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South East Hampshire 2019


100+ Posts
We are in Hampshire for the last 10 days of a 7 week holiday, that took in Austria/Germany (Christmas Markets River Cruise), a week in London, 10 days in Cornwall (Mousehole) and a week in Devon (Dartmouth).

I'll post reports on each of these locations, however this report could be quite short as we aren't getting out and about as much as we did for the previous 6 weeks.

One of our sons teaches music composition at Southampton University and we are staying with he and his partner until his 45th birthday and a concert performance of one of his works at the end of January. Then back home to Sydney hoping the high 30c temperatures are a thing of the past back there.

Drew says I sometimes “over think” things. Such as? Why were the water pools and ponds in The New Forest so intensely blue today?

It was cold today. Actually, it was freezing. As I posted on Facebook today:

“In Australia, we more often refer to temperatures as being in their low teens or high teens in winter. That's Centigrade degrees. Here in the UK, the gauge in Drew's car measures it in half degrees. Half a degree is import when it's still only 3c at 11.00 am and finally registers 3.5c shortly after. Then the internet advise that it may be 3.5c but feels like -1c.

When I see ice on the footpath at 3.30 pm, all I know is, IT"S FREEZING!

Despite the above, the sun was out .... not shining, but out. We enjoyed The New Forest today.”

As usual, I digress. The water was intensely blue. Apparently when light shines into water, the water molecules absorb certain colours depending on the depth of the water and the base (sandy or rocky). The colours not absorbed, mix to create the colour we see. OK, I’m over thinking. The water was intensively blue and probably accentuated by the green of the fields. Then again, not having seen the sun and a blue sky in 6 weeks probably might have something to do with it.

We decided to visit parts of The New Forest we missed in 2017. Rockbourne is actually just outside The New Forest in the far north west. It’s so close to Breamore (Bremmer), also on our list, that we decided to go there first and work our way back.

The New Forest isn’t all forest. Approx. a third is heath and grass, with a third of that, wet grassland. That’s where we drove slowly across The New Forest. Lots of wet grassland and horses and ponies. To repeat what I wrote last time, the land is largely unfenced and “common” land. The stock are owned but all just intermix and roam free.

Most of the horses weren’t feeding (the Donkeys were). They all appeared to be just standing beside any available shrub, eyes closed and soaking up the rays of the sun. On several occasions when they were standing in the road, they made no effort to move as we slowly drove around them.

It only took 30 minutes to drive from Southampton to Rockbourne. Even at 60kmph and through several small villages and some narrow country lanes. All easier to see when you are driving that much slower.

Rockbourne is one long street. Probably 600m. On the south side, many of the houses/cottages abut the road. On the north side, the road is flanked by a brook (that’s a stream or creek in Australia). Why call a brook a brook, when you can call it “Sweatfords Water”. Every house/cottage on that side is reached by its own little bridge. All of the houses on both side are either Tudor or Georgian and the majority thatched. It was a case of driving through the town exclaiming “OMG” from beginning to end. The end being the only parking available in the village. The “Rose and Thistle” pub was the only public parking available, so we parked there and doing the right thing, entered for a coffee/tea.

The manager was in the process of lighting the two fires. Real timber fires … there isn’t any shortage of plantation and fallen trees in TNF. Most places now have artificial coal fires (gas) and it was great to smell real timber burning. Wonderful atmosphere with hunting paraphernalia and turn of the century (19th) Vanity Fair paintings of cricketers and hunters, decorating the walls and ceiling of this old Tudor Inn.

Warmed a little, we worked our way down the village. With the sun in our eyes, I photographed every dwelling on the north side on the way down and both sides on the way back. For ¾ hour, we strolled. Said hello to two guys re-thatching a large cottage and dodged a constant stream of cars. Like Pitt/Burke Sts.

As we approached the “Rose and Thistle” on our return, Ches decided to visit the ladies inside, while I went around to the carpark … it was full. Ches returned to say that the hotel was packed. Bar and restaurant. So the cars we had dodged weren’t travelling through, but too. That explained a reserved sign on a table we had seen in the bar. On a Wednesday? No idea.

The other feature of Rockbourne is a Roman Villa. It is quite extensive, and largely consists of some mosaics, the foundations of 70 rooms, and one large rectangular foundation of the bathhouse, with the hypocaust exposed. It was closed for the winter and the hedge around it impenetrable. I only know what it looks like because I googled.

I should have googled before we went to Rockburne. All we had was our 1974 AA Touring Guide of GB which mentioned Tudor and Georgian cottages. For anyone reading this, who decides to also visit Rockbourne, here’s what we missed:

Thanks Wiki


Rockbourne is a village of thatched, brick and timber houses, next to a stream now known as Sweatfords Water. The village consists chiefly of one street almost half a mile long. The church is in the northeast of the main street. Close to the church, adjoining the north side of the churchyard, is a manorial complex consisting of small L-shaped 14th-century house, now used as part of a modern farmhouse; the remains of a large Elizabethan or Jacobean house a short distance to the east; a 13th-century chapel near its southeast angle; and a large 15th-century barn running northward from the chapel.


Rockbourne has a long history of human habitation. Three Neolithic long barrows are known within the parish boundaries, as well as the sites of over twenty Bronze Age bowl barrows. At Knoll Camp, there is also the site of an Iron Age Hill fort with a single bank and ditch. At West Park, Rockbourne Roman Villa has been excavated since the 1950s, revealing over 70 rooms, several with mosaic floors and hypocausts. The collection of finds from the site have been housed permanently in the museum building on the site, which is the only villa site in Hampshire open to the public.

The name Rockbourne, recorded as Rocheborne in 1086, may derive from Old English "Hrocaburna", Rooks' stream, or perhaps Rocky stream. In the earliest records Rockbourne was a royal manor. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Alwy son of Turber held a hide there which Wulfgeat had previously held of King Edward.[9] Saewin also held half a hide of the gift of King Edward, to which the sheriff in 1086 made an unsuccessful claim as part of the king's farm, but which at a later date reverted to the Crown.

