Immediately south-west of Wolvesey
Palace in the southern suburb of the
ancient city is the College of St. Mary,
founded by William of Wykeham in
1387 on a site bought of the Prior and convent of
St. Swithun, outside the jurisdiction of the mayor and
corporation and within the bishop's own jurisdiction
of the Soke. (fn. 1)
The original plan of the College consisted of three
quadrangles, OuterCourt, Chamber Court, and cloisters,
one beyond another and successively smaller: Outer
Court containing the business premises, Chamber Court
the living rooms, and cloisters, approached through the
chapel, the final resting-place of the society. In this
state they remained for a century and a-half without
addition. At the Dissolution the college underwent
expansion, taking in three or four more quadrangles.
It occupied the site of St. Elizabeth's College on the
east, which was eventually annexed by the warden for
his house and garden; its Commoners found extended
premises in the Sustern Spital, a hospital for women, a
dependency of the monastery on the west, and the
garden or playing-fields called Meads were extended
at the expense of the Carmelite convent on the south.
In this state things continued
for another hundred years. In
the 17th century, before the
Civil War, Sickhouse was built
on the actual site of the Carmelite Friary, and after the
erection of School there was
added a fourth quadrangle
called School Court. In the
middle of the 18th century
the Sustern Hospital was
finally consolidated and annexed under the name of
Commoners' College with its
two quadrangles, now represented by Moberly Court and
Flint Court. For a century
again expansion ceased.
Then, not long after the middle of the 19th
century, Commoners were once more shifted westward. First came sporadic houses, one in St. Thomas'
Street (now being moved to Kingsgate Park), another
in Kingsgate Street, and another on Southgate Hill,
nearly half a mile away. A little later almost a new
Commoners' College sprang up in the four houses
clustered together on Culver's Close with a fifth
opposite them in Southgate Street. A gate was
cut in Meads' Wall, and Meads became a long,
irregular quadrangle of grass bounded by the river
and the road, taking in successively Lavender Meads,
New Field, and Dogger's Close. A mistake was committed towards the end of the century, when the college
declined to expand to the north by annexing the
17th-century house of Wolvesey and the ruins of
the residence of the founder, with its beautiful grounds
between the city wall and the cathedral. A ninth
house was added in 1907 in Kingsgate Park and a
tenth, in the same park, is now (1911) just finished.
Winchester College. Argent two cheverons sable between three roses gules, which are the arms of William of Wykeham, the founder.
The stern, unbroken line of frontage which the
college presents to the outer world when approached
down College Street, past the head master's house,
has precisely the same fortress-like aspect as when it
was first erected outside the city walls, with the
dangers of sudden uprisings like those of the Peasant
Revolt of 1381, or the earlier Town and Gown
Riots of St. Scholastica's Day at Oxford in 1354,
forcibly present to the designer's mind. It conceals
behind its dark grey stone wall, with the narrowest
slits possible for light, the slaughter-house, the brewhouse, the porter's lodge, and what was once the
granary. The first three are still as they were,
though used for other purposes or none.
Outer Gate stands at the east end of these
buildings, a vaulted gate-house of two stories, with a
turret at the west, supported outside by two massive
buttresses. In the centre of the upper story in a
niche is the figure of the Virgin, crowned, with the
Child in her arms. On the ground floor is the
porter's lodge. The two-leaved door is original, and
on the right and left are two stone basins projecting
from the wall, possibly holy-water stoups.
Above Outer Gate were the chambers of the
steward of the college manors, now the office of his
successor the bursar. Outer Court is said to have
been originally open for its whole length of 200 ft.,
till it was curtailed by the erection in 1663 of a
screen of two open stone archways at the west end,
cutting off about a third of it. Offices, now pulled
down, were placed here over the Lorteburn. There
are indications, however, that these offices were not
then erected for the first time. A more serious
curtailment was caused by the erection of the warden's
lodgings, begun in 1565. (fn. 2) The beautiful carved
wood mantelpiece in the warden's study is dated
1615. The gallery, the front of which looks on
Outer Court, was rebuilt in 1832 by warden Barter.
