Winchester Cathedral Close
Historic Site in Winchester
The primary entrance to the Close is Prior’s Gate, a 15th-century structure featuring a simple four-centred arch and original doors adorned with tracery. The parapet is castellated, and a coat of arms embellishes the arch. Cheyney Court, also from the 15th century, once served as the Bishop’s Court House and is widely regarded as one of the most photographed residential buildings in Winchester. Its ground floor is constructed with stone, while the upper level boasts an overhanging timber frame with three gables filled in with plaster.
The Close wall, which forms the rear of the house, is an integral part of the structure. The 15th-century Porter’s Lodge shares similarities with Cheyney Court and serves as a projecting two-story gabled section of the Court block. In the past, the Lodge and Priory Gate were adorned with abundant wisteria, creating a splendid display during the summer.
The Pilgrims Hall, dating back to around 1308, is the sole surviving remnant of a larger medieval building that once served as the priory guest house. Notably, it boasts a hammer beam roof, believed to be one of the earliest examples of its kind. The ends of the beams feature intricately carved heads. Although the hall has undergone modifications with inserted floors, modern windows, and an entrance, it remains open to the public. Its roof is half-hipped and covered with clay tiles.
The late 11th-century Chapter House, unfortunately demolished around 1850, left behind a series of Gothic arches between Dean Garnier’s Garden and the South Transept. The grassy area now marks the site where the Chapter House once stood.
Only a few remnants of the domestic buildings of St Swithun’s Priory have endured. These include the entrance to the Chapter House, the 13th-century porch leading to the Prior’s House, and the Priors Hall, which have been incorporated into the present-day Deanery. The Deanery underwent significant rebuilding in the 17th century.
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