‘The Leaves of Southwell’ are one of the three best examples of 13th century naturalistic carving in Europe. The Cathedral commissioned Studio Eger to design new interpretation materials across the Minster, as part of a restoration project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The design celebrates the carvings in an accessible and informative way, introduces them as a central focus to each visit, and creates strong narrative links between the Chapter House and the Palace Garden, within the Cathedral’s grounds.
Visitors are welcomed by the Cathedral Stewards, and a short film ‘Daily Life and Worship’ a selection of guidebooks, and a tactile model of the Minster carved from Oak and Maple, two of the tree species found amongst the leaf carvings. At the Chapter House, a second film introduces how and why the carvings were made. Visitors can get a sense of the detail with three tactile replica leaves, and learn more with the set of wooden paddles. A mirror – positioned centrally in the restored floor – reflects the glorious ceiling, mimics the well of Southwell, and draws the visitor’s attention to the architectural marvel of there being no central column.
As visitors approach the Quire, a Steward can play a sound recording of the Cathedral Choir. A further highlight of the visit are the commissioned drawings by the artist Sarah Simblet, which feature in the new guidebooks, and as alternative plant signs in the Palace Garden.
A local stone carver carved modern-day outlines of the five leaves found most often in the Chapter House in the pathway connecting the Minster building to the Palace Garden.
Architect: Buttress Architects
AV: Cosmic Carrot | Furniture: Sarah Pollard and Isokon Plus
Tactile Models: Unusual Projects
Drawings: Sarah Simblet
Stone Lettering: Jane Cowan
Wood Lettering: TJ Murphy
Photography by Andy Marshall