Over the New Year holiday, I went to visit my friend Sir John in Winchester.
On New Years eve, I boarded a train from Waterloo station in London, heading South towards Winchester.Winchester is in Hampshire county and is about 1 hour London. I love riding trains and it was the perfect train ride because it was nearly empty and very quiet so it allowed me to be pensive and self reflect about the wonderful year that was coming to it's close, 2009, and to think about my goals in the year 2010 to come!!
My friend Sir John,who is a wonderful host,just had renovated his big Victorian house and I felt honored to be his first guest.We ate typical English fare of Roast chicken potatoes,parsnips and carrots (and some other English vegetable with a very weird name, sorry I'll get back to you).
On Saturday after a big hearty English Breakfast, that he made for us.We journeyed like tourist to Winchester. Also, because Sir John has lived in Winchester all his life, he was the perfect tour guide.
First we hit the Great town hall, and according to Sir John it was part of the Winchester Castle, until Oliver Cromwell destroyed it because he was against anything that had to do with Royalty or the old regime. Apparently,during the English Civil War the Castle was held by the Royalists until its capture by the Parliamentary Forces in 1646. Oliver Cromwell ordered the demolition of the Castle, but the Great Hall was kept as a venue for assemblies and the County Assizes.
Winchester Castlebuilt in 1067.Only the Great Hall exists now; it houses a museum of the history of Winchester.Winchester Castle holds a prominent position in English history. It was built in 1067, within a year of the Norman Conquest. At the time, it was one of the greatest strongholds in England, and for over a century it served as the seat of government, before that position was taken by London.
The Great Hall is all that is left of the Winchester Castle
The first and finest of all 13th century halls, with the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, 'The Round Table of King Arthur'.Winchester Castle dates from the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-1087).
The Castle was made of Purbeck limestone
Tucked neatly in a narrow space behind the Great Hall of Winchester Castle is a quiet gem, Queen Eleanor's Gardens. This peaceful oasis is an accurate recreation of an early medieval garden, complete with many features that would have been present during the 13th century, and all the plants are known to have been grown in that period.
Winchester Cathedralis the Mother Church of the Diocese of Winchester, which is part of the Church of England. The Cathedral has its origins in the 7th century, when a Christian Church was first built on this site. Since then, it has played a fundamental part in the life of this ancient City and a significant role in the history of our nation.
Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave(architectural-the middle or body of a church, extending from the transepts to the principal entrances and overall length)of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.
In 2005, the cathedral was used as a film set for the The Da Vinci Code with the north transept used as the Vatican. Following this the cathedral hosted discussions and displays to debunk the book.
I saw choral evensong and heard beautiful angels singing.
It's a combined sensual treat to hear gorgeous music and be amidst
such splendid architecture.
Me, visiting Jane Austen apparently she wasn't at home.
My timing was off about 175 years. Oh well, next life Jane. Jane died in this house and she was about 41 years old on July 18,1817 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. It is said she came to Hampshire county and took this house in her last remaining days so she could be close to the hospital. Janewas smart to do so,because unlike London, the air in Winchester is fresh.
This is an old Gothic entrance to a street.
I love this photo of Winchester Cathedral at dusk.It feels like something out of a Dracula movie.Very Gothic and spooky in an old world way. It inspires me to don a black velvet cape, a candelabra and howl at the moon.
Someone once told me,the best time to take photos is at both dawn and dusk.
Something about the lighting and it's a very spiritual time where the
universe is in the in between.England,has unearthly feel at this time,
you can just feel the faeries and sprites. The wall that you see is a wall of Wolvesly Castle. I am standing on a path and to my right is the
River Itchen which is famous for fly-fishing.Winchester is very idyllic and fairytale like.
This is another cute side street in Winchester. It's filled with charming
shops and pubs and unique and posh art galleries. I was quite impressed by the array of beautiful luminous Christmas lights.
Since there is just way to much see I went back the next day.I was happy to see idyllic Winchester from the vantage point of St. Giles Hill.I must admit,both the scenery and the 30 minute climb up took my breath away. Sigh!
More about Winchester in Sabrina's London Diaries