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Walkelin
(Died 1098)

Bishop of Winchester
Died: 3rd Janury 1098 at Winchester, Hampshire


Walkelin, was the first Norman Bishop of Winchester. He was of noble birth and related to the Conqueror. His brother, Simeon, was, first, made Prior of Winchester and, afterwards, Bishop of Ely. Walkelin demolished the Old and New Minsters and built a completely new Cathedral, adjoining their ruins, in the Norman style. His transepts and crypt are retained in the present building. King William Rufus granted Walkelin half a hide in the Isle of Wight, with license to search for and excavate stone for his new cathedral,
"per planum et silvam: si silva tantae parvitatis fuerit ut per eam transeuntes cornua cervi appareant."
Of the manner in which he procured timber for the completion of the church, the following story is told. King William the Conqueror had granted him as much wood from the Forest of Hempage Wood (on the old Alresford Road in Hampshire) as his carpenters could take in four days and nights. "But the Bishop," says an old annalist, "collected an innumerable troop of carpenters and within the assigned time cut down the whole wood and carried it off to Winchester." Presently after, the King, "passing by Hempage, was struck with amazement and cried out, "Am I bewitched or have I taken leave of my senses? Had I not once a most delectable wood upon this spot?'' But when he understood what had happened, he was violently enraged. Then the Bishop put on a shabby vestment and made his way to the King's feet, humbly begging to resign the episcopate and merely requesting that he might retain his royal friendship and chaplaincy. The King was thus appeased, only observing, "I was as much too liberal in my grant as you were too greedy in availing yourself of it." The new cathedral was completed in 1093. In 1098, Bishop Walkelin died, having accomplished, in his church, the reformation which was the first object of nearly all the Norman bishops. "He greatly improved," says the annalist of Winchester, "the Church of Winton in devotion, in the number of its monks and in the buildings of the house (monastery)." He was buried in the nave of his cathedral.

  

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