Winchester Cathedral – 500 Years in the Making

Winchester Cathedral: Built 1079 – 1532

Winchester Cathedral is unique for several reasons.  The official website of of the cathedral,, describes it its unique history:

A royal Anglo-Saxon church

Today’s Cathedral has its roots in the seventh century, when England’s pagan monarchy first became Christians.

In 635, Cynegils, king of the West Saxons, was baptised. Just over a decade later, his son Cenwalh built the first Christian church in Winchester, the heart of Anglo-Saxon Wessex.

This small, cross-shaped church became known as Old Minster. You can still see where it stood, its outline traced in red brick, just north of the present building.

Soon, Old Minster became a cathedral, housing the throne (cathedra) of a bishop who held sway over a huge diocese that stretched from the English Channel to the river Thames.

This was now the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England. It was the burial place for some of the earliest kings of Wessex, including  King King Alfred the Great.

See the official site’s introductory film of a brief tour of the cathedral at  See for other short films  on the following topics: Winchester:  Chronicle of Lights;  Listen to the Cathedral Choir; Discover the Winchester Bible.

One of the unique characteristics of this cathedral is its long evolution over 1500 years to its present form , including a 20th century sculpture in a most unusual setting.

Sound II from a distance, between the massive vaults and their reflections.

Photo by John Crook

See  for a series of photos of the sculpture and its setting.  The discription of the sculpture on the site describes another unique feature of Winchester cathedral, as follows:

Antony Gormley Sound II

This mysterious life-size statue of a man contemplating the water held in his cupped hands is the work of the celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley. You can find Sound II, fashioned from lead out of a plaster cast of the artist’s own body, in the Cathedral crypt, which floods during rainy months.

One of Winchester’s treasurers is the Winchester Bible.   Again, the official site has the following description of the Bible at

The Winchester Bible

The Winchester Bible, housed in the Cathedral Library, is the largest and perhaps finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles. A single scribe wrote out its entire text in Latin, while artists worked its exquisitely illuminated capital letters. Their glowing colours, including gold and lapis lazuli, are as intense today as 800 years ago.”

See for a gallery of illuminations in the Bible, including the following examples:

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