Winchester Cathedral, Your Bringing Me Down
You Stood and You Watched As My Baby Left Town
This Cathedral Church, so named because it houses the throne (or ‘cathedra’) of the Bishop of Winchester, has its origins in the seventh century, when a Christian Church was first built on the site. Since then it has played a fundamental part in the life of this ancient city, and a role in our nations history.
The site of the original Cathedra Begun in 1079 in the Romanesque style, this Cathedral is at the heart of Alfred’s Wessex and a diocese which once stretched from London’s Thames to the Channel Islands. Its bishops were men of enormous wealth and power, none more so than William of Wykeham, twice Chancellor of England, Founder of Winchester College and New College Oxford. The chantry chapels and memorials of these great prelates are a feature of the Cathedral. These influential bishops also developed, re-fashioned and adorned this great Cathedral. There pilgrims sought the shrine of local saints, notably a former bishop, Saint Swithun, whose festival (15 July) was said to set the pattern for the weather for the next forty days.
The Cathedral was also the church of the community of Benedictine monks from its earliest days. Elements of the monastic buildings may still be traced through the Cathedral Close. Central to the life of the monks was the opus dei (the Work of God), the regular offering of prayer which they sang in the quire. The discipline of praying regularly for the world is continued today, most notably in the said morning office and the daily singing of Evensong by the Cathedral choir. Evensong still takes place in the choir of the Cathedral, the choir stalls with their magnificent gabled canopies, elaborately carved with flowers and plants, owls and monkeys, dragons, knights and green men.