Skip to main content

Winchester, diocese of

Winchester, diocese of. 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, but there was no regular bishopric until the West Saxon see was moved there from Dorchester in c.663. 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. Though it was marginally enlarged by the addition of the Channel Islands from Salisbury in 1499, the bishopric 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. Significant bishops include Swithin (852–62), Egbert's adviser; Æthelwold (963–84), the monastic reformer who replaced Winchester's secular canons with monks; William Giffard (1107–29), a Benedictine, the first of nine post-Conquest Winchester bishops to be chancellors of England; Henry of Blois (1129–71), Stephen's brother and papal legate. In c.1142 Henry even requested metropolitan status for Winchester. Others include Peter des Roches (1205–38), a Poitevin, guardian in Henry III's minority; William of Wykeham (1367–1404), founder of New College, Oxford, and Winchester College; Cardinal Beaufort (1404–47), Henry IV's half brother; Stephen Gardiner (1531–51 and 1553–5), chancellor under Mary; Lancelot Andrewes (1619–26), scholar and preacher; and Samuel Wilberforce (1869–73). 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, and contains the remains of the Saxon kings and a shrine of St Swithin.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Winchester, diocese of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 22 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Winchester, diocese of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (February 22, 2019).

"Winchester, diocese of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.