We traveled from Southampton to Oxford by way of Winchester to see the cathedral. Most of us older baby-boomers know only the 60's song, which has nothing at all to do with the actual cathedral.
Winchester was an important governmental center as the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.
The first church at this site, Old Minster, was begun in the 7th century. It was demolished after the Norman conquest and a new church was begun by William the Conqueror and consecrated in the 11th century. Portions of the Norman church are still visible in the transept and crypt, but as is usual the building has been much altered over the years.
There was a very stirring moment in our visit there. The cathedral contains a "book of remembrance," containing the name of soldiers who died in WWI. Every month there is a solemn ceremony of the turning of a page in the book. While we were in the crypt the notes of a single bugle echoed through this vast nave. We scrambled out just in time to see the formal procession and ceremony.
After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the window was reconstructed using the original glass, but no attempt was made to reassemble the images as they had been.
The theme of conflict was pervasive during our time in England. Catholic against Protestant. Puritan against Established Church. We tend to think of religious conflict as between different faiths, but the most bitter conflicts often occur between different interpretations of the same faith.
Much of her life was spent in the neighborhood and Jane Austen died in Winchester in 1817.
Alfred is the only English ruler to have earned the sobriquet "the Great."
From Winchester we traveled on to Oxford where we would spend the remainder of our program. You may click your "back" button to return to the index page or the link above to continue with us.