Thursday 25 November 2021
(1.15pm for 1.30pm - meet inside west door)
- Leader: John McNeill
Winchester boasted the wealthiest bishopric in England – surpassing even that of Canterbury – and came to possess the largest medieval cathedral. This afternoon visit is an opportunity to explore that building in a relatively leisurely manner, beginning with the earliest Norman work surviving in the crypt and transepts, and developing through the early Gothic retrochoir, late-thirteenth-century presbytery and nave as remodelled in the lifetime of Bishop William of Wykeham (1366-1404). The subsequent addition of the greatest of English Perpendicular reredos screens behind the high altar, and the re-internment of those Anglo-Saxon kings and queens – previously buried elsewhere in Winchester – in new tomb chests transformed the presbytery in what proved to be the last major remodelling of the cathedral interior.
Within that frame, there is much to see – the remarkable Tournai marble font imported by Bishop Henry of Blois in the middle of the twelfth century, the painted chapel of the angels, the Rayonnant choir stalls and the stunning suite of chantry chapels created by and for Winchester’s late medieval bishops.
NB Winchester Christmas Market will be open in the Cathedral grounds (about 1 minute away)
John McNeill lectures for the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University and is a Vice-President of the London Art History Society. He is the Honorary Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, for whom he has edited and contributed to volumes on English medieval cloisters, chantries and Romanesque material culture.