The Leaves of Southwell

The fluid carvings of plants, animals and green men found within the Chapter House – known collectively as ‘The Leaves of Southwell’ – are of quite exceptional quality. Regarded as the best example of 13th century naturalistic carving in the United Kingdom, they are globally important, yet currently at risk.

It is seventy years since Sir Nicholas Pevsner wrote his classic King Penguin Monograph about the Leaves. It is rightly celebrated; but Pevsner limited his attention to only half the carvings and did not write about the artistic religious and mythological significance of the sculptures. We now know a great deal more about the Chapter House and its positioning near ancient well springs that supplied baptismal pools and believe this may have significant bearing on the interpretation and symbolism of the carvings.

 

The Leaves of Southwell Project

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The Chapter House and its Leaves need protection from leaking roofs and lack appropriate heating and environmental controls. In addition, with modern lighting (there is none at present) and an imaginative interpretation scheme, the Leaves of Southwell can be made much more accessible and widely known to future generations. It is our belief that they represent not only wonderful heritage but also an extraordinary resource today.

It is therefore with great joy that we can announce that we have been awarded a £1.9million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to implement these works to deliver the project in a way that will protect, interpret and better present these beautiful and historic medieval carvings for future generations.