, ornamented by plain, often much hollowed, mouldings, and rows of " dog-tooth" ornament. Four such windows are grouped at the east end, over the altar, and the glass contained in them, in the lower tier, is from the chapel of the Knights Templars in Paris. The floor is paved with marble, and the ceiling is a beautiful and perfect specimen of Early English vaulting. In the south aisle is a set of finely Decorated canopied sedilia. There are small transepts on each side of the choir, intended to serve as chapels and containing piscinas and aumbries. The BRASS LECTERN has an interesting story, having been found in a pond at Newstead about 1750, where it was probably thrown at the dissolution of the monastery. The shaft bears the following inscription:—" Orate pro ana Randulphi Savage et pro anabus Omn Fidelium Defunctorium."

Chapter House.

This is one of the sights of Southwell. It is entered from the north aisle of the choir, with which it is connected by a short cloister, which has double arcading on the walls. The Chapter House doorway consists of a wide principal arch, divided by two small ones, supported by clustered columns. The carving is most lifelike and elaborate, the chief feature being the vine. The whole of the Chapter House is in the Early Decorated style, the capitals of columns and other parts being carved to represent natural foliage—the oak, the vine, ivy, maple, etc. Grotesque animals are also introduced. The shape is octagonal, with central column supporting the stone vaulting. A stone bench runs all round, having fine stalls on each side, these having canopied backs, richly carved. Much of the glass is old, depicting various heraldic devices.

A slab of Derbyshire grey stone has lately been placed over Bishop Ridding's grave, outside the Cathedral, south of the choir, and it is intended to place a kneeling effigy to his memory inside the sacred edifice.

The extensive ruins of the Palace of the Archbishops of York are on the south-east of the minster. A portion of the palace, including one of the great halls, was restored by Dr. Trollope, late Suffragan Bishop of Nottingham, in 1882. The present Bishop of Southwell intends to make his residence here, and rebuild the palace, the first stone of which was laid by his lordship in 1905. Wolsey was a frequent visitor to the old palace, and some of his letters, while he lay under the King's displeasure, were written here.

The Rector's residence, with its beautiful garden, and a double row of picturesque houses, built for the residential clergy, lie east of the Cathedral.


(Seven miles from Southwell by road, or by train via Rolleston Junction. Twenty miles from Nottingham, Midland or Great Northern.) This is a town of great antiquity, situated on the Roman Fosse-Way between Lincoln and Bath. The Castle is a fine ruin, and occupying a splendid site, is seen from the Midland Railway on entering the town. Other objects of interest are the Gilstrap Free Library, in Castle Gate, the Ossington Coffee Tavern, near the main street, and the well-preserved Beaumont Cross, some five hundred years old. The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene is a fine cruciform building with handsome spire, the main portions being Perpendicular, though traces of earlier work can be seen. There is an elaborate oak screen of the date 1508, a valuable painting—"The Raising of Lazarus," and an unusual number of brasses in fine condition. There are chantry chapels on either side of the choir, the altar-piece being of carved Ancaster stone. The Lady Chapel contains some old carved stalls and a fine tomb.

Lincoln, fifteen miles from Newark, thirty-five from Nottingham. Rail, Midland best. A most interesting half-day excursion. Another day might be spent in visiting the Cathedral City of Lichfield, about forty miles via Derby.

The town of Lincoln is naturally divided into two parts, one being level down in the Witham valley, where the railway stations are, and the other occupying the steep and lofty hill, which is crowned by the noble Cathedral. We journey up from the station through the ancient Stone Bow, an old town gate, above which is the Guild Hall, and afterwards, toiling up a narrow lane, deservedly known as Steep Hill. Carriages go round to the right, an easier route, by Silver Street and New Road. In Steep Hill are two ancient buildings, known as the Jews' House, showing excellent remains of Norman Transitional architecture. Arrived at the top we have Castle Hill on our left, leading to the Castle, which may be visited for the view, and on our right the Exchequer Gate, a fine example of a Decorated gate-house, originally built for the protection of the precincts of the clergy.

The Cathedral.

We are now in sight of the magnificent West Front of the Cathedral, consisting of the great western towers and west end of the nave, with its gabled centre and profusion of delicate arcading. Norman, Early English, and Perpendicular styles are all seen here.

There was an older, Norman, Cathedral, the foundations of which have been traced. The choir and eastern transepts were built by St. Hugh of Lincoln, and finished by the year 1200, thus forming the earliest and one of the most beautiful examples of Early English work to be seen in the country. The present eastern part, known as the "Angel Choir," from the figures carved in the spandrels of the triforium arcade, was erected in place of the original east end in 1280. This is in Geometrical or Early Decorated style. Before this the nave, transepts, and Central or Rood Tower had been completed, the latter being the tallest and finest central tower in England.

In the Cloisters we see the Early English developing into Decorated; the beautifully carved rood-screen, now supporting the organ, is Decorated, of about the same period, and some of the canopied tombs, like the chantries, are later. The Chapter House is very spacious, and has a fine Early English vaulted ceiling. The Cloister Square is completed by Sir Christopher Wren's Library of Classic design, which is out of harmony with its surroundings. From early times the Bishops of Lincoln had a palace on the south side of the Close. The present building is, to a large extent, the work of Dr. King, the present Bishop.

Two old churches, St. Mary-le-Wigford and St. Peter-at-Gowts, have Saxon towers, and near the latter church are the so-called John of Gaunt's Stables, part of the building being Norman. The High Bridge over the River Witham, is one of the oldest in England. It has buildings upon it, and some of its arches belong to Norman and Early English times.

* For further information see Mr. G. M. Livett's account of Southwell Minster, to which we are much indebted for some of the facts mentioned.