Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Winchester Part 5

The early Reformation period at Winchester led to a great impoverishment of the see: so much so that the second William of Wickham (1594-5) ventured, in a sermon preached before the queen, to say that, should the see continue to suffer such rapine as it had already undergone in her reign, there would soon be no means to keep the roof on the cathedral building. We do not know that this remonstrance produced much effect, for the cathedral and its revenues underwent many losses after this. The ravages of the Parliamentarians, however, which were the most serious, have been alluded to elsewhere.

It appears from "the old Valor printed 1685," which was quoted by Browne Willis in his "Survey of the Cathedrals" of 1742, that some dioceses about Calais used once to belong to Winchester. We learn also from Browne Willis that in his time the see of Winchester contained "the whole County of Southampton, with the Isle of Wight, and one parish in Wiltshire, viz. Wiltesbury: It has also all Surrey, except 11 churches in Croyden Deanry which are peculiars of the See of Canterbury. Here are two Archdeacons, viz. 1. Winchester, valued at 61l. 15s. 2d. for First-Fruits, which has all the Deanries in the County of Southampton and the Isle of Wight. 2. Surrey, which has all the Deanries in the County of Surrey, the corps of which is the Rectory of Farnham; and it is rated for First-Fruits at 91l. 3s. 6d."

The subsequent history of the see is mainly bound up with political and theological questions which need not be touched on here. It may, however, be mentioned that the Ecclesiastical Commission of 1836-7 re-adjusted the boundaries of the diocese; while in 1846 there were transferred to London the following districts:--Battersea, Bermondsey, Camberwell, Clapham, Graveney, Lambeth, Merton, Rotherhithe, Southwark, Streatham, Tooting, and Wandsworth. This re-arrangement still left Winchester the largest rural diocese in England.



Winchester boasts a very long list of bishops as compared with many of our English cathedrals, but the details about a great number of them are most scanty. The exact year from which the history of the diocese should be dated is not certain, but it is to be placed somewhere during the reign of Ine over the West Saxons. Under Bishop Eleutherius, to whom Hedda succeeded, the kingdom of Wessex was still but a single diocese.

The removal of the see from Dorchester to Winchester was rendered necessary by the extension of the Mercian rule, which made the former town unsuitable for a West Saxon see. The date of the change, simultaneous with the moving of the bones of S. Birinus, is fixed by Rudborne at 683, but, according to recent authorities, it would appear to be earlier.

#Hedda# (? 679-705) was, at any rate, the first bishop of Winchester, properly speaking; though he was the fourth successor to S. Birinus. As his most recent biographer says, Hedda "was a man of much personal holiness and was zealous in the discharge of his episcopal duties.... He is reckoned a saint, his day being 30 July. Many miracles were worked at his tomb." He figures on the reredos as restored in accordance with the original design.

#Daniel# (705-744) had the misfortune to see his diocese considerably docked in order to form the see of Sherbourne. He resigned, by reason of loss of eyesight, in 744. According to some accounts, Ethelwulf, afterwards king of Wessex, and father of Alfred, succeeded him; but this story certainly lacks proof, though Ethelwulf seems to have been educated at Winchester.

#Hunferth# or Humfredus (744-754), like most of the immediately succeeding bishops, has his place of interment at Winchester recorded by John of Exeter.

#Cyneheard# became Bishop of Winchester in 754. His successors during the next century were #Aethelheard#, #Ecbald# (_circ._ 790); #Dudda# (793); #Cyneberht# (_circ._ 799); #Almund# or Ealhmund (_circ._ 803); #Wigthegen# (_circ._ 824); #Hereferth# (? 829-833); #Edmund# (833); and #Helmstan#. Of none of these do we know much, and their dates cannot be assigned with any certainty.

With #S. Swithun# (852-862), who was first prior and afterwards bishop, we come upon one of the names especially connected with the history of the church. It is, however, to be feared that it is not so much because of his fame in church-building and his acts of humanity that he will be remembered as for the popular superstition which asserts that the weather for forty days after his feast-day on July 15 is dry or rainy according to its state on that day. The legend is said to be based on the fact that the removal of his body from "a vile and unworthy place where his grave might be trampled upon by every passenger and received the droppings from the eaves" to the golden shrine in the cathedral was delayed by a long continuance of wet weather. Similar legends to explain a wet summer are found elsewhere in Europe. "The saint was translated,"

says Rudborne, "in the 110th year of his rest. And for his glory, so great was the concourse of people and so numerous and frequent the miracles that the like was never witnessed in England." A figure representing S. Swithun seems once to have stood in a niche at the apex of the gable of the west front.

