Friday, October 24, 2014

Winchester Cathedral...Oh-bo-de-o-do

Here was our last look at Tower Bridge as we left London. Last year we had a service pick us up (and 3 other couples) and drive us to Southampton for a cost of £50 per couple. I had read on Cruise Critic about people taking the Mega Train to Southampton for £1. That just didn't seem possible, but we checked it out on-line and found that we could take the train for £6 each to Southampton or £1 if we wanted to take the one at 6:00 a.m. Now theoretically, we should have been able to take the tube to Waterloo train station and go from there, but with our luggage and the lack of elevators or escalators, it was just too much of a pain, so taxi to the train station it was.

And lo and behold, other than having to schlep our luggage on and off the train, the Mega Train to Southampton for £6 each was a sweet deal. Thank you, Cruise Critic!

This is the bargate in Southampton, which is the main entrance through the wall to the city. Locals refer to streets as above bar and below bar. Every time someone gave us directions, the word bargate was always in it. Eventually we figured out what they meant.

Yay! Here are Barb and Ed, whom we met up with in Southampton. They had been in Scotland visiting with Ed's relatives while we were in London. Our first stop...the Red Lion Pub. It was recommended by the cabbie who took us from the train station in Southampton to our hotel.

Gotta love these old pubs...

This pub had a lot of history. King Henry V held court in the back of the pub, and people were tried here for conspiracy. If found guilty, they were taken outside the bargate (there it is again!) and hung.

There is also a lot of history in Southampton. It is a major ship building port and therefore was a target during World War II. It's also where the Titanic set sail from.

This is the ruins of Holy Rood Church, which was built in 1320. On the night of November 30, 1940, the centre of Southampton became the target for German bombers, when 800 high explosive bombs and 9,000 incendiaries were dropped on the town centre. Nearly 500 properties were totally destroyed, including seven churches.

In 1957, the ruins were restored and dedicated to the Merchant Navy. The little figures that strike the bells are known as quarter jacks.

The arch with the initials MN, which I'm guessing is for the merchant navy?



The church was also known as the Church of the Sailors...

More tragedy...

Jane Austen lived in Southampton between 1807 and 1809, and is buried in nearby Winchester Cathedral.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Tesco and I spied these 2 L bottles of Strongbow for £3.45. No wonder a pub owner later told us that he thought Strongbow is crap!

The cabbie, who had driven us to the hotel, had recommended that we visit nearby Winchester, so the next day he picked the four of us up for a little tour.

Now this is a city with a lot of history. King Alfred the Great (849-899 AD) was buried here. Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in England, is located here. The table of the Knights of the Round Table is located at Winchester Castle.

King Alfred the Great...

This is one of the many, many old buildings in the town...

Walking along the side of Winchester Cathedral...

The Cathedral has the longest nave and greatest overall length of any cathedral in Europe.

The original cathedral was founded in 642 AD. The bricks in the grass show the outline of the original Old Minster church, which was demolished in 1094 to make way for the new cathedral. The church wasn’t grand enough for William the Conqueror from France, who ruled as the King of England from 1066 to 1087, so he decided to build a much bigger one that still stands today.

Lovely tree-lined path leading to the cathedral from the downtown area...

The front of cathedral, which does not have a spire...


The cathedral was built between 1079 and 1532...

John, our cab driver, told us that until two years ago they weren’t charging to go into the cathedral and now they charge a fairly substantial £7.50 admission. When we saw this sign saying that they need to generate £10,000 each day to run the church, it made sense.


There was a guided tour included in the admission and we did start out with the guide. God love him, he was so slow that the one hour we had would have been spent at the entrance, so we explored on our own.

The resting place of many ancient kings...

Neat old door...

Look at the length of the nave! 

Names of those killed in World War I...


The cathedral's huge medieval stained glass window was deliberately smashed by Oliver Cromwell's forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642. The broken glass was gathered up and assembled randomly by the parishioners with no attempt to reconstruct the original pictures.

One of the other windows to show what it should look like...

More history...Jane Austen had moved to Winchester in search of better medical treatment for her illness.

One of the many, many stones laid in the floor. You could spend days reading them all.

Carvings in the columns...I wondered how old they were.

The Epiphany chapel...

There were quite a few of these tombs with effigies on top...

We didn't enter the crypt, which floods in the rainy months...

These 13th century floor tiles are part of the largest surviving display of medieval floor tiles inside any building in England.

The Bishop of Winchester presided over the marriage of Queen Mary Tudor to Phillip of Spain in the Cathedral in 1554.

