Date Visited: July 4, 2014
The first weekend of our study abroad trip, The University of Southern Mississippi set up excursions that that students could take. I signed up for the Stonehenge/Winchester excursion. To be completely honest I signed up for this to see Stonehenge. At the time I did not have a strong desire to see Winchester. After visiting the Winchester Cathedral, however, I am so glad I received the opportunity to go to Winchester.
The Winchester Cathedral is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. It contains the grave of Jane Austen, and a lovely memorial dedicated to her. The presbytery and quire have the most gorgeous architecture and artwork I have ever seen. The Great Screen is an amazing piece of artwork at the end of the presbytery. It is a stone wall is covered in exquisite statues. The screen was built in 1475 but the statues were not added until the late 1800’s. The screen contains a statue of Queen Victoria among its ranks.
After spending about an hour admiring the church I noticed a small sign hidden behind one of the tombs. The sign read “Library” and pointed to a small doorway. I peaked through the door and saw a rickety old wooden stair case and no one in site. I cautiously climbed the stairs and once I reached the top I was met with two smiling volunteers. They welcomed me to the Morley Library, a quaint library located within the cathedral.
The library was established in 1684 by George Morley. It contains over 1000 items on varies subjects including history, astronomy, and poetry. While the public is not allowed to enter the library, they can view it from the doorway. The library is not very large. In the center of the library are two large globes. These globes were commissioned by Morley himself. One of them shows the constellations and the other globe shows the earth as it was thought to look in the late 1600’s. There are geographical errors on the world globe, including a depiction of California as it’s own separate island. The library also houses the Winchester Bible in its collection. The bible was hand written and illustrated on calf skin in the 1100’s. It is a beautiful piece of work.
I was so glad I got the opportunity to explore Winchester Cathedral. It was an amazing and surprising find to see the Morley Library and the Winchester bible. I would strongly recommend anyone traveling through UK to stop and check out the small town.