On a wild and damp day in June (yes I did say June) I set off on the 100 Pathfinder to Southwell.
The purpose of today’s visit being that it was a special exhibition in the Minster Chapter House. The Royal collection have lent out the collection of 26 royal portraits that are not usually seen in public. Painted on enamel by Henry Bone they were originally purchased by Prince Albert and have been housed in Buckingham Palace ever since.
They were complimented by a collection of portraits loaned by Ripon Cathedral. It’s quite a unique exhibition and seeing as it was local it gave me a good excuse to go to Southwell. There was also a certain amount of memorabilia from the Queens last Jubilee visit too.
The display in the Chapter house amongst the famous “leaves and green men of Southwell” provided an interesting backdrop. The Chapter house being one of the finest parts of the Minster.

After viewing the exhibition it was time for the obligatory coffee and cake in the refectory whilst I watched the rain trickling down the windows hoping that the weather would cheer up sufficiently for a look around the grounds at the old minster buildings and the town.

Southwell town is quite cute, lots of expensive little gift shops (all a la Cath Kidston and bunting), and a trendy smattering of deli/cafes now. Still the old market, chip shop and the co-op were keeping up traditions. I explored a few snickets and found myself back at the Saracen’s Head. The weather had now cheered up enough for me to return to the minster grounds and have a good walk around. It is a lovely location and there is lots of hidden civil war and Charles the first associations that most visitors scoot past. And of course the association with that Nottinghamshire lad Thomas Cranmer; Southwell owns several editions of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. By this time it was so grey that none of my photographs worked, except this one of some of the carvings on the older buildings.

There was nothing else to do but head for home via the Gonalston farm shop.
A small gale swept me from the bus stop into the shop. I have never seen so many Guardian readers in once place fighting over organic radishes on a Saturday afternoon. It’s like a mini version of Chatsworth farm shop without so many of their own rare breeds. It’s to be commended really, they proudly offer lots of very local produce, and I guess it just seems to come at a pretty price. Still I participated fully with the chocolate tastings and the Blue Monkey brewery tastings, brought a few treats and some Crème de Marrons de la ardeche for the Brackenfield Bandits next time we meet.
(I did actually buy some “dry cure ham” locally cured in Newark, but I have to report that it wasn’t as good as the Wirksworth cure in so many ways.)
By the time I staggered out of the shop with heavy shopping and a much lighter purse the weather has worsened so I had to head for home a lot sooner than I would have liked.

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