So yesterday after work I took myself off to Winchester to meet up with an old friend from University, and to have a wander around the Cathedral. It was absolutely fantastic to meet up with my friend and we had a few pints in one of the oldest pubs in Winchester, The Eclipse. This pub was the site of Lady Alice Lisle’s imprisonment after her apparent involvement in hiding John Hicks, a dissenting minister and man who sides with Monmouth after the Monmouth rebellion. She was also executed outside the pub after being found guilty. The poor woman was in her 70’s. It is said that her ghost haunts the upstairs corridor of the pub, leading to the women’s toilets and I have to say it is a very very creepy corridor!
After a few pints we went and had a quick cuppa in the Cathedral cafe before I took myself off into the cathedral. It has been a good few years since I’ve been in there but it holds a very special place in my heart. I won’t spend ages writing about the cathedral because I could probably write a book on it. My main interest is the Cathedral’s links to the English Civil War – when the Parliamentarian troops took Winchester they burst into the Cathedral, smashed windows with the bones of the great people buried there, stole great treasures and desecrated the church. You can still see damage from this, particularly in the two statues that flank the great doors.
King James I
King Charles I
Musket hole in the cape of James I, some nasty parliamentarian obviously took umbrage to the statue and thought it would be fun to shoot it.
As well as this, as you head up towards the altar, hidden away on one of the columns is a tiny brass plaque:
The picture isn’t very clear because I couldn’t get my camera to work properly. This brass is a memorial to Colonel John Boles who was killed in action at the Battle of Alton in 1643 – the plaque incorrectly dates his death to 1641 and also calls him Richard who was actually his brother! The brass reads:
For this renowned Martialist Richard Boles of the Right Worshipful Family of the Boles in Linckhorne Shire, Collonell of a Ridgment of Foot of 1300, who for his gracious King Charles the First did wounders at the battle of Edge-hill. His last action to omit all others, was at Alton, in this county of Suthampton was surprised by five or six thousand of the Rebels; which caused him, there quartered, to fly to the church with near four-score of his Men, who there fought them six or seven hours; And then the Rebells breaking in upon him, He slew with his Sword six or seven of them. And this was slain himself, with sixty of his men about him. 1641.
His gracious sovereign hearing of his Death gave him his high Commendation, in that passionate Expression,
“Bring me a Mourning Scarf, I have lost one of the best Commanders in the Kingdome”
Alton will tell you of that famous Fight
Which this man made, and bade this world good night
His vitrtuous Life fear’d not Mortalyte;
His body must, his ventues cannot die
Because his Blood was there so nobly spent:
This is his Tombe, that Church his Monument.
Richardus Boles Wiltoniensis in Art. Mag
Composuit posuitq: Doleus
An Sni 1689
The plaque always brings a tear to my eye, despite it showing the wrong name and date. But it’s OK, because it was erected in 1689 so I can guess I can forgive them. They were probably too busy partying to care too much about it.
As I was wandering around the Cathedral as well, I came across a statue of a rather dashing Restoration gentleman in a periwig:
I couldn’t read the writing underneath that said who he was, so I stopped a bloke in monks robes – he probably wasn’t a monk, but they looked like monks robes – and asked him. He tried to read it and said he couldn’t make out the name but that he had been a soldier. Now this morning, as I was looking through my various books on the English Civil War in Winchester I discovered that this rather dashing man was Sir John Clobury who died in 1687. He was a soldier who payed close attention to literature and claimed to help General Monke restore the Monarchy is 1660! I knew there was a reason I liked the statue!!
Of course there is a lot more in the Cathedral than Seventeenth Century awesomeness and I took so many photographs it in unreal. Here are just a few of them.
I am always stunned when I see these medieval wall paintings – they are apparently one of the finest examples in England. They date from the 12th Century but were covered yup in the 13th Century but a new layer of plaster. They were discovered by a fall of plaster in the 19th Century but it’s only since the 20th Century that they were able to be fully restored.
Bishop Fox’s tomb and Chantry Chapel
Cardinal Beaufort’s Tomb
Beautiful medieval floor tiles. We found very similar ones at the Mary Magdalene Leper Hospital on the outskirts of Winchester when I took part in a dig there.
The shrine of St Swithun. This memorial stands on the site of the original shrine that was destroyed by Henry VIII and his commissioners in 1538. St Swithun was an Anglo Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently became the city’s Patron Saint. AND THERE IS STILL A ST SWITHUN’S DAY!!! It is said that on his day (15th July) whatever the weather is, it will stay like that for 40 days!
A random statue of Joan of Arc
The heart burial of Bishop Aymer de Valance
Tomb of Bishop Gardiner, that slimy bloke from The Tudors – not the actor but the actual Bishop who was a bit of a nasty piece of work. The cadaver shown here is really unsettling, it has worms and stuff carved into it…
I thought I’d take a picture of the info board…
This building kept making me stop and have 17th Century feels
STOP GIVING ME ALL THESE FEELS
Isn’t it just breathtaking?
Tomb of the famous William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester until his death in 1404. He made many of the alterations that we see in the building today.
Very out of focus photo of a rather beautiful ceiling
And that was that, after spending a good few hours wandering around and having too many feels at all the Seventeenth Century stuff as well as getting too many feels about the earlier stuff (especially Henry VIII destroying the Shrine, that nasty man!), I was ushered out as they began to close.
I haven’t gone into the history of the building itself because that is a different post for a different day. But the building has lasted for many many hundreds of years and seen so much. Every time I visit I see something new, and it always takes my breath away. Winchester Cathedral has to be one of my favourite places in the entire world.