Winchester: Introduction

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.

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'Winchester: Introduction', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5, ed. William Page( London, 1912), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Winchester: Introduction', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5. Edited by William Page( London, 1912), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

"Winchester: Introduction". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5. Ed. William Page(London, 1912), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

In this section



Wenta (British); Caer Gwent (traditional Celtic); Venta Belgarum (Roman); aet Wintan ceastre (ix cent.); Winteceastre (x cent.); Winton, Wyncestre (xiii cent. et seq.).

Winchester lies in the valley of the Itchen, surrounded by chalk down-land. Roman roads approach it from all sides, and the Itchen while navigable brought it into touch with Southampton, and so with the centres of continental trade. The present area of the city is 1,906 acres, that within its ancient walls being 138 acres. The ancient borough of Winchester lay within the walls, but the east and west sokes, or suburbs, which entirely surrounded it, were for long considered part of the city, so that at the inquiry regarding parliamentary boundaries of 1832 it was stated that the division between them had in places become lost. The commissioners therefore recommended the extension of the proposed parliamentary boundary so as to include the sokes, the part of Winnall parish which adjoins the city and the village of St. Cross. (fn. 1) By the Act of 1835 the parliamentary boundary was taken to hold for municipal purposes; the Cathedral Close as well as St. Mary's College and Wolvesey Palace (previously extra-parochial) being brought into the city for rating purposes. (fn. 2) By Local Government Act of 1894 portions of the three surrounding parishes of Chilcomb, Weeke and St. Faith were included in the municipal borough. (fn. 3) By Local Government Board Order of 1900 the municipal boundary was further extended beyond the parliamentary boundary to include on the north, part of Abbot's Barton, which was added to the parish of St. Bartholomew Hyde; on the east, part of Chilcomb Without was amalgamated with the parish of Chilcomb Within; on the south, part of St. Faith Without (fn. 4) was joined to the parish of St. Faith Within; on the west, part of Weeke Without was attached to the parish of Weeke Within. (fn. 5) In 1902 (fn. 6) an order was obtained for the union for civil purposes of the fifteen parishes comprising Winchester to obviate the difficulties attached to the collection of the rates.

City of Winchester. Gules two leopards or set fessewise and facing one another between five castles or set saltirewise.

Conjecture alone furnishes a description of 'Caer Gwent,' the Celtic Winchester, and little enough can be definitely told of the 'Venta Belgarum' of the Romans. (fn. 7) The Roman level was 12 ft. below the present ground level, and the internal area of the Roman town was considerably smaller than that inclosed by the mediaeval walls. (fn. 8) At the same time, the lay-out of the town suggests the survival of a Roman plan. There is the irregular quadrilateral space measuring some 860 yards from east to west and some 780 yards from north to south, with its long, straight High Street running east and west and connecting east and west gates, intersected at right angles by the street running north and south and connecting north and south gates. There are also the Roman roads striking off from the four gates. Possibly the mediaeval walls generally followed the Roman lines except at the south-west corner where the royal castle was to stand.

The first source for the ancient topography of Winchester is a possibly spurious charter of Edward of Wessex given in 901–9 to Bishop Denewulf, in which the four main streets of the town are noted. (fn. 9) The next source is the survey of 1148, (fn. 10) which gives the first evidence of the extent of the 12th-century town. It indicates about 1,200 tenements. (fn. 11) The boundaries of the city were marked by the four gates; there was also a suburb outside Westgate, another outside Northgate, another (the bishop's liberty of the soke) outside Eastgate. The existing streets were Cypstret (the High Street), Snithelingastret or Snidelingestret (Tower Street), 'Bredenestret' (probably on the site of Staple Gardens), Scowertenestret (Jewry Street), 'Alwarenestret' (the north part of Jewry Street), Flescmangerstret (St. Peter's Street), Wongarstret (Middle Brook Street), Sildwortenstret (Upper Brook Street), Tannerstret (Lower Brook Street), Bucchestret (Busket Lane), Colebrookstret, Calpestret (St. Thomas Street), Goldstret (Southgate Street) and Garstret (Trafalgar Street). Until the early half of the 18th century, (fn. 12) when the Town Council decided to alter the names of the streets to those of the present day, the names remained exactly as they were in the 12th century.

The early surveys of Winchester have been discussed by Mr. Round, (fn. 13) but even he found it difficult to arrive at any definite conclusions as to the identification of the 'Chenictehalla' near Eastgate on the north side of the High Street, of the 'lachenieta halla' on the north side of the High Street near Westgate, or of the 'Hantachenesele,' of the later survey, in Colebrook Street. Although local knowledge gives little that can be definite in further identification of these three yet it is suggestive. In the first place the 'Chenictehalla,' where the 'chenictes' drank their gild, must from its situation, according to the survey, have been on the site of the later St. John's House (the modern St. John's Rooms, chapel and almshouse), which was through the later middle ages and in the 16th and 17th centuries, where the mayor and the twenty-four held the corporate assemblies. The site of the second hall at the top of the town cannot be so easily identified with that of a later house of importance unless it could have been utilized as the Staple House at a later date, (fn. 14) since Staple Gardens, marking the vicinity of the Staple House, are on the north side of the High Street near Westgate, and would well fit in, therefore, with the site of this second 'chenictes' hall.

