A visit to Winchester Cathedral is a must for all history lovers. We had a tour guide walk us around – summarising and explaining the main historic events and changes that occurred over the “fifteen centuries of English history” that you can see at the massive Cathedral today. In the 600s the first Christian church in Winchester (the heart of Anglo-Saxon Wessex) was built.
“This small cross-shaped church became known as Old Minister. You can see where it stood, its outline traced in red brick, just north of the present building…it became the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England. It was the burial place for some of the earliest Kings of Wessex, including King Alfred the Great.” (Winchester History site)
“The Normans arrived in 1066 with William the Conqueror invading England. The Saxon bishop was replaced by a French Bishop and set about building a huge new church in the Norman Romanesque style. After 450 years, Old Minster was demolished and it’s stones used for the new Cathedral…consecrated in 1093 with a great ceremony attended by almost all England’s bishops and abbots…Gothic arches were added in the 14th century, and it became even more ornate in the 15th and 16th century.” (Winchester History site)
The photo below is of the choir stalls…
“The earliest glass in the Cathedral dates back to the 1330s. During the Civil War of the 1640s, many of the windows were smashed, although the shards were retained and gradually reassembled” (Winchester-cathedral.org.uk). Some of the stained glass was too high up to be easily destroyed and “this remains an example of late-medieval glass painting and design.” (Winchester-cathedral.org.uk)
Photo of the reassembled stain glass window below…has a stunning mosaic design. We loved it + admired the determination to re-create something so beautiful.
The story of the Deep Sea Diver who “saved the Cathedral” is also a wonderful tale of courage, determination and dedication. Information boards tell the story but our guide brought it to life by adding extra information. More information at sites noted above.
After spending a few days in Winchester (photos in last post & above) we continued on to Oxford in the hire car we picked up from Southampton airport. It’s a 1 hr journey by road or rail. Other destinations from Winchester that could be considered are Salisbury or Bath (places we loved on previous travels in England as well as a day trip to Stonehenge from Salisbury)…they’re also accessible by train or bus. Bus transport sounds like it’s generally cheaper but takes longer than most train or car trips. The journey to Oxford is almost twice as long by bus.
OUR 3 NIGHT STAY IN OXFORD
We stayed at a B&B called Number 36…photo below shows view from our room toward other Victorian houses in the street. It was ranked No. 1 for Oxford B&Bs. Parking is in the street at the front. While in Oxford we left the car parked and took the bus into the old town area – 5 min walk to the bus stop and then 10 min on the bus to the city and many of the historic sites, cafes, shops etc. It’s a small city with many narrow streets & parking appeared to be limited so we’re glad we used the bus – a regular & efficient service. The breakfast at the B&B was lovely – a range of food on offer and all freshly prepared. There is also a local shopping/cafe/restaurant area nearby – just a 5+ min walk so there was no need to return to the City area for dinner. It is possible to walk into the City from here – it took about 30 min.
More photos & info about Oxford tomorrow – in a separate post.