The November meeting began with our 2015 AGM. Our chairman Michael Sleigh thanked, in particular, the members of the Committee for their sustained support over the year. The generally high standard of talks and visits that we have had was much appreciated and our meetings have been well attended.
There had been no new publications this year but as part of the 800th anniversary, an exhibition in St Margaret's Parish Church - 'The recorded history of the church against the background of the history of the Village of Wellow' - from March to November, was very well received. (Thanks are due to Michael for this well-researched and informative display. - Ed.)
After the AGM, Michael Sleigh gave a most interesting presentation about 'The origins of Wellow in Saxon times', following on from the talk given by Michael Wood during the summer as part of the 800 year celebrations. Research continues!
This month, WHS was pleased to welcome back Dr Jane Howells from Salisbury, accompanied by her colleague Ruth Newman, who gave us a highly informative and entertaining talk entitled 'Women in Salisbury Cathedral Close - from Exclusion to Equality'. Their talk centred on the role of women and explained 'how they contributed to this special society from the 13th century until today, without upsetting the status quo’.
In the early days the Close was a virtual male community; even in the mid-15th century, only the porter at the North Gate was officially allowed to live there with his wife. In the next century, churchmen started to marry, and with wives and families in the Close, this began to change the household character and the accommodation required.
Men such as Christopher Wren and John Constable may spring to mind, as well as the bishops who lived there, but we heard about some of the many women who played an important part in the life of the Close including:
Lady Ela, Countess of Salisbury, who laid a foundation stone in 1220.
Alice Brewer who gave 12 years supply of Purbeck marble used in the Cathedral’s early construction, and was at the consecration in 1258.
Elihonor Sadler who lived in The King’s House (now the Salisbury Museum), and entertained King James I and family in 1610 and 1613.
Charlotte Fielding from No 14 The Close, who married Henry Fielding in 1734, and posthumously became the heroine in his novel ‘Tom Jones’.
Elizabeth Harris who helped to make No 15 The Close (later Malmesbury House) ‘a centre of musical excellence where royalty was entertained’ in 1762.
Maria Constable, wife of John Constable, who stayed at Leadenhall in1820.
Edith Olivier who lived at No 20 The Close from 1912 to 1919; she was a close friend of Rex Whistler.
Today there are female Canons, vergers, stonemasons, curators and the Dean; there is no longer a feeling of the Close being ‘a community of men’. We will now look very differently at the buildings within the Close, remembering the women who lived there and took a full part in its society.
Unfortunately Nick Griffiths had to cancel his talk on 16th September at the last minute owing to family illness; we hope he will be able to give his talk on 'Hampshire in the time of King Alfred' at a later date.
Luckily Phoebe Merrick was able to step in at really short notice. She gave an excellent illustrated talk on 'Nooks and Crannies of Romsey' highlighting interesting parts of the town that we rarely see, including the various streams running through it and its old buildings. We are very grateful to Phoebe for giving us such an entertaining evening.
July visit - Winchester College Fellows Library
A guided tour of Winchester College Fellows Library was arranged for our July outing. This was very well attended and with a maximum of 15 in a group, the Librarian, Dr Richard Foster, kindly agreed to take two separate groups round on the afternoons of 22 and 23 July 2015.
The Fellows Library is located in eight rooms over the campus. Our visit started in the Eccles Room where some of the eclectic collection of books and manuscripts were laid out, including a rare Book of Hours from mid-late 14thC that includes music, and an early 13thC Petrus Comestor. We also saw chained books in Clerk's Room, where the fireplace has the initials P and R (believed to stand for 'Phillipus Rex' installed on the occasion of the wedding of Philip and Mary in Winchester Cathedral in 1554) as well as centuries old graffiti. In the Long Gallery, we saw a 1581 copy of Palladio's Architecture, Anglo-Saxon manuscripts referencing West Wellow and spectacular plates of insect life in Hooke’s Micrographia.
The Warden Harmar room had a copy of the 'Bear' bible, the first printed bible in Spanish from 1569, one of John Harmar's collection of bibles which he donated to the College. He was Warden from 1596 - 1613 and used this room as his study; here he translated the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation, for the King James' Bible. The four Winchester Part Books c.1564 -66 are beautifully illustrated and a Crimean War 'scrap book' contains a letter from Florence Nightingale written at the Balaclava Hospital, Scutari. A nearly complete set of First editions by Anthony Trollope, signed to his son, are also housed here in one of Trollope's own bookcases.
The Thursday group was also shown the Chapel, where one of the original medieval windows previously sold, has now been restored into one of the walls. It is interesting to note the difference in the stained glass between the two types and shows that it is not always best to sell the old and replace with new! We also looked through the gate into the War cloister.
We all greatly enjoyed the tour and felt privileged to see first hand, part of the College's collection of old books and manuscripts that Richard had prepared for us. His enthusiasm and knowledge for his subject are evident and we were pleased to learn that these resources are still used today. We are extremely lucky to have such an historical collection on our doorstep. This gallery page links to some of the photos that we took.