Southwell, Nottinghamshire

Southwell, Nottinghamshire

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 53.07
longitude= -0.95
map_type = Nottinghamshire
official_name= Southwell
population = 6,900 (approx)
shire_district= Newark and Sherwood
shire_county = Nottinghamshire
region= East Midlands
constituency_westminster= Newark
post_town= Southwell
postcode_district = NG25
postcode_area= NG
dial_code= 01636

static_image_caption=Southwell Minster

Southwell audio|En-southwell.ogg|pronounced (listen) is a small town in Nottinghamshire, England. It is best known as the site of Southwell Minster, the seat of the Church of England diocese that covers Nottinghamshire. Its population is about 6,900.

The origins of its name are not clear, but there a number of locations around the town which stake claim to being the original "well", most notably at GR708535 where a plaque also exists; in the "Admiral Rodney" public house; also on the south side of the Minster itself which in the 19th century was called Lady Well; and the right of the cloisters, hitherto called Holy Well. Norwell (pronounced "Norrell") lies approximately 8 miles northwest, which may support the notion of there being original "south" and "north" wells in the area. The town lies on the River Greet, approximately fourteen miles (22 km) northeast of Nottingham. In addition to the Minster (more correctly The Parish Church of St. Mary of Southwell), there are a number of other historic buildings in the town, notably the impressive prebendal houses along Church Street and Westgate, and the town's Methodist Church has the bizarre feature of an old right-of-way running underneath it, necessitating a considerably larger upstairs than downstairs seating capacity.

Early History

There is evidence of Roman settlement in the area, with remains of a very large and opulent Roman villa being excavated beneath the Minster and its Churchyard in 1959, [Daniels, C. M. "Excavations on the site of the Roman Villa in Southwell, 1959", Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire, Vol. 70, 1966, pp 13-33] with part of a mural found at that time now on display in the Minster. This villa is one of only three examples of its type to be found in the territories of the Corieltauvi (or Coritani) tribes - along with Scrampton in Lincolnshire and Norfolk Street in Leicestershire. A section of the Fosse Way runs on the opposite bank of the River Trent with evidence of a Roman settlement having been found at Ad Pontem ("to the bridge" or "at the bridge"), northwest of the current village of East Stoke. There is no specific evidence however of a road link between Ad Pontem and Southwell. Other contributions to the speculation that there was a Roman settlement in the town includes the use of several Roman bricks in the construction of some of the prebendary buildings around the Minster, remains of a fosse or ditch having been found on Burgage Hill in the 19th century, and conjecture that there may be additional Roman remains beneath the Church Street site of the recently vacated Minster School.

The Venerable Bede records the baptism by Paulinus of numerous converts in the "flood of the Trent" near Tiovulginacester in the presence of Edwin of Northumbria whom he had converted to the faith in 627. There is no agreement on the exact location of Tiovulginacester, but Paulinus certainly visited the locale, and it is possible that he founded the first church in Southwell.

It is believed that this predecessor of the existing Minster existed in Saxon times, as it is thought the remains of Eadburh of Repton, Abbess of Repton, and daughter of Ealdwulf of East Anglia are buried there. [Rollason, D. W., "List of Saints' Resting Places in Anglo-Saxon England", Anglo-Saxon England 7, 1978, p. 89] She became Abbess of Repton under the patronage of her King Wulfhere of Mercia, who was the husband of her second cousin, Eormenhild. She appears in the Life of Guthlac and is believed to have died around 700 AD, her remains being buried or later translated to Southwell Minster, where her relics were revered in the Middle Ages - "There resteth St. Eadburh in the Minster of Southwell near the water called the Trent".

Eadwy of England gifted land in Southwell to the then Archbishop of York, Oskytel in 956 and there is evidence today in the tessellated floor and the 11th century tympanum over a doorway in the North transept of the construction of the Minster from this time. This charter made by Eadwy is the first firmly dated reference to Southwell. The Domesday Book of 1086 has much detail of an Archbishop's Manor in Southwell.

