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David Ford, History EditorTours > Winchester Cathedral

Tour the Winchester Cathedral
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

"Holy Hole"

The so-called 'Holy Hole' in the retrochoir at Winchester Cathedral is a small doorway apparently leading into a short passage to nowhere. Its purpose is something of a mystery. However, it is generally believed to have been a recess through which pilgrims to St. Swithun's Shrine could crawl in order to get as close as possible to the great saint.

For most of its lifetime, the shrine stood on the feretory platform above the magnificent low screen in which the 'Holy Hole' is set. Therefore, unlike other shrines, pilgrims did not have an accessible shrine-base in which to thrust their diseased limbs. A crawl through the 'Holy Hole,' whose passage was once much longer, would however bring the devoted into position immediately below the saintly bones.

Next Stop: St. Swithun's Shrine

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