It is possible that the 'Hantachenesele' in the south-east of the city (fn. 15) was the later Chapman's Hall, still later known as the 'Linea Selda.' The men of the 'Chepmanessela' might well be the men of the 'Hantachenesele,' to which may have been attached the 'selda ubi linei panni venduntur' in the lower part of the High Street, also mentioned in the survey. The Chapman's Hall frequently occurs in the Pipe Rolls (see infra). As Mr. Round shows, this Chapman's Hall was identical with the 'Linea Selda' which King John gave to William his tailor for an annual rent of grey fur. (fn. 16)

Apart from these 'halls' the surveys give further a picture of the 12th-century city, with its 'Domus' or 'Terra Godebieta,' (fn. 17) a name still surviving in Godbegot House at the corner of St. Peter's Street and the High Street; its house near Westgate that had belonged to Queen Emma (fn. 18); its shops just above Godbiete that had belonged to Queen Edith (St. Edward's wife) (fn. 19); its 'balchus,' in the High Street between Parchment Street and Upper Brooks, where thieves were imprisoned (fn. 20); its five shanties (bordelli) erected outside Westgate to shelter poor folk (fn. 21); its 'hospital' on the ditch before the gate of Herbert the Chamberlain (fn. 22); its stalls in the High Street; its market; its 'forges' near the king's kitchen adjoining the palace in the square, some of which had taken the place of 'cellars' of Edward the Confessor's time (fn. 23); its Mewshay (mewenheia) near the palace (fn. 24); and its five dismantled mints in the market-place. (fn. 25) Moreover, outside the official limits of the survey were the palace of William the Conqueror (fn. 26) on the site of the later 'Square'; the castle at the south-west corner; the bishop's palace of Wolvesey (not fortified until 1137) in the south-east corner; the 'old minster' or cathedral church and the priory of St. Swithun northwest of Wolvesey; the already ruined new minster (fn. 27) close to the site of the present St. Maurice Church, and the abbey of St. Mary (Nunna Minster), partly on the site of the present Gildhall and abbey grounds. (fn. 28) Of the populous suburbs outside the city, reaching, as Dr. Milner, following the imaginative Trussel, states, 'a mile in every direction further than they do now' (1798), (fn. 29) and the 'incredible number of parish churches,' there is no evidence in the surveys.

Actively involved as it was in the difficulties of the troublous reign of Stephen, Winchester must have suffered ruin and loss from the siege and the burning and pillaging of the city. (fn. 30) However, the evidence of the reign of Henry II showing the activity of the town, the enlarging and building of the royal castle, the importance of the mint and money exchange and other signs of prosperity, suggests that the ruinous state of the city at the beginning of his reign may well have been exaggerated. The royal Mews seem also to have been made at this time. There had been the Mewshay of the 12th century (see supra) near the royal palace in the Square, but the new Mews were connected with the royal castle. The Pipe Roll for 1182 notes that the king had bought a house for his birds from Adam de Sanford, and in the same year £1 5s. 8d. was paid for the birds and £3 7s. was spent on kids for feeding the birds. (fn. 31) Mews were prepared for the birds in 1184 (fn. 32) and a new house within the castle in 1186. (fn. 33) In the reign of Richard I, in 1193, £2 11s. 8d. was paid for two Mews and inclosing them with a hedge, (fn. 34) while in 1201 £25 18s. was paid for 'making the king's mews.' (fn. 35) A late 13th-century Plea Roll states that King John bought 'the land called the Mews outside Westgate in which were a house and dove-cote … . for the mewing of his hawks,' and adds that Henry III demised the Mews to Reginald son of Peter. (fn. 36) However, an earlier inquisition of 1263 states that Henry II bought 'the place where the king's Mews were accustomed to be,' and that afterwards King John took it into his hands. After John's death it was in the king's hands until the Abbot of Pershore, the king's escheator, demised it to Rowland de Oddingsel for life, after whose death it was granted as a royal escheat to Reginald son of Peter in 1263. (fn. 37) All traces of the site of the Mews outside Westgate have long been lost.

The Mint-house and the Exchange were also important features of Winchester in the 12th and 13th centuries. The law of Athelstan had settled six moneyers in the borough. (fn. 38) King Edgar had ordered that one money should pass through the king's dominion, and one measure and one weight such as is observed at London and at Winchester. (fn. 39) But, since minting was not under central control, debased money was frequently issued. Thus in 1125 Henry I summoned all the moneyers of England to Winchester, and, finding their coin was bad, had them all, except three, horribly mutilated. (fn. 40) The entry in the Winton Survey of 1103–15 of 'five mints in the market-place which had been done away with by the king's order' (fn. 41) probably signifies that the king had already begun his reform of the coinage at Winchester. In 1180 and 1183 sums of £37 12s. 8d. and £2 8s. 4d. were paid for the work on 'the house of the Mint in the city,' (fn. 42) showing that the moneyers were again at work there. In 1181 8d. a day each for 152 days was paid to the king's money-changers at Winchester, and the 'cost of hiring houses and other necessaries for the changing.' (fn. 43) The next year the sum of £12 3s. 4d. was paid to Rowland, the moneychanger, for the whole year, and £1 3s. 4d. for hiring the house for the changing and his own quarters. (fn. 44) King John in his charter of 1215 confirmed the Mint and the exchange of money to the citizens. Henry III confirmed this grant in 1227, and Edward III by inspeximus in 1344 (see infra). The site of the Minthouse is uncertain, but the house of Godwin Soche, the master moneyer in 1103–15, was on the north side of the High Street between Wongar Street (Middle Brooks) and Tanner Street (Lower Brooks), and it is possible that this was the Mint-house.

