(active 1108-1114 in Nottinghamshire)

Interior 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.

Southwell Minster belongs to a group which around 1120 replaced the stone vaults planned in the eleventh century with wooden vaults. They distinguished themselves by means of their alternating systems of supports and increasing use of decorative features, as well as the repeated later inclusion - though only in the side aisles - of the increasingly fashionable ribs.

The photo shows a view of the nave towards the east.

View the ground plan of Southwell Minster.

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