He was succeeded by #Alhferth# or Ealhfrith (863-871), translated to Canterbury; #Tunbriht# or Dunbert, whose name was Latinised as Tunbertus (871-879); #Denewulf# (879-909), whom a singularly incredible legend asserts to have been the swineherd in whose cottage Alfred allowed his hostess's cakes to burn; #Frithstan# (909-931); #Byrnstan# (931-934); #Aelfheah# or Elphege (934-951); #Aelfsige# (951-958), who was nominated to Canterbury, but died in the snow while crossing the Alps on his way to Rome for his pall--the only fact which is really known about him; and #Brithelm# (958-963).

Next came "the holy #Athelwold#, a great builder of churches and of various other works, both when he was abbot and after when he became bishop of Winchester" (Wolstan). He seems to have moved the bodies of Swithun and other saints to a more suitable resting-place than they had hitherto enjoyed. Of Athelwold's building operations at Winchester Wolstan's account is quoted on page 6. He held the see of Winchester for twenty-one years (963-984), and he was by birth a native of the town. It was said of him that he was "terrible as a lion" to the rebellious, but "gentler than a dove" to the meek.

#Elphege# or Aelfheah (984-1005), his successor, to whom Wolstan's account of Athelwold is addressed, was martyred in 1012 by the Danes while Archbishop of Canterbury, where his tomb subsequently received great honours. Aelfheah's great work was spent in the conversion of the "Northmen," or Danish invaders of England.

#Cenwulf# or Kenulf (1005-1006) is allowed three years by Rudborne, but apparently wrongly; another #Athelwold# or Ethelwold (1006-1015), and #Aelfsige# (1015-1032) are not of great importance.

#Aelfwine# or Alwyn (1032-1037), called by Anglo-Saxon chroniclers "the king's priest," seems to have been a monk of S. Swithun's monastery and also chaplain to Cnut before he was elevated to Winchester. The legend which makes him the lover of Emma, widow of Aethelred and Cnut, and mother of Edward the Confessor, has been declared unhistorical; but, at any rate, the story of her ordeal, when she walked blindfold and barefoot over nine red-hot plough-shares, was once celebrated. It is a curious coincidence that the bones of queen and bishop were deposited by Bishop Fox in the same chest, Aelfwine's remains being exhumed from his grave to the south of the high altar to be placed in a leaden sarcophagus above the crypt-door.

#Stigand# (1047-1069) was chiefly remarkable, it appears, for his avarice, especially shown in his retention of Winchester after his election to Canterbury. He received the pall in 1058 from the "anti-Pope" Benedict X., so that he was never regarded as the rightful possessor of the dignities he enjoyed, the Normans refusing to recognise him except as bishop of Winchester. His wealth attracted the attention of William the Conqueror, and by a Council held at Winchester after Easter 1070, Stigand was deposed. Some reports state that he was cast into prison, where he died of voluntary starvation; and that on his body was found a key of a casket containing the clue to great hidden treasures, which the king appropriated, giving from them, says Rudborne, a great silver cross with two images; but the cross is generally called Stigand's. He was buried in a leaden sarcophagus to the south of the high altar.

#Walkelin# (1070-1098) was related by blood to the Conqueror, and was brother of Simeon, prior of Winchester and afterwards abbot of Ely. He was the first of the Norman bishops, and signalised his incumbency by rebuilding the cathedral from its very foundations, as the Norman ecclesiastics frequently did. He figures more largely in the architectural history of the cathedral than in its historical records, and his work has been described elsewhere. Walkelin was buried in the nave before the rood-loft, where stood the great silver cross.

#William Giffard# (1100-1129) succeeded after an interregnum such as occurred in many sees during the reign of William Rufus. He founded S.

Mary Overy, now S. Saviour's, Southwark, as well as the bishop's residence in the same district. Before his death he became a monk.

#Henry de Blois# (1129-1171) was grandson of the Conqueror and younger brother of Stephen, afterwards King of England. Although an ecclesiastic from his youth, he was by no means a man of peace or a mere scholar and theologian; _Vir animosus et audax_, says Giraldus. During his prelacy he influenced greatly the secular history of his time. In the quarrel between Matilda and Stephen, Henry at first recognised Matilda, but subsequently, as the foremost power in the church and a strong partisan of his brother, he lent his weight against the Empress, and, with the aid of Roger of Salisbury and other bishops, gained the crown for Stephen. On Whitsunday 1162 Henry de Blois consecrated Thomas a Becket as archbishop, and it is said that when King Henry visited him just before his death he was reproved by the bishop for his murder of Becket.

