Last year when I visited The Christmas market at Winchester, I took the opportunity to look inside the cathedral and I am so glad I did. Never before have I walked into a building and literally gasped out loud!

Winchester Cathedral

In the heart of the historic city of Winchester, the former capital of England, the site where the cathedral now stands was once a Saxon church that later became a cathedral. It was the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England and many kings were buried here including Kind Alfred the Great and King Cnut.

In 1066 William the Conqueror invaded England and a huge new church was built in the Norman Romanesque style in part with the stones from the previous building.

above: the one area of the cathedral where the original Norman architecture is still visible

Over the centuries wealthy and powerful bishops left their mark and in the 14th century it was remodelled with Gothic arches with further embellishments added in the 15th and 16th centuries when it became an Anglican cathedral and little has changed in its structure since then.

In the early 1900s it was feared that the east end of the building would collapse following years of subsidence. Working under water and in total darkness for six years, deep-sea diver, William Walker, stabilised the structure.

If you visit the cathedral I strongly recommend that you go on a free guided tour as otherwise you might miss some very interesting features, such as the resting place of England’s well-loved author Jane Austin. I had no idea she was buried here but as I stood on the stone floor and saw her name engraved there I really felt quite moved and glad to be able to pay my respects and thank her for all the joy she had brought me through her books (in my head that is, not out loud). Other gems include the Morley Library with its collection of ancient and rare books including a magnificent illustrated Bible from the 12th century and an Antony Gormley sculpture in the crypt, the sight of which caused another gasp!

I could carry on for ages describing items of great interest and beauty but my words would not do them justice, neither do my photographs. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Winchester cathedral, please do and if you are visiting London, Winchester is just an hour away from London’s Waterloo Station. For more information and opening times visit Winchester Cathedral’s website.

above: This massive polish dark stone font, carved from a single block weighing about 1.5 tonnes, dates from about 1150. It was brought from Tournai, in modern Belgium, in the 12th century,
and has been in constant use ever since.
Winchester Cathedral
above: When I visited last Christmas I was lucky enough to catch part of the rehearsal for that evenings
concert and like others sat down to listen for a while. Magical!
 

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