Friday, 21 August 2015

Winchester

Virgin & Child over the
College Gate
She who must be &c asked for Winchester for her birthday, so Winchester it was. After days of drizzle she also ordered the weather, fine and warm. We began with a walk along the river to Wolvesey and Winchester College. Then a bit further down stream where the swans came looking for food.

Swan Hunting
En route we passed the house where Jane Austen lived out her last days, and duly saluted her shade.
The plaque over the door records Jane Austen's death in 1817
The Brick Extension to the Deanery

You can't bumping into history wherever you walk in Winchester. Near the river, a section of the city wall built by the Romans around 70 AD. Beside the Cathedral the remains outlined in stone of the earlier Saxon Minster. The Deanery is a remodelling of the Abbot's House; and thank goodness Winchester does not proclaim its church "The Cathedral and Abbey Church" as they insist on doing at St Albans.

Beside the former Abbot's house is a redbrick extension built in the 17th Century - it is said to enable King Charles II to take exercise indoors when he visited. He began work on a Palace in Winchester, perhaps even intending to move his court from London - for Winchester had been the ancient capital of Wessex, the seat of Alfred the Great and many succeeding kings. Charles saw from the Deanery a very convenient  house,and asked the resident Prebendary if it might be possible for Miss Gwynne (Nell, Charles' mistress, no less) to stay there when she visited the King. To which the King received a terse "Certainly not!" - and Charles was so impressed with his integrity that when the See of Bath and Wells fell vacant he asked "Where is the good little man that refused his lodging to poor Nell?" - and duly had him appointed. Now where are the Churchmen or Women today prepared to say 'No' to those in power rather than condone their sin?

Lunch at Rick Stein's in front of a Kurt Jackson painting


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