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calendar   Tuesday - December 22, 2009

SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT TO END MY EVENING HERE.  ALSO FITS THE SEASON.

I have visited this wondrous place on more then one occasion.  For all my ranting and griping and complaining fits of temper with this country, I suppose I’m lucky living in a place with so much history.  Not only that, but living in an age of digital cameras where I can record some of what I see.  Which would mean not a lot if I couldn’t share some of it now and then.  Still, these shots don’t quite convey what walking up that stairway to this ancient church is like. Or being inside it all alone.  No tourists. Just myself.  Darn.  Almost makes me wish I were religious. Well think about it.  I feel like I’m missing something.  Maybe it’s the season.

ST. SWITHUN’S CHURCH, WINCHESTER, ENGLAND

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St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate is a very special church, one of the medieval gems of Winchester, built over one of its city gates on the line of the foundations of the Roman City wall. The first surviving reference to Kingsgate occurred in 1148, that to the church itself in 1264, when it was burned down. St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate has therefore been a house of prayer for at least seven hundred and fifty years.

HERE’S ONE VIEW OF KING’S GATE. I don’t know if they actually still close it at night. Never thought about that till now. On the other side is the Winchester Cathedral Close.  It houses buildings (olde) for retired clergy and anyone who’d been working for Winchester Cathedral.

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Although common in medieval times, churches built over medieval city gates are now very rare. In those times, travel was dangerous, and it would have been common for travellers and pilgrims to give thanks for a safe journey in such a church. In the days before literacy was common, people would have used its wall paintings, statues, and other features as aids to their thanksgiving prayer.

NO SURPRISE HERE. THE CHURCH IS OVER THE ARCH.

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AND HERE’S THE ENTRANCE, TO THE RIGHT OF THE ARCH UNDER THAT STEEP ROOF LINE.

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THE PHOTO OF THE STAIRS GOING UP IS NOT MINE. IT WAS ON THE NET.

I TOOK THIS ONE COMING DOWN. I STILL CAN’T RECALL WHY I COULDN’T GET A SHOT GOING UP.

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In the 1660’s, the porter of Kingsgate, Robert Allen, lived in the church and kept pigs in it. It is certainly possible that children were born here in something resembling the conditions of a stable. Also, as a very special upper room, the Parish is extremely fortunate to have this building as one of its churches. There could hardly be a better place to remember the incarnation and to celebrate the Last Supper. In these surroundings, it is not difficult to feel the thanksgiving, which is at the heart of any Eucharist. Many people come to sit here in silent thanksgiving. For the passing visitor or modern pilgrim, this is a great blessing but this building has much more to offer.

As we look at its features, it is not difficult to realise that they have a story to tell. We have put together some of these stories to help people on their own spiritual journeys. It is possible to do the same for churches and buildings in all our lives and we hope that this will encourage you to do so.

History
The Roman foundations of the city wall, of which Kingsgate arch is a part, can be seen near the river and also exist in the cellars of some houses in St Swithun Street. The arch is mentioned in the so-called Winchester Domesday Book in 1148. The first mention of St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate is in 1264 when citizens burned it down in a dispute with the Prior of the Abbey. The church was probably a chapel for lay people who worked for the Abbey in medieval times. Its walls were decorated with paintings, the statues removed by Cromwell’s reformers would still have been in the three niches, and there was glass in the windows.

HERE’S ANOTHER VIEW OF THE KINGSGATE:  SMALL SAMPLE OF THE HOMES IN THE CATHEDRAL CLOSE AND OCCUPIED BY CLERGY (RETIRED) AND PPL ASSOCIATED WITH THE CATHEDRAL. 

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The Prior paid four shilling and eight pence to have the glass repaired in 1484. In 1660, the building was in a sad state of repair and misuse; Robert Allen, the porter of Kingsgate, lived in one end and kept pigs in the other. By 1677 it had been repaired and its bells re-hung. After the shrine of St Swithun in the Cathedral was destroyed in September 1538 and the Monastery dissolved in November 1539, it became a parish church and is now part of the parish of St Lawrence with St Swithun.

The church features in literature as Anthony Trollope’s St Cuthbert’s in his novel ‘The Warden’.

http://www.stlawrence.hampshire.org.uk/ptb.html

St. Swithin’s Day is 15 July, a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days. There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times.

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ‘twill rain nae mair.

‘dost = doesthou =
younae mair = no more

St Swithun was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester.
He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.Why do people watch the weather on St. Swithin’s day?

A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971. According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.This led to the old wives’ tale that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/stswithun.html

St Swithun biography

(d. 862)

Very little is known for certain about the life of Winchester Cathedral’s first patron saint. Some biographies of Swithun state that he was once Prior of Winchester, but there is no evidence to support this belief. We do know that he was one of the chief advisors of Egbert, King of the West Saxons, and may have been responsible for the education of Egbert’s son, Ethelwulf. Egbert’s influence procured for Swithun the post of Bishop of Winchester, which he took up in 852.

When Swithun’s health failed in 862, and he lay near death, he is said to have asked that his body be buried outside his cathedral, rather than within it, as was customary. He wanted passers-by to walk upon his grave, and raindrops from the eaves of the cathedral fall upon his resting place. Although his wishes were granted, his grave did not long lie undisturbed. In 931 Bishop Ethelwulf had Swithun disinterred and reburied within the walls of the new church.

Shortly after, miracles were reported at Swithun’s tomb, which became a popular attraction for pilgrims. So clamorous were the voices reporting these miracles that Swithun was canonized, which further added to the allure of his shrine.

Yet, still his bones could not rest, for in 1093 his remains were once more dug up and reburied with great ceremony within the new cathedral built by Bishop Walkelin. There they remained until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538, when the shrine wa destroyed by Henry VIII’s men. Once more the saint’s bones were dug up, this time to scattered and lost for good.

ABOUT A BLOCK AWAY FROM THE CHURCH OR A FRACTION MORE BUT NOT MUCH, ON JULY 18, 1817, JANE AUSTEN SADLY DIED, TOO YOUNG AND WITH AN UNFINISHED BOOK.
SHE PASSED AWAY IN THIS HOUSE.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/22/2009 at 11:27 AM   
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