It was for some time used as an examination hall, and
since 1910 is the Fellows' Library. It is 54 ft. long
by 10 ft. wide and 11½ ft. high, (fn. 3) and was intended
seemingly for a portrait gallery and ante-room. In
the warden's garden the ruins of St. Elizabeth's
College are said to be traceable in very dry weather,
as are those of its dependent chapel, St. Stephen, in
St. Stephen's Mead by Gunner's Hole, the college
Plan of Winchester College
Middle Gate is another two-storied tower. On
both its outer and inner face are groups of the
Annunciation, with the angel Gabriel on the right
and a much perished figure of the founder kneeling
on the left. Middle Gate opens to Chamber
Court, which, except for the substitution of a
square 15th-century tower for the spire of Wykeham's time, is original. In Middle Gate were
the warden's lodgings, including Election Chamber,
so-called because until about ten years ago the elections
to New College and Winchester took place there. The
scholars lived in six chambers on the ground floor,
three on each side, now used as day studies only.
Nine of the ten fellows occupied the rooms above
first, second and third chambers, three in each room.
Above fifth chamber were the ten commoners in
college, and above sixth chamber, always assigned to
the prefect of hall, the head of the school, were the
informator or head master, the hostiarius, usher or
second master, and, presumably, the tenth fellow.
The sixteen choristers were in a seventh chamber,
behind Sixth, now part of a new scholars' chamber
called Thule. Above them were the three hired chaplains (conductitii or 'conducts,' as they are still called
at Eton) and the three chapel clerks. The second
master's house now absorbs the chaplains' chamber,
upper Fifth and Sixth, to which additions were made
at the back in the early part of the 16th century.
The dining-room is a panelled room containing the
portraits of noblemen who were Commoners in 1730–1.
The fellows' chambers became in 1870 the scholars'
sleeping chambers and bath-rooms, 'Fourth' being now
a change room.
Middle Gate looks south on chapel and school,
with hall above it, while on the right is the flight of
stairs to hall. Next to it is the kitchen, formerly with a
projecting conduit or covered bath-room, now marked
only by a tap and a stone trough.
Chapel, hall and the original school under it are
of wrought stone, the rest of the quadrangle being of
flint, with stone mullions and quoins, and originally
roofed with 'healing' stones or stone slates. Unfortunately the eastern side was reroofed in modern
days with grey Welsh slates.
Chapel measures 93 ft. by 27 ft. The roof alone, a
beautiful early specimen of incipient fan vaulting, is
intact. The old walls remain, but stripped of all
In 1821–8 the splendid old glass, for the preservation of the 'sumptuous work' of which Wykeham in
his statutes forbade dancing, wrestling and other disorderly games in chapel, hall or cloisters, was replaced
by modern and inferior copies. At the east end is a
large 'Jesse' window. Our Lady, crowned and with
the Child, is the chief and the most beautiful figure,
alike in colour and in drawing. The small scenes at
the bottom contain figures of Edward III and
Richard II, the kings under whom the college was
begun and finished, Wykeham kneeling to the Virgin,
and the chief mason or architect, William Winford;
Wykeham's man of business, Simon Membury, an old
Wykehamist, treasurer of Wolvesey and surveyor of
the works, and the chief carpenter. Fortunately a
considerable portion of these and of the figure of the
Virgin are of old glass. The eight side windows, four
on each side, containing local, mediaeval and biblical
saints, are all new. Their inferiority to the old may
be gauged by a visit to the original figures of St. John
the Evangelist, Sephonias (the prophet Zephaniah)
and St. Jacobus (James the Less) now put together
in a window in the South Kensington Museum.
