Who doesn’t like a crypt? Oh, all right so they’re not for everyone. But I find them fascinating. The one in Winchester Cathedral isn’t usually open to the public. It has a habit of flooding, so there are no tombs, no alters and certainly no coffee shop. Although there is “Sound II”, a solitary sculpture by Andrew Gormley.
It was by chance that we went down there just as a volunteer was getting ready to do a crypt tour. And as there was only four of us, it meant we got to ask lots of questions.
As it does flood, there’s not a lot down there and the decoration is non-existent. But it had a delightfully creepy atmosphere.
Chunks of masonary and old statues are some of the only things to be found, like a religious attic.
There are also a few Anglo-Saxon coffins, found during building work. One was found on the spot that St Swithin, the saint that pilgrims came to visit, was said to have been buried. It was unfortunately empty, having been a victim of Henry VIII’s reformation.
There’s also a well, fed by an underground spring, whose origins remain unclear. It’s positioned directly below the altar but whether they built the altar there because of it is another matter.
In case you were wondering, the statue is staring at a pool of water in its hands – although it does look like its peering at an iPhone. I thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected tour. It would make a very good location for a murder mystery, horror tale, or something supernatural or historical. If you time it right you might well get the chance to try the tour yourself.
Have you ever visited an intriguing crypt? Or had a serendipitous event? Let me know or just leave a comment if you enjoyed this post!