Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin with attached chapter house


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin with attached chapter house, Church Street


Ordnance survey map of Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin with attached chapter house
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Statutory Address:
Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin with attached chapter house, Church Street

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Newark and Sherwood (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 70171 53802


SK7053 1919-0/11/43

SOUTHWELL CHURCH STREET (south west side) Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin with attached chapter house.


GV I Minster church and attached chapter house. Nave, aisles and west towers c1120-1250, on the site of an Anglo-Saxon church. Choir, aisles and east transept chapels c1233-1260. Chapter house 1290-1300. Choir screen c1337, and choir flying buttresses and transept chapel windows mid C14. Nave aisle east windows late C14. Nave west window and Choir gable window inserted and roofs renewed, C15. South west tower, nave and crossing tower reroofed following a fire, 1711-1714. Western spires removed by Richard Ingleman, 1801. Chapter house reroofed by William Wilkins Snr., 1803. West towers repaired 1816. West tower spires and chapter house roof reinstated, and nave and transept roofs renewed 1880 by Ewan Christian.

Ashlar with lead roofs. Romanesque, Early English and Decorated styles. Aisled nave with clerestorey and west towers, north porch, transepts, crossing tower, aisled choir with transeptal chapels, pilgrim chapel, cloister and vestibule, chapter house. Nave west end has two square towers, six stages, topped with square spires, with flat angle buttresses, sill band with nailhead, string courses and corbel tables. Fourth and sixth stages have Romanesque blind arcading, and fifth stages have blind arcading with pointed arches. Lowest stages have C19 Romanesque windows. Between the towers, an enriched Romanesque doorway, four orders, and above it a seven-light Perpendicular lancet with panel tracery. Above again, a crenellated parapet. Seven bay nave and aisles have zigzag sill band, moulded string course and wavy corbel tables, restored C19. Each aisle has shallow buttresses and to east, four triple lancets with hood moulds. To west, north aisle has two Romanesque windows, and south aisle, three. Above each window, a small rectangular light. Clerestorey has seven round windows each side. Outstandingly important north porch has plinth, enriched sill band, corbel table and coped gable with beast finial. Roll-moulded doorway, two orders, with hood mould. Above it, three graduated round headed windows with zigzag surrounds and cabled hood moulds, lighting a sacrist's room. On each side of the gable, a pinnacle with a conical cap, that to the west being a chimney.

Interior has elaborate interlaced arcading and stone benches, and rendered barrel vault. Heavily enriched inner doorway, five orders, with a pair of C14 doors with reticulated blind tracery. Transepts have plinths, flat buttresses, enriched sill band, string course, and wavy corbel table on east and west sides. North and south gables have two Romanesque windows on each stage, with shafts and impost bands. Upper windows cabled heads. Above again, two round windows. Both gables have relief decoration. South transept has, to west, an enriched segment headed Romanesque doorway with double shafts. West sides have fenestration similar to the gables, with the round windows offset towards the aisles. South transept has an additional round headed doorway to south. South transept has also two round windows on the east side. Unbuttressed square crossing tower, three stages, has string courses and corbel table and coped parapet with traceried round corner pinnacles. Intermediate pinnacles with ball finials. Second stage has Romanesque interlaced arcading with two small lancets ach side. Third stage has blind arcading with square shafts and three bell openings each side. Choir, seven bays, and aisles, seven smaller bays, have moulded plinth, sill bands, parapets and chamfered gabled buttresses, the angle buttresses at the east end topped with crocketed gabled pinnacles. Choir central bays have two flying buttresses, those to south with pinnacles. Choir has corbel table. East end has two tiers of four lancets with shafts and hood moulds, the upper tier larger and flanked by single blank windows. Above, in the gable, two pairs of small lancets in a depressed round headed opening. Choir has, to east, two lancets on each stage, those above being larger. All have shafts and hood moulds.

Clerestorey has on each side five pairs of smaller lancets. Each aisle has, to east, a single side window and at the east end a double lancet with a single smaller lancet above. South aisle has also two pairs of lancets flanked by single ones, that to east being smaller. All these windows have shafts and linked hood moulds. Parapeted transeptal chapels have each two lancets on their east sides and in their gables. South chapel has also a single lancet to west and in the return angle, a semicircular stair turret. Pilgrims' chapel, to east of north transept, has plinth and string courses and coped gable with lozenge band. North gable has a Decorated triple lancet and above it, C14 blind arcading with a single window. Above again, a C15 triple lancet with segmental pointed head. All these windows have shafts and hood moulds.

Single bay chapter house vestibule has an early English triple lancet with trefoils and hood mould. Octagonal chapter house has plinth, sill band, impost band, traceried corbel table with masks, and pierced balustrade with quatrefoils. Gabled angle buttresses surmounted by square shafts with hollowed sides, topped with crocketed pinnacles. Six triple lancets with trefoils and quatrefoils, all with shafts and hood moulds. Octagonal spire roof.