Alwy was succeeded here as in Hale and Tytherley by the Cardenvilles, and in the 13th century William Cardenville held a free tenement in Rockbourne.[4] Before 1156 the manor had been granted to Baron Manser Bisset. He was succeeded before 1177 by a son Henry, and whose widow Iseuld was holding Rockbourne early in the next century. Their eldest son William died c. 1220, and was succeeded by his brother John, who died in 1241. Rockbourne passed to his daughter Ela, and then to her son John who assumed his mother's surname. He died in 1307, leaving a son John, who died unmarried in 1334, leaving the manor to his sister Margaret, at that time the wife of Robert Martin, on whom the manor was settled in 1338.[4]

Early in 1336 Robert Martin complained that a certain John de Crucheston (Crux Easton) and others had abducted Margaret his wife and taken away his goods. Not waiting for justice, he retaliated by breaking into the house of John de Crucheston and seizing his property. Some years later he took Crucheston prisoner, torturing him "with cords tied round his head and other torments, and extorting £1,150 from his friends for his release." Robert Martin died in 1355, his wife surviving him until 1373, when the manor passed to her eldest son by her first husband, Sir Walter de Romsey. It then passed by inheritance into the Keilway family, it being held by John Keilway on his death in 1547. His son Francis died in 1601–2, and his son Thomas succeeded to Rockbourne, which, already heavily mortgaged to Sir Anthony Ashley, he sold in 1608 to Sir Anthony's son-in-law, Sir John Cooper. Sir John Cooper was succeeded by his eldest son Anthony Ashley Cooper, created Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672, and the manor descended with the Earls of Shaftesbury.

The nearby manor of Rockstead, which Aldwin held before 1066, belonged to Hugh de Port in 1086. Rockstead had passed to Breamore Priory before 1291. It belonged to the priory at the Dissolution and was granted with its other possessions to Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter and Gertrude his wife in November 1536. Escheating to the Crown in 1539, it was granted to Anne of Cleves, but in 1548 passed to Sir Thomas Henneage and William Lord Willoughby, who in the following year sold it to William Keilway. After this date it followed the descent of Rockbourne and became merged in that manor, its name only surviving in Rockstead Farm.

On to Breamore pronounced “Bremmer”. Again according to our AA Guide, “pure Tudor’. Triangular in shape with the large houses along the base and a green with small cottages at the apex and a narrow street through to the main road.

Let’s get things straight. Yes, several lovely thatched houses along the base. A “green” that resembles more “wet grassland” than a green on which you might play cricket or have a picnic. It turns out it is “the Marsh (an important surviving manorial green)”

Again, while I quite liked what we saw and photographed, it might help if more info was available and a map wouldn’t go astray as some of the sites aren’t as close to the village as suggested.

The Saxon church and Breamore House are about three-quarters of a mile west of the road and we had no chance of finding them and we only stumbled on the River Avon because Tom (our satnav) took us over oit on our way across country to our final destination Minstead.

Before leaving Breamore however:


Breamore Down has several Bronze Age bowl barrows. There is also a long barrow known as the Giant's Grave, originally 65m long and 26m wide with flanked ditches, it is now partly damaged. Breamore Down also has a mysterious mizmaze on its heights. Argument rages as to whether the Bronze Age people or mediaeval monks were responsible for these patterns cut in the turf.

The name Breamore, recorded as Brumore in 1086, may be derived from Old English "Brommor" meaning "broom(covered) marsh". At an early date the manor of Breamore belonged to the Crown, and in 1086 was part of the royal manor of Rockbourne. At an early date, probably by grant of Henry I, Breamore passed to the Earls of Devon, lords of the Isle of Wight, who held it from the king in chief. In 1299, Edward I assigned it to his consort, Margaret of France, but in 1302 Breamore was delivered to Hugh de Courtenay. From that time it descended with the Earls of Devon until it was granted, in 1467, to Walter Blount, 1st Baron Mountjoy. In 1475, Breamore escheated to the king, who granted it for life in 1490 to Sir Hugh Conway and Elizabeth his wife. In 1512, it was granted to Catherine of Yorkwidow of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and her heirs. Her son Henry was created Marquess of Exeter in 1525, but was beheaded in 1538–9, when the manor again passed to the Crown.

The manor was granted in 1541 to the queen consort, Catherine Howard, and in 1544 to Catherine Parr, who, after the death of Henry VIII, married Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, to whom Breamore was granted by Edward VI in 1547. On his execution in 1549 it again passed to the Crown and was granted in 1579 by Elizabeth I to Christopher Hatton. William Dodington purchased from him and died in 1600 leaving a son and heir Sir William. From this date Breamore followed the descent of South Charford until 1741, when Francis Lord Brooke sold it to Samuel Dixon, preliminary to its sale to Sir Edward Hulse.

Breamore railway station opened in 1866. It was served by the Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway, a line running north–south along the River Avon, connecting Salisbury to the North and Poole to the South. It closed in 1964, the disused station still exists on the road that leads east from the A338.

St Mary's church

The church of Saint Mary is an almost complete example of an Anglo-Saxon church. The building consists of a chancel and aisleless nave separated by square central tower. The east window with net like tracery dates from 1340. There is a "leper window" in the north wall. Seven "double-splayed" Saxon windows remain. The chancel arch and arch in west wall of the tower are 15th century. The tower houses four bells cast in late 16th and early 17th centuries. There is an Anglo Saxon inscription dating from reign of Ethelred II, and a badly mutilated Saxon rood with figures of Our Lady and Saint John.

Breamore Priory

Main article: Breamore Priory

The priory of Breamore was founded towards the end of the reign of Henry I by Baldwin de Redvers and Hugh his uncle, to whose descendants the advowson belonged. It was apparently visited by Richard II in 1384. Baldwin and Hugh de Redvers endowed their priory of Breamore with certain land in Breamore which formed the nucleus of the manor later known as Breamore Bulborn. Various donors added gifts of adjoining land which were merged in the manor.

On the dissolution of the priory in July 1536 the site was granted in November of that year with the manors of Breamore and Bulborn to Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter and his wife Gertrude. It then followed the descent of Breamore Bulborn, becoming merged in that manor.

Breamore House

Main article: Breamore House

Breamore House stands north-west of the church. The original house was a very fine late 16th-century building of brick and stone, but was unfortunately burnt in 1856. It was restored on the old lines, incorporating such of the old masonry as was left, and now from a short distance still resembles an Elizabethan building.[8]

Breamore stocks

The village stocks can be viewed by the A338 roadside. They were originally at the road junction, but are now opposite the Bat and Ball Hotel. They were restored after being badly damaged by a lorry. The stocks have a whipping post and horizontals with four leg holes. A modern roof has been erected over them.”

