The Winchester Trip

First published in ELPAN No.1

The LPA trip to Winchester proved to be an eminent success. Six of us met up at Waterloo station at10:00 am. Soon we were speeding through the suburbs of South West London embroiled in various discussions. Our pamphlet The Great Conjunction had been picked up from the printers the night before, so those who had not seen it had a chance to peruse it. When we arrived at Winchester we noticed the large stone placed outside the railway station, and posed for photographs around it.
Our first port of call was the Great Hall, where there is an enormous Round Table attached to the wall. We also ventured through to the little garden at the back of this hall. As we walked down into the town we tried to take a photograph of the rose which adorned the centre of a square outside the magistrates court. A policeman promptly came out and informed us that it fell within an area in which photography was banned.
We proceeded to the Buttery Cross. Two children had climbed up it and were walking around the upper ledge. We gave their parents a copy of our booklet,and proceeded to the cathedral. On the way we stepped into the church ofSt Lawrence, as the Bishop is obliged to, when proceeding to his inauguration.
It was interesting that this church was dedicated to the same Saint as featured prominently in the cave at Roisia's Cross, along with St. Catherine, of whom more latter. It did not take long to look over this small church, and soon we were in front of the much more impressive Cathedral. On the ground to the north is the outlines of the previous cathedral.
Once inside, there are several local people who are only too happy to step forward and tell visitors about the building and its history. Placed centrally, underneath the tower is the tomb of William Rufus. Around this central area there is a screen upon which are ancient chests which contain the bones of various old monarchs of England, primarily Saxon.
There is a chantry dedicated to Bishop Wykeham, the founder of the college, a collection of paintings of various monarchs, some of which were defaced during the commonwealth, and a Lady Chapel which had some pictures connected with Eton College.
We moved on to the Wykeham Arms, a nearby pub named after William of Wykeham. Here we met the seventh member of our party who had driven down from the Midlands. This was a relief because we could now put our camping gear in their car.
We then made a tour of the college as twilight descended. In the unlit chapel, the gloom helped rekindle the atmosphere of the gloomy middle ages which had given birth to this institution.We also toured the cloisters which surround a separate chantry in the middle,a unique architectural feature. Wavell is buried here.
It had started to rain and two of our party decided to return to London.A third had met up with an old friend and had decided to while away sometime in conversation. This meant that the four remaining intrepid adventures could readily fit in the car, and set of for St. Catherine's Hill. Unfortunately we turned the wrong way on the Winchester Bypass and had to negotiate several traffic jams till we got were we wanted to be.
Having parked the car we had to walk along the verge in the rain and dark avoiding the scud from passing lorries. After scrambling down the embankment we found a tunnel under the road, thus making it unnecessary for us to cross the bypass. We scrambled up the muddy hill, and found the clump at the top and then the maze. We traced our way into the maze and then rested in the middle.
At 7:49 a firework rocket was set off in the valley below from the vicinity of the Water Meadows near the college. We do not know who did this, nor exactly why. However we considered it connected with our own exploits. We then took another of our party back to the railway station, as they did not want to camp overnight. The car keys had been locked inside the car,but with a bit of ingenuity we were able to get in.
Thanks to a delayed train he bumped into our comrade who had been catching up on old times with their friend, and so had company on the journey back. After sampling some ale in a local pub, the remaining trio returned to St.Catherine's Hill to camp overnight. The weather had cleared up and in the morning we were greeted by bright sunshine.
The pamphlet The Great Conjunction is available for £2 (+ 30p Postage and packing) from Unpopular Books, Box 15,
138 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2NS

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