31 March 2011

Guildhall Tavern

In 1894 a pub called The Guildhall Tavern was built in Colebrook Street just around the corner from the Guildhall. The building has a red brick and flint front which is seen in many buildings in and around Winchester. When the library moved to Jewry Street in 1936 the pub was enlarged into the vacated space and the entrance was moved to the Broadway where it still is today. In more recent years The Guildhall Tavern often had live bands, but it closed around 2008/9 and is now a Pitcher and Piano restaurant.

30 March 2011

K is for Kingsgate Books & Prints

Built into Kingsgate, one of the 2 remaining city gates of Winchester, is a nice little shop called Kingsgate Books & Prints. It sells antiquarian books, prints and paintings (particularly of Winchester), it also does picture framing.

For more K related posts see ABC Wednesday

29 March 2011

Sarsen stone

What are the oldest things in Winchester? Not the Cathedral, ruins nor Roman mosaics, it is these Sarsen Stones. Sometimes known as druid stones, these are natural Sandstone blocks left after the last Ice Age. There are a number of these stones scattered around Winchester which most people pass by without even noticing, this one is in the car park of the Leisure Centre.

These stones were much sought after as markers, bollards and foundation stones. Because of their usefulness, it is reasonably certain that not many of them remain in the same position as when they were deposited from the ice. Sarsen stone is not native to the Winchester area and was often used as the stone of choice by the stone circle builders, Stonehenge is made of similar Sarsen stone.

28 March 2011

Geographical & Meteorological

Outside the Guildhall set into the wall is this assemblage of geographical data and meteorological instruments. Here we learn that Winchester is 127 feet above sea level, 5104N 119W and that real noon is 5 minutes and 16 seconds after than at Greenwich. There was a time when different parts of Britain had different time zones, but with the arrival of the railways this became too confusing for timetabling and led to a uniform 'railway time' across the country. By 1880 Greenwich Meantime was legally adopted throughout Britain. Yesterday we moved 1 hour forward to British Summer Time.

27 March 2011


Today our clocks went forward one hour, so we are now in British Summer Time. Spring is here and we have had some great weather this week, am very happy to see blue skies and flowers popping up everywhere!

26 March 2011

Cathedral extension

Last week was the official opening of the Fleury Building. which is the first extension to the Cathedral in 500 years and will provide storage, extra toilets and a boiler room. The extension was made possible by donations of the 'Friends of the Cathedral' who provided £819,000 to meet the cost.

The new building is named after the Abbot of Fleury from L’Abbaye de St-Benôit-sur-Loire in France. The Cathedral and monastery in France forged an official link in 1978 and both institutions remember the other in their daily prayers.

The extension has been built in similar stone to the main building and will gradually blend in over time, I hope so because at the moment it just looks a bit 'stuck on the side'!

25 March 2011

Inside St Peter's

I posted some time ago a photo of St Peter's Catholic Church. As this week I have been focusing on St Peter's Street and buildings associated with the Catholic Church in Winchester I finally peaked inside St Peter's Church to take a photo, and here it is. Unfortunately it was taken very quickly as they were about to have a service so I will try to go back another time to get some more detail.

24 March 2011

St Peter's Convent

Next door to Milner Hall and part of St Peter's Church buildings is St Peter's Convent. The numbers of sisters here are dwindling as I understand. Currently they run St Peter's Convent Nursery School. I myself went to a convent - I hope these nuns aren't as fierce as some of mine were!

23 March 2011

J is for Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, you may have read the novels of Jane Austen or seen them adapted into film/TV but did you know that Jane Austen is buried here in Winchester in the Cathedral.

In May 1817, suffering from a kidney disorder, she came to Winchester from Chawton along with her sister to be close to her doctor. Unfortunately Jane died a couple of months after arriving here aged 41 years old and was laid to rest in the cathedral. The original memorial stone over Jane’s tomb (to the left of the photo) makes no reference to her literary achievements, so a brass plaque was added in 1872 to redress this.

For more 'J' themed posts see ABC Wednesday

22 March 2011

Milner Hall

The former St Peter's Chapel, now known as the Milner Hall, lies tucked away between St. Peter Street and Jewry Street. For more than three hundred years it was hidden from passing view by a heavy black door. In 1989 the door was replaced by an elegant wrought iron gate through which the Hall stands framed by the arch.

