Monday, 15 March 2010
Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.
It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Swithun and is the seat of the Bishop of Winchester and centre of the Diocese of Winchester.
Nowadays the cathedral draws many tourists as a result of its association with Jane Austen, who died in the city and is buried in the cathedral's north aisle of the nave. The original 19th century marker gave reluctant praise for her writing ability. Interestingly her gravestone makes no mention of her as a novelist, for which she is now best known. Most of her novels were published after her death. Much later a more descriptive marker about Austen's talent was placed on a nearby wall.
Another reason for its popularity is that the cathedral was the setting for works of fiction by Anthony Trollope, for example, his novels of 19th century church life known collectively as the Chronicles of Barsetshire.
In 2005, the building was used as a film set for the The Da Vinci Code with the north transept used as the Vatican. Following this the cathedral hosted discussions and displays to debunk the book.
The crypt (below), which frequently floods, features a statue by Antony Gormley, called "Sound II", installed in 1986, and there is a modern shrine to Saint Swithun. In addition there is a bust of William Walker, the deep-sea diver who worked underwater in the crypt between 1906 and 1911 underpinning the nave and shoring up the walls.