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Southwell >  Google™ Map Sep 2021  Nottinghamshire Coat of Arms

south south + well well. Population - 7,297.

England-Nottinghamshire Flag UK > England > Nottinghamshire

Sep 2021

Nottinghamshire Coat of Arms

Two return tickets to 'Southwell' please...
Erm, '
South-well?'...
It's all right,
I've got this... 'South-well?'

Well, that's saved you a few bob because the driver's just kicked you off his bus. Three strikes and you're out in this part of Nottinghamshire. It's pronounced 'Suh-thull' as in 'Suh thu'll be off to Suh-thull  miduck?'

Somewhere well south is indeed being headed to but not by bus and not until tomorrow so here makes for a handy, halfway overnighter somewhere near Newark-on-Trent. The, erm,  Saracen's Head has been saddled with snoozing duties and it ain't half got a bit of history to it.

Dating from 1463, they say, King Charles I, no less, spent his last night of freedom here before being betrayed and handed over to Cromwell. Not that any headless hauntings were witnessed in the corridors nor, for that matter, not much else, neither.

Despite an attractive, outdoor area, they're still not fully functioning after full-on you-know-what so aperitifs and sustenance will have to be sourced elsewhere but more on that in a minute.

The Saracen's isn't the only thing with a bit of history. Peeping over the parapets is a pair of 'pepperpot' spires and WHOA! Who put this here?

Most of Southwell Minster is mid-12th century and, get this, it's a cathedral! Yes, Southwell can claim the title of the UK's smallest cathedral town but only since 1884. Before that it was just a church, a grand one at that, granted, and you're free to wander in and around most of it.

That includes the current bish's pad although the former archbishop's lodgings require some refurbishing.

Mandatory masks and you-know-what mean the interiors remained largely unexplored so you'll have to find out more for yourselves  here. Besides, there's access to a meadow and it looks like it needs a right good strolling round.

Higgons Mead leads, in turn, to Southwell City FC  HQ, home today to what looks like a national, junior footie tournament with jumpers for goalposts and hundreds of under-11s haring around, not shown.

Hang on! Southwell City FC? Just because you've got a cathedral doesn't mean... Oh! You already know  that?

  Admiral Rodney (King Street)

The name might have a whiff of the Wetherspoon™s about it but Baron George Brydges Rodney was a seafaring imperialist with no connection whatsoever to a place that's not far from being as far from the sea as you can be in England.

With not much change from £15 for an, admittedly large, supermarket sauvignon and a pint of something local and cloudy, the Wheatsheaf, complete with 50s font and the friendliest barman ever, represents far better value down the road.

The clientele outside of here is largely of the well-spoken, disaffected youth variety who have no objections to the price of a round. That means it's definitely not a Wetherspoon™s and what with Rodney's Jamaican connections, both here and the Saracen's might soon be getting a name change, right kids?

Dandering back up Bishop's Drive then right and back into downtown Southwell along Westgate, phew, there's evidence of Southwell's evident wealth.

It's doubtful that this was always a Christian retreat centre more likely a fancy, family dwelling built on coal and clay or rather the fortunes of those who had others to dig it out for them, right comrades?

  Khyber Pass (King Street)

Pub grub at the Rodney was eliminated on principle and a  pizza simply wasn't fancied so how about '  Traditional French Style Dining & Patisserie', they say, at La Parisienne Bistro? Seems like a large crowd of footballer's wives have the same idea so that plan has been kicked out of the ground.

The Khyber Pass it is, then, meaning these trippers advise you to book ahead if you fancy something other than a tandoori in Southwell. The Lal Mans, however, wasn't half bad and the empty plates of half of the other guests at the Saracen's confirm this pair's critique.

With hindsight, it would have been simpler to simply head straight for the Khyber Pass. What a carry on.

Finally, there's time to view in daylight the activity along Queen and King Streets and the quirky independents that can't be found elsewhere, generally.

Westgate's architecture and last night's customers at La Parisienne have confirmed Southwell to be a little bit that kind of place so it comes as no surprise, really, to find a right old gathering going on.

This is part of the larger  Gate to Southwell Festival, an annual celebration of all things folkie that's been held nearby since 2007.

Morris and his mates, however, had been doing this for much longer, hey-nonny-nonnying the 14-or-so-miles from Nottingham in a traditional procession to pay for the upkeep of the minster's roof.

This happened until well into the 1500s by which time it had turned into a massive pub crawl, really, and most of the kitty ended up mislaid in the taverns on the way, they say.

The route was revived in the '80s until the police decided they couldn't, or wouldn't, manage the necessary road closures. They come by bus, these days, which they've obviously not been kicked off for lacking the local lingo...

'Suh thu'll be off to Suh-thull dressed like that miduck?'

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