Friday, 13 January 2012

News - Improved access for historic hall (Southwell)

Plans to improve access to one of Southwell’s most historic buildings as part of a £1m project have been submitted to Newark and Sherwood District Council. 

The project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to allow more people to visit the Great Hall in the grounds of Southwell Minster and the remaining ruins of the Archbishop’s Palace, which now form a walled garden for Bishop’s Manor.

The Great Hall is all that remains of the Archbishop’s Palace, the majority of which was destroyed during the reformation.

As part of the plans, the level of the path leading to the main door would be reduced to remove the drop into the building from outside.

The application said: “The ground level rise in the churchyard appears to be due to successive burials over the intervening six or more centuries.

“The minster archaeologist has assessed that the current threshold has risen by some 350mm from its original level.”

An archaeological investigation of the area surrounding the door revealed it was probably originally a window and the existing door was installed in the early 20th Century using stones from another part of the building.

A lift to the first floor is proposed, which would mean drilling through a massive stone slab that forms part of the upper floor.

Ramped access would also be formed into the gardens in the ruins.

On the ground floor of the building more toilet facilities would be provided with different toilets for the public and school children and choristers.

A kitchen would be removed to allow a room to be used as a rehearsal space for choirs and for educational presentations and the Bishop’s chapel would also be converted into a rehearsal space.

On the first floor, radiators close to Edwardian oak panelling would be removed to prevent damage and underfloor heating installed.

A small kitchen would be extended into rooms used as a two-bedroom apartment to create a commercial kitchen.

The apartment would be reduced in size to one bedroom and would be used by the minster’s organ scholar and as a music store with office space.

Conservation work, including preserving and making safe stonework in the ruins, would also take place.

The application said: “The design is a carefully thought out development upgrading a protected building with sensitivity to enable it to continue, sustainably, with its current use.

“It will be an inclusive building, reasonably accessible and secure by design.”

Construction on the Archbishop’s Palace began in 1360 and when completed it consisted of a great hall, a state chamber and private rooms with a chapel and apartments for guests positioned around a large courtyard.

Cardinal Wolsey stayed at the palace in 1530.

During the Civil War the palace was used by the Scottish commissioners and was stripped for building materials by the Scottish army and by townspeople.

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