The day started with seven members first visiting Abbey House, which is formally known as the Official Residence of the Mayor of Winchester. There are only five cities in the country which retain this facility and Winchester is one of them. The existing structure was built as a private house in the 18th century, but the site has a much longer history.
Over the years, the house was allowed to fall into disrepair, and consequently The Mayor no longer resides there. Subsequent repairs and renovations have made it suitable for many civic and social engagements; it houses the Mayors’ office and is used for cabinet meetings. The rooms were quite sparsely furnished, but had interesting windows giving a pleasant feel to the house. The house when originally built had impressive grounds which today is a local park.
The current Mayor of Winchester is Cllr Eleanor Bell and she is the 820th Mayor of Winchester. Madam Mayor was present and greeted visitors during their walkabout and was most obliging in answering any questions that she was presented with. I requested a group photo and she kindly joined in. Our next visit was to Winchester City Museum, which tells the story of England’s ancient capital, the seat of Alfred the Great. We saw various exhibits demonstrating Winchester’s role in English history from its origins as an Iron Age trading centre to Anglo‑Saxon glory, through to the hunt for King Alfred’s remains. It explores the sights and sounds of Winchester past and present in the museum’s three galleries. And of course, there was a section on Jane Austen, Hampshire’s well known author who died in 1817 at her residence, 8 Chapel Street and was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral.
There is a breath- taking model known as the Winchester Model of the city in Victorian times. The model was built by former County Planning Officer Roger Brown, who left it as a legacy to the city and its people. It is a unique record of Winchester from 1870, when the population was less than a third of what it is now, when the magnificent Guildhall was yet to be built, and when it would be another 30 years before the statue of King Alfred would be erected on the Broadway. By this time we all was in need of refreshments and made our way to the Cathedral Refectory, enjoying a light lunch, a sit down and enjoyed the glorious sunshine.
It was now 2.30pm and we made our way to the old cattle market to see the vintage King Alfred Buses and Coaches dating from late 1920 to 1967.
To everyone enjoyment we took a free coach tour from Winchester out to Alresford, across to Cheriton and back to Winchester, lasting about an hour. This was fun as it brought back memories to all of us of one kind or another, plus it was a delight to see over the hedges and view some of the most gorgeous properties in the Hampshire countryside. This was a great way to finish the day.
Abbey House picture - with Ghost
Group with the Mayor
Part of the 'Winchester Model'
King Alfred old bus
On the bus tour
AHA Committee thank all Members for joining us during 2019, and please note we will not be reconvening until 2020. Information regarding 2020 will be issued later this year. Rosemary Crumplin