"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on July 17, 2019 by Sioux under General
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The Great Hall of Winchester Castle, which houses the medieval round table linked to King Arthur, is all that now remains of Winchester Castle. It was rebuilt sometime between 1222 and 1235, still exists as it was then, and is one of the finest surviving medieval aisled halls of the 13th century.

 

The legendary Round Table dominates the hall and has hung there from at least 1463. It has had a unique role in influencing kings for centuries. From historians to poets, its mystique has captivated people’s imaginations for centuries.

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The east wall of the Great Hall is hand painted with a ‘tree’ of names of Parliamentary Representatives of the county of Hampshire, starting in 1283 and ending in 1868.

 

It was painted in the late 19th century as part of a restoration project, which included the creation of the double arch doors, leading from the Great Hall into the Assize Courts.

 

Some of the spaces where there are no names is possibly due to the years when the ‘plague’ affected Hampshire. The great Hall was linked to the Law Courts by the arches built in the 19th century.

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The massive wrought iron gates were installed in 1983 to commemorate the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

A 15th century authors’ identification of Camelot as we know it, as being Winchester, was probably inspired by the by the presence of the Round Table, which dates back to the 13th century. In the authors’ time, it was believed to be the original dating back to the 6th century, when King Arthur was believed to have lived. Camelot is depicted as a city alongside a river; surrounded by plains and forests; and with a magnificent cathedral as well as a mighty castle.

The round table may have originally been commissioned by Edward I, for a great dinner as part of an ‘Arthurian tournament’ he organised to celebrate the marriage arrangements of his children in 1290.

 

Henry VIII instructed that the table be painted as it currently is, and the portrait is believed to be that of a young King Henry VIII. The names of 24 of the Knights of the Round Table are written around the edge of the table.

 

A wooden model of the round table was made in 1976 while the original was down for restoration. Archaeological investigations were carried out to determine how the table was constructed, and the model shows the timber jointing techniques used, as well as the location of the table legs, which are hidden from view against the wall.

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Much the same as Winchester in its heyday, although many other places in both England and Wales lay claim to being the original Camelot.

The presidency of John F Kennedy was often referred to as ‘Camelot’ due to it being seen as having such promise and potential.

The statue of Queen Victoria, standing regal in a corner of The Great Hall, is one of only two to feature her seated on her Imperial Throne. It weighs around two tonnes and is 9.1m at its widest point.

 

Cast in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, it took 25 years for all the finishing touches to be completed. To give an idea of scale, the top of the head of a 1.7m tall person would be below the level of Queen Victoria’s knees!

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Many people, inspired by Kennedy’s speeches; policies and vision for the future, compared him to King Arthur.

The recreated medieval garden named after the Queens Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile, is scented with herbs and plants that were abundant in the 13th century; and features a tunnel vine arbour, turf seats and a fountain.

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Outside the great Hall, are the ruins of one of the towers from the castle walls. The passageways in the basement of the tower, which once led out to the great dry moat surrounding the castle, have been restored and offer a glimpse into a world we can only imagine. All the buildings in the surrounding area are historically listed buildings.

‘A promise Honoured’ war memorial stands in the Castle Yard, just outside the Great Hall.

 

Carved from Portland stone, it measures 1.8m x 0.6m x 0.8m, and stands in memory of the troops who passed through Winchester during WW1, honouring a promise made by the Mayor of Winchester in 1919 to commemorate the American soldiers billeted on the hills around Winchester.

 

The memorial depicts an unknown soldier’s kit left on a railway bench.

A thoroughly interesting and enjoyable visit! Once we were done at The Great Hall, I headed to the Military Museum and Paul went to the Gurkha Museum. We met up afterwards and made our way back to the car. Salisbury and Stonehenge awaited!

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