After we visited the house in which Jane Austin died, we walked around the corner and up a block or two to the Winchester Cathedral. Inside the beautiful Cathedral we had a tour based on Jane Austen’s life which was lead by the wonderful Pat.
Pat started the tour with the great window is a remake of the first one which was smashed during Oliver Cromwell’s reign. Since they had just smashed the window and then left it alone there still was pieces of the wonderful stained glass caught in the outer parts of it. This glass was taken and melted down to be reused in the current window.
Pat then started her tour with announcing that it is the 200th year anniversary of Austen’s Mansfield Park first printing.The first edition of this book sold out, which prompted another edition which didn’t sell as many copies. Often one of the things which are over looked with that work is that Mansfield was a Lord who had decreed that any man with feet to be standing on English soil and breathing English air is to be considered a free man. Lord Mansfield had said this because of a slave had slipped off of his ship which was docked in England at the time, and the Captain of the ship and the slave master was trying to get the man back which this law had foiled the efforts.
Pat also spoke of the printing order of Austen’s books. She said that both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice where published by Eddington. Sense and Sensibility was first published under the name of: A Lady Author. She also said that Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions, which only the title was looked at before it was tossed aside and deemed unworthy. When the book was published it was published in two different parts.
Pat then stopped her tour so we could have a look at a handwritten parchment of Austen’s along with being able to see the Winchester Bible. Both of which were rare, the Bible is rare in the fact that it was still at the Cathedral. Most of the Bibles that do belong to Cathedrals are kept in an university museum in London for security and preservation reasons. In the room just across from this there was a library which belonged to Bishop Marley. This library held about 2000 books, at one point there was even more but those were either stolen or burned or simply lost. Sadly there was a ban on taking pictures so is no photographed proof that any of this actually happened, you’ll just have to take my word on it. But there was a statue in the museum just a floor above all of this which had the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus who was beheaded. Mary herself is missing most of the crown she was wearing and her nose has been chipped away at.
Pat ended her tour by showing us Austen’s grave and resting cite along with a plaque that was later installed by her brother James. James also was the one who had created the engravings on the headstone. She said at the time it was unknown what she was dying from, but it was reported that it involved having coloured skin. Currently the most believed theory of what Austen’s was suffering from Leukemia.
After the tour was done we had a few minutes to go about the Cathedral by ourselves. I returned to the museum. It was said that the way the window was broken was by taking dead King’s bones from their boxes and used to smash it. The bones were then tossed into which ever box the men wanted to throw them in. Bones were often mixed up, arms would be mixed with legs and rib bones from various kings. Upon finding the boxes, scientists are now trying to piece the bones back with the others they belong with and are being used to figure out which King exactly they belong to.
Queen Mary Tutor was married in the Winchester Cathedral. During her wedding she didn’t want to stand up so the church provided a chair for her to sit in while the wedding was going on. Besides that, parts of the Cathedral was built on unstable, mosh-y ground. This has caused the walls to lean to one side or the other. In the beginning of the 20th century, a diver was sent below and fixed the foundation of what he could to try and stabilize the building.
After this, there was the train ride back to the hostel. It was a fun day, I hope to have more like it.