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Winchester Cathedral was the central shrine of Wessex and of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. The first church was built circa 675 when, after the death of Birinus, his "cathedra" was moved from Dorchester, Oxfordshire to Winchester. Here the King built a church in honour of the Holy Trinity and SS Peter and Paul which was served by canons. Destroyed by the Danes, it was rebuilt by Ethelwold who substitued Benedictine monks for the earlier canons. It is thought that its monastic church stood to the north of the present cathedral, which replaced it after it had continued in use for a little more than a century. The present church was begun in 1079 by Walkelin, the first Norman bishop, and was probably finished by Bishop Henry of Blois (d. 1171). Walkelin's church compised a chancel, nave and transepts with a tower in the centre and one at the west end. A large presbytery was raised on a vaulted undercroft. The great central tower fell 15 years after it first building and was rebuilt later. Bishop Godfrey Lucy (1189-1204) took down the small Norman chapel at the east end and built was is now the retro-choir. It is ended towards the east by three chapels which include the Lady Chapel and the Guardian Angel's Chapel. The eastern chapels were altered in the 15th century. The third great building period at Winchester begins about 1315 with the first thing to be rebuilt being the presbytery (1315-1360). The remodelling of the nave is associated with two men: Bishops William Edington (1346-66) and William of Wykeham (1367-1404). Amongst other works, this involved the Perpendicular recasing of the Norman nave. After the completion of the nave several important works were done at the eastern side of the church including large traceried windows and a vault over the Lady Chapel. At the time of the Reformation (1539) the shrines, side altars, and a great number of works of art were destroyed. Between 1905 and 1912 a large part of the building was underpinned.

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