Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014
July 3, 2014 -- Day 18, Stockbridge to Winchester
several people told me that one day was not enough time to explore Winchester,
I decided to take a bus from Stockbridge to Winchester. I checked into my Winchester
hotel early, left my backpack in my room, and went touring. Tomorrow I’ll take
one or two guided walking tours of the city; today I toured Winchester Cathedral
and the Winchester Great Hall.
Cathedral dates from 1089 when William the Conqueror built it as a symbol to
his power. Parts of it actually date back to King Alfred’s time in 871 AD, but
William generally dismantled Alfred’s work and used the stone as part of his cathedral.
Perhaps the most notable person buried there is Jane Austen, who was little
recognized during her lifetime. She died in 1817, and her works were not
generally recognized until the end of that century
Cathedral is also the resting place of the Winchester Bible, a multi-volume work
handwritten by a monk in the 12th century. Apparently it’s an
important book, but I couldn’t read it because it’s written in Latin. What
impressed me most about the book is that the ink hasn’t faded over all these years,
and it’s not as if it was hermetically sealed. When I asked about the ink, the
docent said the ink’s dye came from bugs ground into powder. I’ll remember that
the next time I sweep up a dead cockroach.
Great Hall is the only surviving part of Winchester Castle (also dating from
William the Conqueror), and was the center of court and government. Hanging on
the wall for over 700 years is The Round Table, associated with King Arthur. It
weighs something like 1½ tons, and was supported by 12 sturdy legs. Apparently
it ceased to be used as a table about the time Camelot collapsed. Later, Henry
VIII had his own image painted on it, along with the names of his knights.
Round Table hung on wall
Interior of Great Hall
all for today’s history lesson. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to relate some other
legends of historical Winchester.