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David Ford, History EditorTours > Winchester Cathedral

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


The large open retrochoir, behind the high altar at Winchester Cathedral was built, by Bishop Godfrey de Lucy, in the early 1200s as a major eastward extension to the old Norman building. It is a fine example of Early English Architecture apparently constructed to receive the vast numbers of pilgrims then flocking to the side of St. Swithun. They gathered here to view his shrine atop the feretory platform or climb into the 'Holy Hole' below it. A modern replica of the shrine now stands in the centre of the room where the original was placed in 1476.

A series of fascinating chantry chapels now stand both within the retrochoir and radiating off it. Notable are the many pinnacled ones to Cardinal Beaufort and Bishop Waynflete. The guardian Angels' Chapel is beautifully painted. The decorated screen, opposite the Lady Chapel, was the original home of the mortuary chests of the Early Saxon Kings and housed their statues. Near Bishop Langton's Chapel is a memorial to Diver Bill Walker. The medieval tiled floor is of international importance.

Next Stop: Lady Chapel

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