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Winchester Cathedral poised for huge public funding appeal
Winchester Cathedral is set to launch one of the biggest public appeals in Hampshire history.
The church needs to raise £19 million to pay for ambitious plans to raise the profile of its rich history and repair its fragile fabric.
The appeal will be launched at an evensong service at the church on September 23.
The Dean, the Very Rev James Atwell, urged church-goers to attend: “Now is or moment of destiny and it will require courage and commitment to rise to it. It will also require a conviction that it is worth straining the sinews on behalf of the worship and witness of the cathedral.”
On September 23 the dean will reveal how much needs to be raised and how much has already been secured or promised.
He is hopeful of a grant of £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. An application is due to be made in spring 2013.
Annabelle Boyes, cathedral receiver general, said yesterday: “The cathedral is at the heart of the community of Hampshire. It is a very special building.”
The money will help pay for the restoration of leaky presbytery roof, wooden vaulting and surviving medieval stained glass windows; refurbishing the Education Centre; renewing the sound system, wiring and lighting, which alone will cost some £2 million.
The cathedral aims to launch three exhibitions, including unveiling the bones of Anglo-Saxon and early medieval kings kept in wooden chests for 1,000 years.
It is keen on undertaking a serious research project into the bones, which include Cnut and William Rufus, including possible DNA analysis.
Mrs Boyes said: “The cathedral was the first Royal mausoleum. In the 900s Winchester Cathedral was the equivalent of Westminster today.”
It also wants to improve the public display of its unique treasures, including the priceless medieval Winchester Bible.
The changes are expected to boost visitor numbers which currently stand at around 330,000 a year.
Cathedral officials confirmed in May that it received £475,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) that will help it draw up firm proposals.
The three major exhibitions proposed are:
* Kings and Scribes — the Birth of a Nation, on the bones of Anglo-Saxon and early medieval kings kept in mortuary chests;
* Displaying the 900-year-old Winchester Bible for the first time on the more accessible ground floor of the south transept;
* An architectural exhibition on the second floor of the south transept to show the evolution of the building.
The revamp of the south transept would be the first major changes for more than 20 years to how the treasures are presented.
The appeal will be the biggest the cathedral has launched since the £7million target launched in 1990 under former dean, Trevor Beeson which staved off bankruptcy.
The new appeal will be overseen by the Winchester Cathedral Trust under the chairmanship of the Lord Lieutenant, Dame Mary Fagan.
Royal Who’s Who of Winchester bones
THE bones are thought to include those of:
* Egbert died 839, King of Wessex, and the first monarch to
* Cnut c995-1035, King of England, Denmark and Norway. Built an empire and was considered a wise ruler. Famously tried to hold back the
sea at Southampton not, as widely thought, a display of arrogance, but to
show his courtiers that he was not a god, simply a man.
* Emma, Cnut’s Queen, the great aunt of William I, who conquered England in 1066 and was crowned at Winchester in 1068.
* Harthacnut, Cnut’s son, c1018-1042. Ascended the throne in
1040. A harsh ruler who didn't last long.
* William Rufus, 1056-1100, succeeded his father William I in 1087. Killed, probably murdered in the New Forest.
* Swithun, Bishop of Winchester from 852-862, is the subject of one of Britain’s most enduring superstitions. His reburial on July 15, 971, was so
wet that it was delayed. It started the belief that a wet St Swithun’s Day will bring 40 days of rain.
* Bishop Henry of Blois, grandson of William I, Bishop of Winchester 1129-1171. Involved in the civil war between Stephen and Matilda which saw
Winchester besieged in 1141.
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