This evening I invite you to accompany me on a walk around the ancient Hospital of St Cross just outside the even more ancient city of Winchester. This is how I very happily spent last Saturday afternoon - when, just over a week after we were knee deep in snow, the weather was mild and the gardens were showing the first signs of new growth. One of those afternoons when Spring hovers just over the horizon, making me so very grateful to be in England.
St Cross is a wonderfully atmospheric place...made even more enchanting by the fact that at this time of the year, not many other people seem to think that this is an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon - so we had the place virtually to ourselves.
The brother's living quarters are - quite correctly - off bounds to visitors - but there is also another range of buildings housing the Masters rooms and ancient kitchens. I'll show you those in a later post, and you can read more about St Cross here and see several video panoramas here....but for now - follow me - and the two resident ducks - through this photo essay of a peaceful January afternoon stroll through a beautiful part of old England.
Not much growing in the herbaceous borders at present - but look how the coloured bark of the dogwoods gives a focus to the otherwise empty bed.
The entrance to the church with the Brothers Almshouses alongside
'In memory of
Laetitia Daughter of
John & Ann Russell
Who died February 12 1759
Aged 4 years
A tender branch that lyeth here
Loved was by Parents dear
Few was her days long is her rest
From womb to grave She went apace'
An immensely moving remnant of the Great War (1914-1918) - a marker cross, initially placed by the Grave Registration Unit to mark individual fallen soldiers in the field, before their reburial in official Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries. Their usage can be seen in this photograph
The so-called 'Bird-beak' window - it actually depicts a whole flock of birds surrounding the window opening..the feathering of each bird is most meticulously carved. Be sure to click on the picture, enlarging it to enjoy the detail.
...and at the end of the visit, a last look at a sheltered hidden corner of the garden, where daffodils and primroses are already bursting forth. Who would not want to spend an hour here, pottering about in peaceful but active contemplation?