Henry de Blois was certainly a militant churchman; but in an age not conspicuous for such virtues, we are told, his private life was pure, and he laboured steadfastly for the good of his diocese. The Winchester annalist says of him, "Never was man more chaste and prudent, more compassionate, or more earnest in transacting ecclesiastical matters, or in beautifying churches." His great foundation was the still existing hospital of St Cross.

#Richard Toclive# (1174-1188) was elected by the monks after the see had been vacant three years. He was strongly against Becket, having even been excommunicated by him; yet after the archbishop was murdered and canonised he dedicated to him several new churches at Portsmouth, Newport, and elsewhere. He founded a small hospital at Winchester dedicated to S. Mary Magdalene, which by the time of Charles II. had become a ruin, and was pulled down in 1788. Its Norman doorway may be seen in the Roman Catholic chapel in S. Peter's Street.

#Godfrey de Lucy# (1189-1204) was son of Richard de Lucy, Grand Justiciary of England, and a great benefactor to the Priory of Lesnes in Kent, founded by his father. De Lucy's work at Winchester is a fine specimen of Early English architecture, and consists of what is known as the retro-choir, where he was buried in accordance with the practice of interring a founder amid his work. The large slab of grey marble without inscription which marks his grave was, Willis tells us, "by a slight confusion of tradition" pointed out by former vergers as the tomb of King Lucius.

#Peter de la Roche# or de Rupibus (1204-1238) sprang from a knightly family in Poitou, and was consecrated bishop of Winton at Rome in 1205.

He was a hot and unscrupulous partisan of King John, in spite of the latter's scornful treatment of the church, and in 1214, when John had submitted to Innocent III., Peter was made Grand Justiciary of England, much against the wish of the English nobles. He became guardian of the young Henry III., coming often into conflict with Henry de Burgh. Peter was in many ways a type of the Norman ecclesiastic so hated by the people, but, according to Matthew Paris, he fought bravely in the Holy Land, whither he led a body of Crusaders in 1226. He founded the Domus Dei at Portsmouth, some portions of which still exist in the "Garrison Chapel"; and also the monastery at Selborne, described by Gilbert White.

He died at Farnham Castle in June 1238.

#William de Raleigh# (1244-1249) came from the see of Norwich to that of Winchester. He was elected by the monks in 1238, but, as explained elsewhere, it was six years before he gained possession, though confirmed in his office by the Pope. He retired to France, then under the rule of Louis IX., until Henry at length gave way. Raleigh, however, did not live to enjoy his honours long, dying during a stay at Tours in 1249.

#Ethelmar# or Aymer de Valence (1250-1261), who succeeded him, was half-brother of Henry III., being son of the Count of La Marche, who married John's widow. As a native of Poitou, his appointment was as unpopular as that of de Roches, and, moreover, he is said to have been only an acolyte when Henry forced the monks to accept him as their bishop. At first he was only styled "bishop-elect" of Winchester, and he was not consecrated until Ascension Day 1260. Even before his appointment we are told that his revenues exceeded those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he was permitted to retain them. His tyranny and greed provoked the Oxford Parliament in 1258 to expel him from the kingdom and he fled to France, dying three years later in Paris while on his return from Rome to England; for he had induced the Pope to espouse his cause and consecrate him.

#John Of Exeter# or John Gervase (1265-1268) was appointed by the Pope on the death of Aymer, in preference to two rivals whose election was disputed. He is accused of having purchased his elevation. He assisted the barons in the Civil War, and after Simon de Montfort's failure was suspended and cited to appear at Rome, where he died.

#Nicholas of Ely# (1268-1280) had been lord chancellor and high treasurer before he obtained Winchester. On his death he was buried at Waverley Abbey, but an inscription on the wall of the south choir aisle marks where his heart was interred in his cathedral.

#John de Pontissara#, Pontoise, or Sawbridge (1282-1304), nominated by the Pope against the will of Edward I., at length made his peace by paying a fine of 2000 marks and giving his manor of Swainstone, Isle of Wight, to the king. He built a college of S. Elizabeth of Hungary at Winchester. He had been Chancellor of Oxford University, though at the time of his election he was Professor of Civil Law at Modena.

#Henry Woodlock# (1305-1316), former prior of S. Swithun's monastery, who performed the coronation of Edward II.; #John Sandale# (1316-1319); #Reginald Asser# (1320-1323); #John Stratford# (1323-1333), whose election was opposed by the king, but who in the next reign was translated to Canterbury--are not particularly noticeable.