At the present day place-names alone, with the two gates of Westgate and Kingsgate and the Hermit's Tower, and traces here and there of foundations and materials, remain to mark the existence of the old city boundaries and walls. Yet it was not until 1791 that Eastgate, Northgate and Southgate were destroyed, and only then because their extreme decay, lowness and narrowness made them dangerous for traffic. Eastgate stood several feet west of the old Soke Bridge, the east wall running thence south to meet the wall of Wolvesey Castle, which formed the southeast corner of the boundary, and north to Durngate along the back of the modern Eastgate Street. Durngate, or the postern gate, (fn. 45) was at the extreme north-east corner, where the bridge now crosses the river on the way to Winnall. (fn. 46) Then the north wall went west along the present North Walls, its foundations being under the row of cottages which runs up the north side of the North Walls, some of those facing Trinity Church having been built within the last fifty or sixty years partly out of materials of the wall. Northgate, over which was the church of St. Mary, after the Reformation a porter's lodge, was at the north end of Jewry Street, just at the entrance to St. Bartholomew Hyde Street, about where the modern lamp-post stands. (fn. 47) Thence the wall as it went west made a slight bend to the south, running along at the back of the modern houses on the south side of City Road as far as the Hermit's Tower (a modern erection on the old site of a drum tower), (fn. 48) where it turned south, passing along the present Tower Street to Westgate. At Westgate the city wall became the castle wall, which curved round to the south-east to meet the city wall again at Southgate, which stood a few yards south of the point where Southgate Street and St. Swithun's Street meet. From Southgate the wall passed down behind the houses on the south side of St. Swithun's Street, running almost parallel with the Close wall as far as Kingsgate. From Kingsgate it passed east, as the good bits of remaining wall in some of the gardens plainly show, behind the houses on the north side of College Street to meet the Wolvesey Castle wall as it crossed the brook almost opposite the entrance to St. Mary's College. A ditch ran round the city, several traces of which can still be seen; but that part of the ditch round the royal castle was separate from the city ditch and was supplied with water from a different source. (fn. 49)

Westgate, to a considerable extent, retains its original form. It is of late 14th-century date and is of two stories. The central arch is original and is of drop two-centred form. On the west, the outside, it is of two continuous moulded orders. On either side the wall face is advanced, the projections being carried up to the parapet, which between them and over the entrance is overhanging and machicolated, with chamfered corbels supporting it. Behind the moulded orders is the groove of the portcullis, the recess for which is visible in the chamber over the roadway. Above the arch is a moulded and enriched string course, and below the machicolation a second string set with grotesque heads and foliated bosses. In the middle stage thus formed are a pair of loop-holes terminating at their foot in small circular openings. Above these are two square panels with labels, containing quatrefoils and shields. On either side of these are grotesque heads forming openings for the drawbridge chains. The eastern or inner face has been somewhat more restored. The arch is two-centred and of three moulded orders. Above it is a late 14th-century window with a twocentred moulded head with a label and moulded jambs, which, originally of two lights, has had the tracery knocked out and a wooden frame inserted. On either side are offset and weathered buttresses, in the top stage of which are trefoiled niches, and there is a third and similar buttress to the north on the other side of the modern arch over the footway. Above the latter is a second window similar in every way to the one above described. The south footway passes outside the old structure under modern buildings. On the flanking wall to the south is a door, completely restored, to the vaulted staircase leading up to the chamber over the roadway and from thence continued to the roof. The chamber is used as a museum of objects connected with the city and contains the old city chest, the bronze moot horn, some of the old standard weights and measures and a miscellaneous collection of arms, armour, &c. From the 17th to the early 19th century it was used as a debtors' prison, and the semi-dungeon into which the poorer debtors were thrown is beneath the museum and is indicated on the outside by a blocked-up window.

Kingsgate, over which is St. Swithun's Church, retains a few traces of 14th-century date, but appears to have been altered about the 15th century. It is pierced by three arches, that on the west being modern. The side arches are plain chamfered and much restored. The 14th-century central arch to the south is of two moulded orders and is set between small buttresses. On the north the central arch is of the same date and of two chamfered orders. There is no vaulting over the roadway or the footpaths.

Many times in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries grants were made by the kings to the citizens to help in the repair and rebuilding of their walls. Thus in 1228 Henry III granted them 50 marks due from them as tallage to aid in inclosing their walls. (fn. 50) Further in the same year, in aid of inclosing the town for its security and the safeguarding of the parts adjacent, the king granted the Mayor and good men of Winchester that they should for the next two years take a custom of ½d. from every cart of the county bearing goods for sale into Winchester and of ¼d. from every such cart of every other county, also of ½d. for every horse or mare, bull or cow brought there to be sold. (fn. 51) In August 1234 a similar grant was made for two years, (fn. 52) in 1236 the time for taking the same custom was further extended for three years, (fn. 53) and again in 1241 for another three years, (fn. 54) again in 1256 for seven years, (fn. 55) and for further terms of seven years in 1264, (fn. 56) 1271 (fn. 57) and 1317. (fn. 58) Nicholas Devenish, Mayor of Winchester, in 1339 obtained licence from the king to allow him to 'lade as many sacks whereof the custom and subsidy would amount to the said sum, in the port of London before Michaelmas and take them to the staple, as he was elected mayor for the current year and was charged by the council to repair the walls of the city and cause it to be sufficiently enclosed.' (fn. 59) His successor-elect Robert de Farnefold evidently shrank from the mayoral duties, of which this defence of the city was one, since he petitioned at the Exchequer to be discharged of office because 'of the feebleness of his ageing body' and because 'he dare not take it on account of divers causes considering the changefulness of the time.' (fn. 60)

