Southwell Minster has been awarded a £1.9million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant towards the implementation of plans that seek to conserve and celebrate the internationally renowned Leaves of Southwell.
These 13th century naturalistic carvings are amongst the finest in Europe and have long been a source of inspiration to artists and writers. The project aims to enable more people to visit and enjoy the Leaves, the Minster and its environs and to secure the fabric of the building.
The wide-ranging scheme includes the renewal of the main east roof and the stabilisation of the Chapter House environment to preserve the stonework. Lighting of the Chapter House will be introduced for the first time together with under floor heating.
Accessibility is at the heart of the project and a cantilever lifting platform will help visitors with mobility issues into the passageway leading to the Chapter House. Improved external lighting will make the western paths and main north porch much more useable and welcoming in dark or inclement weather.
The Education Garden, which already offers a place of health and wellbeing, will be doubled in size enabling the growth of the plant species seen in the Chapter House. This will build on the success of a previous collaboration with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and, in addition, an outdoor classroom will be a focus for education activities.
The Dean of Southwell, the Very Revd Nicola Sullivan said, “This is a thrilling opportunity for us to engage with new and diverse audiences – including National Lottery players who have made this grant possible. Southwell Minster is Nottinghamshire’s cathedral and its most loved building. It is a wonderful educational resource to visitors from far and near.”
The Canon Chancellor, Nigel Coates, said: “The Leaves of Southwell are hugely significant as part of our artistic heritage but also have so much to teach us about the need to treasure the natural world. The project will ensure future generations continue to be inspired by the Leaves of Southwell.”
Director Nicholas Rank has been Surveyor to the Fabric of Southwell Minster since 2009 and is working with the Minster to deliver the project.
He added: “The Leaves of Southwell are regarded as the best example of 13th century naturalistic carvings in the country, yet they have been at risk for some time. This vital National Lottery funding will enable us to preserve, interpret and better present these important carvings so that they can be enjoyed and appreciated for many years to come.”
Cover image © Copyright Richard Croft