It’s not easy to stop near the old mill and bridge that span the River Avon, but well worth it. After the event, I’m also told that the best view of Breamore Mill, the Avon valley and the chalk hills beyond, and the river snaking through lush, green meadows; is to be had from high up on Castle Hill, almost 2 kilometres to the south-east of the village.

I also noticed a concrete structure that seemed out of place and now know that is was one of many WW2 pillboxes built to guard the valley.

On to Minstead. We can always rely upon Tom to find us the most direct yet slowest route to anywhere. We are using Tom this week as we are driving Drew’s car, having returned our rental car in Southampton. Our rental car was a brand new Vauxhall Astra Turbo with sat nav. Our satnav was called Prudence. She was very British, and also had a love of roads so country they were unsealed and on one occasion stopped at a dead end 1 mile from where we wanted to be, but 7 miles away by road. But that’s another story.

We drove through parts of the forest on narrow unsealed roads, then across grassland and finally through forest again before reaching Minstead on the far eastern edge of TNF. It was 1.30 and time for lunch.

Our AA Guide Book had mentioned that “The Trusty Servant” Inn was the place to go. Over the front door hangs John Hoskins 1579 painting of “The Trusty Servant” and on a side wall outside is the allegorical verse”

A trusty servant's picture would you see,
This figure well survey, who'ever you be.
The porker's snout not nice in diet shows;
The padlock shut, no secret he'll disclose;
Patient, to angry lords the ass gives ear;
Swiftness on errand, the stag's feet declare;
Laden his left hand, apt to labour saith;
The coat his neatness; the open hand his faith;
Girt with his sword, his shield upon his arm,
Himself and master he'll protect from harm.

Both are synonymous with Winchester College, which isn’t that far away, and “The Trusty Servant” is still the name of the colleges new letter. This is the same college I wrote about in 2017. The college with a great game of “Rugby/Football” called Winkies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_College_football
It is claimed that the painting and verse are the first example of a "job description".

The food at this Inn was highly rated in 1974. It’s still highly rated. It’s pub food. Nothing extraordinary on the memu. Wild Boar and Apple Sausages with onion jam, roasted root vegetables and double fried chips. Sensational chips and Ches said her French Fries were brilliant as well. Ches had her usual Crabbies Ginger Beer and I decided on an Apple Cider. Dry and slightly bitter. Great.

Apart from pretty thatched cottages, there isn’t anything outstanding other than the most peculiar church. Apart from the tower, it doesn’t look like a church. As the guide book says, it looks like a row of cottages. There is an explanation.

I really do recommend that you follow this link for one of the best descriptions of a church I have come across. It’s all the more significant because this has to be one of the most idiosyncratic churches I have ever seen. Can I tempt you with this:

All Saints is a 13th century church refurbished in the 17th century. The brick tower was built in 1774, but the rest is basically a parish church that nobody could afford to rebuild and so the more notable local families merely paid for new extensions, or pews as they were known, to be attached to the church to house their families, their staff and their tenants. There are three such additions, north of the nave is the Minstead Lodge Pew with its own private entrance, and nearby, the luxurious Castle Malwood pew complete with a fireplace and upholstered seating, giving it the look of a rather comfortable drawing room. Most remarkable is the spacious Minstead Manor pew once furnished with a sofa and even a table and chairs where refreshments could be served by their staff.


We knew that the grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was in the churchyard but didn’t have the detective nous to go in search of it. It appears that it is under a large tree in the churchyard. The only large tree we looked at had a hollow trunk with a rustic stick cross leaning inside it. It’s an ancient Yew tree that has one of its limbs propped up.

Because he was a believer in the spiritual world, they buried him at the back of the graveyard and the tree he was buried under was promptly struck by lightning. It appears that lightning struck twice because his wife had engraved “Faithful Husband” on his tombstone and had it removed when she discovered that he had had an affair.

Sir Arthur was originally buried in a vertical position in Crowborough and re-interred in Minstead by the family of his deceased first wife after the death of the second Lady Conan Doyle. I guess they wished they had left him where he was.

As I photographed the village, I noticed that the puddles were frozen and it was 3.30 pm. Enough was enough, home to a cold house … we had forgotten to put the heaters on.



100+ Posts
It was another freezing day in Southampton. -4c to 3c. We rugged up and walked the 20 minutes into the city to the Showcase cinema complex, next to the walls of the medieval town. What a contrast. Complete luxury cinemas.

We watched Stan and Ollie which was somewhat appropriate. Enjoyed it very much, particularly Steve Coogan's performance.

Drew was marking/assessing mid year performances of Southampton University music students at "The Brook". From 4:00 to 10:00, on the hour, a band would perform a 25 minute set. That's 7 bands. Not all students in each band were being assessed; sometimes just a couple or so. It involved 25 minutes of performance and then 20 minutes for Drew to write an assessment and meanwhile the next band would set up and complete a sound check.

We only needed ear plugs for the 2nd last act … “Heavy, Heavy Metal” Far too heavy! Took me back to the early 70’s when music used to hit you in the chest.

We joined him at 7:00 for the last 4 bands. It was great being with so many enthusiastic young people pursuing their passion. Having lived through Drew’s 20’s and 30’s, when he lived on the smell of an oily rag, released two fantastic albums that vanished without a trace but established himself as a gifted teacher and finally cracked the commissions for theater etc., we feel for young people working in the arts.

“The Brook” is a unique venue in that it’s survived for decades as a live music venue. The posters on the wall are a “time capsule” of R&B. Chris Farlow … remember “Out of Time” in 66.

If you’re ever in Southampton, check out who’s performing at “The Brook”




100+ Posts
We’ve been to Winchester twice before and I’ll post our reports from August 2017 later.

Once involved a 7 hour walk there from Southampton and the other with Cheryl coming down sick as we were barely into the historic town walk. We were determined to “SEE” Winchester this time. Guess what, we still didn’t. But what we saw was wonderful and it gives us an excuse to revisit …. again.

We learned so much about the church in Minstead from the “DineandDevine” website, that I decided to check out what they might have to say about any church in Winchester. We ended up with two to explore.

The “DineandDevine” site had said that when they found that they couldn’t see St Swithun’s Church, they decided to visit St Cross Norman Church and Hospital as it was just a few hundred yards down the road. I’m assuming that they drove from St Swithen to St Cross because it took us 20 minutes to walk. I also discovered when we reached the Church and Hospital, that I had photographed it from the top of St Catherine’s Hill when I climbed it in 2017. I’ll post the photograph because it illustrates the size and how it is hidden.

