Welcome To Wessex

There are four cathedrals in Wessex, Bristol, Salisbury Wells and Winchester. They include the tallest and one of the biggest cathedrals in England, and one that has been described as the jewel in the crown of English cathedrals. One became a cathedral as far back as 670 and another, a relative newcomer, did not achieve cathedral status until 909. In addition to their religious importance, they also bear witness to English history and the development of its religious architecture.

For eight centuries, the monasteries were very powerful in Wessex as they were in England as a whole. Five of the eleven Wessex monasteries date from the seventh or eighth centuries. Six of them were founded by or have strong connections with Kings of Wessex.

The key date in the life of almost all of them was 1539 when King Henry VIII broke from Rome and decided to dissolve the monasteries. Wessex was fortunate in that only one of its abbeys was actually destroyed at that time. Four of them were bought by the people of their town and became parish churches, in which capacity they continue to serve to this day. Four were granted by Henry to his nobles and were converted into houses.

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  1. Open - Cathedrals are open all year from early in the day to early evening. Abbey opening times vary according to their usage. Some restrictions may apply to accommodate services, especially on Sundays.
  2. Entrance fees - Cathedrals do not charge an entrance fee but do invite visitors to make a donation towards operating costs and conservation. Most abbeys do the same but some charge an entrance fee. The fees shown are for adults. In these cases, discounts are often available for groups and children. Check with the abbey website for details.
  3. Groups - Groups should be booked in advance. At this time, any special requirements can be discussed.
  4. Parking - . Cathedrals and abbeys in the centre of a city or town usually do not have their own parking space and municipal car parks near them should be used.
  5. Telephone Numbers - When calling from outside Britain, after the country code 44, omit the 0 in front of the telephone number.
  6. Destination Wessex - Please contact us at info@destinationwesex.org.uk if more information is needed.
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