About Winchester Cathedral
Every year, three hundred thousand people from all over the world visit Winchester Cathedral, one of the finest in Europe. Once the seat of the royal power of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, a Christian church was built here around 645AD and over the next 350 years it became the most important church in Anglo-Saxon England.
By 1000AD, 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 is a magnificent cathedral (and a working church with daily services), and is 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.