Sunday, December 5, 2010


Back in July of 2000 we had the good fortune of a trip to France, England Scotland and a bit of Wales as a gift from my wonderful in-laws.  It was the trip of a lifetime and I will always remember it!  Unfortunately I had no digital camera.  I had to tote around lots of rolls of film (I think I had 50!).  And in many places you have to use available light as no flashes are allowed. 
One of the places we visited on the tour was Winchester Cathedral. 
One of the first things we saw in the cathedral was a plaque to honor Jane Austen, author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.
It says: 
“In Memory of JANE AUSTEN, youngest daughter of the late Revd GEORGE AUSTEN, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian. The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection, they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER."
However, the lack of literary mention was fixed and in 1972 a brass plaque was added:
“Jane Austen. Known to many by her writings, endeared to her family by the varied charms of her character and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety was born at Steventon in the County of Hants, December 16 1775 and buried in the Cathedral July 18 1817.’She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness’.”

In the crypt in the lower level stands a figure reading a book.  It is Anthony Gormleys' Sound II, a contemplative figure.  Throughout most of the year, the area is completely flooded as it lies well below the present water-table.
We were fortunate that it was dry!
This is the original and oldest part of the cathedral.

Here is the Great Screen.  The presbytery of Winchester Cathedral is dominated by the vast 'Great Screen,' which acts as a backdrop to the High Altar. It was erected with the aid of funds left to the monastic establishment upon the death of Cardinal Henry Beaufort. Work was begun in 1455 and continued for the next twenty years: not surprising when you examine the intricate carving of the fine-grained limestone. It is quite stunning.

It was erected in the 1400s but the original statues with their vivid colours didn't survive England's religious upheavals. Now, only the whitewashed backdrop of the original screen remains while the current statues are Victorian.  To the left and right of Jesus' head on the cross are St. Peter (left) and St. Paul.  The two on each side of them are (left to right) St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Jerome and St. Ambrose.  In the middle tier below the arms of Jesus are Mary and St John.  St. Birius stand next to
Mary on the left. Next to John is St. Swithun. Next to Birius is St. Benedict, and next to Swithun is St. Giles.  Outermost on the middle tier stand (L to R) St. Stephen and St. Lawrence.  There is a lower tier that I did not get in the shots, and they show St. Hedda, St. Ethelwolf, King Edward the Confessor.
Above the arms of Jesus are the 4 Archangels: Uriel, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael.
In all, there are 56 statues on the screen, smaller figures representing various kings, bishops, women, and a representation of Izaak Walton. an English writer.

These are photographs of the Nave, or at least the far end of it.  I wanted to focus on the intricate work details, The nave takes up the main area of any church and Winchester's is particularly long, having some twelve bays. The present architecture is late 14th century, the original Norman structure having been completely remodeled by William of Wykeham following plans laid down by his predecessor as Bishop of Winchester, William Edington.  The ceiling is referred to as the vaulting.  The entire nave of Winchester Cathedral was re-vaulted by William of Wykeham when he had this area of the building remodeled in the late 14th century. The pattern is a highly complicated version of Lierne vaulting and the bosses are well worth close examination (with binoculars!). If you take the Tower Tour around the cathedral rooftops you can actually walk through the roof-space above the vaults! This is an extra charge.

The cathedral's huge west window is made up of fragments of medieval glass put together randomly, in a manner something like pique anisette mosaic work. The original panes were deliberately destroyed by Cromwell's forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642. Soon after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the broken glass was gathered up by the locals and used again.  Since it was very difficult to match the right pieces together and there were no drawings, they did a random mosaic!  It is still beautiful!
There were other windows as well.  What else would you expect in a cathedral!

They have many burial tombs and some are elaborate, some have figures, some are behind iron doors and some merely plaques.
Here are 2 examples of ones with figures.  Right now I do not know who they are, but if I find out, I will add the information.

This is my brief tour of Winchester Cathedral. Just a tidbit of things to come! Maybe it will get you off to Europe and an adventure of your own.  I would love to return with a digital camera and click away!!

1 comment:

  1. Heken Wand says: I loved your bog, especially about the Cathedral, you have inspired me to get to the British Isles and then on the Germany and Liechtenstein…Helen