< Back to: Find walks and rides

Historic Southwell

Southwell's Town Trail is packed with historical sites, making this one of the most informative and enjoyable walks in Nottinghamshire.

The Southwell Minster has been the Cathedral Church of Nottinghamshire since 1884. The first sight is the massive Norman Nave but as you move around the church you become aware of the delicacy of of the 13th Century Chapter House, The Choir and Eastern transepts. It is truly an evolution of building structure from Norman to Gothic.

 Route type  walk (circular)
 Distance  2.2 miles
 Surface and gradients  mixed surface and no steep gradients
 Parking nearby  yes
 On bus routes  yes - plan a journey
 On-road sections  yes
 Starting point  The Minster
 OS map number  Explorer 271


  1. Following the Trail past important Georgian buildings such as the North Muskham Prebend, Cranfield House and the Woodborough Prebend Ashleigh, you will eventually reach Bramley Tree Cottage. In the garden behind the tree that produced the original Bramley apple still stands. It was planted in the early 19th Century, enabling local nurseryman Mr Merryweather to establish the now famous variety.
  2. Arriving at Burgage Green, you will be confronted by the daunting gateway to the House of Correction, built back in 1807. Although this is well preserved, the rest of the prison has long since disappeared.

  3. Close by is Burgage Manor, which was occupied by Lord Byron and his mother between 1804 and 1806. The old water pump at the southern end of Burgage Green can still be seen, though it has been moved from its original position.

  4. Following the Trail past the Health Centre, the Wheatsheaf Inn and the old market area will lead you on to Queen Street and one of Southwell's most well known landmarks, The Saracen's Head. This inn is where Charles I spent his last few days of freedom in 1646 before giving himself up to the Scottish Commissioners. Lord Byron is said to have taken part in amateur theatricals here.

  5. Passing the Gothic style Sacrista Prebend and the 17th Century Rampton Prebend, you will soon arrive at Bishop's Manor and the remains of the Palace. In 1907, the Manor was built into the ruins of the old Palace, which dates back to the 1400s. Cardinal Wolsey spent his last summer there in 1530 while Charles I retreated to the Palace after defeat in the Battle of Naseby in 1645 almost a year before his final surrender at the Saracen's Head.

History of Southwell

The name 'South Well' is first recorded in the charter 956AD, which granted the manor to Archbishop Oskytel of York. But Southwell was already an ancient place - a Roman villa has been found to the east of The Minster, and it is possible that this is why the site was chosen for an important church.

Many of the town's most interesting buildings are the 'prebendal' houses, part of the special arrangements for supporting the priests known as 'prebendaries' who helped in the running of the Minister. Southwell also became an important market centre during medieval times, and the tight street patterns of that era still exist today around King Street.