Further havoc was committed in 1874–5 by
William Butterfield. The walls were stripped of the
panelled wainscoting put up in 1636, the mediaeval
brasses were torn up from the floor of the ante-chapel
whither Warden Nicholas had removed them when he
paved the chapel with black-and-white marble in 1681,
and cast away to be lost or stolen, while for the
old stalls and benches, ranged collegiate-wise north
and south, there were substituted yellow pews facing
eastwards, the choir being raised on an elevated
dais towards the east end. The only improvement
effected was the restoration of the old reredos of 1470,
which had been covered by the 17th-century wainscot. It has since been filled with statues representing
a mixed company, of whom William of Wykeham
and Alfred the Great are the most appropriate. The
old brasses on the floor have been reproduced from
rubbings taken by Dr. Edwin Freshfield, solicitor
to the Bank of England, when he was a boy in
Commoners. They are those of Wardens Morris
(Morrys), who died 1413; Thurburn, died 1450;
John White, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, died
1559; John Bedell, Mayor of Winchester, formerly
scholar, died 1498; and the fellows, John Willinghale, 1432; Nicholas North, 1445; Thomas
Lyrypyn, 1509; and John Barnack, 1524. There is
also a brass to George Ridding, head master 1866–84,
and then Bishop of Southwell, died 1904.
Chapel was originally divided into the choir and
ante-chapel by a rood-screen, still marked by the door
giving access to it and a blind window on the south
side. It took twelve days' labour to take it down in
1571–2. South-west of it in an annexe was Warden
Thurburn's chantry, erected in 1450. In 1475 it was
converted into the ground floor of the beautiful square,
four-pinnacled tower then substituted for Wykeham's
tower and spire. Unfortunately the piles on which
the tower was built were not strong enough to support
the additional weight. Five years after it was finished
a buttress had to be built against its southern face. (fn. 4)
After the Reformation Thurburn's chantry was thrown
into the chapel by piercing the wall with two arches;
the column between them had to be repaired in
1671; in 1740 iron ties were introduced and in
1772 an interior buttress was erected. But after a
time the structure became so unsafe that the bells
could not be rung. In 1860 the whole tower was
taken down, a cement foundation was inserted and
the stones having been numbered it was rebuilt stone
by stone as a memorial to Wardens Barter and
Williams. The stone bosses in Thurburn's chantry
were carefully replaced. They are of considerable
interest for their canting or punning arms of four
distinguished Wykehamists of the day; Thurburn
himself, a flaming censer (thuribulum); Bekynton,
Bishop of Bath and Wells, a beacon on a tun;
Thomas Chaundler, warden of Winchester, a capital
T and candles in saltire; Hugh Sugar, treasurer,
then chancellor of Wells, three sugar loaves. The
chapel is to be restored, the floors brought down
to the old level, and the walls panelled with oak.
In the passage to cloisters, misnamed ante-chapel,
is a monument in the early English style, erected in
1858 to thirteen Wykehamists who fell in the Crimean
war, whence the passage itself is now called Crimea.
It bears the following apposite inscription: 'Think
upon them thou who art passing by to-day, child of the
same family, bought by the same Lord. Keep thy
foot when thou goest into this house of God, then
watch thine armour and make thyself ready by prayer
to fight and to die, the faithful soldier and servant of
Christ and of thy country.' Just beyond the end of
the passage is a graceful gateway leading to School
Court, erected in memory of Sir Herbert Stewart,
the hero of Abu Klea, and simply inscribed 'In
Memoriam Herberti Stewart.'
The cloisters, with their original Purbeck stone
slates, are perhaps the most absolutely untouched of
all the buildings. No cobweb or dirt defiles their
oaken roofs. The thirty-six unglazed three-light
windows are most beautiful. In summer Cloisters
were used in the 17th century as an alternative
school, whence the name of Cloister Time is still given
to the summer term. Cloisters are hung with many
brasses and memorial tablets. The tomb of Richard
Dene, head master, who died 28 May 1494, is in the
south-west corner, bereft of the brass and inscription,
which Anthony Wood copied.
