Royal connections

The Cathedral has a rich history of links with royalty. Winchester was the capital of Anglo-Saxon Wessex, and Old Minster the burial place of its West Saxon kings. When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he was quick to stamp Norman power on the city by building the magnificent Cathedral we see today.

King Alfred

Born 849, died 899. Saxon scholar and soldier Alfred the Great is famous for his defence of southern England against Viking raids. He ruled Wessex for 18 years, and when he died was buried in Winchester’s Old Minster. In 1110, his bones were moved to nearby Hyde Abbey, but lost when it was destroyed during the Reformation. They’ve never been found.

King Cnut

Born 985 or 995, died 1035. Soldier, statesman and king of Denmark, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016. On his death he was buried in Old Minster at the heart of his capital city Winchester, and later moved into the new Norman cathedral. His bones are said to lie in a mortuary chest you can see today.

Queen Emma

Born 985, died 1052. Emma (pictured here with husband Cnut presenting a huge golden cross to New Minster) was twice queen of the English kingdom, first as wife to Æthelred the Unready, then to Danish invader King Cnut, with whom she was buried in Winchester’s Old Minster. She was also the saintly Edward the Confessor’s mother, and William the Conqueror’s great aunt.

William Rufus

Born 1056, died 1100. Nicknamed Rufus for his quick temper and red face, William II was widely disliked during his kingship. He was killed by the arrow of an unknown bowman while hunting and buried under the tower of his father’s great Norman Cathedral, which collapsed seven years later. His bones are said to lie in a mortuary chest you can see today.

Mary Tudor

Born 1516, died 1558. When Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s pious Catholic daughter who ruled England for five years from 1553, married Philip of Spain, she chose the Cathedral for her lavish wedding. The nave was hung with Flemish tapestries, and you can see the much-repaired 16th-century wooden and leather chair she is said to have used in our Triforium Gallery.


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