The Chapel, built by Reverend John Milner in 1792, was the first Catholic Church to be consecrated since 1558. Milner was priest in Winchester between 1779 and 1803 and had a desire to see Catholic worship re-established in a proper setting after the many years of secrecy and isolation.

There is now a St Peter's Catholic Church and Milner Hall is used for concerts, talks, meetings and general hire.

21 March 2011

Winchester Royal Hotel

The Winchester Royal Hotel in St Peter's Street was built in the reign of King Charles II and is the oldest surviving hotel in the city.

St Peter's Street has been the centre of Roman Catholic life in Winchester for many years. Lady West's House, as the Royal Hotel was known in the mid sixteenth century, was a refuge for hunted priests and Mass was said there in a secret chapel. Lady West's name appeared on a list of Recusants, these were people who refused to attend services in the established Church. They incurred huge fines or imprisonment. To be a recusant was risky enough but to provide a meeting place for Catholics and to shelter priests were very dangerous acts at the time. 5 priests who had been at Lady West’s were executed, and are known as the Winchester Martyrs, they appear in stained glass windows in St Peter's Church.

In 1794 the building was sold to the Catholic London District and became a convent for refugee English Benedictine nuns and in 1858 it was converted into a hotel.

20 March 2011


The Nunnaminster, later known as St Mary's Abbey, was founded by Queen Ealhswith, Alfred the Great's wife, in 903 as a Nunnery, and it became one of the foremost centres of learning and art in England. By the 16th century it was one of the largest religious houses in England with 102 people living there including 26 Nuns, officials, servants and children of lords and gentlemen who were there to be educated.

In November 1539 the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and most of the monastic buildings were demolished. The site was cleared for the City's Guildhall in 1873. Archaeological excavations were carried out in the 1980s and here we can see stone coffins which were discovered.

19 March 2011

Tudor House

This building is in St John's Street, it's a 16th Century Tudor House. It was once used as a barracks for Cromwell's men during the English Civil War, this elegant half timbered building is now two separate private dwellings.

18 March 2011

US Army

In the Mayor's Parlour at the Guildhall is this bell which the plaque says was presented to the City Of Winchester by the men of the 9th infantry division United States army as a token of their appreciation for the most cordial hospitality extended to them during World War II.

The 9th Infantry Division was among the first U.S. combat units to engage in offensive ground operations during World War II. During the winter and into the spring of 1944 the 9th were stationed at Winchester's Peninsula Barracks preparing for the invasion. General Eisenhower and Churchill visited and addressed troops at the barracks before the invasion:

(Photo - Royal Green Jackets Museum)

On 3 June the Division began moving by motor and rail from Winchester to marshalling areas in the vicinity of Southampton and Weymouth, in preparation for the D Day landings in Normandy. They landed at Utah Beach on 10 June 1944.

17 March 2011

St Patrick's Day

Happy St Patrick's Day! Every city seems to have an Irish bar or pub, and here is Winchester's. It's O'Neills. O'Neill's is part of a chain which have quite a few establishments throughout the UK. I'm not sure if real Irish people go into these places but I have been in here once and it's a actually a reasonably nice bar and quite big as you can see. I'm sure they will be serving a few Guinesses tonight.

16 March 2011

I is for Itchen

The River Itchen's source is situated just south of the village of Cheriton in Mid Hampshire, it passes through Winchester and down to Southampton Water and is 28 miles long. The river flows in several different channels through the Winchester, some of which come close enough to Winchester Cathedral to have caused serious problems to the building's foundations in earlier years. The main channel flows through Winchester City Mill along an area known as the Weirs, the river then heads south through a series of water meadows passing the Hospital of St Cross before leaving the city and heading towards the villages of Twyford and Shawford. This photo of the Itchen is in the St Cross area with St Catherine's Hill to the right.

For more 'I' themed posts see ABC Wednesday

15 March 2011

Bishop Gardiner's Chantry

Currently being played by actor Simon Ward in the TV drama The Tudors (!) Stephen Gardiner was Bishop Of Winchester from 1531-1551 and 1553-1555. Gardiner was heavily involved in the divorce of Henry VIII from Katherine of Aragon and was appointed Bishop by Henry on the death of Cardinal Wolsey. Bishop Gardiner spent much of the reign of Edward VI as a prisoner in the Tower of London, due to opposing his Reform policies and remaining firm to the 'old religion' and during this time he was deprived of his bishopric. However after Edward's death he returned to favour under Queen Mary Tudor whom he crowned in 1553 and helped her to restore Catholicism, overturning the annulment of her parents’ marriage, making her legitimate, which was quite ironic bearing in mind his role in the original divorce! He officiated at her marriage to Philip of Spain at Winchester Cathedral on the 25th July 1554.