My advise to you. Plan on a half day to visit St Swithen Church (15 minutes), St Catherine’s Hill (2 hours) and St Cross Church (2 hours at least).

The 1st of the URL’s below is the most detailed description of the Church and Hospital that you could hope to find. It is buried so deep in the internet that it took me over an hour to find, and even then, it was only because someone else had linked to it. There is a very detailed laminated sheet inside the church that you can use when you get there, however you’d probably need 30 minutes to read it and figure out how to approach your exploration of the Church.




Ches and I were a little late in getting to Winchester (close to 11.00). We had decided that the Lower or Middle Brook Street car parks were the best option at L5.60 for 4 hours parking. Longer than that is around L15.00. We didn’t know that Friday is market day, however we only had to wait 10 minutes to get into the parking area.

It’s only a couple of hundred meters from the car park to High St, which is the main medieval street, now a mall, with lots of market stalls. After some shopping, we walked up to Southgate St, walked down until it became St Cross Road and continued on in the belief the Church was “just down the road”. Half an hour later, with assistance form a local, we reached our destination and were amazed.

Some have called the church a miniature cathedral, so it was larger than we had expected, but it was the size of the other buildings forming a large square that surprised us the most.

St Cross, officially The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, was founded by Bishop Henry of Blois in the 1132, making it the oldest almshouse in England still in use for its original purpose and arguably the oldest charity in the country.
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The 1130s in England were a time of enormous upheaval. Stephen of Blois and his cousin, the Empress Maud, both claimed the throne. The Civil War between Stephen and Maud plunged England into turmoil; villages were burned, crops destroyed, and armies ravaged the land. It was in this tumultuous time that the Bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois, was convinced to found his new hospital.

The story goes that Henry was walking by the Itchen Meadows when he met a peasant girl. She begged him to help the local families, who were starving. He was moved by the girl's plight, but eventually carried on with his walk. A little further along the river he found the crumbling ruins of a religious house, perhaps one destroyed in the Civil War. He resolved on the spot to found a new monastic house to care for the poor.

Is the story true? It could have happened, given the hardship caused to the local population by the war. Its mission was to provide accommodation for 13 poor men who were too ill to work. In addition, it was to provide food for 100 men at the gates each day. As Ches observed, for much of the time it has been charity for the elite class who have fallen on hard times. I guess they figured they deserved a roof over their head while the “street people” at the rate of 100 per day, could make do with a glass of wine and a loaf of bread.

Later, the Hospital also served as a waystation for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury or Southampton. One of the ways in which the Hospital met its mandate was to provide a "Wayfarer's Dole" (bread and ale) to travellers. The Wayfarer's Dole is still given to all who request it at the Porters Gate. More modern style refreshments can be had at the Hundred Men’s Hall. We missed out on the Men’s Hall however the current glass of beer and slice of bread was available. I was tempted however the Scottish lady at the Porters gate said that it would mean I would have to admit at some time to having been “on the dole”. As a Scot, she thought it would be shameful for me to have to admit that I had been “on the brew”. The dole in Scotland was also a glass of beer.

In 1446 the Hospital was expanded by Cardinal Beaufort, successor to William of Wykeham as Bishop of Winchester. The Cardinal's contribution was to found the Order of Noble Poverty, building the Almshouses to augment the existing Hospital buildings.

The church is the only part of the original 12th century hospital to survive. It was begun in 1135, shortly after the hospital was founded, and was built with stone brought from as far away as Caen, in Normandy.

We missed several features of the church; a cross is carved on a column in the north aisle, is angled so that light from a window in the north transept illuminates the cross on 3 May (Invention of the Cross day according to the traditional church calendar) and on 14 September (Holy Cross Day). We also missed seeing the carvings on the choir stalls. Choristers amazingly neat graffiti from centuries ago. We were so taken with the carvings on the backs and above the choirs stalls, that we forgot to look for the amateur’s works. Perhaps inspired by the real craftsmen, the young boys served an apprenticeship.

Many of the other buildings around the inner courtyard that gives shape to the Hospital date from the late medieval and Tudor period. These buildings comprise the medieval hall, kitchen, a second hall (now the tea room), and a Tudor cloister. They were either closed or we missed them. Another reason to return in 2020.

The Hospital still provides accommodation for a total of 25 elderly men, known as "The Brothers", under the care of "The Master". They belong to either of two charitable foundations: those belonging to the Order of the Hospital of St Cross (founded around 1132) wear black trencher hats and black robes with a silver badge in the shape of a Jerusalem cross, while those belonging to the Order of Noble Poverty (founded in 1445) wear claret trencher hats and claret robes with a silver cardinal’s badge in memory of Cardinal Beaufort. They are often referred to as the "Black Brothers" and the "Red Brothers". Brothers must be single, widowed or divorced, and over 60 years of age. Preference is given to those in most need and they are expected to wear their robes and attend daily morning prayers in the Church.

We didn’t see anyone other than the organist who played the entire time we were in the church and several stone masons working on what must be a permanent job, restoring all the stonework.

When we return in 2020, it will be summer and we’ll have a whole new perspective on the place … and time to read all of the background info.

Ches was concerned that we were running out of time. Time to visit St Swithuns and have lunch before the car had to be removed from the carpark at 3.00 pm.

It was a 20 min. walk to St Swithuns but only 10 minutes to look it over. The story of St Swithuns is possibly more interesting than the building itself. Actually, that’s not entirely true. To look at it from outside the wall, sitting above the Kingsgate, it isn’t all that obvious. Looked at from inside the wall, much more impressive but very small. Inside it is very plain, but that’s OK. It’s sitting there and reflecting on its history that brings it to life.

St Swithun upon Kingsgate is named after the original Anglo Saxon Bishop of the Cathedral. It was built in the Middle Ages in the Early English style. Located above the medieval Kingsgate, one of the principal entrances to the city, the church is unusual in forming a part of the fabric of the old city walls. St Swithun's first appears in 13th century records, and under the fictional name of St Cuthbert's, is mentioned in Anthony Trollope's novel The Warden.

