Winchester Cathedral as seen from the Cathedral Close
View along the nave of Winchester Cathedral to the west door
A plan published in 1911
Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, Hampshire is one of the largest
cathedrals in England. The earliest part of the present cathedral
building is the crypt, which dates from the early 12th century. The
squat, square central tower was begun in 1202, and has an indisputably
Norman look to it. Work continued on the cathedral during the 14th, 15th
and 16th centuries, and restoration work was carried out by T.G. Jackson
during the years 1905–1912. The cathedral is dedicated to the Holy
Trinity, Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The cathedral is part of a former monastic settlement, originally founded
in 642. The Benedictine foundation, the Priory of St Swithun, was
dissolved in 1539.
Boxes said to contain the remains of Saxon kings, and dating (allegedly)
from before the founding of the cathedral, have been housed in the
cathedral for centuries. The cathedral also contains a shrine to Saint
Swithun, a 9th century bishop, and the burial site of Alfred the Great.
William II of England (son of William I, "the Conqueror") was buried in
the cathedral on August 11, 1100, after he was killed in a hunting
accident in nearby New Forest.
Nowadays the cathedral draws many tourists as a result of its association
with Jane Austen, who died in the city and is buried in the cathedral's
north aisle of the nave. The original 19th century marker gave reluctant
praise for her writing ability. Much later a more descriptive marker
about Austen's talent was placed on a nearby wall.
The Epiphany Chapel has a series of Pre-Raphaelite staned glass windows
designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and made in William Morris's
workshop. The foliage decoration above and below each pictorial panel is
unmistakeably William Morris and at least one of the figures bears a
striking resemblance to Morris's wife Jane, who frequently posed for
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite
At the beginning of the 20th century, some waterlogged foundations on the
south and east walls were reinforced by a diver, William Walker, packing
the foundations with more than 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 concrete
blocks and 900,000 bricks. He worked six hours a day from 1906 to 1912
in total darkness at depths up to 6 m, and is credited with saving the
cathedral from total collapse. For his troubles he was awarded the MVO.
The crypt, which frequently floods, features a statue by Antony Gormley,
called "Sound II", installed in 1986.
Important events which took place at Winchester Cathedral include:
Coronation of Edward the Confessor (1043)
Marriage of Edward the Confessor and Edith (1045)
Coronation of Matilda of Flanders as queen consort (1068)
Coronation of Henry the Young King and his queen, Marguerite (1172)
Second coronation of Richard I of England (1194)
Marriage of King Henry IV of England and Joanna of Navarre (1403)
Marriage of Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain (1554)
View of Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral is possibly the only cathedral to have had popular
songs written about it. "Winchester Cathedral" was a UK top ten hit for
The New Vaudeville Band in 1966. The cathedral was also the subject of
the Crosby, Stills & Nash song, "Cathedral".
In 2005 the building was used as a film-set for The Da Vinci Code