The desperate state of the city is shown by a petition of the mayor and bailiffs in 1376 begging the king to grant them an aid either from their fee farm or from the ulnage of cloth to help in the repair of the walls; for the greater part of the wall of the city was fallen to the ground and a great part of the fortification was also ruinous and would soon fall to the ground. Moreover, 'la greindre partie de mesme la cite est pleinement gaste et anienti par reson du povert et nientmeyns plusours hommes de lour resceantz de jour en altere passent hors de mesme la cite par cause de lour graunt charge q'ils portent en ycelles.' The king promised to consider the petition. (fn. 61) In 1378 he ordered the mayor and bailiffs 'where the walls, turrets, gates and dykes are so dilapidated and out of repair as to imperil the city if the French landed, as they recently did, to continue notwithstanding the opposition of some evil disposed persons to repair and reconstruct the same.' For this purpose they might compel by distress or otherwise all persons who had lands, tenements, rents, or even merchandise within the liberty of the city to contribute thereto each according to his means, 'excepting only privileged men and weak poor beggars.' They might also pull down and remove buildings adjacent to the wall or the city dyke or trees or other nuisances, providing they paid the owners of the site and the houses the value of the same as appraised by six or four good men of the city. (fn. 62) Further in 1385 the mayor and bailiffs were bidden to compel all who had lands, tenements, or rents in the city or suburb and all who lived by trade and 'got gain' to contribute to the repair of the walls each according to his means. Also they were bidden to take carpenters and workmen for the work at the expense of the community and imprison any who should refuse contribution. (fn. 63) During the next few years grants were made from the ulnage of cloth in Winchester and the county for the repair of the walls. Thus in September 1389 £20 was granted for eight years from the ulnage to 'the king's tenants in Winchester who have been impoverished by pestilence and other chance losses.' (fn. 64) In 1393 this grant, then to the value of £26, was given for five years to the mayor and commonalty. (fn. 65)

In August 1400 the citizens were granted an allowance of 40 marks for six years from the fee farm of the city for the repair of their walls, (fn. 66) and in 1406 the mayor and bailiffs were again commissioned to compel during the next seven years all those who had lands and rents in the city to contribute, according to their means, towards the repair of the walls. (fn. 67)

The 16th century was a quieter time for Winchester, and less is heard about the repair of the walls. However, in 1564 they were reported to have been newly repaired at the cost and charges of the Marquess of Winchester, and henceforward care was to be taken to keep them free from ivy, young springalls and weeds, 'which hath been the chiefest decay of the same walls.' (fn. 68) In the same year William Lawrence, who had lately purchased of Richard Bethell a meadow near the town ponds, and could not conveniently come into the same with cart and carriage, was allowed to make 'a sufficient gate for a cart to pass through the town wall where never yet hath gate or door been.' He was to have free ingress and egress by and through the same gate with carts, provided he should make, repair and maintain the same gate, and should 'shut the same gate at all times at command of the mayor for the safety of the Queen's city.' (fn. 69)

Pasture of the ditches round the city walls was at this time a favourite source of income on the part of the mayor and bailiffs. (fn. 70) In 1572 the bailiffs were ordered not to farm the pasture of the ditches except to pasture horses and sheep only. Two years later the pasture of the city ditch from Westgate to Northgate was let to William Lane. (fn. 71) The Civil War of the 17th century and the siege of Winchester and the slighting of the castle must have done much to obscure the city boundaries. In the 18th century the walls could not have been in a very secure condition judging from an entry in the coffer books in 1778, 'Paid to Henry Lucas for damage to Jonathan Ping by the fall of the city wall £9 1s.' (fn. 72) It remained for the practical needs of the 19th century to sweep away as far as possible all traces of the old boundary marks; the need for them had ceased as the borough extended in widening circles to meet the growth of the population outside the old walls.

From the low-lying land at the foot of St. Giles Hill, which rises abruptly east of the city near the river and Soke Bridge, the High Street winds its way slightly uphill to the Piazza (the old Penthouse), (fn. 73) and from there makes a more distinct rise to Westgate. Since 1901 one of the most imposing features of the lower part of the town has been the statue of King Alfred, who stands facing the city with his back to the hill in the Broadway, (fn. 74) near the abbey grounds. On his left in the Abbey grounds formerly stood a bronze statue of Queen Victoria, now in the County Hall, while on his right at the entrance to Eastgate Street stands the old Russian gun taken in the Crimean War. There, in spite of several attempts of the municipal authorities to move it to St. Giles Hill, Winchester citizens have shown themselves determined to have it remain. (fn. 75) Modern Eastgate Street, which here branches north from the High Street, has now nothing of interest. Eastgate House, which until it was pulled down in 1846–7 stood alone in a fine situation east of the present street, was important both in itself and its site. Here from the 13th century to the Dissolution was the house of the Dominican Friars, the site of whose priory was granted to Winchester College in 1544. On this site, holding it on lease from the College, Sir Robert Mason built Eastgate House in the reign of Charles II, when the king's house was being built. In Godson's map of 1750 the house is termed 'Mr. Penton's seat,' and it was this Mr. Penton who, as member for the city, entertained George III and Queen Charlotte for two nights at Eastgate House on their visit to Winchester in 1778. In the 19th century the house was held by the Mildmay family, and was locally known as Mildmay House. Dame Jane St. John Mildmay held the house on lease until her death in 1846, when it was pulled down and the modern houses built on the site. A few yards up the High Street beyond Eastgate Street are St. John's Hospital and St. John's Rooms, which are almost entirely of mid-18th-century date, having been rebuilt at that time. Some panelling remains of an earlier century, however, and the walls themselves are also of an earlier date than this. The substructure containing the kitchens has large open fireplaces, and one of the cross walls is pierced with a three-centred arch, but there is no trace of any detail apparently earlier than the 16th century.

