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Once a year the National Heritage opens its doors for a period of two weeks through-out the country. When I say “opens its doors” this is because many of the venues are either private, a place of business, etc. and do not lean themselves for normal visiting. The range of properties encompasses every walk of life from historical, listed buildings to offices of public services and the list goes on and on.
This year the AHA Group concentrated on Winchester College, which was offering a variety of interests to visit. This took place whilst business was as usual – normal lessons for the scholars.
Winchester College was founded by William Long who became known as William of Wykeham which was his birthplace. He was born into a farming family and received a good education, and it became his passion that all children should be educated. Wykeham was made Bishop of Winchester and became known to many noble families along with a number of major building projects, i.e. Clerk of Works for the construction of Windsor Castle. He became well known within the inner circle of both Edward III and Richard II. Wykeham shared his wish to build a school in Winchester and his reasons for doing this, and the Kings gifted him the land.
In recent years they have created a Garden of Remembrance which is noted as being the largest private one within the U.K. This was formed to honour many of the College former pupils who are known as “Wykehamists”, who lost their lives serving in the armed forces from the First World War up to the present date.
After our outside walkabout, we peeked at the oldest parts of buildings which was the original Chapel currently being used mainly for archive storage.
Whilst here we enjoyed a double bonus as the College was showing an exhibition of the first Mount Everest Climb. With it being the one-hundred-year anniversary of the “Wykehamists” attempting to climb the region with the object of mapping, survey etc. This was led by a George Leigh-Mallory along with Major Henry Morshead and Guy Bullock. This was very informative showing a running film along with photographs, printed material and much more.
We then viewed a large room which was formerly the College Refectory. This was a typical room of its period with stained wooden panels, and over time names etc. has been etched in, now known as art! There were pictures and plaques of former principals etc. The room is now used as a quiet study room.
It was now time to complete our visit to the College by viewing the Archives. The first building we had to climb 22 spiral steps up to a smallish room, and what was noticeable there was no heating and low natural light, but the walls were very thick. This constant temperature has played a big part in keeping the documents in pristine condition.