Winchester Cathedral and beyond.

The sun made an appearance late in the afternoon yesterday and the landscape was transformed from grey to great… The greens are iridescent, the  sun filters through the wet leaves and is captured like diamonds in the rain drops hanging from every  solid surface.

I'm in Romsey, about 100 kms from London towards the South Coast of England.

It was a delightful adventure getting here. I booked my train ticket on line the day before and I just had to pick it up at Waterloo Station in the morning.

Everything I needed for a couple of nights was packed in my hand luggage (even a bottle of wine, and a book for Gay) and the hotel organized a taxi to take me to Waterloo. 

The driver and I chatted like old friends for the 20 minutes of the drive and I alighted having enjoyed meeting him and capturing the moments.

I was an hour early but I had given myself plenty of time to find the gate and do a little people watching.

I enjoyed myself so much. Listening to classical music and the passing parade of people appeared to walk to the pulse of the music.

L train

Business men, families, and general travelers all passing in front of me unaware of my enjoyment.

I worked on my computer during the trip but I didn't forget to look out the window and capture the scenery in my mind. Green fields, bright graffiti setting alight the drab bricks of the railway boundaries, rows of houses standing in line like sentries and hundreds of chimneys reaching for the sky.

My friend Gay, met me at the station and the years melt away in our recognition. Gay has shared a large part of my career and my family and it was so nice to visit.

Winchester Cathedral is a must visit destination  due to its history of partial Norman construction.

The foundations in the image below are of the entrance to Winchester Castle in the first scene of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Winchester cathedral

"It is 1064. In the Royal Palace of Westminster Edward the Confessor, King of England since 1042, is talking to his brother-in-law Harold, Earl of Wessex."

I know it well. I didn't take my good camera, just the small point and shoot to capture the images, it was raining and the camera is a bit large to shelter under my jacket.


The cathedral was founded in 642 on a site immediately to the north of the present one. This building became known as the Old Minster. It became part of a monastic settlement in 971. Saint Swithun was buried near the Old Minster and then in it, before being moved to the new Norman cathedral. So-called mortuary chests said to contain the remains of Saxon kings.  The Old Minster was demolished in 1093, immediately after the consecration of its successor.

The banners you can see are digital prints on silk taken directly from the illustrated manuscripts of the Winchester Bible.

What’s special about this Bible?

During the 12th century several magnificently large Bibles were produced in England. This huge Bible, with its beautiful hand-written script and sumptuous decorated initials, is undoubtedly the finest.

A remarkable survival, it was commissioned in 1160, probably by Henry of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror and Bishop of Winchester for over 40 years.

It was laboriously produced in the great priory linked to the Cathedral, where sacred texts were copied out for use in daily worship. The manuscript remains unfinished — giving us invaluable insights into the complex processes needed to create it.

Gay and I walked up the stairs to visit the bible on display. Trying to imagine the amount of dedication it took to complete it we stood in awe as the pages were presented.

The text, in the Latin of St Jerome, was handwritten on 468 sheets (folios) of calf-skin parchment, each measuring 23 by 15.75 inches (583 x 396 mm). These sheets were folded down the centre, making 936 pages in all.

It’s estimated that the hides of some 250 calves were needed. This kind of parchment was expensive — so to save space, the writer often shortened words, and each new book of the Bible starts on the same page as the last.

It was copied by a single scribe, probably using a goose feather quill — the best available — and then checked. You can still see the corrections made by a second monk in the margins. Each page was ruled in advance, to ensure the layout remained the same.

As he wrote, the scribe held a pen knife in his left hand to press down the springy parchment. He also used it to sharpen his quill, and scrape out any mistakes.

When the text had been written, but before the main art work begun, coloured initial letters were added at the beginning and end of each chapter. Red, green and blue ink was used.


 The Cathedral is a deeply moving environment. You are literally  immersed in history and you walk the walk that 1000s of our forefathers.

Inspiration is ever present. It's so hard to take it all in.

It is the Author Jan Austen's final resting place.

" Early in 1817 Jane began to write Sanditon, but she became ill and the book was never finished. She was referred by her doctor to a doctor in Winchester and she moved into lodgings in College Street in Winchester (right – now a private house) with Cassandra for the last few weeks of her life. She bravely kept up her spirits until dying on 18 July, her head on Cassandra's shoulder, from what is now known as Addison's Disease, at the age of 41."

Extract from the diary of Mary Austen, nee Lloyd, (1771-1843)

There is so much to see and do at the Cathedral, if you have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and visit.

 I added a series of photos to my FB site under Pam Holland

Leave a Reply