Friday, September 22, 2006
More of Winchester and on to Sussex
This was my favourite building of all those that I saw, it's Cheyney Court in The Cathedral Close, it dates from the late 16th century and that period of history is the one I find most attractive as far as buildings are concerned. The home of my dreams would be a small Elizabethan manor house somewhere in Sussex in a fold of the South Downs.
This is The Kingsgate, it is one of two medieval gateways that are still standing in Winchester and the stairs in the small building to the right lead up to the tiny church of St Swithun which is actually over the city gate. I didn't have the time to go inside unfortunately but that is something to look forward to on another visit. Just think of all the scenes of daily life that these gates must have witnessed, they are of Roman origin and must have seen not only the Benedictine monks coming and going (they are an order who mix with the community to some extent I believe),but merchants, labourers, Cavaliers and Roundheads and above all the great Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings such as Alfred the Great, my King Ecgbert, Henry III ,Edward I and almost certainly Charles II who was a regular visitor to Winchester for the horse racing! I've always had a soft spot for Charles II, there's never been any doubt about whether I was a Royalist or a Cromwellian! From the Kingsgate I walked down College St where I saw the house in which Jane Austen spent the last few weeks of her life. Roz, in her blog Autumn Cottage Diarist http://rozcawley.typepad.com/autumn_cottage_diarist has a very much better photograph of the house than this one.
Jane actually lived with her mother and sister in the Hampshire village of Chawton and the house is open for visitors to look round.http://www.hants.gov.uk/austen/chawton.html That was one of my detours on a previous visit to Sussex and it is well worth going to see, it's a lovely house with a delightful garden and it's a pretty village too.Jane only came to Winchester during the last few weeks of her life when she became ill with Addison's Disease. Right next to Jane Austen's house is Winchester College which was founded in 1382 and is the oldest public school in England. There are guided tours to the College but that is also a treat for a future visit for me.
From here I followed the path by the River Itchen and eventually came to the City Mill. The first mill on the site was built over 900 years ago and the present one bears a sign saying that it was rebuilt in 1744!
Lastly on my way back to the car park I passed this lovely old building called Old Chesil Rectory which dates back to 1450 and is one of the oldest houses in Winchester, now in a new role as a restaurant.
After a fascinating afternoon I continued my drive to Midhurst in Sussex where I was to stay for the next three days at the Spread Eagle Hotel.
This was a wonderful old place which has been an inn since 1430 though it had buildings added on in the 1650s and then yet more in the late 20th century. I was lucky enough to have a room in the oldest part of the hotel due to them messing up my reservation. As an apology I was upgraded to the Courtyard Suite with a four-poster bed!
Before dinner I had a little walk round Midhurst and took a few photographs. Across from the Spread Eagle is the annexe to the hotel which is another lovely old Tudor building.
These were originally 5 cottages but now house the public library. I love the name of the street they are on - Knockhundred Row
This is Wool Street with it's timber jettied 16th century cottages, wouldn't you love to live in one of these?
Finally these lovely houses are a little way up the street from the hotel and on the other side of the road
Next instalment will be at the Weald and Downland Museum but I think we may have a break from history for the next post. Just to finsih with here is my little grand-daughter who was 5 months old yesterday. She spent the day with me on Thursday while her mum and dad had a day out together. She was as good as gold but boy! had I forgotten how tiring babies are!!