Immediately west of St. John's Rooms is the narrow Busket Lane, originally the more important Buck Street. Beneath the road a few yards from this lane the remains of the Charnel Chapel founded in 1319 by Roger Ingpen (fn. 76) were uncovered during some sewerage work in the city.

Almost opposite St. John's Hospital is the modern Gildhall, on the site of St. Mary's Abbey buryingground. It was opened in 1873 by Lord Selborne, the foundation stone having been laid in 1871 by Viscount Eversley. It is of Bath stone, and is designed in the style of the Middle Gothic so prevalent at the date of its erection. Attached to the Gildhall are the police station, the fire station, (fn. 77) the school of art and the public reading room and free library. Passing up the High Street, leaving Colebrook Street on the left, and the narrow alley leading to Lower Brook Street (the old Tanner Street) on the right, one comes to St. Maurice's Church, almost opposite Middle Brook Street (the old Wongar Street), shut in between a draper's shop on its cast and a butcher's shop on its west. A dark covered passage, St. Maurice's Passage, (fn. 78) between the butcher's shop and the church, leads past a slaughterhouse to Spicer's Corner and thence into the Cathedral cemetery. St. Maurice's Church was rebuilt about the middle of the 19th century on the site of the old church, which was near the site of the New Minster (St. Grimbald's Abbey).

At the back of the houses on the north side of the road in this part of the High Street a narrow street called Silver Hill (fn. 79) runs between Middle and Lower Brook Street. In Middle Brook Street is a long timber, plaster and tile-hung building, probably of the 16th century, divided into a number of tenements. It has an overhanging upper floor, and has been a good deal modernized. A few yards up the High Street the last of the Brook Streets, Upper Brook Street (the old Shildworth or Shuldworth Street), branches to the north. Up to the latter half of the 19th century the brooks of the saint-Bishop Ethelwald were open and ran down the middle of these streets, but now run through a culvert. At the back of the house now known as Underwood's Stores a public lavatory over the upper brook, known as the 'Mayden's Chambre,' (fn. 80) existed as early as the 15th century and as late at least as the 18th.

Winchester: The Butter Cross

On the opposite side of the High Street, at the corner of Market Street, is Dumper's Restaurant, on the site of the 17th-century Dog and Star Inn, and the 19th-century market-house. (fn. 81) Some yards farther on the church of St. Mary Kalender formerly stood on the north side of the street, east of Parchment Street and opposite the covered Piazza or Penthouse, the Old Drapery, which runs up the south side of the High Street to one of the most interesting corners in Winchester. Grouped round the 15th-century High Cross, often known locally as the Butter Cross, (fn. 82) are the old houses which mark the site of the tenements of 'Hevyn and Helle' and Bulhall. Behind them, almost buried among the houses, is one of the oldest churches in the city, that of St. Lawrence; past which a partly covered passage leads into the old-fashioned square where once—near the present City Museum, formerly the Butcher's Shambles—stood the old cage and pillory, (fn. 83) and afterwards the stocks. Bedded in the wall on the west of the covered passage is a supposed Norman pilaster, diapered with a horse-shoe pattern, said by local tradition to be the only remaining trace of the palace of William the Conqueror, (fn. 84) which covered the surrounding site before 'Hevyn and Helle' existed there. 'Le Newe House,' built right up to the wall of St. Lawrence Church, is on the site of the former 'Hevyn' and retains many of its 14th-century features, while the house at the end of the Piazza, now a confectioner's shop, was built on the site of 'Helle.' The latter has much early 17th-century panelling, some rooms being completely lined with it. There are also some lengths of linen fold panelling of an earlier date. The front is of 18th-century date, though the form of the overhanging upper floors, supported on posts at the kerb of the footway, is probably original. The cellars are barrel vaulted and of brick, and appear to date from the 16th century. The back wall is party with the north wall of St. Lawrence Church, and the shafted jamb of a late 13th-century window is visible in a back room. Between 'Hevyn' and 'Helle' was an open space known as Bulhall, probably leading to St. Lawrence Church. This space seems to have been blocked up in 1652, and a room thus added to 'Le Newe House.' The latter is of four stories, of half-timber construction, and the two upper stories overhang. The front is crowned by a gable. The two lower floors have been completely modernized. The room on the first floor now occupies the whole depth of the house, but a projecting chimney-breast on the west wall probably marks the position of a former partition. This room is lighted on the front by a wood-mullioned window of 14th-century detail, of four trefoiled ogee lights with pierced and foliated spandrels. The loft in the roof above is now partly open to the floor below, and is lighted by a small plain four-light window in the gable. In the cellar below the ground floor are what appear to be remains of an earlier structure. The south and east walls are of stone, and of great thickness, pierced by two arched recesses with segmental chamfered heads. The roof is covered externally with tiles.

