Winchester, UK (Day 4: June 14, 2022)

Low key but nice is the best way to describe today, my second day on me own, as they say here. Who would not be seduced by a soft breeze on a sunny, 73 degree day?

With a light breakfast of fruit and porridge, again…as they say here, I headed to town to see the small City Museum. The three galleries weave together Winchester’s journey from its Iron Age beginnings to the Romans’ arrival in 70 AD to today. Much was a review of our two tours a couple days ago, but it was nice to see it laid out in an orderly fashion.

The museum has a lot of small artifacts uncovered over the years by archeologists, construction workers, surveyors, and ordinary criticizes. They ranged from items used in domestic life, trade, construction, and fashion and include things like a toilet seat, coins, and jewelry. Two recipes were offered: one for honey cakes and another for, yum, hot boiled goose with cold sauce. A few things caught my eye. One was a bronze horn from the 1100s used by the city crier to summon the freemen to assemblies. It was discovered in a chest in 1898! I also enjoyed seeing the carved bone combs used by privileged Roman women.

Hypocausts were explained and there was a nice mockup of one. This heating system, used by the wealthiest Romans, relied on raised floors supported on piles/pillars of tiles. Heat was generated outside the house and directed to these under-floor spaces. There was a similar system up the walls for the really fortunate folks. Imagine how much wood was needed to get through a cold winter! Speaking of the Romans, a large mosaic from the reception room of a villa owned by a powerful family was discovered under layers and layers of dirt and debris. It was lifted from its original location in 1969.

The centerpiece of the museum is a huge model of the city as it was in the 1870s. It was easy to see how prominent the cathedral was surrounded by the ordinary low lying structures back then.

Yesterday I saw a beautiful new statue of a woman holding the hand of a child with a dreidel. Today I learned it is a likeness of Licoricia, a very influential 13th century businesswoman. She loaned money to ordinary citizens and raised money for the likes of Henry III as well as projects like Westminster Abbey. Sadly her business acumen, education, gift for languages, and popularity did not trump her being a Jewess. Her faith cost her a stint in the Tower of London and was presumably the reason this single mother of five was murdered (at home).

With a brain full of history, I headed to a sunny seat at an Italian restaurant for a late lunch and soon struck up a fun conversation with a middle aged fellow on lunch break from jury duty selection. We chatted until 2:30 when he was expected back at the courthouse and I was ready to find a toy store and shop for Evy’s first birthday. From there I trekked back to the hotel and spent a quiet couple of hours reading and writing in the shade of the front porch, big glass of water in hand.

Dan has a fancy pants dinner tonight, so he and the others left me to dine alone on delectable salmon and a berry crumble! Underachiever that I am, I’ll be heading to bed with a mere three and a half miles under my belt today.

… Trivia …

The River Itchen is a chalk river which, by the way, is a pretty cool (and rare) thing.
It rises from springs in bedrock made of chalk. Since chalk is permeable, water naturally and easily percolates up through the ground to the surface. Since the river does not rely on runoff from other places, the water is crystal clear and fishing is highly prized.

The UK’s first public library was in Winchester.

The official Monopoly Winchester Edition was released in 2017.
Public landmarks such as the cathedral, Great Hall, and King Alfred’s statue are featured.

Dan’s favorite gin, Bombay Sapphire, is distilled 17 miles north of Winchester in Laverstoke.


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