musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Walking around Winchester.

On Thursday 25 I had to go for a job interview in Winchester, and decided to do some sightseeing along the way. According to my handy search engine it is 12 miles away, which is really a quick train journey on the train that goes to London. Winchester is famous for a song written about its famous cathedral. And it was this cathedral that I really wanted to see. I had paused briefly in the town en route to Southampton in April 2013 and managed a pic through the window of the coach

Winchester seen through the coach window

Oddly enough I never saw the statue of King Alfred the Great, which stands close to the site of the city’s medieval East Gate when I visited the town on this occasion. The place I was supposed to be wasn’t too far away so I had 2 hours to mess around, and naturally I would be on the lookout for graves, memorials and churches (of which Winchester has a fine crop). The train trip takes about 15 minutes, and the approach to Winchester is through a wooded valley with high road bridges overhead.
 
From the station I set out for the edge of the city centre; I had a vague idea where the cathedral was in relation to it so any deviation from my route wouldn’t be a disaster. 
 
The City is an old one and at one point it was the capital of England. Today it is more tourist attraction than anything else, and its host of old buildings are pleasing to the eye (and lens). Unfortunately the weather was grey and gloomy, but by the time I finished with my interview it had started to clear and the sun was shining. 
 
This magnificent building, called “Castle Hill” is home to the council chambers, basing and portal meeting rooms, and interestingly enough the building on the left (“Westgate”) is very similar to the Bargate in Southampton. On the East side of this building the ruins of the former castle are still evident. It is  really a very pretty space, but I did not have too much time to tarry, so heading onwards down one of the historic streets looking for the cathedral. I did expect to see a spire sticking out above everything else, but did not see one.

Eventually though I turned the corner and there she was: magnificent, as only a really old cathedral could be. There was no real spire either (which was a surprise), but there were two war memorials in site, as well as a churchyard. I just wish the weather was kinder. 
 
The problem with buildings like this is that they are so vast you need to be really far from it to appreciate it in one glimpse, but then you loose the finer intricacies that these structures are riddled with. Like most (probably all), cathedrals it is roughly in a form of a cross, dominated by a really magnificent entrance through which hordes of tourists were crowding to get into. I detoured to pick up my two war memorials and walked around the one side and through part of the graveyard which is now a park dotted with tombstones and people. 
 
On my way home later; parts of the grounds were quieter so I have interchanged some of the images. Unfortunately parts of the building are covered in scaffolding as restoration continues, and I was not able to get past the gated area where the more important graves seemed to be.
 
The building is very ornate and I am sure that if buildings could talk this one would have a lot to say. It was also not possible to walk completely around the building, so I gave up for the morning and headed off to my interview.

Having completed my interview it was time to head back to the station, and with better weather attempt some better pics. I had noticed that there was a lot of flowing water in the area, and it turns out that this is part of the River Itchen which finally flows out into Southampton Water within walking distance of where I stay.
 
I also saw the home of the Bishop of Winchester, 
  
and the house where Jane Austen “lived her last days”. She is connected to Southampton too, although she is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
 
I was soon back at the Cathedral, and with better light could at least appreciate what I was seeing much better than before. 
  
 
Each of the flying buttresses seem to have been donated and were engraved accordingly and it was fascinating to see them up close. 
 
 
The graves on this side were very tantalising, but the only one I was able to really identify was that of Frank Theodore Woods, who was the 88th Bishop of Winchester. 
Unfortunately time was catching me and I decided to head closer towards the station area, but ended up taking a different route to what I had taken originally. 
 
 
 
 
In my meanderings I had also seen references to “Military Museums”, but they had all pointed in the opposite direction to where I was heading, and I hoped that I would at least be able to pick up that trail once again. The first museum I discovered by accident, and it was the museum of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, now housed at “Serle’s House”.
 
I continued through the area, trying to find my way out of a labyrinth of an estate that may have been barracks at some point, finally coming out at West Hill Cemetery, which I had a quick look around. It was a surprisingly pretty cemetery that follows the contours of the hill it was built on
I did not find any really exciting graves in it, so decided to head back towards the railway line that I had crossed before, towards the station. Crossing back over on one of those three road bridges I had seen before.
I came out at an area that I had overlooked previously and  this was where my military museums were. They included the Ghurka, Light Infantry, and Hussar Museums. However, I was running a tad late as these were all closing for the day. So it was back to finding the station again, only this time I ended up inside the Great Hall I had seen earlier in the morning.
 

This is supposedly the finest surviving Medieval great hall, which contains the legendary “round table”. Personally I felt like it looked like a giant dart board.
And then I came out at the “Castle Hill”, and then I knew where I was, having arrived at this point earlier in the morning.

The station wasn’t too far off from here,
And then a quick bit of train spotting while I waited, and by 16H30 I was back home.

It had been an interesting day, and an interesting city with a long history. I did like the many old buildings, but did not like the fact that behind that old facade were many of the fashionista brand names that had taken them over. It almost seems like sacrilege.

As for the interview? I did get the position, but unfortunately the job was extremely convoluted and involved travel to places that were often with no access to public transport, and I ended up resigning from it following a very odd phone call from one of the “managers”.

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