Southwell Minster gets £2m cash boost to preserve historic 800-year carvings

One of Nottinghamshire's oldest and most historic cathedrals has been granted almost £2million in lottery cash to preserve its 800-year-old carvings.

Southwell Minster bid for Heritage Lottery Fund cash after concerns that a leaky roof could harm the nature-related art on its inner walls.

Southwell Minster.

Southwell Minster.

The carvings, known as 'The Leaves of Southwell', are considered among Europe's best during the 13th Century.

And now it has been granted £1.9million, which will pay for structural repairs and "enhancements" to its visitor experience.

Nigel Coates, , the canon chancellor who has led the project, said: "The Leaves of Southwell are hugely significant as part of our artistic heritage but also have so much to teach us about the need to treasure the natural world.

"The project will ensure future generations continue to be inspired."

The leaves, found inside the cathedral, depict plants, green men and animals - including faces surrounded by or made from leaves.

It is believed that five carvers were responsible for creating the artwork, and church bosses said this cash will help preserve the leaves into the future.

Dr Alison Milbank, from the University of Nottingham's Department of Theology, is also a canon at Southwell Minster.

She said: "The leaf carvings in the chapter house at Southwell are a very fine example of the realistic style of representing actual species of leaves, which appeared in the 13th Century and then stopped, to be overtaken by more stylised, less naturalistic styles of carving.

"Unusually, throughout the whole cathedral leaf carving predominates. It's as if the Minster were celebrating its freedom from the kingly rule of Sherwood forest, which it achieved in 1225, with a profusion of woodland trees and flowers.

"In his book on English cathedrals, Simon Jenkins calls it 'a burst of genius'."