Winchester Cathedral is one of Europe’s greatest churches, boasting more than 1,000 years of beautiful and fascinating history, including one of the world’s most exquisite Bibles, the 11th-century crypt and author Jane Austen’s final resting place. In addition, Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral.
With an overall length of 558 feet, which is longer than a football field, it is the longest medieval cathedral in the world. A walk around the cathedral will display centuries of English architecture adorned with ancient works of art, from paintings to carvings.
Once the seat of the royal power of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, the church was built on the grounds around A.D. 645 and over the next 350 years it became the most important church in Anglo-Saxon England.
By A.D. 1000, it became one of the most distinguished cathedrals in Europe. Its early European roots are visible in the round-arched crypts and transepts, and over the centuries, soaring Gothic arches were also added, as were spectacular works of art, medieval carvings and a 12th-century, 1.5-ton marble baptismal.
Also inside the Winchester Cathedral is the 17th-century Morley Library donated by Bishop Morley. Plus, inside the gallery is the Shaftesbury Bowl, the last surviving example of late-Saxon glass in England. But one of the most notable and historical addition to the relics is the Winchester Bible — the largest surviving 12th-century English Bible.
This Winchester Bible is a masterpiece. It was commissioned in 1160 by William the Conqueror’s grandson and is a historical handwritten, hand-illustrated and hand-colored Romanesque manuscript that also includes vibrant gold leaf from Afghanistan.
The cathedral is also a visitor attraction, a venue for music and the arts with a diverse program of concerts, exhibitions, family activities and more. Welcoming more than 300,000 visitors a year, the cathedral continues to also serve as a place of worship.
For more information about Winchester Cathedral, including tour information, visit www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk.