National Lottery money to safeguard historic Southwell Minster

One of many mysterious green men among the 'Leaves of Southwell'

Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire has been awarded an initial National Lottery grant of £352,697 to develop a £3m project that will protect, interpret and better present its medieval carvings known collectively as ‘The Leaves of Southwell’. 

Located in Southwell’s Chapter House, these late 13th-century stone carvings of plants, animals and green men are internationally renowned. They have been an imaginative source of inspiration to artists and writers from J.M.W. Turner to Hilary Mantel but they are currently at risk. 

The main east roof of the Minster, adjacent to the Chapter House, is leaking and needs to be replaced. If successful in securing its full grant of £2.2m from HLF, the project will undertake new research and necessary structural work to secure the building and make it water-tight. In addition, appropriate heating and environmental auditing will be undertaken to ensure preservation of the ‘Leaves’.   

This project will also enable more people to learn about and enjoy ‘The Leaves of Southwell’.  They will be digitally recorded, conserved and illuminated.  Better interpretation will also enable future generations to understand their international significance.  

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of HLF, said: “The nation’s historic places of worship are brimming with heritage treasures and Southwell Minster is a particularly fine example.  This vital National Lottery funding will both ensure the fabric of this marvellous building is secure and enable more people to visit and enjoy it.  Making the Minster more accessible will also contribute to making it more sustainable, ensuring future generations can marvel at its glories.” 

The Dean of Southwell, The Very Reverend Nicola Sullivan, said: “This is very welcome news for the Minster, Southwell and Nottinghamshire. We are pleased to be working again with HLF, who supported our recent project to open up the Archbishop’s Palace and create a new public garden. The Chapter House carvings are a vastly significant educational resource and we look forward to making them much better known and accessible.”

The Minster’s Canon Chancellor, Nigel Coates, leads the project and he comments “Southwell Minster’s wide-ranging scheme incorporates much new research along with necessary structural work. The main east roof of the Minster, adjacent to the Chapter House, is leaking and needs to be replaced. Within the Chapter House appropriate heating and environmental auditing have become essential, while the introduction of proper modern lighting and an exciting activity plan will ensure future generations continue to be fascinated and inspired by ‘The Leaves of Southwell.’

Immediate plans include a Day Conference on Saturday 3 February 2018 with distinguished speakers that include Paul Binski (Art Historian), John Rodwell (Ecologist), Philip Dixon (Archaeologist) and Alison Milbank (Theologian).

Places of worship are amongst the oldest and most precious buildings in the UK. That’s why, since 1994 HLF has invested more than £850m of National Lottery money, across a number of its grant programmes, to secure the future of these much loved buildings. This money has been awarded through HLF’s Heritage Grants programme, which provides grants between £100,000 and £5m. 

Further information

Southwell Minster: Charles Leggatt charles@southwellminster.org.uk 07968 499 550

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