Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pilgrimage to Winchester

This Saturday a group of students decided to forgo a trip to Paris, but instead went to the City to Winchester, home to the Winchester Cathedral, the Wolvesey Castle ruin, and the house where Jane Austen spent her last days. We also travelled paths to the Hospital of St. Cross, reenacting a pilgrimage of sorts, to this Medieval church to receive the Wayfarer’s Dole of bread and beer.
                  First the group visited the Great Hall, the only surviving building of Winchester Castle. Inside hangs a large round table, reportedly associated with the legendary King Arthur. After walking through a ruin of the Castle cellar/dungeon we visited the monument to King Alfred the Great. Alfred the man, created his capital at Winchester, and was the Saxon light during the Danish invasions and eventual settlement during England’s creation after the Roman legions are withdrawn.
                  Afterwards we carried on to the ruins of Wolvesey Castle, along the way we passed by the house that Jane Austen died in, sadly the house is a residence, and so we could not enter. Following that we encountered the ruins of the Castle, and spent our time examining and exploring the ruins of the site and going through all the rooms and trying to imagine what the site would have looked like if the castle were still standing in all of its grandeur.
                  Eventually we then took a nearby path to the water meadows that led to the Hospital of St. Cross. A place that Medieval travelers could go and receive the Wayfarer’s Dole (a meal of bread and beer, courtesy of the brothers at the church), the only downside to the visit was that the church was being used for a wedding, which gave us more time to look at the beautiful garden on the grounds. The whole experience sort of had the feel of going back in time and reliving the events of a medieval pilgrimage. And to finish the excursion we visited the Cathedral at Winchester and got a great taste of history, and gothic art. The excursion could be called a quick step back into the past and a fast glance into the mind of a pilgrim, and a little bit like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, since we were quite a nice sized group, but all in all it was a good day and interesting as well. 
Evan Heib

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