A chantry is a place within a church specially built for honouring and remembering important people buried there, there are 6 in the Cathedral. I have posted already on Bishop Fox's Chantry here.

14 March 2011

Winchester College

Obscured a little by the branches unfortunately, but here is the view of Winchester College from St Giles Hill, taken as the sun was going down.

13 March 2011


This is part of the St John's Winchester Charity buildings, which provides care for older people in Winchester. It is one of the oldest charitable foundations in England as its origins can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times. In the early nineteenth century it did not have enough accommodation, and this led to the building in 1830 of St John's South (pictured here) giving additional almshouses to the south of the High Street. There are now 27 flats here for local residents in need. As someone commented on another photo I have of Almshouses it is quite an old fashioned term, but these buildings still call themselves that even though they are really just accommodation for old people! Leeds Daily Photo recently featured an Almshouse and I think you can definitely see a likeness in the design - Click here to compare

***I am away this weekend in Salzburg (can't wait!) so have set up these scheduled posts whilst out of town. Sorry then if I don't respond to any comments until next week. Thanks for dropping by!***

12 March 2011

Choir Stalls

This is where Winchester Choir sits within the Cathedral. These wooden choir stalls date from 1308, and are made of Norwegian oak because English oak at that time was being heavily used for shipbuilding.

***I am away this weekend in Salzburg (can't wait!) so have set up these scheduled posts whilst out of town. Sorry then if I don't respond to any comments until next week***

11 March 2011

The Crypt

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Winchester Cathedral was built on a very high water table, although thanks to William Walker the Cathedral is no longer in danger of collapsing. However you can see evidence of this high water table most clearly in the Crypt which is often flooded. Within the Crypt of the Cathedral is the sculpture Sound II by Antony Gormley which was installed in 1986. Although not currently flooded you can see some damp patches already down there, on occasions the water comes up to the statue's knees.

***I am away this weekend in Salzburg (can't wait!) so have set up these scheduled posts whilst out of town. Sorry then if I don't respond to any comments until next week***

10 March 2011

William Walker

In the early 20th century Winchester Cathedral was in serious danger of collapsing. Its foundations had been built on a timber raft lying on a bed of peat and over the centuries compression of this peat had allowed the cathedral to sink and crack.
Trenches were built to start the underpinning process, but no sooner were they dug than they filled up with water due to the high water table under the cathedral. The solution was to send a diver down to underpin the sagging walls. It was a huge task and a diver William Walker was chosen for the job. Alone he went down into the dark, cold waters beneath the cathedral almost daily for 6 years from 1906-1912 eventually placing 25800 bags of concrete, 114900 concrete blocks and 900000 bricks to shore up the walls.
 William Walker was awarded the MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order) by King George V who said that he had "saved the cathedral with his own two hands".
 Unfortunately William died of Spanish flu a few years later. In the cathedral is this small statue of him in his diving suit. He also has a pub named after him just round the corner from the cathedral.

09 March 2011

H is for Horse trough

In Jewry Street there is a trough which is a memorial to all the horses killed in the South African War 1899-1902. It was presented to the City of Winchester by Mrs Isabella Clowes who lived here for 69 years. It's believed around six hundred thousand horses died during the Boer War. It was originally a working water trough, but now is full of plants. I don't think I have ever seen a horse in Winchester, although outside of the city, particularly to the south, there are lots of stables and riding centres.

For more 'H' related posts see ABC Wednesday

08 March 2011

Assembly Room

St John's House had an open day at the weekend, and the most interesting part of the building is the elegant Assembly Room where wealthy citizens of Winchester would have danced, dined and listened to concerts by the likes of Niccolo Paganini and Franz Liszt who performed here.

