Throughout January and February, participants both from within and beyond the Cathedral community have come together for a series of workshops designed to encourage discussion on issues connected to contested heritage.

The Cathedral’s ReThink History series was developed in recognition of the need to engage meaningfully with questions of contested heritage and historical interpretation within the Cathedral.

Staff and volunteers were invited to meet with academics and students from the University of Winchester, in order to think critically about how best to respond to challenging questions around the function of commemoration, the construction of history, and the place of statues and other objects of commemoration in our understanding of the past.

In the first and second workshops, participants discussed factors likely to influence how the past is interpreted; which events and individuals are commemorated (and why); and the arguments for removing or retaining statues. Case studies from within the Cathedral include the cenotaph to Sir Redvers Buller (shown below).

In the third workshop, attention turned to ‘hidden’ histories and the need to shine new light on familiar stories – to highlight the voices and experiences of marginalised and under-represented groups.

The final workshop, which takes place at the end of February, will focus on the theme of resonance and the relevance of particular memorials in the Cathedral to contemporary political events. Participants will consider the emotional response of visitors to the objects they encounter and explore new means to engage visitors in talking about their own connections and experiences.

The ideas and responses generated through the series will help to inform the Cathedral’s approach to contested heritage moving forward.

For more information about the series, please contact