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Southwell, Nottinghamshire

Historical Description

Southwell, a town and a parish in Notts, which became the head of a diocese, comprising the counties of Derby and Notts and parts of other counties, in 1884. The town stands on Ermine Street, and on the river Greet, on a short branch of the M.R., 8 miles W of Newark. It was known to the Saxons as Fingaceaster, grew around a church founded in 627 by Paulinus, had a palace of the Archbishops of York, which was frequently occupied by Wolsey, and is now represented by ruins of its chapel and hall; a part of the palace has been restored, and is used as a church house for the diocese. The town was the place where Charles I. slept before surrendering himself to the Scottish army; contains a house where the poet Byron's mother lived, and where Byron himself spent many of his early days; is a seat of petty sessions; and gives the title of Viscount to the Southwells of Hinlip. It consists of five parts, called High Town, East Thorpe, West Thorpe, Burgage, and Normanton; presents a straggling appearance, and has a head post office, a railway station, two banks, a court-house, a police station, two churches, Baptist and Wesleyan chapels, a museum, a free library, a grammar school, a workhouse with infirmary, and fairs on the third Mondays in April and September; races are held in May and October. Malting is carried on, and there are silk and lace-factories; bricks and baskets are also made; a large area of land is under osier cultivation. The cathedral church of St Mary the Virgin occupies the site of the ancient church of Paulinus; dates in its present state from 1109; was restored in 1804, and thoroughly restored in 1882 at a cost of about £20,000, when the roof, which had previously been flat-pitched, was raised to its original height; is a grand cruciform structure, 306½ feet from E to W, and 122½ feet along the transepts; exhibits richly artistic features of Norman, Early English, and Decorated styles; contains sedilia, stalls, and several interesting monuments; includes an octagonal chapterhouse; was collegiate before the Norman Conquest, and still has a prebendary. Trinity Church was built in 1844, at a cost of about £4000, is in the Early English style, and has a tower with lofty spire.

The parish contains also the hamlets of Normanton and Brinkley, and comprises 4936 acres; population, 2831. There is a parish council consisting of fifteen members, Roman bricks and coins have been found. The two ecclesiastical parishes of St. Mary the Virgin and Holy Trinity have a population of 2129 and 702 respectively. The living of St Mary's is a rectory in the diocese of Southwell; gross value, £800. Patron, the Bishop. Holy Trinity is a vicarage; gross value, £255 with residence.

The Diocese of Southwell comprises the entire county of Derby, except parts of the ecclesiastical parishes of Appleby, Blackfordby and Woodville (in the diocese of Peterborough), and Clifton Campville with Chilcote, Edingale, and Mayfield (in the diocese of Lichfield); part of Leicester, viz., the ecclesiastical parish of Ravenstone, and parts of Donisthorpe and Sawley; part of Lincoln, viz., part of the ecclesiastical parish of Harby with Swinethorpe; the entire county of Nottingham, except part of the ecclesiastical parish of Woodsetts (in the diocese of York); part of Stafford, viz., part of the ecclesiastical parish of Croxall with Oakley and Catton; part of West Riding, Yorkshire, viz., the ecclesiastical parish of Bawtry with Austerfield; and parts of Finningley and Shireoaks. Population, 975,969. The income of the bishop is £3500. There is a bishop suffragan of Derby (who resides at Derby), and archdeacons at Derby and Nottingham.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyNottinghamshire 
Ecclesiastical parishSouthwell St. Mary 
Poor Law unionSouthwell 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Southwell from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Nottinghamshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Southwell are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Nottinghamshire newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Nottinghamshire 1569 & 1614 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictNewark and Sherwood
RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtNG25
Post TownSouthwell