The first mention of the church is recorded in 1264, when it was apparently burned by the citizens of Winchester during a dispute with the Priory. Most likely the church served as a chapel for lay people who worked for the Abbey. In 1337 some woodwork was done on the church, costing a total of fifteen shillings, and in 1484 the windows underwent repair.

St Swithun was an Anglo Saxon saint, born in Winchester and in 852 becoming the 19th bishop of the city. He died in 862 when King Alfred the Great was still a young man. It is possible that St Swithun was tutor to the young king, and accompanied him on a pilgrimage to Rome.

According to legend, St Swithun has a special association with the English weather, a legend which dates from July 971 when the bones of the saint were moved from outside the old Saxon cathedral and brought inside the building, apparently causing a great thunderstorm:

"On St Swithun's Day, if then dost rain,

For forty days it will remain:

St Swithun's Day, if then be fair,

For forty days 'twill rain nae mair."

St Swithun's Day is celebrated on 15 July.

In 1538 the Shrine of St Swithun in Winchester Cathedral was destroyed, and in 1539 the monastery was dissolved. St Swithun upon Kingsgate became a parish church. We notice that the east wall niche, which was empty. For such a small niche, it is surprisingly evident that it should hold something. It appears that it most likely once held a statue of St Swithun, which was probably destroyed around 1539.

By the 17th century the church had fallen into disrepair, and had become home to one Robert Allen, the porter of Kings Gate, and his wife, "who did and doth keep swine at ye ende of the Chapell". This reminded me of a friend who spent time in South Africa in the 1960’s and later complained that having helped build a church for a community she was offended when they used it as a barn for their cattle in winter.

The situation was improved around 1660 when the church was restored, its bells re-hung in 1677. It has remained a place of worship since that time.

St Swithun's appears in Anthony Trollope's novel The Warden, in which Warden Harding is appointed Rector of St Cuthbert's (a thinly disguised St Swithun's), after he has resigned from Hiram's hospital (most likely based upon the Hospital of St Cross). Writing in the 1850s, Trollope describes the church, in Chapter 21, as follows:

"The church is a singular little Gothic building, perched over a gateway, through which the Close is entered, and is approached by a flight of stone steps which leads down under the archway of the gate. It is no bigger than an ordinary room - perhaps twenty seven feet long by eighteen wide - but still a perfect church".

St Swithun's differs slightly from this description; the stairway is of wood, and is positioned to the right of the King's Gate in St Swithun Street, and not in the nearby gateway to the Close, (usually known as the Prior's Gate).

Today the King's Gate is maintained by the City of Winchester, while the duty of maintaining the church falls upon the parish of St Lawrence with St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate. The east window has some fragments of medieval stained glass, most likely depicting the Annunciation, which were brought in 1961 from St Peter's Church, Chesil. Entry to the church is via a narrow staircase, dating from the 1500s, accessible from St Swithun Street next to the right-hand arch of the three arches of the King's Gate.

My grandfather was Tom Colston Coggan, and my mother’s brother was Donald Coggan. The family were originally from Bristol and who knows where before the 1870’s. They desperately wanted to Claim Donald Coggan, Lord Coggan, formerly the Archbishop of Canterbury as family. Apparently he regularly attended the Church where he sometimes accompanied services, playing the piano, surely the only Archbishop ever to have done so. His funeral took place at St Swithun's on 26 May 2000, and he is commemorated there by his initials carved on a bench-end. I didn’t photograph it as it seemed inappropriate as I couldn’t prove the familial connection. Still, nice to know that some people appreciated simplicity rather than glory.

We repaired (note the literary affectation), to the Tea Rooms opposite the pub just spitting distance from the gate. Note the vulgar is still present. Having stripped off three layers of clothing, we read the menu and decided that we had made a bad choice. A very limited menu. It would have taken too long to re dress and cross the street.

It seems that the pub, tea rooms, wine shop, florist[gc1] and gift shop that make up all the commercial properties on the corner of a very entertaining intersection, belong to the same owner. That’s our only explanation for a guy coming across from the Pub to collect a slice of cake, our waitress making a trip across there, the elderly wine shop guy walking through an adjoining door and later a woman we had seen in the café arranging flowers out the front of the florist.

While outrageously expensive, we did receive exceptional service. $AUD11.00 for two small scones and $AUD7.00 for a hot chocolate seemed OTT. The scones were cheddar and mustard with butter and relish. Quite tasty. The Hot Chocolate was a large bowl with an accompanying jug of hot milk and another of hot water to top it up. Now I’ve never seen that before and as the chocolate tends to settle to the bottom of the cup, the extra milk was welcomed around half way through.

I’ve just finished a martini made for me by Keith, and feel that my literary prowess has reached new heights.

I’ll therefore conclude that we returned to the car park via the Westgate, photographed once again the Tudor buildings just inside the walls and the cathedrals buildings, passed the Market Square and out through the street markets to the car. Our route out of town took us past St Cross … it really is a long way on the outskirts of Winchester. Worth the walk however for all the fine Georgian architecture that line it for a mile or more.



100+ Posts
Sunday 28th January 2019

Southampton lies between the River Itchen in the east and the River Test to the west. The Port of Southampton is where they merge and form the Southampton Water. Given that this is the main cruise port of the UK, and the hundreds of thousands of people board their ships nearby, I’m staggered that so few people bother to make the walk around the Medieval Town Walls.

O.K., I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess the majority of people who go cruising are only interested in life on board, and “medieval” isn’t of much interest.

Ches and I walked the walls in 2017. Drew however pointed out that we were just four hours off a 24 hour journey from Sydney. We struggled to find some of the sections of the wall and medieval town and never did it justice.

This time, I set off on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon with all the fact sheets and maps in one hand and my camera in another. I videoed every feature and read the commentary as I went. The video will be sometimes shaky as I struggled to keep it aimed at a feature while holding a flapping piece of paper in my other hand and read the commentary. I also took photo’s of each feature and will post them with the commentary to this blog.

I started where everyone does, at the Bargate. So called because this was the main gate into the town from the north or landward side. A bar was lowered across the entrance, and on payment of the toll, you were admitted to the town. It looks as though the Bargate is the only remnant of the wall left however I found that the walls to the left when facing the gate (the east side) resume around 20 yards away as do the walls to the right, which contain the Arundal and Catchcpold towers on the western side.

The water came right up to the walls on the western side, closest to the port where the cruise ships dock. All the land for several hundred yards has been reclaimed in the 20th century, so it’s now roads, buildings and parks.