In the centre of Cloisters stands Chantry, the
chantry of John Fromond, steward of the college,
erected by him before 1426. It is a two-storied
building, with a turret staircase at the south-west
end. Outside may be seen carved figures of the woodward and other officials over whom the founder as
steward presided, including also the bread-butler with
trencher and knife, and the beer-butler with a lagena
or 'black-jack.' (fn. 5) It is 36 ft. long by 18 ft. broad
and 28 ft. high in the chapel on the ground floor.
The upper chamber, 14 ft. 6 in. high, originally the
chantry priest's dwelling, was till 1910 a library of
ancient books. The lower, which from 1629 to
1875 was also a library, is now a junior chapel. Its
east window contains some fine old glass taken from
Thurburn's chantry, but not originally there, as it
was described as ancient glass when bought in 1483.
The modern west window, given by Chief Justice
Earle in 1874, contains the portraits and arms of
Henry VI and others. The bosses in the roof bear
the arms of the original contributors to the building.
The reredos was given by Dr. Edwin Freshfield.
The four side windows and statues of St. Michael
and St. Gabriel were given by Archdeacon Fearon,
head master 1884–1901. The brass of the first
chantry priest, William Clyff, who died 24 March
1434–5, has been recently removed from Cloisters
and replaced on the south wall.
Hall is structurally intact. It measures 62 ft.
by 29 ft. and is 40 ft. high to the under side of the
tie-beam of the roof. The tables and forms date
from the time of Elizabeth. (fn. 6) It contains a panel
portrait of William of Wykeham, perhaps painted
before 1480, as it shows Winchester College with
the original spire. It was bought in 1597 for
£4 12s. 6d. (fn. 7) There are also portraits of wardens
from Bilson (1580–96) to Barter (1832–61), brought
from the Warden's Gallery.
The original School below, now called Seventh
Chamber, is no longer the great hall (magna domus)
of Wykeham's time. When the present 'School'
was built in 1687 Seventh Chamber Passage was cut
out of its east end, which deprived it of one of its
three windows, while of the four oaken columns or
'posts' which supported it only one now remains.
The triple rows of stone seats on which the Prefects sat
exist in the two remaining windows. Before the passage
was taken out the School measured 46 ft. by 29 ft.
On the west side of Chamber Court is Kitchen,
the most magnificent apartment in the place next to
Hall itself. The lobby adjoining contains the farfamed figure of the Trusty Servant; a man with the
ears of an ass on a pig's head, the snout of which is
padlocked, while the feet are those of a stag. The
right hand is held out and open, the left is loaded
with a shovel, pitchfork, broom and gridiron. On
his left hip hangs a sword and over his right shoulder
peeps a shield. An inscription in Latin elegiacs with
an English translation in heroic couplets, probably
of the year 1778, gives its meaning:
The Trusty Servant's portrait would you see
This emblematic figure well survey.
The porker's snout not nice in diet shows:
The padlock shut no secrets he'll disclose
Patient the ass his master's rage will bear,
Swiftness in errand the stag's feet declare.
Loaded his left hand apt to labour saith,
The vest his neatness, open hand his faith.
Girt with his sword, his shield upon his arm,
Himself and master he'll protect from harm.
The Trusty Servant is mentioned in the Bursar's
Account for 1619 and in the account for 1628 is a
payment to 'Jerome the painter for repairing the
portrait of the founder in the hall and of the servant
before the kitchen.'
In the Chasteau de Labur of Grignon, published in
1499, translated by Alexander Barclay about 1502
(ed. A. W. Pollard, Roxburgh Club), are some
verses of advice to servants, which begin:
If that thou wylte thy mayster please
Thou must have thre propretees,
Fyrst must thou have an asses eares
With an hertes fete in all degrees
An hogges snoute
which he then goes on to explain as in the writing
on the wall. As Alexander Barclay was beneficed in
Hampshire about this time, it is quite probable that
the picture was derived from his book and was one
of the ornaments which Archbishop Warham, the
most prominent old Wykehamist of his day, bestowed
on the college at this time. A similar figure is
also described by Gilbertus Cognatus in De Officio
Famulorum (Paris 1535) and by John James Hofmann
in his Lexicon Universelle (1698).