From shortly after that period, a custom originated known as the Gate to Southwell. In 1109, the then Archbishop of York, Thomas I, wrote to each of the parishes in Nottinghamshire asking them to contribute to the building of the new mother church in Southwell. The proposal was agreed and each year at Whitsuntide the Mayor of Nottingham and representatives from every parish in the county would carry their contribution, known as the Southwell Pence, to the Minster to help pay for its upkeep. The procession, travelling on horseback or foot with much singing and dancing from the accompanying crowds, would set off from the Old Market Square in Nottingham headed by the Mayor and Corporation in their best ceremonial robes. Following on behind were the clergy, who used the occasion to catch up on church business, and lay people combining a pilgrimage with a holiday excursion to Southwell's grand Whitsun Fair. The Southwell Pence itself was paid in at the North Porch of the Minster being received by the Chapter Clerk. The curious name of this custom - the Southwell Gate - derives from the Scandinavian word “gata” meaning street or way to and in its original form it persisted well into the 16th century.

In 1189 Geoffrey Plantagenet came to Southwell to take up priests orders; and on 4 April 1194, King Richard along with the then King of Scots, William I, was in Southwell, having spent Palm Sunday in nearby Clipstone. The regal connections continued with multiple visits by King John between 1207 and 1213, ostensibly for the hunting in nearby Sherwood Forest, but also en-route with his troops on an expedition to Wales in 1212.

From 1300 to 1800

The building that is now called the "Saracen's Head" was originally built in 1463, after the land on that site had been gifted in 1396 by the then Archbishop of York, Thomas Arundel, to John and Margaret Fysher. When built, the first floor overhung the roadway in the vernacular of the time. The ground floor had subsequently been faced up to be flush with the floor above, but the original wall lines are still visible just inside the main arched entrance, along with the original half-timbered frontage.

In 1603, James VI of Scotland travelled through Southwell on his way to London to be crowned King James I.

The town featured on a number of occasions during the English Civil War, perhaps most notably the fact that King Charles I spent his last night as a free man in the public house now called the "Saracen's Head", but then called "The King's Head" in May 1646, before surrendering to the Scottish Army stationed at nearby Kelham. The fabric of the town and especially the Minster and Archbishop's Palace suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell's troops, as they sequestered the Palace as stabling for their horses, broke down the monuments, and ransacked the graves for lead and other valuables. As late as 1793, iron rings fastened to the walls to secure their horses to, were still in existence. The end of the Civil Wars left the original Archbishop's Palace in the ruinous state that can be still seen today, although the Great Hall remains. It is reputed that Cromwell also stayed in the "King's Arms" - in the very same rooms as Charles I.

In 1656, the original Bridewell was built on the Burgage, and enlarged in 1787 as it became a prison for the county at large. There is also evidence, however, that a House of Correction was built in the same area in 1611, so the Bridewell may itself have been an enlargement. Towards the end of this period in Southwell's history, an as yet insignificant, but soon to be important person in its heritage was born in 1796 in Balderton - Matthew Bramley.

The 19th century and later

By 1801, the population of Southwell was 2,305. In 1803, Lord Byron began his brief flirtation with Southwell, staying with his mother in Burgage House during his holidays from Harrow and then Cambridge. His mother rented the house; although by that time he had become 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale, the family home of Newstead Abbey required significant remedial work, which they could not afford.

Southwell once had a railway station on a branch line of the Midland Railway, running from Mansfield to Rolleston Junction, a station on the Nottingham-Newark-Lincoln line. The Mansfield to Southwell section, which passed through a mining area, was an early casualty, closing in August 1929. Southwell to Rolleston Junction hung on till June 1959 before closing. Rolleston Junction station remains open, now called simply Rolleston, and is very close to Southwell Racecourse, which in turn is about three miles southeast of Southwell itself. The village of Rolleston was once home to children's illustrator Kate Greenaway.

outhwell Today

As the site of a Church of England cathedral, the town is sometimes considered to be a city, and was treated as such in the 1911 Encyclopedia. However, its city status is not recognised by the government.

The town is something of an oddity for north Nottinghamshire, being visibly affluent, when compared with its near neighbours of Newark-on-Trent and Mansfield. Whereas agriculture and coal respectively have seen the fortunes of the other two towns fluctuate over the years, Southwell has remained an area of residence for many of Nottingham's richest residents. fact|date =August 2007 The local secondary school Southwell Minster School is often mistaken for a private institution, but is in fact state-funded. It gets the best GCSE results in Nottinghamshire (including Nottingham).fact|date =August 2007 The school supplies the Minster choir, and until recently there was a boarding section for choirboys in the town.

