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This is one of the great churches of England. The present building, the longest medieval cathedral in Britain, dates from 1079, and its Norman heritage is still in evidence. When a Saxon church stood on this spot, St. Swithun, bishop of Winchester and tutor to young King Alfred, suggested modestly that he be buried outside. Following his subsequent indoor burial, it rained for 40 days. The legend lives on: Just ask a resident of Winchester what will happen if it rains on St. Swithun's Day, July 15, and you'll get a prediction of rain for 40 days.

The Perpendicular nave, with its two aisles, is the architectural highlight of the building. The elaborately carved choir stalls from 1308 are England's oldest. The cathedral is graced with a series of beautiful ornamental screens dating from the late 15th century. Other architectural highlights include the Lady Chapel, rebuilt by Elizabeth of York at the dawn of the 16th century after her son was baptized in the cathedral. Jane Austen is buried here; her grave is marked with a commemorative plaque. Also, chests contain the bones of many Saxon kings and the remains of the Viking conqueror Canute and his wife, Emma. The son of William the Conqueror, William Rufus (who reigned as William II), is also buried at the cathedral.

The library houses Bishop Morley's 17th-century book collection, and an exhibition room contains the 12th-century Winchester Bible. The Triforium shows sculpture, woodwork, and metalwork from 11 centuries and affords magnificent views over the rest of the cathedral.