From saints to novelists, divers and other prominent figures, you can find out more about some of them, and how they became connected to the Cathedral, below.
Jane Austen: A great English novelist
St Swithun: The Cathedral’s patron saint
The life of St Swithun, an Anglo-Saxon bishop, is rich in legend. A century after his death in 863, he was chosen as patron saint for the Cathedral’s Benedictine monastery. His bones, housed in a splendid reliquary, became famed for their healing powers. His cult lasted until the Reformation, when all traces of his shrine were swept away.
William Walker: The diver who saved the Cathedral
When huge cracks started to appear in the early 1900s, the Cathedral seemed in danger of complete collapse. Early efforts to underpin its waterlogged foundations failed until William Walker, a deep-sea diver, worked under water every day for six years placing bags of concrete. You’ll find a small statue of him at the far end of the Cathedral.
Izaak Walton: Biographer and angler
Famed during his life as a biographer, Izaak Walton is now remembered for his much-loved treatise on the joys of fishing, The Compleat Angler. You can see his grave and stained glass image in the Chapel of St John the Evangelist and the Fisherman Apostles – visited by anglers from all over the world.
Mary Sumner: Founder of Mothers' Union
In 1876 Mary Sumner, a clergyman’s wife living in nearby Old Alresford, became concerned about how local mothers related their Christian faith to family life. Wishing to encourage them, she founded a small group called the Mothers’ Union. She lived to see it become a worldwide organisation, now with millions of members. She is buried outside Winchester Cathedral.
Josephine Butler: 19th century campaigner against human trafficking
In 1869, Josephine Butler, a clergyman’s wife then living in Liverpool, agreed to spearhead a campaign against state inspection of women suspected of being prostitutes for venereal diseases. By the time her husband George was appointed a Residentiary Canon of Winchester Cathedral in 1882, she had turned her work towards the eradication of sex trafficking across the world, but also made time to found a refuge for recovered prostitutes in Winchester.
Bill Wilson: Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
2018 marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, and also of the visit of a certain Bill Wilson to Winchester Cathedral. A young officer sent from America to fight in the trenches, Bill survived the war and went on to write one of the world’s best-selling books – the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. And on the first page he recounted the story of his wartime visit to the Cathedral. Today people from all over the world make the trip to see the grave of Thomas Thetcher which inspired him.