Work has started on Phase Two of The Leaves of Southwell, a £1.9 million National Lottery Heritage Fund project to conserve and celebrate Southwell Minster’s internationally renowned naturalistic carvings.
Dating from 13th-century, the fluid carvings of plants, animals and green men found within the Chapter House – known collectively as ‘The Leaves of Southwell’ – are among the finest in Europe and have long been a source of inspiration to artists and writers.
However, they have faced risk of deterioration due to exposure to leaking roofs, rising damp, and a lack of appropriate heating and environmental controls.
The overall project will secure the fabric of the building while improving interpretation and access to enable more people to visit and enjoy the Leaves, the Minster and its environs.
The first phase of the project has involved the renewal of the Choir roof to secure the fabric of the building and is due to complete in July.
Work on the second phase will involve delicate conservation work to the carvings, lighting of the Chapter House will be introduced for the first time, and the floor will be lifted and relayed with underfloor heating. Improved external lighting will make the western paths and main north porch more usable, while heritage interpretation will allow more people to engage with the carvings.
Accessibility is also a key part of the project a cantilever lifting platform will be installed to help visitors with mobility issues into the passageway leading to the Chapter House.
Work on the project is being led by Director Nicholas Rank, who is the Cathedral's Surveyor to the Fabric, and is due to complete in Spring 2021.