'School,' standing in what was formerly a Ball
Court, was built in 1687. It measures 78 ft. by
35 ft. inside and is perhaps the finest and largest
school in England. It has been attributed to Sir
Christopher Wren, but as it is not mentioned among
his works in the Parentalia, nor are any designs for it
in the collection of his plans preserved at All Souls
College, the probability is that he was not the architect. The bronze statue of Wykeham over the door
was given in 1692 by Caius Gabriel Cibber.
Mackenzie Walcott thus describes the interior in
1848: 'Wainscotting covers the walls as high as the
sill of the deeply-embayed windows. Fronting the
entrance is a tall wooden bookcase, once filled; to
the right is a tier of seats, occupied at Commoners'
speaking by the warden, sub-warden and head-master,
ordinarily by the latter, flanked by two Wykehamical
rods; on the left is the chair of the second master;
on the north side of the school, facing these seats,
are the chairs of the lower masters. Against the east
and west walls are built up three tiers of fixed seats,
gradually rising one above the other, and extending
along the whole breadth of the room; upon these
the forms sit when "up at books." Along the room
are set four parallel ranges of oak benches, intersected
north and south by a central passage; upon them are
placed the scobs (box spelt backwards), (fn. 8) twenty-five
inches long, twelve inches deep, and eighteen inches
in width; the upper lid being raised as a shelter;
a second cover serves the purpose of a desk; below
it are kept books and implements for writing.'
The ceiling with its rich cornice is the most
striking feature of the interior. It is carved with
garlands and adorned with the arms of the principal
contributors to the building.
On the east wall hung the Tabula Legum Paedagogicarum. This table of school laws, dating probably
from the 15th century, was re-edited by Bishop
Huntingford between 1773 and 1798. The laws are
divided into six chapters:—I. Chapel; II. School;
III. Hall; IV. Court, Town and Hills (In atrio,
oppido et ad montes); V. Chambers; VI. Everywhere
and Always (In omni loco et tempore). The original
laws were brought from the old schoolroom.
On the west wall a huge tablet contains the famous
jingle Aut disce, aut discede, manet sors tertia caedi.
Above Aut disce are the rewards of learning, the mitre
and crozier; above Aut discede the resort of those
who departed, the sword and the pen and ink-horn;
while above Manet sors tertia caedi, the last word of
which is in large letters, 'the third lot to be flogged,'
is the 'bibling rod.' The lines and probably the
emblems were on the wall of the old school.
Meads, the ancient playground, is inclosed by a
wall the highest and oldest part of which, including
'Non licet Gate' (an ancient name for this gate), was
built of rubble and flint with a tiled roof in Wykeham's time. The rest of the wall is of squared stone,
and was erected from the ruins of St. Elizabeth's
College and the Carmelite friary in the reign of
Edward VI. At the south end the walls are carved
with little excavations called Temples, which were
used for illuminations with the ends of candles on the
last night before the Christmas holidays.
None of the other buildings of the school except
Sick House are ancient. The old Sustern Hospital,
Commoners' College, or 'Old Commoners,' was
wholly pulled down and rebuilt in 1844, and not
on the same lines, though the general idea of two
quadrangles was preserved. The head master's house,
built of flint and stone in the Gothic style of the
period, abuts on the road called College Street.
Moberly Court, which used to contain commoner
prefects' studies on the west wall, is now a garden
plot, with the offices of the head master's house on
the west. It measures 130 ft. by 54 ft., but is wider
at the southern end than at the northern. The east
side of the court is formed by the west wall of the
college and the second master's house. The south
side is now filled by Sixth Book class-room and the
masters'—formerly commoner prefects'—common
room below, with Moberly Library, commonly called
Mob. Lib., formerly dormitories, called Cloisters, a
name transferred from the old building, above. From
it two wings run out southwards, forming another
quadrangle. The west side used to be called Grubbing
Hall, being commoners' dining-room, and that on
the east used to be called Mugging Hall, being their
study and preparation room. Each was 65 ft. 4 in.
long by 26 ft. 4 in. broad. Above each were long
bedrooms called East and West Galleries, also a name
imported from the Sisters' Hospital, and, as has been
seen, from college parlance of Elizabethan days.
