Winchester Day 3: The Cathedral

My posts are going to be a tiny bit backlogged for the next few days because I’ve been insanely busy, but it should work out fine because I’ll be travelling all day Tuesday so I’ll schedule a post then and we’ll be caught up by the time I get home.

I went for one last visit to Winchester Cathedral, and saw it like I’ve never seen it before.

IMG_5191

Winchester Cathedral

The Cathedral is Winchester’s crown jewel. It was first built in 1093. Let’s let that sink in for a while. This cathedral is one thousand years old. Holy shit.

IMG_5258

It’s got a mix of Norman/Roman architecture (the Normans sort of stole it from the Romans, so it’s Roman design but Norman built, if I remember correctly) and Perpendicular Gothic (which is one of the most beautiful styles of architecture in my opinion). It also has some crazy history, which sort of comes with being a thousand years old.

IMG_5259

This window was shattered completely during England’s Civil War in the 1600s. The townspeople collected the fragments and the window was put back together randomly.

I’ve visited the cathedral several times before, but this time I got a ticket for a tower tour, which is a first for me.

IMG_5262

The tour started with our small group (2 guides, 2 other tourists, and me) going through an inconspicuous wooden door which opened immediately to narrow spiral stairs. The tour is kind of like a ride at Disneyland. Not recommended for anyone with any health problems or pregnant women and you have to be able to fit into tight spaces. Also a bad idea for anyone with claustrophobia or a fear of heights, but no worries: I took pictures!

We emerged from the narrow spiral stairs onto this side of the cathedral, along the top edge near the front.

IMG_5298IMG_5265IMG_5288

The weather was spitting on us, but nothing could ruin the view.

From there we went into the roof. I guess it’s like the cathedral’s attic?

IMG_5281

We walked along a narrow bridge made of slightly-flimsy-but-not-enough-to-worry wood down what would be most of the length of the cathedral and came into the room where the bell ringers ring the bells by pulling ropes from the ceiling. The cathedral has something like 17 bells which is the most of any cathedral in England, I think. The guides had a lot of cool info about the bells and stories about people involved in the cathedral’s history. It was very interesting.

IMG_5279

And from there we went up an even narrower and steeper spiral staircase. I’m not even kidding, there was barely enough room for my foot on each step and there wasn’t enough room to lift one elbow more than 45º. It was insane, and to be honest, one of the coolest staircases I’ve ever used.

IMG_5273

My hand isn’t very big, and I was standing straight when I took this picture.

We stopped halfway to see the bells before continuing up the stairs.

IMG_5270

The entire journey was all worth it when we finally reached the top.

IMG_5275

IMG_5276

The castle-looking building is Winchester College and behind it is St. Catherine’s Hill. The little yellow house next to the college is where Jane Austen died. Those are the only ones I know, but the guides knew a lot more.

IMG_5277

IMG_5278

All the way down the tiny staircase, through the bell-ringing room, down the attic path. We spent time in each place again and the tour guide told us more the entire time. As a treat since the weather was so bad, we went out on the roof on the other side of the cathedral, too.

IMG_5297IMG_5285

IMG_5286

The outline is where a different cathedral used to be before this one.

I also got some pics of some of the stonework in the attic. There was some really old graffiti on the stone around the attic window.

IMG_5282

IMG_5287

1677, 1211, how long this graffiti has lasted is amazing. Kind of insane how the people who put them there are long gone and by now this may well be the only evidence left that they ever existed.

After the tour I got a cool certificate styled with artistry from the Winchester Bible. I actually got to look at the actual bible afterwards but there were no photos allowed.

IMG_5289

After the tour I went exploring a bit and looked around the beautiful place for one last time.

IMG_5293IMG_5292IMG_5261IMG_5260

I even went down to the crypt. From the top of the tower to the bowels of the building.

IMG_5290

And that was it. I should sleep now, I’m off to London tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s