Putting History to Bed
It once housed enough wine, spirits and provisions to entertain a newly-married king and keep the powerful and wealthy Bishop of Winchester and his guests fed and watered for weeks But now the old cellar of Winchester Palace’s 12th century great hall on Bankside’s Clink street is being prepared for a new role as a public garden. Raised beds made of green oak have been built between the stone remains of supports for the cellar ceiling and great hall floor. Over the next few weeks and months a variety of plants and shrubs will be planted in the beds,. They’ll be roses, of course, to make a connection with the magificent rose window of the great hall’s surviving west wall. And jasmine will be among climbing varities of shrubs positioned to grow up the walls. By next spring or summer the once bare earth and stone floor should be an attractive green space.
We don’t know what King James I of Scotland, who had his wedding feast in the great hall in 1424, would have thought about it. Or whether Bishop of Winchester Henry Beaufort, whose niece Joan married the king, would have approved.
See what you think on one of Neil Sinclair’s occasional walks in atmospheric Bankside.
The Winchester Palace garden initiative is supported by Bankside Open Spaces, Southwark Borough Council, English Heritage, Bankside Residents Forum, Golden Hinde Trust, Better Bankside, Schroders Deloittes and the Waterman Group.