Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St Cross Hospital Winchester

Set in open meadow land to the south of Winchester, the Hospital of St Cross was founded in the 1130´s by Bishop Henry of Blois for `thirteen poor men, feeble and so reduced in strength that they can scarcely or not at all support themselves without other aid´. The hospital was placed under the care of the Knights of St John, and the thirteen Brothers of this foundation still wear black gowns and a badge depicting the Jerusalem Cross.

The Hospital, which is England's oldest continuing almshouse, comprises a group of grade I listed medieval and Tudor buildings, including a medieval hall and tower, Tudor cloister, Norman church and gardens reflecting a seventeenth century connection with North America. The term "Hospital", in this context, has the same origin as "hospitality" and for over 850 years St Cross has provided food and shelter to people in need. It has been home to the Master and Brethren of St Cross since medieval times and today visitors can still receive the Wayfarer's Dole (a small beaker of beer and a morsel of bread).

The octagonal chimneys mark the Brethren´s lodgings, built about 1445 by Cardinal Beaufort. On the East side of the Chapel may be seen a graveyard wherein are interred the remains of various Masters and Brethren. Apart from providing for the Brethren, Almsgiving is still practised in the form of the `Wayfarers Dole´. A piece of white bread and a cup of good beer or Ale may be obtained by knocking at the door of the Porters Lodge, and requesting the Dole.

The Chapel was started in the 1160´s and retains much of its late Norman purity, despite being somewhat altered in the 14th and early 15th centuries. The number of Brethren was enlarged in the 15th century by Cardinal Beaufort, who provided for a second order of almsmen, the `Noble Order of Poverty´. Brethren of this order wear magenta gowns.

1 comment:

Pete said...

its a lovely place