Winchester Cathedral is fascinating anyway, but our guide made the the visit into an occasion, showing us the highlights and places to explore further after the hour long tour.
Fifteen centuries of English history lie behind the magnificent Cathedral...
Fifteen centuries of English history lie behind the magnificent Cathedral you see today. It stands at the heart of historic Winchester, once the seat of Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal power, on the site of an early Christian church. Begun in 1079, the Cathedral has been a place of worship ever since.
Today the Cathedral welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and in recent years has become well known for its annual Christmas Market and open-air ice rink, which alone attract over 350,000 visitors.
A walk round the Cathedral takes you through centuries of English architecture. Particularly striking is the vast gothic nave, the longest medieval nave in Europe. Great works of art, including paintings, sculptures and carvings can be found throughout the building. Don’t miss the Crypt, this atmospheric part of the Cathedral is home to Antony Gormley’s contemplative statue ‘Sound II’ which, after prolonged periods of rainfall can be seen standing in water.
The Winchester Bible, the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles, is one of the Cathedral’s greatest treasures. Its exquisitely illuminated capital letters, coloured with gold and lapis lazuli, are as intense today as they would have been 800 years ago.
The Cathedral is the resting place of many influential and famous people including Saxon kings, bishops and the much-loved English novelist Jane Austen, who was buried in the Cathedral in 1817. An exhibition telling of Jane’s life in Hampshire can be found beside her grave and a memorial plaque funded by her nephew is on the wall adjacent.
A guided tour provided by the Cathedral’s own volunteer guides is by far the best way to explore the building. Available on the hour from 10am – 3pm Monday to Saturday, these hour-long tours really do bring the Cathedral, its characters and history to life.
It’s worth taking the time to walk through the Cathedral’s historic Inner Close where you will find beautiful buildings and hidden gardens and a gateway to a pretty area of the City known as Kingsgate Village.
A perfect way to round-off your visit is a visit to The Refectory, serving homemade cakes, a seasonal lunch menu and a good range of drinks. The pretty terrace and orchard with outdoor seating enjoy good views of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral Shop sells a wide range of gifts, cards, books and music, many items have been commissioned especially for the Cathedral so can’t be found anywhere else. A selection of products are available to purchase online via the cathedral website.