16 February 2011

E is for English Civil War

The English Civil War (1641-1651) brought destruction to Winchester, with the city initally supporting the King (Charles I). Winchester Cathedral did not remain unscathed. Within the Cathedral are 6 wooden mortuary chests which contain the remains of some of the earliest Saxon Kings. They are the oldest royal bones in England. Names that you might recognise include King Canute who tried to hold back the sea, King Ethelwulf father of Alfred the Great and the oldest of all King Cynegils (reigned from 611-43) the 1st Christian King of Wessex.

Unfortunately no-one knows who is in which chest as in 1642 during the English Civil War Oliver Cromwell's soldiers broke open the chests and scattered the bones on the cathedral floor. They then used the bigger bones to smash the stained glass windows of the cathedral. The bones were later (around 1661) returned to the chests.

For more 'E' Photos go to ABC Wednesday

16 comments:

  1. Interesting history. At least the bones are at rest again.

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  2. How can people be so mean?And they were not even on drugs back then, are were they?

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  3. Excellent choice for the E theme. The photograph is very beautiful and ironic considering the history there. Then again so many of the most beautiful places have terrors in their history and some a lot more recent than this one.

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  4. Don't you just hate when people do mean things just to be mean.

    Glad they were returned to their proper place. Thanks for the history lesson.

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  5. war is never civil. great history lesson.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  6. I agree with Roger - war is never civil. And people have become less so, I think. Excellent post.

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  7. Oh dear! I would loved to have seen the spot where King Canute's bone were for sure, laid not to mention King Alfred's father. Didn't even know these bones existed when I lived in England.

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  8. How sad that the bones became a target when the should have been left in peace.

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  9. I love, love to see the architectural details is beautiful old churches like that one! Heavenly!

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  10. Those were horrible, bloody times. I agree with Carver about the irony of the beauty against the history.
    Thank you for giving me more details about English history,
    HelenMac, ABC Team

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  11. Certainly an interesting story. I guess bones are bones.

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  12. I wonder. This is a curious question that came to me as I read you story under the very nice photo. If you or some expert were given royal bones mixed up with commoner bones would the expert be able to tell who was who?

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  13. Thanks all for your interesting comments.

    You're right, many horrible things happen during wars and probably a lot worse than disturbing old relics & buildings. But it is a shame to see unecessary destruction and along with Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell's army were some of the biggest vandals in English history.

    And Abe & Halcyon - you're right too, I don't think these bones have the word 'royalty' running through the middle of them to set them apart!

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  14. Goodness! How sad the bones were scattered, but then war is a sad time.

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  15. Even worse than a rampaging mob is a rampaging army.

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