Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Trip to Winchester

Saturday's spring sunshine lured us out, in the afternoon, to Winchester for a mixture of shopping and sight-seeing. View of the High Street through the West Gate.

Unfortunately the West Gate wasn't open so we couldn't enjoy the views from the roof top. Instead we explored the Castle Passageways, or Sally Port and The Great Hall, the only two parts of the 13th century castle that are still intact. A castle has stood on this site since the time of William the Conqueror (1066 - 1087). The Great Hall that remains today was built around 1222 - 1235. More history about the Great Hall can be found here.
The Round Table dates from between 1250 and 1280 and was painted in its present form for King Henry VIII. It is inscribed " This is the round table of Arthur with 24 of his named knights". It is 18 feet in diameter, weighs one ton and four hundredweight and is made from 121 pieces of oak. The Great Hall has also been used as a court and Sir Walter Raleigh was tried and sentenced to death here in 1603. Despite a guilty verdict, King James spared Raleigh's life and imprisoned him in the Tower of London until 1616. More info can be found here. The main windows of The Great Hall date from the second half of the 14th century and depict the arms of famous people and portraits of Kings associated with Hampshire. These photos are of just two of the main windows.
The 19th century painting on this wall shows the names of Hampshire members of Parliament from 1283 - 1886.
These stainless steel gates were built by Anthony Robinson to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The wall, originally the outer wall of the castle, is 10 feet thick.
A close-up of the wall paintings.

Our visit was particularly atmospheric due to an event being held in The Great Hall. The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff was being played. It is a recording of forty separate voices, played back through forty individual speakers, singing "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis. It is sung by Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Here is a snippet, please excuse the poor quality of the video.

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