Celebrating the life of William Walker

October 30, 2018

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Today (30 October 2018) marks the 100th Anniversary of the death of William Walker, the diver who has become renowned in folklore as the diver who saved Winchester Cathedral.  To mark the occasion, on Saturday 6 October 2018, the Dean and Chapter held a commemorative evensong service in the Cathedral.

Special guests included a family who had travelled from the USA to attend the service. The group comprised Walker’s granddaughter Lorraine Walker McLaughlin, from Kentucky and her family from Rhode Island, daughter Gwendolyn, her husband Jeff and their daughter Charlotte (see picture). The reason there are many descendants in the USA is because Walker’s son William had stowed away on a ship to Canada where he enlisted in the Canadian Army and fought in the first world war. On returning from the war, he found his way south to New York. Another granddaughter present was Margaret Warner, youngest daughter of Nancy (christened Hannah), the sixth child of Walker and his second wife Alice.

The hymns chosen for the service were those sung at the thanksgiving service held on St Swithun’s day 1912. It was on that occasion that the King, on shaking Walker by the hand said, “I congratulate you on your feat of saving the Cathedral” and on being asked if he would do it again, Walker had replied that he would. It wasn’t easy, he added, but he was a proud man to have been able to help in so grand a work.

The service ended with the laying of wreaths at the foot of the statue of “Diver Bill” as he was affectionately known. Words written on the card attached to the wreath laid by granddaughter Margaret Warner simply said “We are so proud of you and your great achievement of saving this magnificent Cathedral”