Walkelin (DNB00)

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WALKELIN or WALCHELIN (d. 1098), bishop of Winchester, was a Norman by birth, and is said to have been a kinsman of the Conqueror (Rudborne, in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 255, who also says that he was a famous doctor of theology of Paris). He was probably one of the clergy of the cathedral church of Rouen, for Maurilius (d. 1067) knew him well and spoke highly of him, and he was one of William's clerks. On the deposition of Archbishop Stigand [q. v.] in 1070 he was appointed by the king to the see of Winchester, which Stigand held in plurality, and was consecrated on 30 May by the legate Ermenfrid. The monks of St. Swithun's were at first displeased at having a foreign bishop set over them, and, as a secular, Walkelin at the outset of his episcopate was by no means satisfied with his monastic chapter. He originated and headed a movement, that was joined by all the rest of the bishops belonging to the secular clergy, to displace the monks in the cathedral churches which had monastic chapters and put canons in their places, and he and his party hoped to carry out this change even in Christ Church, Canterbury; for they held that, as it had metropolitan jurisdiction, it was unworthy of its dignity that it should be in the hands of monks, and that in all cathedral churches canons would generally be more useful than monks. He brought the king to agree to this change, and it only remained to gain the consent of Lanfranc [q. v.], which, as he had obtained the king's approval, would, he thought, be an easy matter. Lanfranc, however, was strongly opposed to the contemplated change, and laid the matter before Alexander II (d. 1073), who wrote a decided condemnation of it as regards Canterbury, and also forbade it at Winchester (Eadmer, Historia Novorum, col. 357; Lanfranc, Ep. 6; Gesta Pontificum, c. 44). Walkelin was present at the councils held by Lanfranc in 1072 and 1075. In 1079 he began to build an entirely new cathedral church on a vast scale; the transepts of the present church are his work almost untouched. According to a local story, probably true at least in the main, he asked the king to give him for his building as much timber from Hempage wood, about three miles from Winchester, as the carpenters could cut down in three days and three nights. The king agreed, and he collected together such a large number of carpenters that they cut down the whole wood within the prescribed time. Soon afterwards the king passed through Hempage, and, finding his wood gone, cried ‘Am I bewitched or gone crazy? Surely I had a delightful wood here?’ On being told of the bishop's trick, he fell into a rage. Walkelin, hearing of this, put on an old cape and went at once to the king's court at Winchester, and, falling at his feet, offered to resign his bishopric, asking only to be reappointed one of the king's clerks and restored to his favour. William was appeased, and replied, ‘Indeed, Walkelin, I am too prodigal a giver, and you too greedy a receiver’ (Annales de Wintonia, an. 1086).

Walkelin was employed by Rufus in November or December 1088 to carry a summons to William of St. Calais [see Carilef], bishop of Durham, who was then at Southampton waiting for permission to leave the kingdom (Monasticon, i. 249), and in 1089 the king sent him with Gundulf [q. v.], bishop of Rochester, to punish the refractory monks of St. Augustine's. His new church was ready for divine service in 1093, and on 8 April, in the presence of most of the bishops and abbots of the kingdom, the monks took possession of it. On the following St. Swithun's day the relics of the saint were moved into it, and the next day the demolition of the old minster, built by St. Ethelwold or Æthelwold, was begun. Walkelin was present at the consecration of Battle Abbey on 11 Feb. 1094, in which year the king granted him St. Giles's fair and all the rents belonging to the king in Winchester. He attended the assembly held by the king at Windsor at Christmas 1095, and while there visited William, bishop of Durham, on his deathbed. At the council held at Winchester on 15 Oct. 1097 he was on the king's side in the dispute with Archbishop Anselm [q. v.], whom he tried to dissuade from persisting in his demand for leave to go to Rome. When Rufus left England in November, he appointed Walkelin and Ranulf Flambard [q. v.] joint regents. It is said that on Christmas day Walkelin received during the service of the mass an order from the king to send him 200l. immediately, and that, knowing that he could not raise that sum without oppressing the poor and robbing the church, he prayed to be delivered from this troublesome world. Ten days later he died, 3 Jan. 1098; he was buried in his church, before the steps under the rood-loft. He was learned, wise, and pious, and so abstinent that he would eat neither fish nor flesh. The Winchester monks soon learnt to regard him with affection; he added to the number of the convent and, besides raising a new and magnificent church, to the conventual buildings; the western portal of his chapter-house still remains. The Winchester annalist only records against him that he appropriated to the bishopric three hundred librates of land belonging to the convent, and says that he repented of so doing.

Walkelin's brother Simeon, a monk of St. Ouen's, whom he appointed prior of St. Swithun's, ruled the monastery well; he was appointed abbot of Ely in 1082, and died in 1093, it is said in his hundredth year (Annales de Wintonia, an. 1082; Liber Eliensis, ii. c. 137). Gerard or Girard (d. 1108) [q. v.], bishop of Hereford, and archbishop of York, was Walkelin's nephew. [Ann. de Winton, ap. Ann. Monast. vol. ii., Will. of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontiff. (both Rolls Ser.); Eadmer, Hist. Nov. ed. Migne; A.-S. Chron. App. ed. Plummer; Lanfranc's Epp. ed. Giles; Freeman's Norman Conquest, and Will. Rufus; Willis's Architect. Hist. of Winchester (Archæol. Inst. 1846); Kitchin's Winchester (Hist. Towns ser.).]

W. H.