Visit to Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester
Date: 10th April 10
Location: St. Cross Road, Winchester, SO23 9SD
Contact: Rodney Thring
Phone: 01276 20725
Group: Archaeology and Heritage
Following on from our rewarding visit to Aylesford Priory last year, we are visiting another site of cloistered calm and serenity, but this time founded over 800 years ago as an almshouse to support the poor.
The Hospital of St. Cross, standing alongside the water meadows of the River Itchen on the outskirts of Winchester, is England's oldest continuing almshouse, having been founded in 1135 to support 13 poor men and to feed 100 local people per day. The current residents belong to two secular orders - the original foundation (Brothers of St. Cross) and the Order of Noble Poverty (founded 1445), distinguished by their black and claret robes respectively. Being a secular foundation it escaped dissolution under Henry VIII, despite being quite wealthy. The Wayfarers Dole, a small beaker of beer and a morsel of bread, is still provided on request to visitors.
The church, now the parish church, is a survival from the earliest buildings, and is remarkable in its own right. It is almost completely Norman, with much zig-zag carving and other period features, with the Transitional period between Norman and Gothic architecture well represented.
The mediaeval Brethren's House is the oldest surviving part of the almshouse, containing many original features. Most buildings are mediaeval and Tudor, and are arranged around two Tudor quadrangles (cloisters). There are also lovely gardens, including the garden of the Master of the Brethren of St. Cross.
We will be meeting at the site around 1030 (to be confirmed). There is a standard entry charge of £3.50 per person (£2.50 for senior citizens).