THERE’S the chance for the public to go behind the scenes at one of Hampshire’s iconic buildings.

Winchester Cathedral is opening its ancient doors at an open evening on Tuesday January 31.

The public often go to the great church: many to regularly worship while others attend the remembrance service, harvest festivals, carol services or ice rink and Christmas market.

The open evening gives the public the chance to see how the cathedral operates and the work that is needed to maintain and preserve the structure that is nearly 1,000 years old.

Also there is the rare opportunity to see the nave as the builders intended with no modern chairs and in atmospheric evening candle light.

The event starts with Evensong sung by the cathedral choir at 5.30pm and activities and displays run from 6.30-8.30pm.

The Boy Choristers will give a short recital at 7.30pm.

Entry is free.

Among the things to see are displays about the conservation of the 12th century Winchester Bible. The Cathedral’s Curator will be on hand with images and explanations about the work.

Jane Austen is one of the Cathedral’s most famous residents, and there is a permanent exhibition near where she is buried which tells of her life, particularly poignant in the 200th anniversary year of her death.

the public can meet the stonemasons who continue a centuries-old tradition, and those who look after the vestments and adorn the Cathedral for services through the year.

There are also activities for children, displays from the Friends of the Cathedral, music department, the head gardener, and other groups within the organisation who make this great church tick.

For those who cannot go along on the night, the chairs will remain out of the Nave until February 2.

Full list of activities: 5.30pm: Choral Evensong, sung by the Boy Choristers and Lay Clerks; Tours to the bell chamber; Guided tours around the cathedral; Children’s activities; Meet the Jane Austen Guides and Jane Austen Story; Meet the stonemasons, carpenters and gardeners; Find out about our Heritage Lottery Fund work; Meet the Music Department and Wardrobe Team; Meet our Vergers and watch them demonstrate the art of candle carving; Meet the Broderers and see their work; See the Flower Arrangers in action; Watch the Holy Dusters and Brass Band; Meet the Curator and find out about the Winchester Bible and other Cathedral treasures; Have a go at calligraphy; Find out about volunteering and how to get involved; 7.30pm: Short concert by the Boy Choristers.

Factfile The cathedral was built as a symbol of power shortly after the Normans conquered England in 1066.

It is the second longest cathedral in Europe; only St Peter’s in Rome is longer.

The Norman and Gothic church was built on marshland and nearly collapsed until saved in the early 20th century by William Walker.

Saxon kings are buried there as is Jane Austen. It is soon to welcome its first female Dean when the very Rev Catherine Ogle takes over next month from James Atwell.