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Winchester Cathedral



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  • The first cathedral was founded in Winchester in 648 AD however the current foundations were a new church built in 1079 by the Normans.
  • The original Norman cathedral measured 164m in length, then the longest ever built. This was 13m longer than the current building, but of such size as Winchester was the site of one of the main royal palaces in England and the centre of Wessex.
  • Two proposed towers on the transept ends were abandoned due to poor ground conditions which were unable to support the foundations, and in 1107 the central tower collapsed. Problems continued when the towers on the West front were removed about 1350 with concerns about their engineering.
  • In 1202 the retrochoir started construction and between 1350 - 1410 the West front was entirely rebuilt. The Nave remodelled in the popular contemporary perpendicular style. The whole Nave was also re-vaulted at this time featuring fan vaulting. The last work to the cathedral finished in 1500 when the East bay of the Lady chapel was rebuilt.
  • The cathedral houses many treasures. Boxes of what of what were rumoured to be bones of early Kings of England. In 2015 these medieval mortuary chests were opened and subjected to DNA testing which found the remains they contained were contemporary to the dates of the historical figures whose bodies are supposedly in them.
  • Another tomb is that of William the Second, killed in the nearby New Forest are amongst those although the tomb itself although constructed for the King is now believed to not contain his remains as these were considered bad luck by the cathedral and removed.
  • Also buried in the Cathedral is the novelist, Jane Austen, and there is the site of the shrine to St Swithun. Another treasure is the ship's bell from Iron Duke, one of the British flagships at Jutland, and the Winchester Bible, the largest illuminated medieval bible in the world is also on show.
  • Traces of the medieval church remain, in particular in the Holy Sepulchre Chapel which has a collection of 12 and 13th century paintings on its walls.
  • No visit to the cathedral is complete without seeing the Romanesque crypt, rebuilt along with the foundations by the diver William Walker between 1906-1911. A memorial to Walker along with his diving helmet sits in the retrochoir whilst the restored crypt has the famous sculpture by Anthony Gormley, Sound II, which during rainier times will partially flood.


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Henry Yevele
William Wynford

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Building Location

1 The Close, Winchester. SO23 9LS
Hampshire County Council
South East
United Kingdom

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Building Specification

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Heritage Status
Grade I

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Market Data

Primary Use
Place of Worship

Metres > Feet