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Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
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A Rainy Day in Winchester

IT WAS LATE summer, neither particularly warm nor cold, and a bit rainy. I hadn’t seen Nicholas in a while but he wasn’t particularly keen on travelling into London. “Why not meet in Winchester?” he suggested, and, never having been to England’s former capital, I thought it was a good idea. I popped on the tube to Waterloo, got on a train, and in no time at all was in the county town of Hampshire. It’s a humanely size town, admirably located, and most famous for its medieval cathedral.

The thieving Protestants, not content with stealing all the cathedrals we built throughout the width and breadth of the land, highten the insult by charging admission to these former shrines and places of worship. I had arranged to meet Nicholas in the Cathedral, though, and the blighters got a good £6.50 out of me. I had a good wander round, though.

These mortuary chests contain the remains of the Saxon royalty of the kingdom of Wessex and later England.

Norman architecture is woefully underappreciated, and might form a useful style to return to today given its relative simplicity. So much Norman architecture was destroyed and replaced by Gothic during later periods of medieval prosperity, but at Winchester the Norman transepts remain.

William of Waynflete, buried here, was a high-flyer in his day. He was, varyingly, Bishop of Winchester, Headmaster of Winchester College, Provost of Eton, Lord Chancellor of England, and founded Magdalen College, Oxford. Not a bad innings.

Richard Foxe chose a more macabre memorial, but enjoyed similar success in this world: he was Bishop of Exeter, then of Bath & Wells, then of Durham, and finally of Winchester. He was Lord Privy Seal and founded Corpus Christi College at Oxford. Foxe and Erasmus sometimes wrote to eachother, and his elaborate crozier is on display at the Ashmolean.

The tomb of Henry Cardinal Beaufort is my favourite memorial in the cathedral. Beaufort — a Plantagenet — was Dean of Wells, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Bishop of Lincoln, Lord Chancellor of England, and finally Cardinal Bishop of Winchester. He was a sometime papal legate for Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia, and most famously presided over the trial of St Joan of Arc.

One of the walls was inscribed with graffiti.

The cathedral is also the final resting place for the earthly remains of Hampshire native Jane Austen, but nevermind that.

Tours of the College were available, but we decided to leave it for another visit, and went on a wander in the direction of the Hospital of St Cross.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty is the oldest charitable institution in England and the largest medieval almshouse. The church could be a small cathedral in and of itself, but as we arrived an interment was taking place, so we thought it best that it, too, was left for another day.

This post was published on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 8:45 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Great Britain Photos and been tagged under , .
Comments
  1. Valeria Kondratiev
    7 February 2013
    9:28 pm

    What a wonderful place, a beautiful cathedral, and I just love the huge old trees too.

  2. Dave Cooper
    8 February 2013
    1:23 pm

    Andrew …

    I have visited Winchester and its cathedral myself a couple of times. I wanted to see the chests of the Saxon kings, and to visit the cathedral because Rufus’s (William II) remains are also there. (Also, being that the New Forest is relatively nearby, you can follow the tragic trail of Rufus’s demise between the forest and Winchester). Decades before I had made a pilgrimage to Winchester because of King Alfred.

    There are some good book shops nearby the cathedral. I prefer to shop in book shops instead of the Web, and I found an excellent history on Rufus there!

    I love Winchester — ancient capital of the English Kingdom!

    All the best …

  3. 30 March 2013
    6:45 pm

    And Winchester was also the scene of the marriage of Queen Mary and Philip: that would have been some occasion. The Chapels Royal of England and Spain sang together for the occasion.

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