Friday 27 November 2009

PFF: Flooding in the cathedral

This picture shows the bust of William Walker, the deep sea diver who saved Winchester Cathedral.

Way back in the 13th century, the cathedral was enlarged using wooden foundations, but the area has a very high water table and the foundations were almost always flooded.  Eventually, just over a hundred years ago it was realised that there was a serious problem and that the cathedral had to be underpinned.

To cut a long story short, William Walker was employed to go down into the waters and place concrete underneath the weakened walls.  It took him from 1906 until 1911 to do the job, working in almost complete darkness, in deep and dirty water and in a heavy diving suit of the era.  Once it was done, the water could be pumped out and the walls reinforced and repaired.  The crypt still does flood to this day, especially during the winter.

The flooding of the crypt is not entirely a bad thing.  There is a wonderful sculpture of a contemplative figure there, Sound II,  (see the postcard I sent to Mary/theteach), created by Antony Gormley to take advantage of this flooding.  The materials making up the work are listed as lead, fibreglass and water.

There is an exploration of some of Gormley's works on the Tate Modern website.  When you get there, click on "Explore four of Antony Gormley's works", and then you will find Sound II as a thumbnail.  You can see many more photos of the sculpture, and from different angles, unfortunately taken when the crypt was dry - I say unfortunately because water really is an integral part of the piece.

But it's thanks to William Walker that we can see the sculpture in the crypt at all.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday.
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  1. The sculpture is beautiful, very informative story too.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    You Got A Posty
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  2. Very interesting. I saw the postcard at Mary's and wondered about the flooding. Thanks and Happy PFF!

  3. beautiful post card. Happy Postcard Friendship Friday.

  4. Very interesting. I love learning random facts I wouldn't have known otherwise.

    Happy PFF!

  5. So nice there is this statue to remind folks of William Walker's hard work. Happy PFF!

  6. thanks for sharing this story...i visited winchester cathedral many years ago but don't remember reading this tale. am now humming the song though...!

  7. What a marvelous story. I was just fascinated. Thank you for sharing this and happy PFF!

  8. Fascinating story and I remember the postcard you sent to Mary. It was magical.

  9. Sheila thanks so much for further information about the sculpture Sound II. It will be a great day if I get to see it in person! :) I'm preparing my original Christmas postcards to send out to my friends. Be on the lookout! :)

  10. Fascinating story and a great card!

  11. I not only love your postcard, but your whole story. Thanks for playing.

  12. What a fascinating post!! Thank you for writing this. It is so riveting I will have to look up more about it.

    Have a good weekend.

  13. Thank you all! I'm so sorry about the song, Debs. I really did go out of my way not to mention it, but it's always there lurking in the background, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting hummer.... :)


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