This chapel takes its name from the beautiful heads of angels...

Yikes...not sure about the beautiful part...

There was a breathtaking display of bronze sculptures by artist Robert Truscott in the north end of the cathedral.

The detail on faces incredible...

Rifleman exhaustion...

Mom and daughter fleeing air raids...

If these doors could talk...

At the back of the cathedral, beautiful colour on the ceiling...

These 1170 AD paintings in the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre were discovered in 1963 beneath paintings from the 13th century which they were restoring.

The bust of William Walker, who single-handedly saved Winchester Cathedral, is outside the cathedral. When huge cracks started to appear in the early 1900s, the cathedral seemed in danger of complete collapse. Early efforts to underpin its waterlogged foundations failed until William Walker, a deep-sea diver, was brought in. Beginning in 1906, he worked in total darkness, under water in depths of up to 6 m, every day for six years placing bags of concrete. He was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order for his efforts.

So much to learn and so little time...John, our cabbie, with Jim in Winchester...

The City Museum also had interesting architecture. It was made of fieldstones put together with mortar.

This is a very upscale shopping area, and it would have been nice to have the time to sit and enjoy the ambiance.

St Lawrence Church is said to have been the chapel of William the Conqueror's palace. It is now totally surrounded by shops.


Tiny and beautiful...

The City Cross or Butter Cross with 15th century craftsmanship features statues of kings and saints. The present name dates from the early 19th century when vendors of dairy produce traded here. The cross stands 43 feet high, against the timber-framed overhangs of the surrounding buildings.

As part of a long-term plan to improve the city streets, the cross was in danger of being demolished in the late 18th century. However, local opposition prevented this. By 1865, it had been fully restored to its medieval glory and it became the popular meeting place that it remains today.

Many little touristy streets...on a Friday morning it was quite busy with vendors and lots of tourists...


Our next stop was the Great Hall, all that remains of Winchester Castle...

Castle passageways...

Inside the Great Hall is the Round Table of King Arthur...

We went in and I was looking all around for a table. Huh...who knew it would be on the wall.

Both local and national folklore credit it with having been in this building for about 1500 years. However, carbon dating has proved that the Winchester Table was only made in the 1270s, during the reign of King Edward I. King Henry VIII later had the table painted with seats for 24 named knights and a portrait of himself as King Arthur.

The Great Hall was built between 1222-1235...

There are more statues of Queen Victoria than of any other monarch...

Queen Elizabeth...

This incredible model depicts Winchester in June 1870. You can see the cathedral towards the centre.

The names of the members of local council dating from the 1300s to 1868...

Queen Eleanor's Garden is an example of a medieval garden and features turf seats, bay hedges, a fountain, tunnel arbour and many beautiful herbs and flowers of the time.

Our cabbie, John, was so helpful. While we were in the cathedral, he bought me a postcard because he knew I was looking for one. Then, on the way back to Southampton, he took a different route so that we could buy some stamps in this little town. Across from the post office was this old building, which he thought was a rectory. The town had a post office, pub, and church...not much night life here.

Poor Ed...we elected him to go in and buy the stamps. Nothing is easy. We'd be looking for stamps for Britain and stamps for Canada. He looked like he might be wondering if he got the right ones...

Back in Southampton, we asked John to drop us off at the Duke of Wellington pub. He wasn't finished with us yet though. He showed us the Tudor House Museum on the left, one of the oldest buildings in Southampton, dating to the 12th century.

St. Michael's Church, across from the museum, was founded in 1070 AD and is the only one of the five original churches in the walled city still in use. It wasn't destroyed in the air raids of 1940.

We were all in need of a bite to eat and something to drink by now. We bid John farewell and headed into the pub.

The pub was built in 1220. There is so much history here, it is mind-boggling. The pub keeper was the one who told Jim that they don't carry Strongbow cider because it's crap. He said I should drink their cider, which I did. It was good, but I still prefer Strongbow.

Outside the pub, ready to walk back to the hotel...

We walked through this arch...by now, my head was full of facts...all of them old!

Ooh...another pub and an offer to Walk the Walls of Southampton...

Any other time I would have loved a piggy bite, but we were already stuffed piggies.

How the wall of Southampton came about...

As it stands today...

This pub was not originally called the Titanic. The name was changed in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship.

The next day, John picked us up and brought us to the ship. Here we are pushing off from the dock as the gulls have a field day with all the gunk stirred up.

Departing Southampton...

We had a wonderful visit in England once again. Tomorrow, we're off to find my grandfather's grave in France...

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