A flyer shows details of Paganini's performance in 1832 at the venue

A review in the Hampshire Chronicle newspaper at the time was very appreciative "The well-known and wonderful talent of this highly gifted artist attracted, as we expected, a numerous and fashionable audience. His power over the instrument he professes beggars all description. It must truly be said of him, that on earth we shall not look upon his like again, for he certainly is like nothing earthly"

The room has beautiful chandeliers and original 18th Century stucco plasterwork. Not quite as well known as Paganini and Liszt, but performing during the open day was local pianist David Glynn.

07 March 2011

St John's House

At the weekend St John's House had an open day. The house was built in the 14th century adding to an already existing St John's Hospital.

In the late 18th century the 1st floor of St John's House was dramatically altered when the roof was raised about 7 feet to provide an elegant Assembly Room where wealthy citizens attended balls, dinners and concerts.  As there was already enough light coming in from the existing windows it was felt unnecessary to create any new ones, so if you look closely at the 2nd floor you can see that there's no glass in the windows, they're imitation windows painted onto recesses. 

Since the end of the 18th century the building has been used as a law court, museum of stuffed birds, cinema, waiting room for the nearby bus station, restaurant and church. In 2009 the YMCA took over the lease and turned the building into a youth venue, however the upstairs rooms are available for hire for weddings and conferences.

06 March 2011

Stained Glass Window

There are a number of stained glass windows in the Great Hall. The glass was made in 1875-1880 and displays the arms of famous people associated with Hampshire. This window shows Edward I, Henry III, Hugh le Despencer and Roger De Quincey both Earls of Winchester, Edmund Earl of Kent and Elias Dereham a master stonemason who rebuilt the Great Hall for Henry III.

05 March 2011


Keeping with the Roman theme from yesterday's post, the mosaic here is in the City Museum, it was excavated from a Roman villa in the late 1960s in Sparsholt, a rural area to the west of Winchester. The mosaic had been protected by a metre of soil and rubble and the only damage was a hole made by a tree root (to the right of the photo).

04 March 2011

Forgotten Emperor

The Winchester Discovery Centre (Winchester's Library) currently has an exhibition on "The Forgotten Emperor" that is the Roman Emperor Carausius. Winchester is more associated with the Saxons (King Alfred the Great etc) than the Romans, but long before the Saxons the Romans ruled Winchester, from 70-410 AD. In those days Winchester was called Venta Belgarum, meaning the marketplace of the Belgae (a local tribe).

In the late 3rd century AD the Roman British Feet was commanded by Carausius. Britain was often raided by pirates looking for treasure and slaves and it was Carausius's job to stop them. However there were allegations of corruption, theft and pirate deals, which lead to Carausius's execution being ordered by Rome. When Carausius learned of this sentence he responded by declaring himself Emperor of Britain and northern Gaul (France). He appears to have appealed to native British dissatisfaction with Roman rule, he issued his own coins printed with Restitutor Britanniae (Restorer of Britain) and Genius Britanniae (Spirit of Britain). However he was eventually assassinated by a rival in 296AD.

Unfortunately there is now very little that is visible of the old Roman town above ground in Winchester. At the exhibition there are a number of local finds, below some of the coins Carausius had minted

And a Roman Amphora found nearby in Southampton water

03 March 2011

Forty Part Motet

Currently here at The Great Hall until 20 March is The Forty Part Motet which is a recording of forty separate voices of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing the Latin chant ‘Spem in Alium’ by Thomas Tallis (hear a version on You-Tube). Each individual voice is played back through one of the forty speakers positioned around the Hall. Standing in the middle it's really very impressive to hear the whole choir or move closer to each speaker to hear a single choral voice and The Hall is a great setting for this amazing sound.

The Forty Part Motet is the work of Canadian born artist Janet Cardiff and has been shown internationally at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Fondation d’enterprise in Tokyo and The Edmonton Art Gallery in Toronto.

02 March 2011

G is for Graffiti

At what point does graffiti become something historic? Here on a pillar in the cathedral we see someone has carved their initials IE and the year 1722 into the stone. This is an interesting piece of history and shows how old the building is (although it is much older than 1722). To the left some 244 years later we see someone has also carved their initials SB 1966, blatant vandalism, defacing this beautiful ancient pillar with anything so modern as the 60's!
For more 'G' themed posts see ABC Wednesday

01 March 2011

Favourite part of town

I think my favourite place in Winchester has got to be the cathedral, particularly sitting outside it in the sunshine (not that often recently!). Even if you are in no way religious purely as a building or part of history you cannot fail to be impressed by it.