History group

Hyde900 strikes gold searching for bones

datePosted on 13:00, January 17th, 2014 by Site admin

King Alfred statue, WinchesterHyde900 today broke the story, in conjunction with its partner the University of Winchester, that it had unearthed a pelvic bone – from the site of Hyde Abbey – which is likely to have belonged to either King Alfred the Great or his son King Edward the Elder.

The discovery followed an investigation into the Unmarked Grave in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew, Hyde which for many years has been suspected of containing the bones of the Royal House of Wessex (originally moved to Hyde Abbey from the New Minster in 1110).

Research at the University of Oxford revealed that, in fact, the bones from the Unmarked Grave dated from the period 1100 to 1500. “In any other circumstances this would have been regarded as being very interesting but, inevitably, it is overshadowed by the news about the pelvis from Alfred or Edward,” commented Edward Fennell of Hyde900.

The identification of the pelvic bone was undertaken by Dr. Katie Tucker of the University of Winchester whose work on the Unmarked Grave prompted her to probe further some of the bones which had previously come off the Hyde Abbey site.

“We are delighted that we were funding Katie on this aspect of her research,” said Edward Fennell. “It certainly paid off.”

For the full story of the bones of Hyde Abbey and the Royal House of Wessex, see ‘Burials and Bones from Hyde Abbey‘.

For the official Hyde900 statement see our Press Release [Microsoft Word document].

Burials and Bones from Hyde Abbey

datePosted on 13:00, January 17th, 2014 by Site admin

Burials and Bones from Hyde Abbey

including

‘The Search for Alfred the Great’

 

An historical digest to mark the announcement of the results of the investigation of the remains found in the ‘unmarked grave’ of St. Bartholomew, Hyde and elsewhere on the site of Hyde Abbey in Winchester

 

alfred banner 1The text on this page is taken from the exhibition ‘The Search for Alfred the Great’. You can view the individual exhibition panels here, or download the complete exhibition here (PDF, 8MB).

 

 

Foreword

“In the year 899. the magnanimous Alfred passed from the world. King of the Saxons, unshakeable pillar of the western people, a man replete with justice, vigorous in warfare, learned in speech, above all instructed in divine learning. For he had translated unknown numbers of books from rhetorical Latin speech into his own language – so variously and richly, that his book of Boethius would arouse tearful emotions not only in those familiar with it but even in those hearing it for the first time. For the king died on the seventh day before the Feast of All Saints…….

His body lies at peace in Winchester

Now reader say, ‘O, Christ Our Redeemer, save his soul.’”

(From the tenth century account of Ealdorman Aethelweard)

Section One: Hyde Abbey and the Remains of Alfred the Great

Hyde Abbey was established in the first decade of the twelfth century in order to accommodate the community and the treasures of New Minster, Winchester.

New Minster had been built in the years 899-904 in the centre of the city – close to where the cathedral is today –  as the final resting place of King Alfred the Great (reigned 871-899), his wife Alswitha, his son King Edward and other members of the Royal House of Wessex.  Some commentators have suggested that it was intended to become the dynastic mausoleum of the Alfredian family akin to the church of St. Denis outside Paris for the Kings of France or the Sainte Chapelle in Aachen for Charlemagne. What is clear is that Alfred left money towards its construction in his will and that the New Minster project, lead by St, Grimbald, was seen as a key legacy of his reign.

However, in the decades after 1066, as the new Norman regime entrenched itself, space was at a premium in the centre of Winchester. Following the demolition of the Old Minster to make way for the new Norman Cathedral it was determined that New Minster too should be removed. So, under the auspices of Henry 1st (whose wife was a descendant of Alfred), land was acquired in Hyde to the north of the city and in 1110 the royal remains were carried with great pomp and reverence to their new resting place for reburial before the high altar of the abbey church. The monks also brought with them great treasures such as the Gold Cross of Cnut as well as manuscripts and other valuables. Hyde Abbey was to be one of the richest establishments in the country.

1110-1538: The abbey flourishes and then dies

Despite suffering from the effects of civil war, fires and the Black Death the Abbey survived for more than four hundred years. Over this time it became a place of pilgrimage not just because it held the bones of Alfred the Great but also because of its association with Saint Grimbald, Saint Josse – and even Saint Valentine.

However, with the start of the English Reformation under Henry VIII, the abbey’s days were numbered. The Abbey was finally dissolved in 1538 when John Salcot, the last Abbot of Hyde surrendered the Abbey to Thomas Wriothesley, Henry VIII’s Commissioner for the dissolution of Hampshire’s monasteries. The ‘stripping of the altars’ commenced and Wriothesley later reported triumphantly to Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister (and central figure in the recent novels by Hilary Mantel) that all the abbey’s relics had been removed and destroyed. But, as far as one can tell, what lay underground – including the royal graves – was mostly left undisturbed (although there is a possibility that they may have been opened and ransacked for jewels by Wriothesley’s men).

Four years later, when the famous antiquary John Leland visited the site in 1542 the Abbey was already a thing of the past. “In this suburbe stood the great abbay of Hyde…”he commented. “The bones of Alfred, King of the West Saxons, and of Edward his sone and king, were translated from the Newan Ministre, and laid in a tomb before the high altar at Hyde. In the which tomb there was of late found two little tables of lead, inscribed with their names.” 

