Local History 2 Trip to Winchester College Treasury 2016

“Winchester College Treasury houses the outstanding collections of art and archaeology belonging to England’s oldest public school. They are displayed in the medieval Warden’s Stables, recently converted into a museum and now open to the public for the first time.” I hesitate to try to improve on this description, lifted from the College’s brochure, of what is on offer when you visit the Treasury. Local History 2 were treated to a guided tour of these amazing treasures and came away determined to publicise the museum, to encourage other U3A groups (or individuals) to discover it for themselves.

The actual building, a light and airy conversion of the original 14C stables, is worth a visit in its own right – the roof timbers date back to 1391! Among the collections, beautifully displayed in the four galleries, you can marvel at these: the Chinese ceramics, including Tang tomb figures and Ming porcelain; archaeological finds from the Classical world, dominated by a Victorian plaster cast of part of the Parthenon frieze; an illuminated manuscript with the seal of William of Wykeham; breathtaking medieval silver.

Most of these treasures have, of course, been handed down to the College via wardens and fellows or donated by alumni. But not my favourite! This was a set of eight pre-Raphaelite stained-glass windows, depicting scenes from Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’, gorgeously backlit to reveal in their original colours every leaf and petal, every dagger blade and spur. These were found, by chance, when the College acquired Wellington House (opposite the Wykeham Arms). Brilliant!

The Treasury is open to the public 2.00 to 4.00pm, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and tickets (£5) must be purchased beforehand at Kingsgate Books and Prints or online (). Why not persuade your group co-ordinator to book a tour? Our enthusiastic guide, the curator Rachel, was a mine of information and justifiably proud of what she and her team had achieved.

The website, for more information, is www.treasury.winchestercollege.org.

Eira Parry-Jones