I’ll post all the photographs that correspond with the features of the old town. The Bargate is impressive both from the entrance side as well as the inside. It was meant to impress. After numerous attempts at establishing a town from Roman through to Viking days it was only under the Normans that it really took hold. It was such a prized location that for a thousand years, there were wave after wave of people who plundered it.

After 1066 when the Normans took control, it was defended by largely timber walls, and by 1175, a simple square stone tower had been built, and the arch completed. There was a ditch in front of the gate with a bridge over it and ramparts on either side. Between 1260 and 1290, the ramparts were replaced by a stone wall. The problem had always been that there isn’t any stone close to Southampton. There is stone on the Isle of Wight, which is at the entrance to Southampton Waters, so ships were offered a reduction of their fees if they landed with stone on board.

Round drum-towers were built on either side of the gateway and a hall was constructed on the first floor. The façade between the towers was added by 1420, with battlements and machicolations2. The ditch was filled in 1771, when the road through the Bargate was paved. The shields were added in the 17th and 18th Centuries, showing crests of the families who ruled Southampton at the time; the shields of St George and St Andrew were also added at this time.

On either side of the Bargate are two lions, reflecting the local legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton, the mythical founder of Southampton. The first lions were put up in 1522, when the Bargate was decorated for the visit of King Charles V of Spain. The original wooden lions were replaced by the current lead lions in 1743. There were also two painted panels hung on either side of the gateway showing Sir Bevis and Ascupart, which are now preserved inside.

On the south side of the Bargate are three archways, a statue of George III dressed as the Roman Emperor Hadrian, made in 1809, and a sundial from 1705. There is also a 17th Century bell, which would be rung in times of emergency. The Bargate was a toll gate, and every cart carrying goods into and out of Southampton had to pay a tax. Inside the Bargate can be found the remains of a cell, as the Bargate's hall was used as a courtroom, until the Magistrate's Court at the Civic Centre was built.

From the Bargate, I walked to the west where the walls resume and on the north western corner is Arundel Tower. It was built in 1290. It is 60 feet high, and was named after either Sir Bevis' horse Arundel or Sir John Arundel, who was a Governor of the town's castle. It was also nicknamed 'Windwhistle Tower'. As there were insufficient troops to effectively man the walls, each of the Guilds had a duty to maintain and defend part of the wall. Arundel tower and the nearby walls were the responsibility of the Shoemakers, Curries, Saddlers and Cobblers Guild. There is a gun tower adjoining the tower, which was built in Tudor times.

Because various crafts were located in defined geographic areas within the town, it was easiest to make the guilds accept responsibility for maintaining the walls and towers and also man them when under attack. Most of the metal working guilds were responsible for the eastern sections of the walls.

50 meters past Arundel tower is Prince Edward Tower, built in the early 1400s specifically to carry cannon. It is believed to have some of the earliest gun ports in the country. Prince Edward Tower was also known as Catchcold Tower, and was the last part of the town wall to be used in the defence of Southampton during the second world war. Just south of Catchcold Tower lies a set of steps. This is Forty Steps, which were built in 1853 and led down from the wall to the sea. From here people could walk along the shore to the southern end of town. All along this area, the river Itchen lapped against the walls, until a small promenade was built in the first half of the 19th Century. At the top of the stairs is a row of houses called Forest View, as it used to look over the water to the New Forest. It was in this area that Jane Austen lived between 1806 and 1809. In the 1800’s Southampton was a resort town rather than a port.

Sadly, very little remains of the castle; but it was once quite splendid. By 1153, a motte and bailey castle with a timber palisade had been built; and the palisade was soon replaced by a stone curtain wall. The castle included bridges, quarters for visiting royalty, the castle quay, and a shell keep. Many of its citizens were wealthy merchants; and one of them, Gervase le Riche, paid a lot of King Richard I's ransom after his Crusades. Sadly by 1286, the Castle was described as ruinous, and had been of no use in the repeated French attacks on the port. Richard II ordered repairs, fearing more French attacks. The tower was rebuilt in a cylindrical design, much taller than before.

Richard the Lionheart spent his only Christmas in England as king at Southampton Castle in 1194 (many of England's monarchs including Henry II, Henry V and Queen Elizabeth I often stayed in Southampton Castle); yet by the end of the 16th Century, the castle had started to fall into decay. In 1804, the ruin was bought by the Marquis of Lansdowne, who used the stone to build his gothic house. This was demolished in 1818 and by 1902, commercial development had removed the last traces of the motte. A block of flats now stands on the area.

There are some remains of the castle - part of the outer bailey wall survives - and along the outer wall by the sea, there is Castle Watergate and Castle Vault, leading from what was Castle Quay. It was through Castle Watergate, a gateway defended by portcullis, that Royal passengers entered the castle, and it was also from here that the king's cargo was unloaded and stored into Castle Vault. There were actually two vaults, the other being under Castle Hall. The surviving vault was built in 1193 and is 55 feet long, 20 feet wide and 25 feet high. It is the only part of the castle to remain intact. It was closed on Sunday because it had been flooded. I also read that it was where Edward 111 stored all his wine. Because all French wine was imported though Southampton, the king levied a tax, payable in wine which he stored in The Castle Vault. In 1338, a French fleet manned by Genoese sailors attacked while everyone was in church on the Sunday morning. They mascaraed hundreds who were in the church closest to the walls on the western side and emptied the kings storeroom.

At the southern end of the tower lies the Garderobe (toilet) Tower. This was built in 1252, and was three floors high. It was said to be one of the best flushing toilets of its time. On the first floor there was a long, narrow room with a row of seats where one could discuss last evening's supper with friends, as the waste fell into the latrine channel below. It was then flushed out by the rising and falling tide. Sadly, only the latrine channel remains.

I found a narrow set of stairs between modern buildings beside the Garderobe and decided that there was a good chance that it would lead to the Tudor House. No it didn’t, however a little further along the walls, I discovered the Blue Anchor Lane. When the warehouses were incorporated into the walls and their doors bricked up, much of the produce would have had to be carted up this lane, into the town. At the top is Tudor House, which is now a museum. I photographed the Tudor House and the square where there are also other Tudor houses, and then walked back down the stairs to the outside of the walls and the Arcades.

