Photographer's Note

I posted a night shot exterior of Winchester Cathedral previously, letís take a closer look inside especially on the ceiling wall.

From the first impression, in does look likes the skeleton of vertebrates as a backbone structure of this cathedral.

It has the longest nave among all churches and cathedrals in England.

A question immediately arise: why? Why so long?
Speculation based on the fact that Winchester Cathedral was begun in 1079, just eleven years after the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror of Normandy, can result in the following:

1. To compete with other cathedrals which were built in the years shortly after the Norman Conquest - in particular with Westminster, which was vying with Winchester for status as England's capital in London.
2. To present formidable evidence that the new, Norman rulers of England were in control, and had God on their side.
3. To keep the local population occupied with a considerable project, and hence discourage rebellion.
4. To fit the available space, providing adequate building space for the east end of the new cathedral, alongside the existing Minster (church) before it was demolished, while allowing the new west end to replace it.

During this period of the Decorated Style in the 14th Century, there was an increase and elaboration of intermediate ribs (tiercerons), ridge ribs, and a new set of ribs known as Lierne ribs, from the French lien ó to bind or hold. The name "lierne" is applied to any rib, except a ridge rib, not springing from an abacus.In the early plain-ribbed vaulting each rib marked a groin, i.e., a change in the direction of the vaulting surface, but lierne ribs were merely ribs lying in a vaulting surface, their form being determined independently of such surface, which, however, regulated their curvature. These liernes, by their number and disposition, often give an elaborate or intricate appearance to a really simple vault, and in consequence of the star-shaped pattern produced by the plan of such vaults, it is often called " Stellar" vaulting. Examples of this type exist in the choirs of Gloucester (A.D. 1337-77), Wells, Ely, Tewkesbury Abbey nave, Bristol, and the vaulting of Winchester Cathedral, as carried out (A.D. 1390) by William of Wykeham

Vaulting of this period therefore consisted of transverse, diagonal, intermediate, ridge and lierne ribs ó in fact, a vault of numerous ribs, and of panels which became smaller and smaller until a single stone frequently spanned the space from rib to rib, known as " rib and panel " vaulting.
The ribs have three purposes:
First, they provide a solid skeleton, which in the completed vault offers support to the overall structure. Second, they simplify construction. The relatively light ribs could be constructed on simple scaffolding, as opposed to creating a barrel vault, upon which stones would be laid. Once in place the ribs supported their own weight, while the remainder of the vault was filled. This avoided the need to build massive temporary scaffolding sufficiently strong to support the whole vault while it was built. Third, they have an aesthetic purpose, in that they create a rhythmic pattern along the line of the roof, and mask any flaws in the remainder of the vault due to settlement of the building. The ribbing in the crossing under the tower, and in the choir, is in wood, not stone, resulting from the fact that there was a major medieval tradition of using timber construction for vaulting in England

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Additional Photos by Ralf Lai (kim_gwan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 99 W: 0 N: 368] (1142)
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