Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England - September 17, 2010

Wimborne Minster is both the name of the town and the name of the main church. The town is known locally as Wimbourne while the church is known as the Minster. Wimborne, the town, is a market town of some 6,500 people in the county of Dorset, although sadly, the market has been moved out of the downtown area which has somewhat destroyed its character.
However, Wimborne is endowed with one of the finest collections of 15th, 16th and 17th century buildings in the county, especially the centuries-old Wimborne Minster, the Town Hall and numerous original shops and pubs. 
The Minster is a Saxon Church famed for its unique chained library and the tomb of King Ethelred, the brother of Alfred the Great. It is the parish church of Wimborne and has existed for over 1300 years. The central tower and nave were founded in Saxon times, but the surviving building is predominantly Norman with some Gothic components from various periods. One of its more famous architectural features is a working astronomical clock, which rings every hour. 
The minster is constructed in a combination of Dorset limestone and New Forest stone. The western tower is 95 feet high and a second tower, above the transepts, is 84 feet high. The thirteenth-century spire that formerly crowned the shorter tower collapsed in 1600.  The organ dates from 1899 by J W Walker & Sons, and has had various rebuilds, two as recently as 2000 and 2006. 
Between the years 705-23 a double monastery was founded at Wimborne by Sts. Cuthburga and Quimburga, sisters of Ine, King of the West Saxons (688-726). The monastery was probably destroyed by raiding Danes in the ninth century and over the years, every trace of the Saxon buildings has vanished such that even the location of St. Cuthburga's Church is now uncertain. More pictures here.

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