The Romanesque East Arm and Crypt of Winchester Cathedral
Author: Crook, John
Source: Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 142, Number 1, 1989 , pp. 1-36(36)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:In common with most other English romanesque cathedrals, the east arm at Winchester was completely replaced above ground level, in successive campaigns between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries. The eleventh-century crypt survives, however, and provides the original plan of this part of the cathedral. The first crossing tower collapsed in 1107 and was rebuilt, together with the adjoining transept piers; this also affected the crypt, which was shortened by 1 m at the western end. The earliest entrances for which evidence survives date from the early twelfth century. The plan of the crypt may be regarded as a fusion of continental romanesque deriving from Upper Normandy (notably from Rouen Cathedral) and the developing Anglo-Norman traditions first found at St Augustine's, Canterbury. The high water-table caused the crypt to be abandoned by at least the 1320s (if not earlier) and its entrances were remodelled at that time, and again c. 1513 and c. 1820.
The evidence for the position of the choir in the romanesque cathedral has hitherto received little attention. It may be shown that the choir extended into the nave by one bay, where there may have been lateral entrances aligned to the western aisles of the transepts. There was the usual western entrance through a pulpitum situated in the second nave bay. There is evidence for a later rood-screen in the fourth bay.
The plan of the east arm is unusual because of the square-ended chapels aligned to the aisles, and is perhaps best regarded as an experimental form which has no direct successor. Some evidence survives for the elevations, which conform to orthodox Anglo-Norman ‘thick-wall’ technique. At main arcade level there was an alternating scheme in the straight bays, compound piers alternating with cylindrical ones; the piers in the apse hemicycle were all cylindrical and the base of one of them survives. The gallery was similar to that of the surviving transepts though of reduced height. The clerestory resembled the earliest design still evidenced in the transepts; the present clerestory design in the transepts results from a compromise introduced when the scheme for towers at the ends of the transepts was abandoned.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1989-01-01