The Hospital of St. Cross in Winchester (England) is one of the oldest almshouses in England, being built in 1130AD. It is a wonderful place of tranquility slightly away from the centre of the city and hence the tourist trail where the Cathedral is dominant. Today it houses 13 “poor men, feeble and so reduced in strength that they can scarcely, or not at all, support themselves without other aid”. Under the original charter the Hospital was required to provide a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine (known as the ‘dole’) to travellers and was widely taken advantage of on the pilgrims trail to Canterbury through the Middle Ages. Over the years this gradually reduced to a cup of beer and a piece of bread, and the tradition continues: travellers can still claim their ‘dole’ from the porter.
I found myself in need of tranquility and contemplation last week and visited again, taking a few photographs with the M9 whilst I was there.