South of the Castle lies the Arcades. There are, in fact, two layers of medieval wall. This is because the most recent wall has been built onto the walls of earlier houses belonging to wealthy merchants; and it also is the only example in England of machicolated arcades. After the French Raid of 1338, Edward III ordered a town wall to be built but the merchants were unwilling to lose their sea front warehouses. They resisted for a long time; yet by 1380, they were forced to build a wall on the front of the houses, incorporating the houses into the wall. This was a compromise, as the merchants kept their sea front properties, and the king's wall was finally completed. The remains of one of the early houses, built in 1160 and known as 'King John's Palace', can be entered through the Tudor House museum off of St Michael's Square. It’s basically the original stone walls and staircases, with no roof.

At the end of the Arcades is an area that was known as the West Quay, and was the busiest part of Southampton. The Quay stretched out into the river Test, where ships unloaded their cargo. This was still part of the shore until the 1920s, when land was reclaimed to build the western docks. Imported goods from all over Europe were unloaded in the area, including wine. Wool was the main export commodity to depart from here. It was from this quay that the Pilgrim Fathers actually left Southampton to go to America in 1620, in the Mayflower and Speedwell; however, due to the Speedwell's poor condition, it was abandoned at Plymouth, and the Mayflower travelled to America alone.

The Westgate was built in 1380, and was the only access to the Quay from the town. Inside the gate was a double portcullis; 'murder holes', where weapons can be dropped from above; and cannon. The angled gun ports are quite rare in England. This gate was the second most important in the town, after the Bargate. It was through this gate that Edward III and his bowmen left for France and the Battle of Crecy in 1346; and in 1415 Henry V passed through with his troops to embark on the second largest fleet ever assembled at Southampton en route for France and the Battle of Agincourt. Only the fleet assembled for D-Day was bigger. The Pilgrim Fathers also passed through this gate.

It's also where the Cloth Hall was relocated and renamed Westgate Hall.

In medieval times it was not uncommon for a building to be pulled down – or taken apart – and re-erected elsewhere. Westgate Hall is one of the few buildings in Britain for which such a move is documented, and even rarer still, there is some indication of its history prior to its move in 1634.

The date of the original erection of the building in St Michael’s Square, not far from its present position, is unknown and it is quite possible that by the first mention of the building in 1428 it was already 20 or 30 years old. Excavations in St Michael’s Square in July of 1986 suggest that the original position of the building was at an angle to St Michael’s Church, and on land which is now partly covered by later extensions to the church. Some evidence was also found to suggest that three of the open arcades were part of a solid stone wall, with the remaining open structure supported by wooden posts.

It was used as a cloth hall upstairs and an open arcade underneath for the fish market. Until the late 17th century, the whole of St Michael’s Square was called The Fish Market.

All woollen cloth brought into the town by merchants who were not resident in Southampton had to be stored and sold at the cloth hall. The hall was leased out to a townsman who, in return for managing the building, would claim all the dues and payments for the sales and storage. In the early 16th century, the Town Council had difficulties in finding someone to run the hall and so the restrictions on imported cloth were relaxed and the building fell into the possession of the Bakers Guild. By 1552 the restrictions were reintroduced but due to unreliable keepers, the hall began to fall into increasing decay.

The fish market remained in St Michael’s Square until the reign of Elizabeth I, when it spilled over into the High Street. Here it remained, despite objections, until 1770.

By 1632 the cloth hall was in such a state that it would not stand for much longer, so the Town Council decided to sell it to an Alderman on the provision that he would take it down and rebuild it elsewhere. In 1634 the hall was sold to Alderman Edward Exton for 20 marks (£13.33). At the same time Alderman Exton leased an area of land by the Westgate. A condition of the lease was that he had to build a warehouse on the site and it is believed that he ordered the demolition of the cloth hall in St Michael’s Square, and its re-erection as a warehouse at Westgate, with the open arcade filled in to provide a closed hall.

The warehouse stayed in the hands of the Exton family until 1687, when a senior mariner, David Widell, bought the building and adjacent garden plot. By the 18th century the West Key was owned by the town shipwrights and in 1725 the warehouse was bought by a shipwright called George Rowcliff. The building remained under the ownership of shipwrights, but in the hands of the Marot family, until 1890. It is quite possible that during this time the building was used as a cottage.

The council then reclaimed ownership of the building, which acted as a museum store and workshop until 1975 when the hall was taken apart and first renovated, before starting a new lease of life as a public lecture theatre. In 2009 the building was restored as part of the Tudor House and Garden project, funded by the city council, the Friends of Southampton’s Museums, Archives and Gallery, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other donors.

Still inside the walls, continued south and east into Cuckoo Lane which is no longer obvious a lane but more a path. Wealthy merchants lived on Cuckoo Lane in the 1200’s, however their houses were demolished and the walls extended after the 1338 French raid.

This lead me to the Wool House. At this point, I like you was in need of a loo break …. and a coffee. Did I say it was cold and windy. Loo and coffee.

The Wool House was probably built in the late 13th century. According to some sources, the Wool House was built by the orders of the monks at Beaulieu for use as a secure wool store. It is also said the building and financing of the Wool House was enabled by Thomas Middleton, a prominent and wealthy merchant and mayor of Southampton. He also built a large crane next to it to lift heavy cargo. The Wool House was ideally located right on the quayside so the wool could be easily loaded onto the ships. Wool from all over England was transported to Southampton for shipment to Flanders and Italy.

During the 16th century the export of wool and hides declined and finished cloth made by Huguenot weavers became more popular. Eventually the Wool House became a store for Alum, an anti-bacterial agent that was used as a fixative in dying fabric. It was also used in the process of tanning hides.

The Wool House was also used as prison for captives from the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century. The names Francois Dries and Thomas Lasis and the date 1711 are engraved into a stone window surround on the upper floor. There are also other names carved into the wooden beams.

Later in the 18th century and early 19th century French prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars were held captive in the Wool House. Some of them carved their names into the beams of the roof. Some also spent their time carving model ships out of bleached meat bone and making the rigging out of their own hair. These magnificent works of art are also known as scrimshaws.

During the 1850s the building was used as a warehouse by John Bennett, a corn and seed merchant, who was a commission agent for the Hanoverian and Hanseatic Consul.
Around 1904 it was occupied by the Carron Company who were manufacturers for warship cannons but also produced household equipment by then.
From around 1908 to the mid1920s, the Wool House was turned into a workshop for a Marine Engineering Company owned by Edwin Moon senior. His son Edwin Rowland Moon, an aviation pioneer who served in the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force during the First World War, built his famous monoplane, the Moonbeam in the Wool House.
From 1925 the Wool House was used as a warehouse by several hauling companies and the Itchen Transport Company.

