A Description of the Historical Winchester Cathedral
BY MONTANA MEYERS
CONTRIBUTING WRITER FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER
The medieval Winchester Cathedral, tomb of Jane Austen and King Alfred the Great, stands less than a mile away from the University of Winchester campus. It is a major tourist attraction and is well within walking distance for students of the University of Winchester.
The cathedral, well known for being the burial ground of King Alfred the Great, sits in the centre of Winchester like a sprawling palace. At 170 meters its stain glass windows and gothic struts are a solid imprint on the Winchester skyline. The cathedral is over 1,000 years old and it shows in the mosaic glass windows that were shattered and randomly reformed. It shows in the vaulted ceilings and elaborate displays of priests and kings and saints all crammed together and illuminated by candles.
The inside is a small maze of interconnecting rooms leading from one sacred cave to another. Jane Austen’s plaque glitters on the wall in gold and her grave is worn smooth by the feet that pass over it. Tombs of dead kings rest in rooms of quiet worship and a statue of a silent man stands in a crypt that is flooded day by day.
Its foundations once buried in water were freed by William Walker who descended for almost six years every day into the flooded depths to secure the base of the church. His copper helmet is proudly displayed to commemorate his work. A metal bust in a sea of stone.
It is the stone heart of Winchester and where the University of Winchester students will eventually graduate.
As the longest medieval church in Europe it costs 10,000 pounds a day just to maintain. It relies heavily on donations to help preserve its history and run the services it provides to the community. The cathedral does not cater to dead kings alone. It hosts flower festivals, plays, art exhibitions, educational meetings and simply Sunday service.