Walkelin or Walchelin (died 1098) was the first Norman bishop of Winchester.
He was of noble birth and related to William the Conqueror, whom he served as a royal chaplain. Prior to the Norman Conquest he had probably been a canon at Rouen Cathedral. He took up office at Winchester in 1070, having been nominated on 23 May and consecrated on 30 May. A year later, in 1071, the monk Ealdred of Abingdon died in Walkelin's custody, and the following year he signed the Accord of Winchester, formulated in the city.
He made his brother Simeon Prior
of Winchester and then influenced his being made Abbot of Ely
in 1082, where he began the new Ely Abbey
there in 1093. before dying the following year. Walkelin also advanced his nephew Gerard
Beginning work on a new cathedral church in 1079 which is the current Winchester Cathedral
. His transepts and crypt, though little else, are retained in the present building. King William Rufus
granted Walkelin half a hide
in the Isle of Wight
, with license to search for and excavate stone for his new cathedral "per planum et silvam: si silva tantae parvitatis fuerit ut per eam transeuntes cornua cervi appareant. and St Giles
's Fair for the town.
William I also granted him as much timber for the building and its scaffolding from the Forest of Hempage Wood (on the Old Alresford Road in Hampshire) as his carpenters could take in four days and nights. However, in the words of the Winchester annalist ,
- "the Bishop collected an innumerable troop of carpenters and within the assigned time cut down the whole wood and carried it off to Winchester. [Soon afterwards the King], passing by Hempage, was struck with amazement and cried out, "Am I bewitched or have I taken leave of my senses? Had I not once a most delectable wood upon this spot?" But when he understood what had happened, he was violently enraged. Then the Bishop put on a shabby vestment and made his way to the King's feet, humbly begging to resign the episcopate and merely requesting that he might retain his royal friendship and chaplaincy. The King was thus appeased, only observing, "I was as much too liberal in my grant as you were too greedy in availing yourself of it."
The new cathedral was completed in 1093. Walkelin had
- caused [its] tower ... to be made as it is still to be seen, and rebuilt it, with its four columns, from the foundations in the middle of the choir.
On 8 April that year, in the presence of nearly all the bishops and abbots of England, the monks removed from Saxon cathedral churches of the Old Minster to the new one, "with great rejoicing and glory". Then, on the feast-day of Saint Swithun (15 July) they processed from the new church to the old, and processed the feretrum of St. Swithun from it to the new church "with all honour". Then, on 16 July, the bishop's men began demolishing the old church. Demolition work was complete within the year, except for one porticus and the great altar and the following year, more relics "of St. Swithun and of many other saints" were found under that altar and translated to the new church.
Walkelin also reformed the monastic community there, as did all Norman bishops in their new dioceses. In the words of the annalist
- "He greatly improved the Church of Winton in devotion, in the number of its monks and in the buildings of the house (monastery)."
He died 3 January 1098, at Winchester, and was buried in the nave of his cathedral, "before the steps under the rood-loft
(pulpitum), in which stands the silver cross of Stigand, with the two great silver images; and he lies at the feet of William Giffard
[his successor], having over him a marble stone" under the following inscription:
- Praesul Walklynus istic requiescit humatus - Walkelin lies buried beneath here
- Tempore Willelmi Conquestoris cathedratus - cathedral-builder in the time of William the Conqueror