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The main quadrangle, Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, southern England by Philip Mitchell

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The main quadrangle, Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, southern England by 

The Hospital of St Cross, England’s oldest continuing almshouse, comprises a group of grade I listed medieval and Tudor buildings, including this medieval hall and tower, Tudor cloister, Norman church, and gardens reflecting a seventeenth century connection with North America.

The term “Hospital” has the same origin as the word “hospitality”: for over 850 years St Cross has provided food and shelter to people in need, in the Christian tradition of caring for the less fortunate. It has been home to the Master and Brethren of St Cross since medieval times: there are presently 25 Brothers. Visitors can still receive the Wayfarer’s Dole, a horn of beer and a morsel of bread, given freely to anyone who requests it.

In this view north across the main quadrangle we see the chimneys of the Brothers’ apartments on the left. These date back to the fifteenth century. They are arranged on several staircases; on each staircase there are two apartments on the ground floor and two above, in much the same way as in the oldest Oxford and Cambridge colleges. There is one chimney stack for each staircase.

Typically, each apartment has a sitting room, bedroom, kitchen, shower-room and separate WC. The little flats are unfurnished and each Brother usually provides his own furniture. However, in cases of extreme poverty the Hospital can sometimes help with the provision of some furniture if needed.

In the centre is the 15th century Brethren’s Hall where the Master and Brothers gathered and ate over many hundreds of years. Almost all of its original interior features can still be seen today: the central hearth where a charcoal fire used to burn, the stairs leading from the Master’s lodging, the raised platform where he took his meals and the fine musician’s gallery above the entrance. Though no longer used every day, special events and certain feast days in the Church year are still celebrated here. The Victorian kitchen, meat room and cellar are also open for public viewing. These were probably all in daily use when Keats made his walks out to St Cross from Winchester during his stay in 1819.

On the right is the Beaufort Tower over the gateway that leads into the main quadrangle. Keats mentions a “gothic tower” at St Cross: was he referring to this one, or the magnificent tower of the church?

The paths that criss-cross the quadrangle in such a visually intriguing way help the brethren to get from their apartments to all the important rooms in the complex and to the main gate.

I am based near Winchester in mid-Hampshire (UK) and have enjoyed photographing a wide variety of subjects for over 40 years, though the digital revolution has been a real boon.

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  • PhotosByG
    PhotosByGover 4 years ago

    Congratulations! Your photo has been featured in “A Garden somewhere…..”

    This photo was chosen because it was of a very high quality and it captured exactly the sort of work we are looking for in this group.

    Please keep up the great work and we hope you continue to add more of your excellent photographs to this group.

  • Many thanks for this, it is much valued. Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

  • Polly x
    Polly xover 4 years ago

  • How nice to have a welcome for an image! Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

  • Marie Sharp
    Marie Sharpover 4 years ago

    Congratulations On Your Feature!

    Your Country’s Best

  • This great honour is much valued: thank you. I have donated use of this image to the Hospital, and I am delighted that it has now been turned into a postcard. I hope it makes a few pounds for the charity. Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

  • artisandelimage
    artisandelimageover 4 years ago

    congratulations for your feature in Your Country’s Best group !!!
    my best, francis.

  • How kind of you to take the trouble to say so: many thanks. Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

  • Matt Jones
    Matt Jonesover 4 years ago

    Congratulations on your feature.

  • Many thanks for saying so. Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

  • rocamiadesign
    rocamiadesignabout 4 years ago

  • … and thank you for adding this to your favourites. Philip

    – Philip Mitchell

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