Monday, 26 August 2013


Today we drove to historic Winchester and walked through the city and saw all the sights of the town. We started at the markets where we found the most extraordinary stand selling exotic mushrooms.

The High Cross also known as the City or Butter Cross. Dated as early 15th Century the monument was restored by G G Scott in 1865. It is described as a tall many pinnacled cross on a stepped plinth with five octagonal steps. It was once used by countrymen to sell produce, hence the name Butter Cross. In 1770 it was sold off by the Paving Commissioners to a Mr Dummer. When he tried to remove it, the citizens of Winchester organised a small riot and preserved the monument for the city.

There are now twelve figures on the monument. Each face of the monument has a large figure about half way up, surmounted by two smaller figures in niches. The eight figures at high level represent the Blessed Virgin, the Saints Batholomew, John, Lawrence, Maurice, Pete, Swithun and Thomas.

City Cross
This building was built in 1883 originally as a pub, in a mock Tudor style. The pub was called the Dolphin Inn and there had been a pub of the same name on this site since medieval times. The Dolphin closed its doors in 1981 and I think has been a shop ever since. A closer look over the door you can see the name of the old pub and 2 fish-like creatures.
The Dolphin Inn
The Westgate is one of two surviving fortified gateways in Winchester the other is Kingsgate. The earliest surviving fabric is of Anglo-Saxon character. The gate was rebuilt in the 12th century and modified in the 13th and late 14th centuries, the latter including a portcullis in the western fa├žade and two inverted-keyhole gunports (for use with hand-held cannon), the earliest in the country. The gate was in use until 1959 when the High Street was routed around it. Westgate is now a museum and repository for the City archives.


Entering the Museum

16th Century Painted Oak Ceilings

16 - 18th Century Prisoner Grafetti. 

Great Hall one of the finest surviving medieval halls which contains the legendary Round Table. The Castle was originally constructed for William the Conqueror in 1067 to help secure his hold on the city after the Norman Conquest. It housed important aspects of government such as the Treasury and the Exchequer. The Round Table has been famous for centuries for its links with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was probably created in about 1290, for a tournament near Winchester to celebrate the betrothal of one of Edward I’s daughters. When the table was taken down from the wall and investigated by a team of scientists in 1976, tree ring evidence and carbon dating placed it in the 13th or early 14th century which supports that idea. Originally it was a standing table with 12 outer legs and a central support. It measures 5.5 metres in diameter, weighs 1200kg and was constructed from English oak. It has hung on the west wall of the Great Hall, Winchester since 1873, when it was moved from the east wall where it had hung since at least 1540, and possibly since 1348.

Stainless Steel Gates a gift to the people of Hampshire to commemorate Prince & Princess of Wales Wedding in 1981. 

13-14th Century The Round Table is inscribed 'This is the Round Table of Arthur with 24 of his named knights' made from 121 pieces of oak.

Stained Glass 1875 - 80

Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. Jane Austen is now celebrated as one of England’s greatest novelists, but when she was buried in the Cathedral in 1817 at the age of 41, her original memorial stone made no mention of her books. She was born in 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, to the Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra (the name also given to Jane’s beloved only sister and life-long friend). She enjoyed a happy childhood in a large and creative family. Aged 25, she moved with family to Bath, where her father had decided to retire. But when he died in 1805, she returned with her mother and Cassandra to Hampshire to live in Southampton. Four years later, they moved to a cottage in the village of Chawton, here Jane began to write seriously. In 1816, Jane was beginning to feel increasingly unwell. In May 1817, she and her sister Cassandra drove the 16 miles from Chawton to Winchester, in pouring rain. They took up lodgings in College Street, next to the Cathedral. The plan was to get help from a celebrated doctor at the newly established Winchester Hospital. But Jane’s illness rapidly worsened. She died there in Cassandra’s arms, aged just 41, early in the morning of 18 July 1817. She was buried in the Cathedral, a building she greatly admired. Her modest funeral was attended by just four people, and took place early in the morning, before services began. She lies under the floor of the north aisle of the nave, where you can still see her simple gravestone. The inscription recorded her personal virtues and stoicism, but made no mention of her writing. 

The choir was practising whist we were there

The crypt dates from the 11th century, the earliest phase of  building the cathedral. Here you’ll find Antony Gormley’s mysterious life-size sculpture of a solitary man,Sound II.

 Historic Inner Close

Wolvesey Castle erected between 130 and 1140. Wolvesey has been an important residence of the wealthy and powerful Bishops of Winchester since Anglo-Saxon times. Standing next to Winchester Cathedral, the extensive surviving ruins of the palace date largely from the 12th-century work of Bishop Henry of Blois. The last great occasion here was on 25 July 1554, when Queen Mary and Philip of Spain held their wedding breakfast in the East Hall.

We then walked to the City Mill along the chalk river Itchen which was so beautiful with weeping willows, swans, ducks and lovely homes. The City Mill is a rare surviving example of an urban working corn mill, powered by the fast-flowing River Itchen, which can be seen passing under the mill. Rebuilt in 1743 on a medieval mill site, it remained in use until the early 20th century. The National Trust recently undertook an ambitious restoration project, and the mill resumed grinding flour in March 2004.

City Mill 1744

The Oldest Rectory built in 1450 now a restaurant

Abbey Gardens

Alfred the Great (849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first Kinf of the West Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Alfred's reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure.

Alfred King of the West Saxons AD 871-899
Winchester Guildhall is on the site of an estate granted by Alfred the Great to his wife Ealswith probably as a coronation gift in ad 871. After his death she retired there and founded a nunnery known as Nunnaminster. Known in the later medieval ages as St. Mary's Abbey, it was one of the foremost nunneries in England. In 1539 Henry VIII dissolved the abbey and the site passed to the crown. The land came into the city's hands to help defray its costs for hosting the wedding Mary Tudor and Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral in 1554.

Winchester's earliest guildhall was located next to the Butter Cross in a small chamber above the passageway leading from the High Street to the cathedral. In 1712 it occupied the upper chamber of the Old Market House on the High Street, while the ground floor served as a covered market. The expansion of civic responsibilities following the Local Reform Act of 1835 markedly changed the role of guildhalls and Winchester needed a newer and larger building.

The Hastings architectural firm Jeffrey and Skiller submitted a design in the Gothic revival style. On 22nd December 1871 Viscount Eversley laid the foundation stone and in May 1873 Lord Selborne opened the new Guildhall. The total cost of construction was £16,000.


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