Walk completed August 16, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014 -- Day 18, Stockbridge to Winchester

After 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.

Winchester 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

Winchester Cathedral

Cathedral Interior

The 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.

The 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

That’s all for today’s history lesson. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to relate some other legends of historical Winchester.

© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. So you got me singing the Beatles song....Always nice to see history right before your eyes. Impressive round table, surprised to see it hanging.
    Enjoy your sight seeing tour.

  2. Jennifer is a graduate of King Alfred's College in Winchester (B.Ed). We used to live in Southampton, which is south of you by a day's walk along the River Itchen. Less itchy and very pretty are the villages east of Winchester. I am sure your own research has uncovered what's good.