Winchester College Publication A Winchester Walk - Page 20

A Winchester Walk 20
Guildhall .
Butter Cross .
Returning to the left of the West Front , you will see on the ground dark-coloured bricks that mark out the foundations of the Old Minster ( begun in 648 ), an important Saxon church , then a cathedral from the 660s , and the first burial site of Alfred the Great . Poor Alfred has not been left to rest – his bones have been moved twice , possibly three times , since he died in 899 . Their current location is disputed .
North of the Cathedral is Morley College , originally a 17th-century building , rebuilt in 1880 as a house for widows of the clergy of Winchester and Worcester . Turn right here ( just before the William Walker ), and staying within the Close , walk past the Wessex Mercure Hotel , aggressively 1960s in its concrete and brick , then left down Paternoster Row . Take a left at Colebrook Street , then right at The Broadway , past the high-Victorian Guildhall ( inspired by the Cloth Hall at Ypres ), then castellated Abbey House , official residence of the Mayor of Winchester , before stopping in front of Hamo Thornycroft ’ s enormous 1901 statue of King Alfred the Great , the ‘ Founder of the Kingdom and Nation ’ according to the plaque beneath . He stands on two Cornish granite boulders weighing 103 tons , and his pose commands the city , but he would not recognise much of modern Winchester : almost all of its Saxon predecessor lies buried in foundations beneath your feet , or has been recycled by later builders .
The weathered information sign to the right of the statue carefully suggests that Winchester ‘ was his capital ’ rather than the ‘ capital city of
King Alfred the Great , Hamo Thorneycroft .
England ’, as is ( misleadingly ) often stated . Saxon and later kings lived a peripatetic existence until London claimed the ‘ capital ’ title centuries later . However , Alfred remains Winchester ’ s most celebrated son , and his street plan , or at least one he would have been familiar with , mostly survives .
Turning back up the Broadway , the Abbey Gardens to your left is a good place to stop and rest before climbing the gentle slope of the High Street , past commercial shops in buildings of a bewildering mix of styles ; then past the early 15th-century Butter Cross , so called because it