Winchester Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester, England, United Kingdom

One of Europe’s great cathedrals, Winchester spans 1,000 years of rich, fascinating history with so much to discover including one of the world’s most exquisite bibles, the 11th century crypt and Jane Austen’s final resting place.

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About Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of England in Hampshire, England. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the greatest overall length of any medieval Gothic cathedral in the world.

Winchester Cathedral history

Once the seat of the royal power of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, a Christian church was built here around 645 AD and over the next 350 years it became the most important church in Anglo-Saxon England.

By 1000 AD, its status as one of the grandest cathedrals in Europe was assured. Its early Norman roots are visible in the round-arched crypts and transepts and over the centuries, ‘soaring Gothic arches’ were added, as were stunning works of art, medieval carvings and the 12th century 1.5 ton Tournai marble font.

Other highlights include the 17th century Morley Library bequeathed by Bishop Morley, the Triforium Gallery that includes the Shaftesbury Bowl, the last surviving example of late Saxon glass in England and the jewel in the cathedral’s crown, the Winchester Bible.

Commissioned in 1160 probably by William the Conqueror’s grandson, it is a magnificent handwritten, hand-illustrated and hand-coloured Romanesque manuscript (including gold leaf and lapis lazuli from Afghanistan which are as vibrant and intense today as they were eight centuries ago). The Winchester Bible is a masterpiece, a lavish testament to 12th century creativity and is worth the trip on its own!

Winchester Cathedral today

Every year, 300,000 people from all over the world visit Winchester Cathedral, one of the finest in Europe. The cathedral, which acts as a working church with daily services, is also a great day out for the whole family.

There are activities for kids where they can explore and have fun learning about the cathedral’s history and characters and you can even climb the 213 steps to the top of the tower, passing the great cathedral bells on the way up to amazing views of the ancient city of Winchester.

Getting to Winchester Cathedral

The Cathedral lies right in the centre of the historic city of Winchester, with its excellent road and rail links. Southampton Airport and the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth are all within easy reach.

If travelling by car, the cathedral is located just off the M3 (Junctions 9, 10 and 11). It is an easy journey by road from London (1.5 hours) and Southampton (20 minutes). Take the A34 from Newbury (35 minutes), Oxford (1 hour) or the A30 from Salisbury (40 minutes).

Although there is no parking within the Cathedral Close or the immediate vicinity, Winchester has a number of short-stay and long-stay car parks throughout the city. It has an excellent Park & Ride service, with three car parks easily accessible from the M3 motorway and only minutes away from the city centre. A frequent bus service operates from all Park & Ride car parks to all main areas of Winchester city centre.

If travelling via train, Winchester station is on the main line from London Waterloo and also easily accessible by train from Bournemouth, Poole, Southampton, Basingstoke and Oxford. The cathedral is but a 10 minute walk away from the train station.

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