#Adam Orleton# or de Orlton (1333-1345) was translated hither from Worcester by the Pope against the king's wishes. He has the most unenviable notoriety of having been the bishop of Hereford who instigated the brutal murder of Edward II. on September 21, 1327. He had been accused of high treason and deprived of Hereford, but was restored thereto by the barons. Edward III. apparently at length received him into favour; but Orleton went blind some years before his death. He is buried in the Chapel of the Guardian Angels.

#William Edingdon# (1346-1366), though chiefly notable for his architectural work at Winchester, was treasurer of England in 1350 and chancellor seven years later. He might, had he wished it, have become Archbishop of Canterbury, but preferred Winchester. He began the great remodelling of the nave, and, dying before much of the work was done, left certain property, as appears from his will, for carrying on the work; though it is also said that a claim was made against his executors with regard to the dilapidations of the see. His general reputation was, as a biographer says, "that he loved the king's advantage more than that of the community." He founded a convent of "Bonhommes" at his native village of Edingdon, in Wiltshire, where the church building, or rather rebuilding, is due chiefly to him. He was buried in his own chantry in the cathedral. His "monkish epitaph," as Warner calls it, runs thus:

Edyndon natus Wilhelmus hic est tumulatus Praesul praegratus, in Wintonia cathedratus.

Qui pertransitis, ejus memorare velitis.

Providus et mitis ausit cum mille peritis.

Pervigil Anglorum fuit adjutor populorum.

Dulcis egenorum pater et protector eorum.

MC tribus junctum post L.X.V. sit I punctum Octava Sanctum notat hunc Octobris inunctum.

#William of Wykeham# (1367-1404), whose name has become so identified with Winchester Cathedral and College, was probably a native of the village of Wykeham, near Litchfield. Born in 1324, after education at Winchester and Oxford he was in 1346 presented to the king, Edward III., at the age of twenty-three, "with no other advantages than his skill in architecture" and "the courtly attribute of a courtly person." In the course of the next twenty-one years he rose rapidly, filling various offices until he became Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor of England. His first recorded appointment is to the clerkship of all the king's works near Windsor, and in the same year he was surveyor of the new buildings there, including the round tower and the eastern ward of the Castle and a College to the west for the Order of the Garter, occupying the site of the ancient Domus Regis, close to the present S.

George's Chapel. On one of the towers the inscription _This made Wykeham_ may or may not be meant to convey a double meaning, but it is certainly true that his architectural successes furthered his fortunes.

In 1357 he received the tonsure, and in 1360 was made Dean of S.

Martin's Le Grand, Archdeacon of Lincoln, Northampton, and Buckingham, and Provost of Wells. In 1361 he commenced Queenborough Castle on the island of Sheppey; this important edifice, covering over three acres of ground, was demolished about 1650. The castles of Winchester, Porchester, Wolvesey, Ledes, and Dover, with many others, are believed to have been either entirely rebuilt, or at least enlarged, by him. He was only ordained priest five years before his elevation to Winchester.

In 1394 he undertook the great reformation of the cathedral which is dealt with in another part of this book. New College (Sainte Mary of Wynchestre), Oxford, opened by Wykeham on April 14, 1386, effected almost as great a revolution in university education as his famous college at Winchester did for the training of boys. As Dr Ingram has pointed out, the very title of "New" College which has clung to it shows how completely a new collegiate system was established by its foundation, which served as a model for future endowments. His well-known motto--chosen when his growing dignity made it necessary for him to possess armorial bearings--"Manners Makyth Man" has generally been taken to mean that virtue alone is true nobility; Lord Campbell, however, would have us rather interpret "manners" as the studied etiquette of courts and the polished courtesy which Lord Chesterfield held so important a factor in success. Willis styles it "a somewhat radical sentiment at the time." In his own day the secular arts Wykeham practised did not meet with universal approval, for Wiclif alludes to him when he observes, "They wullen not present a clerk able of God's word and holy ensample, but a kitchen clerk, or a penny clerk, or one wise in building castles and other worldly doings." But despite this objection, the whole of Wykeham's biographers, contemporary or posthumous, agree in praising him as highly as Fuller, who says that his "benefaction to learning is not to be paralleled by any English subject in all particulars," and his great innovation, whereby elementary education was taken from the hands of the monks and, as in his own college, established upon an entirely different plan, would alone stamp him as one whose foresight was far beyond his own times. He influenced the nation in a way not easy to over-estimate, inasmuch as he originated, or at least carried into execution, the idea of the great public school, as Englishmen understand it, and, by the building of Winchester College, founded the institution he had long meditated in a way worthy of his design. Previously to the actual construction of the college, he had maintained in temporary shelters numbers of poor students. On the death of the Black Prince, whose fortunes he had vigorously espoused, and the assumption of power by John of Gaunt, Wykeham was impeached on the charge of embezzling the royal revenues, accepting bribes, and the like; and the king laid hands on the temporalities of his see. But almost the last act of Edward III. was to restore what he had seized to the bishop, under certain conditions which show the great wealth of the latter. Milman, in his "Latin Christianity," does full justice to the "splendid, munificent prelate, blameless in character," who devoted his vast riches to the promotion of learning, and says that, though his endeavour to maintain the hierarchical power over humanity was bitterly opposed by Wiclif, "the religious of England may well be proud of both." Wykeham was eighty years of age when he died, and his body lies in the chantry erected by his orders on the south side of the nave.

