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David Ford, History EditorTours > Winchester Cathedral

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

William II Tomb

In the middle of the choir of Winchester Cathedral, immediately under the tower crossing, sits a very ancient tomb. It is a simple, coped monument dating from the 12th century. Tradition ascribes it to King William Rufus, the unpopular son of the Conqueror. He was killed in the nearby New Forest under highly suspicious circumstances in 1100 and is known to have been hurriedly buried in this very position. Seven years later the cathedral tower collapsed ontop of him and it was generally thought to have been caused by his wickedness!

However, when the tomb was opened in both the 17th and 19th centuries, the male skeleton within was found to be holding a chalice, indicating his position as a priest. It is now, therefore, thought likely that the tomb, in fact, belongs to the mightiest of Winchester's Bishop's, Prince Henry of Blois whose support decided the country's ruler in the mid-12th century. He is supposed to have been buried before the High Altar, while William Rufus is also assigned to the Royal mortuary chests on the Presbytery screen.

Next Stop: Saxon Mortuary Chests

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