By Sarah Hogan
Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe – and the oldest. It was originally founded in 642, as a small Saxon Church.
The original cross-shaped church became known as Old Minster. Its outline can still be seen today to the north of the present Cathedral. With the town of Winchester increasing in importance, the small Church became a Cathedral with great significance. Winchester became the capital of Wessex, the most important region in England at the time. And with that the Church became the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England, the burial place of many West Saxon Kings.
Winchester is now the setting for a new book from Denny Bradbury. The historical significance of the town and the Cathedral plays a huge part in Borvo. The historical fiction novel tells the story of a pagan boy who comes to the aid of King Alfred.
The construction of the great Cathedral which still stands today began in 1079, said to be ordered by William the Conqueror who had already extended the royal palace of Winchester and built a castle in the capital city.
King Alfred, one of the earliest Kings of Wessex, was originally buried at the Cathedral. Many of kings were buried in the Cathedral, including King Cnut who ruled England and Denmark in the eleventh century and William II, William the Conqueror’s son. Catholic Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII chose to have her wedding to Phillip of Spain at the Cathedral, after it survived the reformation.
During the reformation, the Priory of Saint Swithun, where monks had studied for years was dissolved. The Chapter House and Cloister were demolished, but the Cathedral survived.
In the early 20th century, the Cathedral was near collapse and needed extensive restoration work. It was built in a valley of the river Itchen, so due to peaty soil, the foundations were waterlogged. But the water couldn’t be held back long enough for new foundations to be built around the existing ones. So William Walker, a deep sea diver, was called in to help. He delivered bags of concrete to the foundations everyday for six years, ensuring the Cathedral’s stability.
Adding to the ancient kings buried in the Cathedral, more recently it’s become famous for the burial of an author. Jane Austen died in 1817, having published some books but not reaching a great level of fame. She lived near the Cathedral with her sister, and was buried there with just four people in attendance at her funeral. Her fame increased throughout the later 19th century, and by 1900 a memorial window was installed in the Cathedral.
Winchester Cathedral is famed for its historical significance and ties with the past. Denny Bradbury’s new novel Borvo explores how a great King can relate to a pagan boy.
Borvo will be available in June. To preorder click here.
Find out more about Winchester here.
To purchase one of Denny’s books please click on the images below or contact Denny directly at email firstname.lastname@example.org.