#Henry of Beaufort# (1405-1447), who followed Wykeham in the bishopric, was the second son of John of Gaunt, by Catharine Swynford, and uncle of Henry V. In 1398, at the early age of twenty-one, he was made bishop of Lincoln, and in 1404 was translated to Winchester. During the reign of Henry V. he thrice filled the office of chancellor. In 1417, when ostensibly on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he was present at the Council of Constance which was then considering the affairs of the church. At this time he was offered the cardinal's hat by Martin V. and appointed papal legate, but the bestowal of this dignity on him was resented by the English monarch, who commanded him to surrender his office at Winchester, which he declared was forfeited by his becoming a cardinal.

The dispute, however, was arranged, and "the haughty cardinal, more like a soldier than a man of the church," formally received his hat at Calais in 1426. In the following year he led a crusade against the followers of Huss in Bohemia, where, during the retreat of the great army from Mies, he alone at the head of a band of English crusaders endeavoured, but in vain, to arrest the utter rout. The death of Henry V. brought about a fierce rivalry between the two great uncles, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester and the cardinal bishop of Winchester, lasting until the death of the former, which only occurred six weeks before that of Beaufort himself.

During the half-century of his rule at Winchester he rebuilt St Cross and founded the "Almshouse of Noble Poverty." Shakespeare has made Beaufort a prominent figure in Parts I. and II. of "Henry VI.," but, for dramatic reasons, perhaps, he is painted very much blacker than he deserved. That he was a militant ecclesiastic, scheming and unscrupulous, is no doubt true; but he was a statesman and possessed firmness of purpose, fertility of resource, and confidence in those whom he selected to carry out his designs. His wealth was very great, for he was able to lend his nephew the king 20,000, besides spending an enormous amount in charities, including 400,000 devoted to the inmates of London prisons.

#William of Waynfleete# (1447-1486), a student in Wykeham's colleges at Winchester and Oxford, was first master of Winchester College, then made provost of Eton in 1443, and in 1447 succeeded Beaufort in the bishopric of Winchester. From 1449 to 1459, like his predecessor, he held the chancellor's seal, and during the Wars of the Roses was a firm adherent of Henry VI. His death took place in 1486. He founded Magdalen College, Oxford, and possibly influenced Henry in his endowment of King's College, Cambridge, and Eton. Waynfleete appears to have been a man of great piety and learning, and, as Milman observes, his actions, in advancing non-monastic institutions, reveal a sagacious fore-knowledge of the coming changes in the temporal power of the church, and were planned to maintain its supremacy in ways better adapted to the new spirit which soon after his death caused the downfall of the religious houses. The effigy of this bishop, in his chantry in the retro-choir, has been restored.

#Peter Courtenay# (1486-1492) was translated from Exeter to Winchester, but at neither see has he left any mark on the history, the architectural work of his period being due chiefly to his priors.

#Thomas Langton# (1493-1500), translated hither from Salisbury, where he was active against the adherents of Wiclif, was chosen in 1500 to occupy the see of Canterbury, but he died of the plague before his translation, and was buried in his chantry to the south of the Lady Chapel. He seems to have been enthusiastic in the cause of education, since he is said to have himself superintended the teaching of boys in his town.

#Richard Fox# (1500-1528) was bishop successively of Exeter, Bath and Wells, and Durham before he was appointed to Winchester. Great confidence was reposed in him by Henry VII., who chose him as godfather of the future Henry VIII. To Fox is attributed the introduction of Wolsey to the king. Yet this appears to have failed to win him the cardinal's gratitude, for, according to Fuller: "All thought Bishop Fox to die too soon, only one excepted who conceived him to live too long, Thomas Wolsey, who gaped for his bishopric." With Hugh Oldham, bishop of Exeter, Fox was joint-founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the pelican in her piety, which appears on the college arms, being borne by the bishop. His fine chantry and the reconstruction of the choir aisles bear witness to his interest in the fabric of his cathedral, and he is otherwise noted for the assistance he gave to various foundations.


(From a Drawing by H.P. Clifford.)]

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