There is not, and never was, any south side to this
quadrangle, which is called Flint Court, from the
flints which pave it. It is 98 ft. long by 49 ft. broad.
At the bottom of Flint Court is Grass Court (about
200 ft. long), now part of Meads, but which until
1857 or thereabouts was cut off from School Court
by a line of outhouses, and from Meads by a brick
wall. Commoners then had no access to Meads,
except on special occasions.
At the west side of Grass Court are the Fives
Courts and War Gate (built as a South African War
memorial in 1902), the usual mode of access to
Meads and college for Commoners. Beyond the
gate are Racquet Court and Gymnasium, which are
masked by Museum, a building of considerable
architectural pretensions in red brick with yellow
stone arches in the rococo Renaissance style, erected
to commemorate the Quincentenary celebration held
in 1893. A few yards farther on is Sick House,
formerly standing in its own grounds called Sick
House Meads, and still separated by a hedge and a
small garden from the rest of Meads. It is a charming little house with no great pretensions, in red brick
with white stone quoins and mullions. It was built
in 1640 by Warden Harris, who called it 'Bethesda,'
which name is inscribed in Hebrew characters over
the door, while in Latin is also written 'Sumtibus
Harrisii fuit aedificata Bethesda.' The back part
was added or enlarged by John Taylor, a Fellow in
1775. A huge red brick infirmary, erected in 1893,
occupies the south part of the old Sick House Meads.
Beyond Meads Wall, on the right of Lavender
Meads, are the new Science Schools built in 1903,
and, invisible behind them in Culverlea, Music School,
dating from the same year.
Winchester: House in Cheesehill Street
At the farthest end of New Field is Webbe Tent,
a picturesque thatched cricket pavilion, erected in
1887 and dedicated to the memory of H. R. Webbe,
captain of 'Lords' in 1875, by his brother, the wellknown Harrow cricketer, A. J. Webbe.
The plate consists of two chalices and paten covers
of 1611; two patens, the gift of Warden Nicholas
and his wife in 1683; another paten of 1833 given
by will of John Johnson, D.D.; two flagons of 1627,
given by Warden Love in 1629; an alms-dish of
1681 also given by Warden Nicholas in that year;
and a secular cup of late 16th or early 17th-century
workmanship, inscribed 'D. D. Gul. Master in Usum
Sacristae Coll. Winton, 1762.' All are of silver-gilt.
The plate of Fromond's chantry in the college
cloisters consists of a silver chalice, paten, flagon,
eucharistic spoon and alms-plate, the first four dated
1895, the latter 1894. They are engraved 'The
gift of Confrère Edwin Freshfield of the Order of
St. John of Jerusalem in England.'
The altar linen in use in the chantry was also
given by Dr. Edwin Freshfield and comprises some
very beautiful lace, mostly of Greek workmanship.
Remains of the Carmelite friary (fn. 9) have been
found near the College Sick House and Memorial
Buildings in Meads and in the gardens at the
back of the houses north of the memorial gateway
on the east side of Kingsgate Street. To the south
of Garnier Road, which forms the southern boundary
of 'The Riddings,' as Lower College Meads are
called, nearly opposite the old graveyard of St. Faith,
is Prior's Barton House marking the site of the
manor of Prior's Barton.
In the meadows still further south again of the
college in the old suburb of Sparkford is the hospital
of St. Cross (vide infra).
On the summit of St. Catherine's Hill are a bank
and ditch, within which the foundations of St. Catherine's chapel are said to exist, but there is no
masonry now showing. Near the clump of trees on
the top is a maze cut in the turf, within a square.
It is said to have been made by the college boy who
wrote 'Dulce Domum,' but nothing seems to be
known of its actual origin.