Winchester Cathedral is one of the most historically significant buildings in Britain. It is located at the heart of historic Winchester, once the seat of Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal power, on the site of an early Christian Church. Today, Winchester Cathedral stands beautifully in the idyllic green spaces surrounding it, boasting the title of Europe’s longest medieval Cathedral. The Old Minster, a Benedictine monastery, was the home of St Swithun and the present Cathedral was built on the orders of William the Conqueror. Begun in 1079, Winchester Cathedral has been a place of welcome and worship ever since.
As a thriving attraction for visitors all over the world, Winchester Cathedral is famous as the resting place of Saxon royalty, and the Cathedral’s royal heritage can be explored in Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation, a three-level, permanent exhibition in the South Transept. The exhibition explores over 1,000 years of history, from the birth of the nation to the present day, and reveals some of the Cathedral’s greatest treasures including the magnificent Winchester Bible, the finest surviving 12th-century English bible. The exhibition also houses The Morley Library, a beautiful 17th century library with books that have not been moved from their shelves for 400 years, and also offers monumental views of the South Transept from Triforium level.
The Cathedral still retains some of its original Norman architecture in the two transepts. Remodelling in the 13th to 15th centuries introduced Early English and Perpendicular architecture to this beautiful building. Architectural features of note include the vast Gothic Nave (the longest in Europe), the outstanding 14th-century oak quire stalls, the seven chantry chapels and the largest expanse of medieval floor tiles in the country, which can be found in the Retrochoir.
Visitors can unlock the secrets of Winchester Cathedral’s rich history with specialist tours provided by expert guides. Highlights include the resting place of the much-loved English novelist Jane Austen, who lived and died in Winchester, and the atmospheric Crypt, home to Anthony Gormley’s Sound II statue. Visitors can also experience panoramic views of Winchester, once the capital of England, on a Tower Tour (tickets to be booked in advance) or listen to free music recitals on Tuesday lunchtimes. Winchester Cathedral is the centre of the community, providing a unique setting for numerous events including concerts, festivals and activities.