Our understanding of the English nation is about to be transformed by an enthralling new National Lottery funded exhibition at Winchester Cathedral.
After almost ten years of planning, Winchester Cathedral’s landmark exhibition, Kings and Scribes – The Birth of a Nation, opens this month. This spectacular new exhibition will highlight some of the nation’s greatest treasures and reveal Winchester’s pivotal role in shaping early English history.
Winchester Cathedral is a living monument to the heritage of England and is one of the most historically significant buildings in Britain. Thanks to a grant of £11.2 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from other generous supporters, a stunning new three-level exhibition space has been created in the Cathedral’s South Transept to enable all visitors to enjoy, discover and appreciate Winchester Cathedral’s remarkable history and heritage.
Kings and Scribes – The Birth of a Nation will take visitors on a journey through over 1,000 years of history, from the birth of the English nation to the present day.
One of the nation’s greatest treasures, the Winchester Bible, is displayed on the ground floor in A Scribe’s Tale. This magnificent manuscript is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles, renowned for its sheer size, rarity and astonishing artistry.
In the South Transept Triforium, The Birth of a Nation takes visitors on an intriguing journey of discovery to unearth the secrets concealed within the Cathedral’s unique mortuary chests, believed to contain the remains of pre-Conquest kings and bishops. This enticing exhibition will continue to evolve over time, deepening our knowledge of the founding kings and queens of England. Visitors will meet influential Anglo-Saxon kings in the city from which they ruled and discover the role of Winchester’s Anglo-Saxon and Norman Cathedrals in the birth of our nation as we know it today.
Decoding the Stones is the second major exhibition in the South Transept Triforium, unlocking the mysteries of the Cathedral, a building which has been created, destroyed and remade over centuries of struggle and Civil War. Winchester Cathedral includes important examples of all architectural styles from the Romanesque (Anglo-Norman) through the developed Gothic to Renaissance, a visual testament to our nation’s vibrant and often turbulent history.
Finally, visitors will be able to explore the realities of monastic life at Winchester Cathedral Priory on the Mezzanine level, with a fascinating rolling programme of displays from the Cathedral archives. The Mezzanine also provides access to the remarkable 17th-century Morley Library and its outstanding collection of books, which have remained in their current location for over 400 years.
Opening on Tuesday 21 May, Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation will enhance the experience of all visitors to Winchester Cathedral, enriching their understanding of this ancient building and its intrinsic connection with the history of the English nation.