WINCHESTER Cathedral played host to its patron the Earl and Countess of Wessex during their day-long tour of Hampshire this week.

Prince Edward, who has been supporting the Cathedral’s £19.5m capital projects appeal, and his wife Sophie were greeted by members of the clergy and cathedral officials as part of their tour yesterday (June 27).

The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester said: “I’m delighted that he’s come and shown his commitment to the Cathedral and it’s restoration and development. The work is going on at the cathedral will help so many more people understand the place so much better. It’s a great place for families to come in terms of discovery of the history and, obviously, the religion and to find out what Christianity is about. It’s a wonderful place that tells a great story.”

The royal couple were introduced to a group of year six children from Western Primary School who were taking part in a workshop about the story of William Walker the Diver, taught by their teacher Sue Fear. Later they witnessed the choristers rehearsing for the weekend services and were shown the 12th C Winchester Bible and Morley Library.

The Very Reverend James Atwell, Dean of Winchester, said: “It’s the boost and encouragement that a royal visit brings. It’s lovely for a cathedral to host its patron. It’s a partnership between volunteers and those who work here and it does buck everybody up, gives them a bit of fizz. They’ll feel affirmed and appreciated.

“He is out royal patron and it’s great to have him coming in and taking an interest and I’m excited that we can take him to our new learning centre where there’s real progress.”

The Earl and Countess spent the day visiting several organisations and schools across the county including The Square in Titchfield, Southampton General Hospital and the Minstead Training Trust in the New Forest.