As you round the south-west corner of Winchester Cathedral, walking from the centre of town towards the College, this is the view that greets you. It looks all of a piece with the ancient walls, but a Latin inscription on the nearest buttress reads “HIS DECEM ADMINICVLIS SVFFVLTA EST ECCLESIA A.D. MCMXII”, or “With these ten buttresses was the church shored up. AD 1912” Although he took this route on his famous Winchester walks, the poet John Keats would have been nearly 100 years too early to have passed under this arcade.
After a history of more than eight hundred years, at the turn of the twentieth century the cathedral faced catastrophic subsidence. Thanks to the heroic efforts of William Walker, an extraordinary practitioner of early diving-suit techniques, the building was saved for posterity. Clearly he had a large support team, but working purely by feel and in pitch dark over a period of several years, he managed to get huge quantities of concrete placed under the failing foundations. These buttresses followed, to help secure that work. Apart from the not inconsiderable fact that the great medieval building is still standing, this beautiful vista is William Walker’s most visible legacy.
Winchester Cathedral is now one of English Heritage’s Grade 1 listed buildings.
This was the winner in the Arch Shapes In A Church Or Cathedral challenge run by the Christian Churches, Sculptures and Crosses group.