Almost opposite the City Cross is the site of the Chequer Inn, which in its prime in the days of Queen Anne was rated even higher than the well-known George Inn further up the High Street. It covered a wide area, the premises at the present day of Messrs. Brown, Dyer (fn. 85) and Edmonds and the old Bank. It was pulled down at the end of the 18th century when the famous proprietor Dibsdale went from the 'Chequer' to the 'George' and took his prosperity with him. Immediately west of the site of the Chequer Inn is St. Peter's Street, originally called Fleshmonger Street, because the chief shambles of the city stood here, and afterwards named from the church of St. Peter de Macellis, (fn. 86) which had stood just outside the bounds of the liberty of 'Godbiete,' the remains of its churchyard having been found on the site of some modern ironmongery stores, north-west of the Godbegot House.

Godbegot House, at the corner of St. Peter's Street and the High Street, is built of brick and half-timber work and dates from about the middle of the 16th century; its overhanging upper stories supported upon stout beams and brackets, gables and gablets may be seen in the narrow passage on the west side, the front towards the High Street being modern. The diningroom with its open timber roof supported upon queen post trusses and four-centred brick fireplace, and the drawing-room, panelled in small squares and further enriched by carved wood pilasters, combine with the oak beams and rafters of these and other rooms to make this a most interesting example of the period.

Overbury House in St. Peter's Street belongs to the first quarter of the 18th century. The street elevation is designed with a central block and two small flanking wings with a flight of steps and a rather rich Doric entrance in the middle. The windows are heavily sashed and a broad wooden cornice is carried round the front and returned on the flanks. The roof, which is tiled, is sprung from a point considerably inside of the crown mould.

Winchester: The Old Gildhall

The old west door of the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen has been removed and reset as the gateway of the Roman Catholic church, which is some way north of the site of the church of St. Peter de Macellis in St. Peter's Street. It is of late 12th-century date, with a semicircular head of two moulded orders and a hollowed label. The jambs are doubly shafted, and have circular-moulded bases and, in three cases, scalloped capitals with moulded abaci. The fourth capital is foliate.

On the south side of the High Street, at the junction of St. Thomas Street (Calpe Street) and the High Street, is the old Gildhall, now a drapery establishment. On this site stood the Gildhall from the time of Edward IV to James II, when in 1693 it was so ruinous and out of repair that ordinances were made for converting and making the markethouse in the square into a Gildhall, 'the old hall to be sold to such person or persons as will give most money for the same.' (fn. 87) However, this plan fell through, and in 1713 the Gildhall was rebuilt on the same site and remained in use until the building of the modern Gildhall. The upper portion, containing the large room used as the hall, stands on five Doric columns of stone supporting flat arches with moulded voussoirs and projecting key stones. This lower part, formerly containing shops which belonged to St. John's Hospital, is now turned into two stories, a mezzanine floor being introduced above the shopfronts. These alterations appear to have been made in the early 19th century. The upper portion is of brick above the sills of the windows, of which there are six facing the High Street. The large room on the first floor has been cut up by modern partitions, and no original detail of any interest remains. In the centre of the upper part of the front elevation is a semicircular-headed niche containing the leaden statue of Queen Anne, given by George Bridges, M.P. for Winchester. Below is a tablet inscribed 'Anno Pacifico, Anna Regina 1713.' The town clock, presented by Sir William Paulet in 1713, supported by a richly-carved bracket of timber, projects from this elevation; a curved pediment surmounts the dials, of which there are two, facing up and down the High Street. A belfry of timber, with a lead-covered cupola crowned by a gilded ball and vane, rises above the west end of the building. In the belfry is hung the curfew-bell, which is still rung at eight o'clock in the evening. The inscription on it states that it was cast by Clemant (sic) Tosiear in the year 1702.

Vaulted Ground Story of House in St. Thomas' Street, Winchester

A little way down St. Thomas' Street, at the back of a house on the west side, is the sub-vault of a 12th-century house in fair condition. It is now used as a storage for lumber.

Higher up the High Street on the north side, at the corner of Jewry Street, is the George Hotel, on the site of the well-known George Inn, as it remained with its open courtyard and surrounding galleries until rebuilt by Dibsdale, the old proprietor of the 'Chequer,' in 1769. Within the last twenty years the hotel has been much modernized. In Jewry Street itself the premises of Messrs. Frampton, on the east side of the street, are on the site of the old theatre, in use within living memory, while opposite was the old county gaol. There are one or two simple half-timber cottages in this street, probably dating from the beginning of the 17th century. Across the High Street, almost opposite Jewry Street, is Southgate Street. No. 27 Southgate Street is a fair example of an early 18th-century red brick house. It has two projecting wings, the central portion having a good coved rubbed brick cornice under the eaves. The roof is tiled. The windows have heavy flush sashes, and there is a good projecting over-door to the front entrance. No. 15 Southgate Street is a good red brick town house of early 18th-century date with moulded brick string courses and a pair of good leaden rain-water heads dated 1715. Over the entrance doorway is a small wooden porch of excellent proportions. At the corner of Southgate Street and the High Street is the Black Swan Hotel, on the site of the old Swan Inn of the 15th century. Higher up, on the south side of High Street, is the narrow lane Trafalgar Street (the old Gar Street, promoted to Trafalgar Street after Nelson's victory), nearly opposite which is the street known as Staple Gardens. At the corner of Staple Gardens and the High Street is the Star Hotel, on the site of the old Star Inn of the 15th century. Higher again, as the road becomes steeper, is Westgate, below which two roads branch again uphill south to the County Hall and the site of the royal castle, north along Tower Street to Tower House and thence to City Road.