In the early 1960s the building was restored by Southampton City Corporation and adapted to house the Southampton Maritime Museum, which opened in June 1966 and moved to the new SeaCity Museum in 2012.

The Wool House is a Grade I listed building. After extensive renovation and refurbishment it is now the home of the “Dancing Man”, which newly opened as a brew house and pub in February 2015.

Sadly, most of the south wall was demolished in 1804. However, the Watergate survives, which was built halfway along the south wall. Next to Watergate, is the ruins of a building known as Canute's Palace. It was built for a merchant in the late 1100s, long after Canute had died. Nevertheless, as probably the oldest Norman period building in the town, it’s worth more than a passing reference in the guide books. It’s also probably appropriate to start calling it by it’s name prior to the romanticism of Canute as the “Long House”.

The Watergate was the main entrance onto Town Quay. It was built immediately after the raid in 1338, and had a large drum-shaped tower on its western side. Town Quay, built in 1411, was equipped with a crane, and, like the Bargate, the Watergate had a charge on all imports and exports. In 1403 and again in 1438, the tower was leased for the annual rent of one red rose - though the leasees were responsible for the repair of the building and its defense in time of war.

I walked down the lane behind, God's House Gate and Tower, which lies at the south east corner of the town. There was scaffolding everywhere. Having seen it before, I didn’t bother to walk around outside the walls as it would be under scaffolding as well.

They were named after the nearby Hospice of God's House, the Maison Dieu, which was built by Gervase le Riche in 1196 for the use of pilgrims journeying from France to visit the tomb of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. Only the gateway and St Julien's chapel, named after the patron saint of pilgrims, survive. The gateway was built in the late 1200s, and was originally very small; it was known as the Saltmarsh gate, as it led to the marshlands to the east of the town. After the 1338 French Raid, it was extended and a tower was built alongside it. The Gate was defended by portcullis, and in 1377, it was extended south in order to carry cannon.

Just outside the gateway is the Old Bowling Green, the oldest bowling green in the world dating back to at least 1299.

God's House Tower is a two storey building with a three storey tower, running alongside the gateway. It was built in 1417, and was one of the earliest forts built specifically to carry cannon. Here the town's cannon and powder were stored and from the top of the tower a lookout could keep watch for invaders. The tower also guarded the sluices that controlled the sea water, which flowed into the town ditches along the eastern side of the town. Since 1961, it has held the City's Museum of Archaeology7.

I turned to walk on the inside of the Eastern Walls. Not much of the Eastern walls survive, except for a small part between God's House Gate and the Friary. This part of the wall was built after the French raid of 1338. North of God's House Gate and Tower stands the Half Round tower, built on the site of an old dove-cote.

Heading north along the walls, on the left is the site of Southampton's Franciscan Friary. The Franciscans came to Southampton in 1233 and settled the poorer side of town, the better to care for the poor and sick. When Nicholas de Barbfleet, Lord of Shirley, died in 1290, the Friars were given a spring that arose in the grounds of his manor. The friars built conduits that carried the water to the people of Southampton. By pure coincidence, the spring supplying the water is near where Drew and Keith live in Hill Lane. Don’t be deceived by the name “Lane”. It is a lane, just wide enough for traffic in both directions, however it is one of the main streets into Southampton and in peak hour is choked with traffic and even worse of Saturdays.

The Friary was closed by Henry VIII in 1538, during the Dissolution. When the town wall on this side was built, the Friary was cut off from its orchards... and from many of the poor. In 1373, they were allowed to build a gateway through the wall, on condition they defended it. They used cannon and you can see a gun port on either side of the door.

The next tower north is the remains of the Reredorter, which was the Friar's toilet, built in 1291. The only access was through the Friar's Dorter or bedroom. The Reredorter projected over the wall, and the waste dropped into the drain below to be washed away by the Town Ditch tidal water. The ditch on the Eastern side followed the walls almost as far as the Bargate, and was built before 1225.

Most of the eastern walls, towers and gateways north of the Friary were demolished as the town grew. The Eastgate, one of the earliest gates in the medieval town (along with the Bargate), was built around 1110 and demolished in 1774. It was originally just a free-standing tower with a gateway through it and ramparts on either side. The first stretch of wall linking it to the Bargate was built around 1260 and finished 30 years later. It was the responsibility of the Guild of Goldsmiths, Blacksmiths, Locksmiths, Pewterers and Tinkerers. The gateway led to St Mary's Church, half a mile away. The first Church of St Mary, built around 634 AD, was the church of the Saxon town of Hamwih. There have been six churches of St Mary on the site; the most recent was completed in 1955, after the previous church was destroyed in the Blitz.

The very north east corner of the walls was defended by Polymond Tower. This was a very strong drum tower, originally known as St Deny's Tower. It was enlarged during the reign of Richard II, and renamed Polymond after the Mayor of Southampton. A wall ran directly to the Bargate to the west, and contained two small interval towers. The original arrow holes were converted into gun ports in the 1380s.

In 1769, York Gate was cut into the wall halfway between Polymond tower and the Bargate. Unfortunately, it was not well built and it was necessary to demolish it in 1961. Try as I might, I couldn’t locate the York Gate. A major building project is underway between the Bargate and the north eastern corner and the walls are covered in scaffolding and are going to be incorporated into the new buildings. I Assume the York Gate in somewhere there.

As promised, I returned home by 3.00 pm to be ready for Drews concert that night.

Tim W

100+ Posts
Thanks - marvelous report - I've learn't loads, and I have lived 20 minutes drive (2.5 hours walk if I am feeling energetic) from Winchester for nearly two decades.


Forums Admin
Great trip report!

I didn’t know about that Rockbourne Roman Villa! We are only an hour from New Forest. We will go see it.

Yes, several lovely thatched houses along the base.

I live in a thatch house, but a modern build (15 yrs old) and not as beautiful as those you photographed. They are stunning!

St Swithun's appears in Anthony Trollope's novel The Warden, in which Warden Harding is appointed Rector of St Cuthbert's

I was thinking of that book when reading your description. We’ve only been to Winchester once, to see Jane Austen’s grave, but must visit again!

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