Nave interior has wagon roof and enriched string courses. Round piers with incised bands to capitals, and simply moulded arches with billet moulded faces. The western arches have sections of wall in place of the piers. Triforium has similar billet moulded arches with triple shafts and scallop capitals. Clerestorey has plain arches with similar single shafts and capitals. West end has an enriched central doorway. Aisles have roll-moulded rib vaults and round headed openings into the transepts. Crossing has cable moulded arches on each side, with hood moulds. Triple shafts to north and south, plain half-round shafts to the north and south transepts. Above each arch, round headed openings with shafts. Wagon roofed transepts have enriched and plain string courses. Gable ends have double round arched windows with central shaft. South west window has a doorway below it. Above, two windows with cable moulding and above them, two round windows. West sides have two roll-moulded windows and arches to aisles. Above, two cable-moulded windows and arches to nave galleries, and above again, three plain windows. East sides have plain arches to choir aisles and beyond, a larger arch, that to north c1260, with a double opening, clustered shaft and C20 screen. That to south, C19. Above, on either side, a three bay arcade and a plain arched opening, and above again, three plain windows with shafts. Choir and aisles have quadripartite vaults with ridge ribs, and arcades with clustered filleted shafts and heavily moulded arches with hood moulds. Combined triforium and clerestorey has sill band and paired openings with clustered shafts and hood moulds. Between them, clustered wall shafts. East end has two tiers each of four lancets with multiple shafts and hood moulds. South east side has an unusual five-seat sedilia with crocketed ogee canopies and figures.

North transeptal chapel (Chapel of St Thomas) has sill band and moulded rib vault with wall shafts. North side has an aumbry and east side a roll moulded double piscina. North choir aisle chapel (Airmens' Chapel) has similar design and fittings. South transeptal chapel (Chapel of the Saints) has similar vault and clustered shafts with stiff leaf capitals. East side has a gabled aumbry and south gable a double piscina with hood mould. To its right, a tomb recess. West side has a triple sedilia with filleted shafts. South choir aisle chapel (Chapel of St Oswald) has similar vault and to south a restored piscina and aumbry. To their right, a triple sedelia with clustered shafts. Rib vaulted Pilgrims' Chapel, to east of north transept, has clustered wall shafts and moulded sill band. North and south sides have gabled aumbries and south and east sides have piscinas. Choir screen has to west three arches with cusped heads and gables with foliate decoration, separated by shafts in the form of buttresses. More elaborate east side, restored early C19, has a central cusped ogee opening flanked on either side by a triple sedilia, all with elaborate ogee heads. Above, ornate gabled traceried panels with two openings either side, and a pierced crest. Single blank panels at either end.

Interior has traceried panelled walls and panelled flat ceiling with flying ribs. Cloister leading to chapter house has a double doorway with clustered central shaft and pierced tympanum. Naturalistic foliage capitals and band. On either side of the cloister, blind arcading with foliage capitals and hood moulds. Six of the eastern openings have glazed heads, and above them, mullioned lights, late C19. Chapter house vestibule has moulded rib vault and blind arcades to north and west with triple lancets above them. On the east side a very ornate archway with triple marble shafts, leading to the chapter house. Clustered central shaft forming two cusped doorways, with a quatrefoil above. Naturalistic foliage capitals and inner and outer bands of similar foliage. Chapter house has an ornamented rib vault without a central pier, and clustered wall shafts with foliage capitals. Around the walls, 36 stalls with cusped heads and elaborate crocketed gables. The tympana are filled with foliage and figure carving. The naturalistic carving in cloister, vestibule and chapter house is of outstanding interest and importance.

Memorials include a mutilated alabaster figure of an Archbishop, c1450, and an alabaster tomb chest with weepers and shields, topped with a lifelike effigy to Archbishop Edwyn Sandys, 1588. Life-size kneeling bronze figure on panelled and moulded alabaster chest, to George Ridding, first Bishop, 1904, designed by W.D Caröe and executed by Pomeroy, 1907. Bronze demi-figure on pedestal, 1925, to Bishop Hoskyns, by W Reynolds Stephen. Two wall tablets, 1750 and 1764. C20 oak war memorial in triptych form.

Fittings include reset Anglo-Saxon tympanum, choir stalls with misericords, two benches with poppyheads in south transept, panelled octagonal font with matching cover, 1661, C16 brass eagle lectern from Newstead, c1510. Two C19 wooden pulpits.

Listing NGR: SK7017153802

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 27 October 2017.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Leaves of Southwell, (1945)
Summers, N, The Chapter House Southwell Minster Guidebook, (1984)
Summers, N, Southwell Minster Guidebook, (1986)
Summers, N, A Prospect of Southwell, (1974), 30-47
Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Nottinghamshire, (1979), 319-328
War Memorials Online, accessed 27 October 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/188639
War Memorials Register, accessed 27 October 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/27438


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 30 Nov 2003
Reference: IOE01/11488/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Derek E. Godson. Source Historic England Archive
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