Once home to the early monarchs of the English Kingdom, Winchester remained of the great sees of the Church through the later Middle Ages and the Reformation period (bookended by bishops Stephen Gardiner and Lancelot Andrewes!), and despite suffering grievously from Reformation and Cromwellian depredations, still boasts one of the greatest cathedrals in the land. At an astounding 170 meters (558 ft), Winchester is the longest medieval church building still standing, and the longest medieval cathedral ever built. Its stunning nave offers an unobstructed view to the stained glass window at the end of the choir, nearly 500 feet away.
All of Winchester’s original stained glass was destroyed by those cursed roundheads in the 1640s; the townspeople, however, set about gathering up all the larger fragments that they could, and put them together in one great hodge-podge as the new Great West Window, which has a haunting and tragic beauty all its own.
Cromwell’s troops were also fiendish enough to destroy all the tombs of the kings and saints from the Anglo-Saxon and Danish era, including such famous names as Ethelred and King Canute, leaving their bones scattered and confused. These were later put in chests high up on the sides of the chancel, jumbled together, so that no one knows whose bones are where.
The restored Victorian reredos, however, gives some hint of the church’s earlier splendour.
Always a fantastic photo angle in almost any cathedral–looking from the Quire down the vault of the nave.
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