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diocese of Winchester


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Roughly conterminous with west and central Hampshire and the Channel Islands, Winchester is the fifth senior see after Canterbury, York, London, and Durham, and with them its bishop always has a seat in the House of Lords. The first signs of a bishopric were in c.660, when Cenwalh appointed Wine as bishop. In 705 the diocese was divided, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, the Isle of Wight staying under Winchester, the remainder west of Selwood going to the new see of Sherborne. In c.909 Edward the Elder further reduced it to Hampshire and Surrey by removing Berkshire and Wiltshire for the new diocese of Ramsbury. It was further diminished by the creation of the Guildford and Portsmouth dioceses in 1927. The hegemony of Wessex from Egbert's reign onwards increased the see's importance, and in the 11th cent. Winchester became the national capital. The present cathedral, the longest in Europe (556 feet), begun in 1079 under Walkelin (1070–98), is still basically Norman with Early English and Perpendicular additions. The cathedral contains the remains of the Saxon kings and a shrine of St Swithin.

Subjects: British History.


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