SOUTHWELL, a cathedral city in the Newark parliamentary division of Nottinghamshire, England, 16 m. N.E. of Nottingham by a branch of the Midland railway. Pop. (1901), 3161. The minster church of St Mary became a cathedral on the foundation of the episcopal see in 1884. The see covers the greater part of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, with small portions of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire. The foundation of the earliest church here is attributed to the missionary Paulinus in the first half of the 7th century. Another followed, after the devastations of the Northmen, in 960, on the foundation of King Edgar. The building of the present church began in the reign of Henry I. Henry VIII., after the dissolution of the monasteries, contemplated the erection of the church into a cathedral. The cathedral is a magnificent cruciform building, 306 ft. in length, with massive Norman nave (61 ft. wide), transepts, central and two western towers; and Early English choir with transepts. There is an octagonal chapter house, resembling that at York, exhibiting the Decorated style in highest development. It is connected with the church by a cloister. The archbishops of York had a palace here dating from the 15th century. The "great chamber "was restored in 1882, and since 1904 the building has been converted into a residence for the bishops of Southwell.
The erection of the church at Southwell (Sudwelle, Suwell, Suthwell), probably the cause of the origin of the town, is attributed to the archbishop of York in the 7th century. In 958 land at Southwell was granted to the archbishop by Edwy. A detailed description of the great manor is given in Domesday. Southwell remained under the lordship of the see of York until it was taken over by the ecclesiastical commissioners. It was called a borough in the 13th century and down to the 17th, but no charter of incorporation is known. The town never returned representatives to parliament. In the reign of Edward I. the archbishop claimed by prescriptive right a five-days' fair at Pentecost, a three-days' fair at the translation of St Thomas and a Saturday market. Fairs are now held in April and December. The market was still held on Saturdays in 1894, but was then Very small.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)