9 The Close, Winchester SO23 9LS
Winchester Cathedral is the spiritual heart of Winchester. You can see it from anywhere in the city because it is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. In fact, it is the longer than any other cathedral in the gothic style.
The cathedral was founded in 642, but the original structure wasn’t complete until 1093. But the building did not stop there. The version we see today wasn’t really finished until 1525.
One of the cathedral’s most striking features is its stained glass window. It is also the source of one of its most endearing stories. During the Civil War, Roundheads deliberately smashed the window. That night, the royalist townsfolk gathered up the pieces and kept them safe for more than 20 years.
When the monarchy was restored in 1660, the priests attempted to reassemble the window. Unfortunately, there was no image of the original window to copy, turning the window into a 100,000 piece jigsaw with no box cover!
So, the pieces were assembled randomly and the window was restored to the collage we see today. When you visit the Cathedral, look for the signature blue colour. This cerulean blue glass is iconic to Winchester stained glass and you will only find this shade of blue in the city’s works.
When huge cracks started to appear in the early 1900s, the Cathedral seemed in danger of complete collapse. Early efforts to underpin its waterlogged foundations failed until William Walker, a deep-sea diver, worked under water every day for six years placing bags of concrete. You’ll find a small statue of him at the far end of the Cathedral.
Winchester Cathedral is also the only cathedral in the world to possess a diatonic ring of 14 church bells. It is also the final resting place for most of the kings of Wessex, Saint Birinus and novelist Jane Austin.