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The diver’s work is done

by
13 July 2012

July 12th, 1912.

ST SWITHUN'S DAY will this year be celebrated at Winchester with exceptional rejoicings. The 15th of July is ordinarily observed in memory of the translation of the great Bishop's relics in 1093 to the presbytery of the church we see today. But on this occasion the King and Queen will assist at the ceremonies, the intention of which is to give thanks for the completion of the long and laborious task of securing for future ages the venerable fabric which shelters St Swithun's bones. For many years past, the condition of this ancient building had been a source of the gravest anxiety to its custodians, and as fast as temporary repairs were executed fresh dangers revealed themselves. At length, by means of borings, it was discovered that the foundations rested on piles sunk in swampy ground, and thereupon a series of operations was begun with singular skill and ingenuity, a diver drawing off the water and securing the substructure, while workmen were employed above in grouting the gaping masonry. As the result of some five years' persistent work, Winchester Cathedral stands firmer than it stood eight centuries ago, when Bishop Wakelyn built the Norman structure, the pride of Wessex. May the tradition, now more than eight centuries old, of Divine worship be found still preserved when another eight centuries have passed over St Swithun's Church.

[A longer article elsewhere in the paper paid tribute to the diver, Mr Walker, whose diving suit and equipment weighed nearly 200 lb, and who had to work without artificial light. "The whole of the work was done, not by sight, but by feeling," said the architect who oversaw the operation, Francis Fox.]

 

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