Discovery Day 2024

Thursday 5 September 2024
9.30am – 4pm

Discovery day is an annual event, a chance to discover the hidden treasures of the Minster. Join staff and volunteers to celebrate Southwell Minster, it's past, present and future with a wide variety of workshops, talks, tours and activities.

Places must be pre-booked, either online or at the Cathedral shop. A minimum donation of £20 per person is recommended.
Refreshments and homemade cake are included. Please remember that the Minster may be cold even if the day is warm.


From 9.30 (Minster): Registration, receive timetable, refreshments.

10.00 Welcome & Opening Talk: Dr Henry Parkes (Archbishop’s Palace)

What can we Learn from re-enacting medieval worship?
Drawing on recent experiences of organising historical enactments, Henry Parkes explores how performance-led research is changing how we understand medieval worship and sacred music. Whilst the enactment process creates many challenges, logistical and ethical, it also awakens us to historical possibilities that we simply cannot see in archival documents. The talk is illustrated with materials from an enactment at Worksop Priory on 1 September, as well as a preview of a medieval Office for All Saints, to be held at Southwell on 31 October 2024.

11.15 Session 1 (select your preferred choices from the list below)

12.15 Lunch: The quire/Nave organ will be played for you between 12.45-1.15
Bring packed lunch to eat in grounds or Minster. Tea / coffee / cold drinks available (donations invited to support our schools’ work) and small book/gift stall. The Cathedral Refectory and shop are also open.

1.15 Session 2 (select your preferred choices from the list below)

2.15 Changeover / comfort break

2.30 Session 3 (select your preferred choices from the list below)

3.30 Plenary and closing comments

Workshops, Tours and Talks Options

  1. Friendly Friends: Charlie Leggatt, Chair of the Friends of Southwell Cathedral
    A talk, with questions welcomed, on what the Minster’s main fan club actually does! Where does the money come from and how do they decide what to spend it on? Recently, nearly £100,000 was donated to the Music Foundation - but there is much more besides.  The Friends adopted a new constitution in 2023, underlining their independence - so now is a good time to take a fresh look at their activities and how, with social events, a magazine and email updates, they keep their members engaged and at the heart of Southwell Minster.
  2. Poetry of sacred place: Rev. Prof. Alison Milbank, Priest Vicar
    With Alison’s expert tuition, we shall look at examples of how poets have used words to shape the religious experience of a holy place, whether natural or a building, including an example about the leaves of Southwell by Ronald Johnson from The Book of the Green Man. There will be an introduction, followed by group discussion on the poems, as well as an opportunity to consider our own experiences of sacred place.
  3. The Medieval Chapels and Chantries of Southwell Minster: Minster Guides
    Our guides take you back in time as you explore the chapels, altars and chantries of the medieval Minster, covering their location, dedication and an insight into their origins. (Max 15 per session, 5 steps - hand rail)
  4. Meet the Needlework Guild: Emma Frith and members of the guild
    The Minster Needlework guild invites you to delve into the cope chest and vestment presses to discover the importance of textiles and embroidery in worship. See how vestments are designed, made and cared for with goldwork and canvaswork demonstrations, and get a rare close-up glimpse of our lost and found treasure: the processional banner.
  5. Cathedral Music: Paul Provost, Rector Chori (Director of Music)
    A journey through the history of Cathedral music, arriving at why we do what we do now. This will help to explain the tradition of choristers, of daily sung services, and the repertoire of music sung by the present-day Cathedral choir. It will also unmask the daily life of a chorister and what they experience during their time in the choir.
  6. Tower Tours: with Minster Guides
    Get some spectacular views from clerestory level inside as well as from the top of the Minster (weather permitting) as you join our experienced, knowledgeable guides for a climb up the central tower, visiting the ringing room and bell chamber on the way. (Max 13 per session NB: Approx. 200 spiral steps; narrow spaces; sensible shoes & head for heights needed.)
  7. Silent Meditation and Prayer: led by Rev. Erika Kirk, Priest Vicar
    Christians have practised silent meditation and contemplative prayer for centuries, but how does this differ from modern forms of meditation and mindfulness? Come with questions and curiosity about this way of prayer, and enjoy a time of peace and gentle reflection in the Minster. (Max 10 per session. 1 step)
  8. Exploration of the Palace Gardens: Claire Connely, Head Gardener
    Join Claire on a tour of the Palace Gardens. As you roam the grounds, Claire will tell you all about the history, design and planting of the Palace Gardens. You’ll also have the rare opportunity to peek behind the scenes and see some of the off show areas of the Minster lands, as well as the greenhouse and cold frame. (2 Sessions only. NB: Uneven ground, possibly wet depending on weather)
  9. A Visit to the Historic Chapter Library: Honorary Librarians
    A chance to visit the beautiful historic library tucked away inside the Minster in the company of our knowledgeable honorary librarians. View a selection of the Minster’s treasures demonstrating the variety of books and other items to be found there. (Group numbers limited to 8. NB: Includes flight of stone steps)
  10. Southwell’s Hidden Heritage: Southwell Community Archaeology Group (SCAG)
    Dr Stephen Rogers and SCAG give a presentation to take you from the Roman villa to the Medieval period in Southwell followed by an opportunity to see and handle some of the artefacts discovered in the town. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions and discover more about the early heritage that is no longer visible.
  11. Flower arranging: Minster Flower Guild
    A talk, demonstration and ‘have a go’ session led by the Minster Flower Guild, whose spectacular creations adorn the Minster throughout the year. Materials provided (scissors / secateurs may be useful to bring). A fun activity for all levels of experience. (A suggested donation of £5 is invited towards the cost of flowers.)
  12. beadingBeading workshop: Anila Boney
    Minster steward and education volunteer Anila explores the use of beads through history as money and status objects as well as a form of meditation. Design and make your own set of prayer / meditation beads using various techniques.

• Not all workshops, tours or talks are available for every session.
• Those with limited numbers will be allocated on first come, first served basis, and we do our best to allocate you to your top choices.
• If, for some reason, your choice is not available on the day we will endeavour to substitute with one of your other choices.
• You will be given a personalised timetable on arrival.
• If you prefer not to pay online, you can book and pay at the Cathedral Shop or by email / phone. Contact Kirby Stebbing at 01636 817816

After we have received your booking we will get in touch, by email to ask you to choose your preferred workshops.

If you have any queries, please email

Event Details

  • Date:
  • Venue: Southwell Minster