"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Sioux under General

It wasn’t a long drive from Windsor to Winchester, and we could only check into our AirBnb quite late, so headed to the cathedral. The weather wasn’t great and wasn’t looking promising for the following day either.

We arrived in time for the end of a ceremony of some sort and couldn’t get any decent images of the outside of the building due to the number of people spilling out of the building.


Promising to come back the next day, we went inside for a look around. Its a magnificent building, as with most cathedrals in this country, with much to see and marvel at.

Winchester-Cathedral-courtesy Google Images
Winchester Cathedral courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy of Google Images

Image courtesy of Google Images

Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral, and has its roots in the seventh century, when England’s pagan monarchy first became Christians.

Around 645, the first Christian church was built in Winchester. The small, cross-shaped church became known as Old Minster, its outline still visible and traced in red brick, just north of the present building.


By the year 1000, Old Minster was not just a church – it was a Cathedral, a priory church, a healing place of pilgrimage, and the final resting place of a number of West Saxon kings. The Old Minster was demolished 450 years later, and its stones used for the new cathedral, consecrated in 1093 by the new Christian church and by the early 16th century, much of the Cathedral as it is today, was complete.

IMG_4722-LR-(1-of-1) The choir stalls

Magnificent brasses are kept pristine and some of the original 13th century floor tiles are still being used in the current walkways; with signage asking visitors to tread with care.

The choir stalls


In the early 1900’s, huge cracks started to appear in the walls and the Cathedral seemed in danger, with fears that after centuries of subsidence, the east end of the ancient building would collapse. Some cracks were wide enough for owls to roost in; and chunks of stone were falling to the ground. An architect suggested that narrow trenches be dug underneath the walls of the cathedral and filled with concrete. The trenches would need to reach a minimum of 4m below the water table in order to be effective. They needed a deep-sea diver, and William Walker, an experienced diver, was approached.

IMG_4756-LR-(1-of-1) William Walker's Statue

The Great Screen was installed in 1875 to replace a stone screen of the 1820s, which in turn replaced a 1630 screen.

The current organ was first displayed in the Great Exhibition of 1851, where it was the largest pipe organ. It was modified in 1897 and 1905, and completely rebuilt in 1937 and again in 1986.

From 1906, Walker laboured below the Cathedral for six hours a day at depths of up to 6m under water, in total darkness, using his bare hands to feel his way through the cloudy, muddy water. The heavy diving suit took such a long time to put on, that when he stopped for lunch, he’d just take off the helmet. He often smoked his pipe, which he said would kill off any germs inside the suit. It took six years to excavate the flooded trenches and fill them with bags of concrete. When he was done, all the groundwater was pumped out and the subsiding walls safely underpinned by bricklayers.


By 1911, Walker and a team of 150 workmen had packed the foundations with an estimated 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 concrete blocks, and 900,000 bricks. After a line of buttresses was added to the south side, the building was finally safe.

As a reward for his efforts, Walker was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO).


He died aged 49, during the great Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.


There are a number of monuments in his memory both in the cathedral and in the city.


Some surviving fragments are on display at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology in Australia, including examples of the signature blue colour found only in Winchester stained glass. The largest concentration of surviving medieval glass in Winchester is in the presbytery clerestory and great east window, and date from 1367 – 1528.


In 2005, the building was used as a film set for The Da Vinci Code, with the north transept used as the Vatican. The cathedral went to great lengths to expose the story as fake.


Winchester Cathedral is possibly the only cathedral to have had popular songs written about it. “Winchester Cathedral” was a UK top ten hit and a US number one song in 1966. The cathedral was also the subject of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Cathedral” in 1977. Liverpool-based band Clinic released an album titled Winchester Cathedral in 2004.


The Epiphany Chapel


The bronze effigy of Richard Weston Lord Portland takes up most of the small chapel known as “The Guardian Angels Chapel”.

The Guardian Angels Chapel got the name from the ancient paintings of angels, dating back to 1240, on the vaulted ceiling.


Bishop Waynflete had his chantry chapel built before his death, and it is described as the

most beautiful chantry chapel in Winchester, with its intricate carving and unusual detail. His much restored effigy shows him in full pontifical robes with his heart held in his hands. He was a major figure in 15th-century English education as well as a bishop.


The detail on some of the effigies is absolutely stunning.


Some with dogs at their feet, one with a 4-legged fish like creature huddled under his shoes, another

clutching a bible, all

painstakingly hand

carved from marble!


Richard Fox was Bishop of Winchester 1501-28. His tomb shows him as a decaying and cadaverous corpse and was designed to remind viewers of the transient nature of life.


We explored as much as we could in the fading light, then left to find our BnB for the night.


The weather wasn’t playing the game and it was cold out, but it had been a fab day, hopefully with loads more to follow during our road trip!

The cathedral’s huge medieval stained glass West Window was deliberately smashed after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the broken glass was gathered up and assembled randomly, in a manner something like pique assiette mosaic work (using pieces of broken ceramics in the design). No attempt was made to reconstruct the original pictures.

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2 responses to “Road trips and adventures #2 – playtime in the city of Kings!”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Awesome pics S! Winchester Cathedral da da da da I remember that tune! Love Crosby, Stills & Nash!! Tx for your fantastic experiences S I love reading your blogs!!

  2. BABS TRELOAR says:

    beautiful photos,Thanks for sharing .Very interesting

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