Winchester: The Man who saved a Cathedral with a diving suit


William Walker was a professional diver  and he worked for months six hours a day,
in complete darkness and in the water to save Winchester Cathedral. 


Is Winchester an unusual town?

Well, it is certainly not so common for a town to host King Arthur's Round Table (click here to read our last week post about King Arthur's Round Table), but Winchester is not just King Arthur's Round Table and it is not unusual just for this reason.

Probably you have heard about Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral is such an imposing building that you should certainly not miss to visit if you are visiting the South of England or you are looking for a short trip from London.

Winchester Cathedral is surrounded by a wonderful green and wonderful naves with high columns and impressive ceilings will leave you breathless for their beauty.

The high columns and impressive ceilings are reminiscent of the ones of Exeter Cathedral (click here to compare), but Winchester Cathedras has one feature that is certainly unique.

Most of the people would guess that I am talking about the tomb of Jane Austen, the famous writer of Jane Eyre and  Northanger Abbey, but actually not (sorry Jane. I am going to write about you in another post).

What I am talking about is just a common man who act with his heart and his soul, without thinking too much at the great task he was undertaking, and became a national hero.

His name is William Walker and he saved Winchester Cathedral from certain destruction.

Probably the high columns and impressive ceilings are not too different from the ones of Exeter Cathedral.


The fact is that Winchester Cathedral at the end of the Nineteen Century was nearly collapsing under the ground because of the subsidence.

Winchester lies in a valley of the River Itchen, and the Cathedral sits on peaty soil with a high underlying water table and Winchester Cathedral was soon going to collapse.

If you walk at the back of Winchester Cathedral you can still see today the walls of the Cathedral leaning slight on one side sank on the soft ground as an effect of the subsidence.

William Walker was a professional diver. He worked for months six hours a day, in complete darkness and in the water, because the sediment suspended in the water was impenetrable to light, to reinforce with concrete the basement of Winchester Cathedral and save it from collapsing.

So today when you enter into the Cathedral you should first thing walk at the end of the building where the absides is at the back of the amazingly decorated altar.

One more picture of Winchester Cathedral.


At the end of Winchester Cathedral, William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral is there represented in a tiny bronze statue, nearly invisible to the public.

You are going to notice the little statue of William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral only if you already know his story and you are looking for this statue.

I think William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral would love to know that is represented inside the religious building in such a simple and unfussy way.

But after you have thanked William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral for his incredible act of heroism you should take time to visit the rest of Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral has been built in different stages and in different times so that what you can see today is a mix of styles and ages.

Winchester Cathedral was founded in 642. It became part of a monastic settlement in 971.

In 1079, Bishop Walkelin began work on a completely new cathedral. The building was consecrated in 1093.

Following the accession of Godfrey de Lucy in 1189 a retrochoir was added in the Early English style.

Jane Austen Tombstone.
The Norman choir screen, having fallen into a state of decay, was replaced in 1637–40 by a
new one, designed by Inigo Jones.

Mainly the Cathedral as we are able to see today is a mix of styles stretching along more than six hundreds years, Something absolutely incredible!

What amazes me more is the ceiling of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.

Winchester Cathedral ceiling is beautiful and so reminiscent of the ceiling of Exeter Cathedral i just visited few weeks ago read about Exeter Cathedral - post 1 and Exeter Cathedral - post 2.

The other thing that remained in my mind visiting Winchester Cathedral is Jane Austen's tomb.

The famous English writer is buried here in Winchester Cathedral.

I notice Jane Austen's tombstone in the pavement of Winchester Cathedral (left nave) when I was literally with my feet on her mortal remains.

As you can see in the phone Jane Austen tombstone is such a simple, common, anonymous tombstone that it is extremely easy to miss it.


The house of Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral

I read Jane Austen's house in Winchester survived and I set off to see it.

It should be certainly take in account that when Jane Austen lived in this house in Winchester she was already ill and bear the end of her life, but still it is just a common house. Only a little plaque near the door to remember the famous English writer.

After having visited Bath I can confirm my first impression: it is definitely Bath the city of Jane Austen.

As I wrote (click here to read the full post about Jane Austen in BathBath is not just a thermal town, despite the fact that it is famous for its spa. 

It is not only the city of Jane Austen, the worldwide 

famous novelist of Pride and Prejudice and Northanger 
Abbey.


Winchester Cathedral as seen from the beautiful hill surrounding the English town.


There is much more to say about Bath.


Bath is such a wonderful town to visit in England.


Nourished by natural hot springs, Bath is a 

romantic destination popular with the 

fashionable society since the eighteen

century(...click here to continue).

Do you want to visit another majestic Cathedral in England?

Read about Salisbury Cathedral: The Cathedral of light




Do you want to read more about England?

Browse on my page Visit England for many more destinations



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