Southwell Holy Trinity C of E Infants School, the smallest of the other three schools in Southwell, caters for children aged 4-7 who come from Southwell and the surrounding villages. Southwell's other Infant School, Lowes Wong Infant School, was recently awarded the top rating in all 24 categories in its Ofsted report.It was here that the well-known Bramley cooking apple was first seeded.fact|date =August 2007 The apple is now used across the cookery world, and is renowned for its sweet taste. The local football club, Southwell City, is nicknamed "The Bramleys", and the towns new Library and Youth Centre is known as 'The Bramley Centre' in honour of the town's contribution to British cuisine.

The town is accessed from Newark and Nottingham by the A612, and from north Nottingham and villages to the west by the B6386. The A617 primary route passes 2 miles to the north of the town in Hockerton, and the A1 and A46 trunk routes are both 7 miles away in Newark. The railway station at the nearby village of Fiskerton has had a small car park built in recent years to cater for Southwell commuters. Southwell is also served by Nottingham City Transport's rural Pathfinder service to Nottingham and Newark, and Stagecoach Lincolnshire (Mansfield) service to Mansfield and Newark. There are other infrequent services to nearby villages.

Pronunciation controversy

The exact pronunciation of Southwell remains a subject of debate. The clergy of the town, the Minster and the broader Diocese use the pronunciation Suth-ull, and have done so for many decades. Contrastingly, the local farmers over quite a broad tract of country - as far as Newark and beyond to the east, refer to it as South-wull (not South-well), and are adamant this is the correct form. Only people outside the local community (or newcomers to it) pronounce it in its 'literal' form South-well.

For many centuries Southwell (as it is now spelled) was actually written (and thus probably spoken) as Sothwell. In older records the town appears in older records as Sudwell, sud being French for south. Additionally, the old English (pre-Norman) pronunciation of south is 'suth'. It is therefore likely that Suth-ull (or something similar) is the older form.

Both pronunciations are acceptable, and there are no real guidelines.

ee also

* The Workhouse, Southwell — the former parish workhouse; the prototype for many around the country. Now a National Trust property.
* Dumble - a local word used to refer to a small wooded area.


# Daniels, C.M. "Excavations on the site of the Roman villa at Southwell, 1959", Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. 70, 1966, pp 13-33

* Arundel, Betty M., "Southwell - A History Walk", The Southwell Civic Society, 2001
* Barry, F.R., "Period of my Life (Bishop of Southwell)", Hodder & Stoughton, 1970
* Beaumont, R.M. "A Flash of Lightning on Guy Fawkes Night, 1711: The Fire at Southwell Minster", The Thoroton Society, 1973
* Beaumont, R.M. "The Chapter of Southwell Minster, a Story of 1,000 years", Unknown Publisher, 1956
* Bishop, M., "An Archaeological Resource Assessment of Roman Nottinghamshire", EMARF, unknown date
* Boyes, M., "Love without wings: The story of the unique relationship between Elizabeth Bridget Pigot of Southwell and the young poet, Lord Byron", J.M. Tatler & Son, 1988
* Buckler, J. "The Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, Southwell", Bermondsey, 1810
* Clark, T.H. "The History and Antiquities of Southwell Collegiate Church", J. Whittingham, 1838

Bus Services

* Nottingham City Transport

* 100: Nottingham - Carlton - Burton Joyce - Lowdham - Southwell

* Stagecoach East Midlands

* 29: Mansfield - Rainworth - Southwell - Newark

* Veolia (Dunn-Line)

* 29B: Newark - Southwell - Bilsthorpe
* 61: Nottingham - Sherwood - Arnold - Lambley - Lowdham - Calverton - Southwell - Newark

* Travelwright

* 227: Newark - Southwell - Bilsthorpe - Edwinstowe
* V1: Newark - Southwell - Lowdham

* Premiere (Shoplink)

* S9: Southwell - Lowdham - Burton Joyce - Victoria Park

* Sherwood Countryman Buses

* CM2 Maplebeck Eakring - Kirklington - Southwell

External links

* [ Holy Trinity Infants School]
* [ The Minster School]
* [ The Gate to Southwell Folk Festival]
* [ Southwell Artists website]

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