Ground Story of 12th-century House, St. Thomas' Street


  • 1. Rep. Munic. Corp. Boundaries (1837), pt. ii.
  • 2. Ibid. iii.
  • 3. Loc. Govt. Act, 56 & 57 Vict. cap. 73, sec. 36.
  • 4. The rest of the parish of St. Faith Without was amalgamated with the parish of Compton.
  • 5. Loc. Govt. Board Order, 1900.
  • 6. Ibid. 1902.
  • 7. See V.C.H. Hants, i, 285–93.
  • 8. Ibid. 286.
  • 9. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 163.
  • 10. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), Additamenta, pp. 531–62. The earlier survey is limited in its scope, and therefore gives no idea of the town as a whole.
  • 11. This number is inadequate for Milner's description. He quotes the fire of 1102 as destroying the city and all its buildings, and yet a few years later sees Winchester full of magnificent buildings, castles, palaces and innumerable parish churches (John Milner, Hist. of Winchester [ed. 1823], i, 201, 207–8). The Annals of Winchester under this year, 1102, state 'Londonia bis combusta est: Wintonia semel' (Ann. Mon. [Rolls Ser.], ii, 41), but, as has often been pointed out, this may usually be taken to mean that there was a bad fire in the city, and nothing more.
  • 12. A map published by William Godson, according to Act of Parliament, July 1750, gives the modern names to the streets, except Trafalgar Street, which it calls Bowling Green, anciently called Gar Street.
  • 13. V.C.H. Hants, i, 527 et seq.
  • 14. Dean Kitchin in his map of Norman Winchester marks the Staple House on a more northerly site, but gives no authority for the site. Moreover, the growth of the staple system dates only from the reign of Edward I, so that the Staple House was not in existence as such at the time of the survey.
  • 15. The identification of the 'Hantachenesele' with the later gildhall, now a draper's shop, at the corner of St. Thomas Street (see Dean Kitchin, Winchester [Historic Towns Ser.], 75), could not hold, since the two are in such different localities.
  • 16. V.C.H. Hants, i, 531; Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 261; Cal. Pat. 1272 81, p. 133.
  • 17. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), Additamenta, pp. 532b, 543b.
  • 18. Ibid. 535.
  • 19. Ibid. 533a.
  • 20. Ibid. 532, 543b.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Ibid. 536.
  • 23. Ibid. 534.
  • 24. Ibid.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Concerning the building of the palace partly on the site of twelve burgage tenements belonging to the king (vide infra) and partly on the land belonging to the New Minster in the heart of the city, for which William gave in exchange to the monks the manor of Alton and the church of Kingsclere, see The New Minster (Hants Rec. Soc.), 2, 3, 111, 157 n., 163. The editor of the Liber de Hyda (Rolls Ser.), Introd. pp. xl–xli, omits to notice the fact of the exchange. See V.C.H. Hants, i, 416–18, where Mr. Round discusses the question of the Conqueror's treatment of the monks of the New Minster. The palace is said to have been burnt down in 1140 (Stowe MS. 944, fol. 7b). See J. H. Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 126–7, where the whole question of the destruction of the palace is discussed in the footnotes.
  • 27. The monks of New Minster removed to the new buildings outside Northgate, the new Hyde Abbey, in 1110 (Ann. Mon. [Rolls Ser.], ii, 43). Hence in the survey the abbot is the Abbot of Hyde.
  • 28. The church of St. Mary de Linea Selda was close to the abbey of St. Mary, probably on the east side of the river running through the abbey grounds to the old abbey mill.
  • 29. Milner, op. cit. i, 157.
  • 30. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 52; see J. H. Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 125–9; see also below under Political History.
  • 31. Pipe R. (P.R.O.), sub anno.
  • 32. Ibid.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Arch. Journ. vii, 374 et seq.
  • 37. Pat. 48 Hen. III, pt. i, m. 18.
  • 38. Wilkins, Leges Angl.-Sax. (ed. 1721), 59.
  • 39. Stubbs, Select Chart. 72.
  • 40. Hoc anno mutilati sunt omnes monetarii totius Angliae, exceptis tribus, apud Wintoniam; Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 47. See Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 376; ii, 221. For a further account of the mint and exchange at Winchester and a list of the moneyers see in Proc. Arch. Inst. (1845) an article on the same by Edward Hawkins.
  • 41. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), Additamenta, 534.
  • 42. Pipe R. (P.R.O.), sub annis.
  • 43. Ibid. sub anno.
  • 44. Ibid. Mr. Round has shown in his Introduction to Pipe R. of 26 Hen. II (Pipe R. Soc. p. xxviii) and 27 Hen. II (p. xxii) that all these entries were connected with the change of coinage at the time, Winchester being a centre of the operation.
  • 45. a According to Dr. Milner, Durngate was originally Bourn-gate or River Gate; op. cit. ii, 210.
  • 46. A modern house close by is known as Durngate House; there is also a Durngate Terrace.
  • 47. Remains of the outside bridge of Northgate can be seen in Mrs. Moss's garden close by. There are also traces of the ditch.
  • 48. Mention of the Hermit's Tower is found in 1560, when the castle green called 'Bewmonds' and 'Thermyttes Tower' were leased to William Lawrence for a term of twenty-nine years (Proc. in Boromote [Winton Corp. Doc.], fol. 37), see below.
