Winchester was a place I passed through, stopped for a cup of tea on the way to Enham Alamein. We stopped at Winchester Cathedral to do the ‘touristy’ thing. I had no idea about anything to do with Winchester Cathedral except that the New Vaudeville Band sang ‘Winchester Cathedral’ in 1966. As a cathedral it has the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic Cathedral in Europe. There was a religious building on this site since 642 AD. It was demolished in 1093 and rebuilt with stone from the Isle of Wight. There is no question that Winchester Cathedral is a magnificent building full of quirky history.
There is an amazing West Window. In 1642, the window was deliberately smashed to pieces by Cromwell’s troops. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, all the pieces were gathered together. No attempt was made to recreate the window design but the pieces were reassembled randomly into a kind of mosaic.
The crypt has regularly flooded. There is an Anthony Gormley statue called Sound II, a modern shrine to St Swithin. There is a small statue to William Walker known as “The diver who saved Winchester Cathedral”. For five years, he worked beneath the foundations underpinning them by hand with concrete bags and blocks. Jane Austen was buried in Winchester Cathedral in 1817. The plaque refers to Jane’s ‘writings’, not her novels. There is a Fisherman’s Chapel which is the burial place for Izaak Walton, the writer of The Compleat Angler, who was an avid fisherman on the River Itchen. There is a statue of Joan of Arc. Winchester Cathedral was the setting for the Da Vinci Code.
So why was I on my way to Enham Alamein? Just being nosey. When I worked for mosaic we had to put in a tender to deliver a Direct Payments Support Service, a service we had already delivered for 9 years. We lost the tender to Enham Trust, an organisation that has never worked in Leicester and that is based in Enham Alamein in Hampshire. I wanted to see what the organisation was like. It was certainly weird. The Enham Trust owned the whole village of Enham Alamein, post office, community shop, all the housing because it was set up at a rehabilitation village for soldiers after the first world war. I suppose it is an old fashioned idea to have a village community. At least I understood what organisation took over our service.
This tea towel is designed like a cathedral window with information about Jane Austen, Izaak Walton and William Walker on it. As I use the tea towel, it reminds me of my trip to find out about Enham Alamein, what it was like because it was a part of my work life that caused me a lot of distress. The reality is that this is all behind me and now I think that Winchester Cathedral is somewhere I would like to go back to and have a good look at it.
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