Southwell Minster

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary,  Sunday,  29th  March 2009

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vinegar bottle

IT’S SO RARE for us to head down the M1 these days. We usually head for the coast or the Lake District but Sherwood Forest is only an hour or so south of us and only a little further is Southwell Minster, a place I’ve always wanted to visit since I saw David Measures’ drawings of the carvings in the chapter house in the television series Bellamy’s Britain in the 1970s.


We’re here for a christening so at last I have a chance to see them (although the angel, left, is in the Bishop’s Palace adjacent to the Minster). It’s good to see this attractive building in spring sunlight. In fact it looks so perfect today - and so different to the gothic cathedrals that I’m familiar with - that if you saw it on television you’d wonder if it was a product of computer graphics. It would be at home in a French market town - perhaps in Normandy.


The carvings of faces, vines and oak leaves are done with such energy and such humour that they seem to have a life of their own. It’s appropriate to be here in early spring because some of the sculptures celebrate the spirit of the greenwood with carvings of the Green Man. Perhaps the not surprising with Sherwood Forest lying so near.

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