Exploring Winchester’s Great Hall

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The Great Hall, built in 1235 by Henry III, is the last remaining building from the great Winchester Castle. After his coronation at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066, William the Conqueror began building the castle. Henry III had a love of architecture and commissioned Elias of Dereham to oversee building of the Hall. Dereham also oversaw the construction of Salisbury Cathedral and is the only commoner to be honored in the stained glass windows.

The Great Hall has been used for many functions: court trials, weddings, and a “round table.” Tournament is Edward I time were called “round tables” where courtiers dressed up from Arthurian legend and participated in jousting and feasting.

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On our way to the Great Hall we stopped at Eat, Drink and Be for coffee and breakfast. Yum.

“Edward I believed strongly in the myth of King Arthur. He attended many round table feasts. Edward had the table build within the Great Hall, which may have been for a round table tournament in 1290 to celebrate the arranged marriages of his children.” (The Great Hall Where History and Legend Meet, Hampshire County Council)

Henry VIII first visited Winchester as King in 1516, whereupon he ordered the repair of the Great Hall at Winchester and the Round Table. This is when it was first painted in the design you see on display today.

Winchester Castle was largely destroyed by that spoilsport Oliver Cromwell after 1645. Only the Great Hall remains and it is now the responsibility of the County of Hampshire.

The Great Hall makes the most of its sketchy connection to King Arthur. I’ve seen Excalibur and read a bit about it, but I admit my knowledge has some big blanks, so I was excited to read Rosie Schaap’s New York Times travel article, “King Arthur Slept Here (Maybe).” She asserts that the places to visit if you are interested in an Arthurian pilgrimage are Glastonbury, Tintagel, Totnes and Padstow. Her article then goes on to describe the kind of new age and coven-catering shops you can find almost anywhere in California. None of her experiences relate to King Arthur. Perhaps Avalon is best left to the imagination.

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Travel Theme: Fantastic!

My breath caught for a jagged second as I looked across the street at the Traveler’s Bookcase. Like the revelation of peanut butter and chocolate, my two passions are combined in one shop. Travel and books! Books and travel! Fantastic!

Specialty travel bookshop at 8375 West Third Street (across from Joan's on 3rd), Los Angeles

Specialty travel bookshop at 8375 West Third Street (across from Joan’s on Third), Los Angeles

I love looking at unconventional formats in travel books. Natalie Campagno spent more than 30 minutes searching the shelves for irresistible maps and guides to share with me. I went a little nuts. I do not know when I will be back in Los Angeles so I indulged.This is the kind of tactile experience Amazon cannot replicate!

Most beautiful design goes to Love Goa by Fiona Caulfield. It comes in its own fabric jacket and is a joy to handle. Most clever book award goes to the Wildsam Field Guide, Detroit.  I love my Nashville and this one is just as brilliant.  The best new book imparting important information while feeling nostalgic:  The New York Time 36 Hours USA & Canada Southwest and Rocky Mountains. I have already used this one to help plan an upcoming adventure with UK Sarah. Another trend that I am not wild about is the “curated guide” to shopping that is a snobby version of the Yellow Pages. They inevitably have to be so exclusive that they are not likely to include my passions.  So eat.shop new england and San Francisco the hunt did not float my boat.

I went a little crazy tasting the travel books and maps at Traveler's Bookcase.

I went a little crazy tasting the travel books and maps at Traveler’s Bookcase.

Also trending are stylized maps. These often offer a highly selective view of a city. When we think of Berlin is a guide/map with such a high concept geographic map that you could spend most of your time lost if you depended upon it. I will stick to the Railway City Map series. I love my map of Barcelona. It is practical and beautiful.

If you have ever read 84 Charing Cross Road then you know my fantasy: Natalie Compagno and I will become pen pals and I will ask her to look for original or obscure travel books and she will share things she thinks I will like. Only updated to 2015 I will not send $5 bills through the mail. Or send her eggs from Denmark.

If you are anywhere near Los Angeles you have to check out this bookstore because it is fantastic.

For more Travel Theme Fantastic posts: http://wheresmybackpack.com/2015/03/13/travel-theme-fantastic/.