Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 26, 2015 - Winchester

We're staying with our friends Ron and Chris in Winchester. It's as if we saw them yesterday! We've been friends for - dare I say it - 45 years. Dave has noticed that we seem to visit them in England every 17 years. Obviously, that has to change as I'm not sure nursing homes have bus trips to England. Luckily, we do manage to vacation together every few years, so it's not like we NEVER see them.

After lunch of Chris' delicious curried sweet potato soup, a bit of unpacking, and catching up, we headed into Winchester to wander around in the late afternoon. The day is chilly and blustery, but warmer than it has been at home in Wisconsin recently. We headed to the area where once stood Winchester Castle, but now houses the government and law centers for this region.

Our first stop is the Great Hall which remains in its 13th century form and is all that is left of the original Winchester Castle. The famous King Arthur's Round Table has hung in this hall since the 1400s. The table dates to the 13th century so is not contemporaneous with King Arthur. (Hmmmm...) Originally unpainted, Henry VIII had it painted in 1522 with the names of the Knights of the Round Table and an image of the legendary King Arthur.
Dave & Ron under King Arthur's Round Table to give you a sense of its size.

Out a side door is a beautiful re-creation of a medieval herb garden named for the two Queen Eleanors (of Provence and Castile) wives of Edward I and Henri III. It's a lovely calm spot with the beginnings of spring flowers and tree buds already showing themselves.

After exploring the little history museum, we headed for the downtown area, filled with a mixture of brick and half-timbered buildings, small roads and alleys.

God Begot Manor, 1050, part of estates of Emma, daughter of Richard Duke of Normandy. Emma was mother of  English King Edward the Confessor.

We moseyed down High Street (like our Main Street) past lots of estate agent offices - these are real estate agents. Chris tells me that Winchester is the new "posh" location to live. Only an hour from London, it's a relatively easy commute by train and a small town environment. House prices have been skyrocketing because of the influx of London folks and estate agents have been busy. Contributing to the problem is that developing land willy-nilly isn't allowed and so prices of existing houses go up due to the shortage of housing. Makes it hard on the locals to find affordable housing. Sound familiar?

Near this building is the City Cross, aka Buttercross. A Buttercross dates from the medieval ages and was placed in an open air market where villagers purchased their butter, milk and eggs. Sellers would lay out their wares on the stepped bases of the cross. 

Chris in front of City Cross

We headed down a covered alley and I spotted an extremely narrow church - at least its entrance is narrow, hardly wider than the door. St. Lawrence in the Square has its roots in the 9th century and became the royal chapel for William the Conqueror (that would be shortly after 1066). It is considered the oldest parish of Norman foundation within the city's walls. 
The stone and flint entrance is the entire width of the church footprint at the street.
The walls are filled with memorial plaques going back hundreds of years.
The blue fish sign marks the entrance to St. Lawrence and you can see the narrowness of its stone and flint street entry.

We ended at the Cathedral, which we've seen in past visits. This cathedral is always worth a visit as it is huge, beautiful and full of history. While the cathedral was founded in 642, the current building dates from Norman times and is more than 900 years old. Built in Gothic style, this is one of the largest cathedrals in England and is the longest of any European Gothic cathedral. 

"WinchesterCathedral-west-wyrdlight" by Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
Our final stop was the Old Vine Pub to have a pint. Well, the boys had a pint and the girls had wine. There's something so warm and inviting about English pubs. Our trip is well-started with great friends in an historic English town worthy of wandering. Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment