Saturdays are pyjama days in my house; no-one rushes as we recover from a busy week. For some reason a recent Saturday saw us all up and about by 7am.
With no plans, I suggested a trip to Winchester to see how lockdown was treating the cathedral and city.
Arriving near lunchtime, the city was heaving and we walked through The Square, passing St Lawrence Church which was built on the site of the chapel of William The Conqueror’s Palace. This is an ancient city which oozes history and as you pass through into the cathedral grounds you begin to get a bit of perspective on the scale and magnificence of this Gothic cathedral, arguably the finest in Europe and without argument, the longest. The Close was busy, but we soon put on our facecoverings and headed inside.
Friendly welcomers took our entry fee, which gives entry for the year and we began to follow the one-way system around the cathedral. Making the building safe during the pandemic has been done subtly, thoughtfully and still makes sure the visitor can enjoy all the cathedral has to offer. The most immediate thing you notice is how calm and peaceful the building is. The hustle and bustle outside are left behind as you enter into this glorious space and it really feels like you are unburdening as you go in.
People are drawn to Winchester for many things; the Mortuary Chests, with the bones of early English monarchs are fascinating, others come to pay homage to Jane Austin, who is buried here, others for the architecture and some will be here to reflect at the Shrine of St Swithurn. Whatever the reason, Winchester has it.
I loved the 15th century screen behind the Altar, it’s honestly mindboggling, spectacular and beautiful, an amazing piece of religious art. I was looking at it when one of the clergy came through and I instantly recognised the Dean, the Very Revd Catherine Ogle. We’ve followed each other on Twitter for ages and to actually meet her was a joy. It was also good to see a Dean walking the floor. They’ve busy jobs and taking that time makes a difference.
She advised taking in the Kings and Scribes exhibition, the latest addition to the understanding of the history of the cathedral including the world-famous Winchester Bible. It was time well spent.
Winchester is full of life, history and God. It’s a stunning cathedral in safe hands and Good to Go.
He is a part-time management consultant focused on voluntary sector leadership. He is also the CEO of Action Pre-eclampsia. His photography has been widely published everywhere from the Washington Post to Vogue. In 2019, in advance of the Year Of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage he decided to attempt to visit and photograph every Anglican and Catholic Cathedral in England and Wales.