Winchester Cathedral is a Grade 1 listed ancient scheduled monument that lies within Winchester’s Conservation Area in what is described in Pevsner as ‘architecturally the richest cathedral city in England. The Cathedral played a central role in England’s history throughout the middle ages and may lay claim to be one of the most significant historic buildings in Britain. Winchester Cathedral and its associated precinct form a key central part of the city. The Cathedral is a dominant building in every respect, with a long and complex history. The multi-layered archaeology and built fabric and art treasures bring with them a variety of conservation issues as well as great opportunities for engagement.
In September 2012 the Cathedral won a national Heritage Lottery Fund award of £10.5 million for the Kings and Scribes – The Birth of a Nation project. The project has encompassed the repair and conservation of the presbytery roof, high vaults and roof bosses and 15th-century stained glass; the redevelopment of the Triforium Gallery as a new exhibition space; and a learning and participation project to encourage audience engagement with three key and interconnected stories: A Scribe’s Tale, Decoding the Stones, and The Birth of a Nation.
Since 2012, the presbytery roof has been re-leaded and the presbytery high vault and 15th century stained glass have been restored to their former glory. The construction of the Wessex Learning Centre and the refurbishment of the Education Centre has greatly enhanced the quality of the Cathedral’s education and outreach programme to over 25,000 children annually from Hampshire and beyond, as well as enabling all-age learning. Finally, the South Transept has been transformed into a fully accessible state-of-the-art exhibition experience over three levels, with greater physical access to the Mezzanine and Triforium floors via a new glass lift. The new and innovative exhibitions will re-energise the interpretation of Winchester Cathedral’s story and collections, with interactive displays and hands-on learning opportunities. Click here to find out more.
Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation will play a vital role in building a more sustainable future for the Cathedral. The need for conservation and capital works has created the opportunity for a paradigm shift within the organisation and the physical transformation of the South Transept, which in turn will facilitate learning and positive participation. The new exhibitions will enrich the Cathedral’s existing visitor offer, providing an exceptional visitor experience, and the resulting increase in visitor numbers will ultimately secure Winchester Cathedral’s financial sustainability.
Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation was made possible by a grant of £11.2 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from other generous supporters.
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Winchester Cathedral HLF Information Film from Winchester Cathedral on Vimeo.