  • 49. This was clearly shown when part of the ditch was revealed during some work that was being done in connexion with the County Council buildings in the winter of 1908.
  • 50. Cal. Close, 1227–31, pp. 54–5.
  • 51. Cal. Pat. 1225–32, p. 189. As a rule this custom belonged to the king. See the Custumals among the Winton Corp. Doc. and infra.
  • 52. Cal. Pat. 1225–47, p. 64.
  • 53. Ibid. p. 149.
  • 54. Ibid. p. 250.
  • 55. Pat. 41 Hen. III, m. 16.
  • 56. Ibid. 49 Hen. III, m. 28.
  • 57. Ibid. 56 Hen. III, m. 27.
  • 58. Cal. Pat. 1313–17, p. 525.
  • 59. Cal. Close, 1339–41, pp. 48–54. This same year the king made provision that the men of the suburb of Winchester should help in repairing the walls of the city, and keeping watch and doing other things for defence according to their faculty with the other citizens; ibid. 131. Moreover, Robert Daundely, Sheriff of Hampshire, was bidden to stay with divers men-at-arms and others for the custody of the castle and city (ibid. p. 109).
  • 60. Ibid. p. 191.
  • 61. Rolls of Parl. ii, 346b.
  • 62. Cal. Pat. 1377–81, p. 111.
  • 63. Ibid. 1381–5, p. 556.
  • 64. Ibid. 1388–92, p. 115.
  • 65. Ibid. 1391–6, p. 332.
  • 66. Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, p. 533.
  • 67. Ibid. 1405–8, p. 276.
  • 68. Proc. in Boromote (Winton Corp. Doc.) sub anno, fol. 58, and First Bk. of Ordinances, fol. 138b.
  • 69. Ibid. fol. 139–139b.
  • 70. First Bk. of Ordinances (Winton Corp. Doc.), fol. 167b. This was no new thing. The chamberlain's accounts of the 14th century show proceeds from the sale of the herbage of the ditches of the city. For example, in 1354 comes '8s de herbagio fossat civitatis vend.'
  • 71. Ibid. fol. 178b.
  • 72. Coffer Bks. (Winton Corp. Doc.), sub anno.
  • 73. The Penthouse occurs at least as early as the 14th century, £7 14s. 11d. being accounted for by the bailiffs of Winchester in 1354–5 from rents 'de pentice' (Chamberlain's Accts. [Winton Corp. Doc.], 28 Edw. III).
  • 74. The city gaol formerly stood in the open space now known as the Broadway.
  • 75. It has become almost as sacred as a village oak, and if any dissatisfaction with the municipal authorities is felt in the city it is vented in a meeting at the gun.
  • 76. Winton Epis. Reg. John de Sandale (Hants Rec. Soc.), p. 272.
  • 77. The first fire engine was furnished for the city in the early half of the 17th century on account of sad experience of sudden and lamentable fires (Fifth Bk. of Ordinances [Winton Corp. Doc.], sub anno 1633). In 1706 it was unanimously agreed in council that a large engine should be provided for the use of the city and the charge defrayed out of the coffers; see Coffer Bks. sub anno.
  • 78. In 1561 an ordinance was made for the inclosing of 'the lane leading from St. Maurice Church to Spicer's corner,' the way 'between the church and the garden' being enlarged 'the breadth of 3 ft. all the length of the garden' (First Bk. of Ordinances [Winton Corp. Doc.], fol. 130b).
  • 79. In January 1587 a tenement garden on Silver Hill was granted for fourty years to Walter Sands; First Bk. of Ordinances, sub anno. Here during some building operations a few years ago two large crucibles were found, giving colour to the belief that the armourers occupied the street. Ex inform. Alderman W. H. Jacob.
  • 80. Rot. Cur. (Winton Corp. Doc.), 5 Hen. V. Richard Horsman was amerced 4d. because 'habet truncos juxta domum suam prope latrinam vocatam Mayden chambre super solum domini Regis ad grave nocumentum vicinorum.' 'Mayden' probably is a corruption of the provincial English midden, a dunghill (A.-S. midding, Danish mödding).
  • 81. The Dog and Star Inn was purchased as a site for the market-house for £450 in May 1772, and in the following December one year's quit-rent was paid for it to the dean and chapter. The total cost of the new market, including the site, was £1,226 11s. 10d.; Coffer Bks. (Winton Corp. Doc.), sub anno. A fragment of an undated, evidently late 17th-century presentment among the MSS. in the mayor's parlour at the Gildhall records how Farmer John Edwards, 'a tall lusty fellow,' who was resting on horseback outside the Dog and Star alehouse 'with a pott of beer in his hand,' cried, 'Here is King James' health!' upon which a young man standing by said, 'I don't love to hear soe much of James; you have been burnt in the cheek already,' or words to that effect, the said person having a patch on his cheek. The site was still used as a market-house within the last twenty years. Ex inform. Alderman Thomas Stopher, to whom, as also to Alderman W. H. Jacob and Mr. A. Lane Locke, the writer is indebted for many local details.
  • 82. Until about fifty years ago the town pump was near the city cross, where the modern letter-box stands.
  • 83. The pillory is mentioned in 1294— 'Tenementa Stephanis Hotekake de Dono Radulfi Fabri contra Le Pillory'; Rent R. of St. John's Hospital, 1294 (Winton Corp. Doc.).
  • 84. Some of the materials of the palace were used in the building of Wolvesev Castle.
  • 85. The cellars of these premises have some fine vaulting.
  • 86. The town bell used to be rung from the tower of this church, and in the 16th century the tower was more than once repaired for the sake of the bell; Coffer Bks. (Winton Corp. Doc.).
  • 87. Ordinance Bks. (Winton Corp. Doc.) sub anno.