COVID-19 update: The cathedral is not currently open for general visits or tours but remains open for private prayer and reflection 11-3pm (1pm-3pm on Sundays). From the 8th of March, two weekly public services will resume inside the Cathedral, Wednesdays, 12noon, starting 10th March and Fridays, 12noon, starting 12th March. Please continue to check the website for the latest updates. All services will continue to be online, and everyone is welcome to join.
To celebrate its ninetieth anniversary, the Friends of Winchester Cathedral have received a letter of good wishes from Her Majesty the Queen, which also acknowledges the virtual events and financial contribution to the live streaming kit at the Cathedral.
Writing from Windsor Castle, Her Majesty referred to the most recent of the Friends’ projects, saying she was “pleased to learn of the success of the many virtual events which have been organised since the outbreak of the pandemic and of the funding by members for an installation in the cathedral to allow the online video-streaming of services”.
The Cathedral’s video-streaming kit was installed in the Autumn of last year. All of the main services are now broadcast online and seen by a growing number of followers, both in the UK and overseas.
The Queen has been the Royal Patron of the Friends since her accession in 1953 and has taken a keen interest in their work over the years. Three years ago, Her Majesty gave permission for ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Winchester Carol’ to be commissioned in honour of her own ninetieth birthday celebrations – ahead of its première in the cathedral, she asked to hear a recording which was sent to Buckingham Palace.
“We’re very honoured to have Her Majesty as our Patron. I’ve been made aware that she knows a great deal about our Cathedral history and, particularly in these rather dark days, it’s absolutely wonderful to have such a cheering message from her,” says Bruce Parker, former BBC presenter.
The Dean of Winchester, the Very Rev Catherine Ogle, added: “This gracious message from Her Majesty the Queen gives a sparkling start to the year in which we celebrate the 90 years of The Friends of Winchester Cathedral. The Friends are fortunate to have such a patron and we are fortunate to have such Friends.”
The organisation was set up in 1931 by the then Dean of Winchester, Gordon Selwyn, to provide extra financial support to the Cathedral in as many ways as possible. Two of the Friends’ earliest projects were the restoration of the St Swithun’s Gate into the Cathedral Close and support for the embroidery of over a hundred kneelers and cushions. The work of the broderers and their connection with the Friends was the subject of Tracy Chevalier’s recent best-selling novel, ‘A Single Thread’.