Southwell is a picturesque town in the west of the district, a town that has weathered many a storm and welcomed a whole host of visitors. It has a wonderful history that reflects key social changes as well as some surprising and unusual landmarks – making it a wonderful place to visit and explore.

The WorkhouseThe Workhouse

There is no question that the Georgian building that commands the skyline of Southwell is beautiful yet intimidating. The Workhouse was built in 1824 on the instructions of Revered John T. Becher, Vicar-General of Southwell and George Nicholls; together they implemented the infamous Workhouse system.

The idea was that local parishes would combine funds to build a workhouse to house the destitute rather than each parish supporting individuals with food, fuel and clothing. At face value this seems like a great idea, the first step in modern day social care! However, the Workhouse was to act as a ‘deterrent’ to ensure that only the truly destitute would submit themselves to such a harsh regime.

This infamous Grade II listed building is now open daily to the public between the months of February to November from 12:00 – 17:00, with a welcome tour starting at 11:00. You can experience what it would have been like to be one of the 158 inmates housed within the Workhouse via audio guides, tours and by chatting to the room guide.

Also, if the weather is nice you can enjoy a perusal around the lovely Victorian gardens as well as indulge in a picnic; there is a lovely café on site. The gardens are maintained by volunteers and their aim is to make it as authentic as possible by planting plants that would have been planted during the Victorian times.

The Museum of Timekeeping

As from the start of 2017, the British Horological Institute Museum will become known as the Museum of Timekeeping…far less of a tongue twister!

The British Horological Institute was founded in 1858 by a small group of clockmakers with the aim to unify the British horological industry after increased importation of clocks and watches from abroad. Upton Hall in Newark and Sherwood has been the headquarters since 1972 and it houses a library and the wonderful museum as well as a substantial collection of antique longcase clocks. There is also a lovely tearoom next door, called The Clock House.

The museum includes a collection of clocks, watches and timepieces and associated clock and watch making tools and ephemera. Currently, there are over two thousand clocks, watches and other artefacts on display to feast your eyes upon. Included in the current collection is an exhibition called Minuscule and Colossal, which is a display of items from minuscule mechanisms and precision engineering to colossal constructions and atomic devices.

It is also hosting some fabulous events, which include Winter Winding Wednesday on the 24 January and 21 February 2018 from 10:30 – 12:30. This is where you can browse the museum and discover more about a selection of the museum’s most fascinating objects as the museum team demonstrates the winding of some of the many clocks on display.

And don’t forget to catch the Spring Forward Show on the 25th March 2018 from 10:00 – 16:00 to mark the clocks going forward at the start of British Summer Time.

A British favourite – The Bramley Apple

Who would have thought that a tree planted in Southwell would produce Britain’s favourite cooking apple!

Bramley Apple Festival in SouthwellThe first ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ tree grew from pip planted by a young girl named Mary Ann Brailsford in her garden in 1809. The tree was later purchased by a local butcher Matthew Bramley as part of the cottage. In 1856 a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apples. Bramley agreed but insisted that the apples should bear his name…smart man!

On 31 October 1862, the first recorded sale of a Bramley apple was noted in Merryweather’s accounts as; “three Bramley apples for 2/- to Mr Geo Cooper of Upton Hall.”

On 6th December 1876 the Bramley was highly commended at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Fruit Committee exhibition and since then the Bramley Apple has had a firm place in the nation’s heart.

Obviously, Southwell celebrates the huge success that the Bramley apple has had. Every October the Bramley Festival is held, Shop window in Southwell dressed for the Bramley Festivalwhich includes a food and drink festival at Southwell Minster that incorporates all manner of apple-related products, fruit specialists and craftsman. As part of the festival there are apple related competitions, which include poetry, apple pie baking, men’s baking, children’s baking, crotchet, knitting, craft and photography. Throughout the town shops, businesses, Southwell Library, cafes, restaurants and local pubs all take part in the occasion.

You can also nip into the Bramley Apple Inn just a few doors down from the original apple tree.

Written by Rebecca Firmin (BA) Hons in History
Apprentice Projects Assistant, Newark and Sherwood District Council


Previous posts 2018

Follow the legends and tales of King John across Newark & Sherwood, Jan 2, 2018


Previous posts 2017

Seasonal sale – grab a Christmas bargain in Newark & Sherwood, Dec 2017

One weekend, five Christmas markets – wrap up festive gift shopping in Newark & Sherwood, Nov 5, 2017


Where to go on Bonfire Night in Newark and Sherwood, Oct 24, 2017

It’s festival time in Southwell – come and celebrate the Bramley Apple, Oct 9, 2017


Take your dog on holidays to Newark and Sherwood, Sept 27, 2017

Things to do at Halloween in Newark & Sherwood, Sept 12, 2017


Where to cycle in Newark and Sherwood, August 31, 2017

The Major Oak Woodland Festival at Sherwood Forest, August 20, 2017

Experience something new on holidays in Newark and Sherwood, August 9, 2017


Focus on Laxton – a living history village, with a national museum, July 28, 2017

Get nostalgic at Newark and Sherwood events, July 20, 2017

Where to take the kids for the summer holidays in Newark & Sherwood, July 12, 2017

Literary and poetry events in Newark and Southwell, July 3, 2017


Exciting new plans for Sherwood Forest, June 27, 2017

Visit Sherwood Forest and be prepared to want to stay, June 22,2017

Take your Dad to Newark for Fathers’ Day, June 12, 2017

Something for everyone at Newark Festival, June 1, 2017