(active 1108-1114 in Nottinghamshire)

Exterior view

Minster, Southwell, Nottinghamshire

The first third of the twelfth century saw the start and extension of several important monastery and bishop's churches. Southwell Minster (dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and cathedral of Nottinghamshire since 1884) has been a Minster (or missionary church) covering most of Nottinghamshire since Saxon times. Sometimes called the "village cathedral," it boasts Roman remains, a Saxon carving, solid Norman architecture and the famous chapter house filled with unique carvings.

The church was begun by Archbishop Thomas II of York (1108-1114) as a collegiate church. The church is among the earliest buildings to have rectangular choirs or ambulatories. This type of ambulatory, which appears to be an invention of the English Romanesque period, can be traced back to continental ambulatory crypts of the late Carolinian period.

The nave of the church is a variation of the English high Romanesque period that are full of character. Three storeys that decrease in height (arcade with round pillars, gallery without a tympanum, round window behind a walkway) support a wooden vault, and the side aisles have an early rib vaulting that is inserted on consoles.

The distinctive west towers that flank the broad entrance doorway were originally topped with spires but these were replaced with the current pyramidal roofs in 1880. Above the west door is a huge 15th century window that helps fill the interior with light.

The photo shows the west façade.

View the ground plan of Southwell Minster.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.