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St. Cross Hospital and St. Cross Church

St Cross Hospital is the oldest almshouse in England. It was founded by the William the Conqueror's grandson, Henri du Blois in 1132. His intention was to provide for "thirteen poor men, feeble and so reduced in strength that they can scarcely or not at all support themselves without other aid". In 1446, St Cross Hospital was extended by Cardinal Beaufort. Steeped in history, St. Cross Hospital acted as a meeting point for pilgrims en route to Canterbury. The Knights of St John took over care of St. Cross Hospital and crusaders would spend their last night in England here and sail from Southampton the following day. The traditional giving of alms is still practised at St. Cross and those in need can stop at the Porter's Gate where they'll be given the traditional ale and bread.

Architecturally, the chapel at St. Cross Hospital is a mixture of Norman, Transitional and Early English styles. Building started around 1160 but the chapel here was further developed in the 14th and 15th centuries. Nevertheless, the Norman architecture which you see here will enthral and delight you. The arches, windows, doorways and vaulting are all the work of skilled Norman stonemasons. In the chancel, 15th century glass windows depict St. Gregory, St. John, St. Swithun and a Madonna. As well as the Norman baptismal font of Purbeck marble, keep a look out for the triptych by Mabuse. Dating from about 1500, the piece was picked up for the bargain price of 20 pounds. It is now above the altar and depicts the Nativity scene, St Barbara with a book and St. Catherine and a wheel. Next to the altar, you'll also see Cardinal Beaufort's chair.

Location
Address: St Cross Road
Postcode: SO23 9SD
Town/city or near: Winchester
County: Hampshire

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