Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Kindle, the Warden and St Cross

I now have an Amazon Kindle, that new thin electronic book reader with the astonishing always-on e-ink display. Like many new Kindle owners I have filled it with classics (because many of them are free) and have set about using it to read books. Now I should point out I am not usually a book reader. If it doesn't have an index or pictures, I have my doubts it's a proper book. 

If you haven't seen one, A kindle looks like this. If you haven't held one and looked at the screen, I suggest you give one a try. What a great little gadget.

Anyway I have started reading The Warden by Anthony Trollope. I have read this decades ago, but I though it would be a good test of the Kindle, to see how I get on with it.

The book concerns Mr Harding, who is warden for a small almshouses that gives housing and food to 12 poor men of Barchester, a fictional small Cathedral city somewhere in southern England. 

Now this seems familiar. 

I commend the Hospital of St Cross to you, situated near the river to the south of Winchester.

St Cross cloister

Here you will find a small almshouses giving housing for thirteen poor men, with the facility to feed a hundred at a sitting if need be. St Cross dates back to the 12th century and is a very photogenic location if you turn up there on a sunny day.

The Brother's individual houses are not open to the public, but there is (inevitably) a gift shop, and a church to visit. 

The Brothers come in two colours: red and black. You can catch them in their traditional cloaks on special occasions. Best to check with the web site to see what events are planned.

Photo notes on the above images: Wide shots taken with the Olympus 11-22 wide zoom. The image in the crypt above was taken with bounce flash during a craft fair one Autumn. Our friend pictured was acting as guide and overseer of events.

There is a curious and possibly unique tradition attached to St Cross. If you request your "Traveller's Dole" they must provide you with a loaf and some ale, as they have been doing for centuries. These days its a little bread and a taste of Gale's best, but the tradition continues. Good for them, I say.

St Cross church from the gardens

The grounds are truly excellent and a relaxing space to be. You are perhaps half a mile from central Winchester but it is wonderfully rural, and is as nice a place to spend your final years as you could wish (but only if you are male, by the way).

St Cross church entrance

Just look at the worn step leading into the church! (This was one of those photographically challenging pictures where I had to use some exposure compensation to get the right look).

So, If you are a fan of Trollope and you would like a living picture of Hiram's Hospital as portrayed in "The Warden", visit St Cross at Winchester when its open to the public and see some real history in action..

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