The ‘great abbaye’ was no longer there. But the great King and his family remained.

Section Two: 1788 – the Year that Disaster Struck

For 250 years – from 1538 until 1788 – the choir end  of Hyde Abbey, where Alfred and his family members lay buried – was gradually forgotten about. Other parts of the abbey precinct were developed, notably the south west corner which became a grand house. But the lower eastern area, adjacent to the stream, seems to have been largely turned over to rough grazing although there are indications that it was also heaped with mounds of rubble.

This all changed, however, in 1788 when the land was taken over by the county authorities as they site of a small local prison or ‘bridewell’. The convicts themselves were put to work digging the foundations and in doing so – or maybe in reburying materials from other parts of the site – they started to come across a number of subterranean graves from across the abbey site.

One observer was the local Catholic priest Dr. Milner who wrote:

 

“Miscreants couch amidst  the ashes of our Alfreds and Edwards…..In digging for the foundations of that mournful edifice [the bridewell] at almost every stroke of the mattock or spade some ancient sepulchre was violated, the venerable contents of which  were treated with marked indignity, A great number of stone  coffins were dug up, with a variety of curious articles, such as chalices, patens, rings, buckles, the leather of shoes and boots, velvet and gold belonging to chasubles and other vestments  as also the crook, rims and joints of a beautiful crozier, double gilt.”

[The crozier is almost certainly the one now held by the Victoria & Albert Museum]

‘The bones thrown about’

The overseer of this horror was a man named Page (the Keeper of the bridewell). Ten years later Page was to provide a detailed account of what happened in the area of the Royal graves (before the altar) to a visiting antiquary, Captain Henry Howard who drew up a rough plan of the east end of the church as a record of the lay-out. Subsequently Howard reported what he had been told:

“A great stone coffin was found, cased with lead both within and without, and containing some bones and remains of garnets. The lead, in its decayed state, sold for two guineas; the bones were thrown about and the stone coffin broken into pieces. There were also two other coffins and no more found in this part, which were also broke for the sake of the garden in which they lay, broken up and buried as low as the spring.”

This was the critical point when the Royal bones – along with many others – were wrenched from the relative security of their graves, disarticulated and exposed to the rough elements. What seems extraordinary was that the public authorities appeared to have been so indifferent to what was going on – not least because the cult of King Alfred was now growing and that the opera Alfred (featuring the song Rule Britannia), with music by Thomas Arne had been very popular in 1753, just 35 years earlier.

So by the end of 1788 the royal bones were probably smashed in part, scattered and reburied to the level of the water-table. But exactly where was not clear.

Section Three: 1800-1866 – the Age of Indignation

In the first half of the 19th century understanding gradually spread of what had happened on the Hyde Abbey site. Many visitors to Winchester expressed their shock and indignation. Captain Howard was foremost amongst these. In his article ‘Enquiries etc. concerning the Tomb of King Alfred at Hyde Abbey’, published in Archaeologia, he wrote:

 “You will lament with me the failure of my researches, and feel some share of the same indignation, when I inform you that the ashes of the great Alfred, after being scattered about by the hands of convicts, are now probably covered by a building erected for their confinement and punishment. And when you are told that this occurred so lately as the year 1788, and that no-one in the neighbourhood , led either by curiosity  or veneration  for his remains, attempted to discover or rescue them from this ignoble fate, your surprise will not, I think , be any less than my own.”

A little later, in October 1825 the great writer and campaigner William Cobbett, visiting Winchester, wrote:

“How am I to describe what I felt when I saw in Hyde Meadow, a County Bridewell, standing on the very spot, where stood the Abbey, which was founded and endowed by Alfred, which contained the bones of that maker of the English name.”

The bridewell, however, was not to last long. It was demolished in the late-1840s and once again the site of Hyde Abbey was tuned over to rough land.

Twenty years later a literary event was to set off a train of events which culminated in the construction of the ‘Unmarked Grave’.

John Mellor arrives on the scene

In 1866 was published The Chronicle and Chartulary of Hyde Abbey – otherwise known as The Book of Hyde (the Liber Monasterii de Hyda) – which collected together a large number of ancient documents – ranging from copies of King Alfred’s will through to an account of Anglo-Saxon history and grants of land to New Minster – in an unprecedented way. It generated a lot of interest and put Hyde Abbey and its link with the Royal House of Wessex back on the map.

One especially keen reader was a somewhat eccentric antiquarian, John Mellor, a ‘historian and strolling student’ as he described himself in the census. Mellor was inspired by the Liber Hyda and also Dr. Milner’s account of the chaotic and disgraceful 1788 excavation to venture into the murky ground of ‘searching for Alfred’. His impact on the story create waves and then ripples which are still felt today.

Arriving in Winchester in the Autumn of 1866 Mellor arranged to see the Mayor, Barrow Simmonds, and the Lord of the Manor (a Mr Benney of Kingsworthy) to seek permission to explore the site of Hyde Abbey. Armed with a copy of the plan drawn up by Captain Howard, Mellor felt confident that he could rediscover the bones of  the Royal House of Wessex and, as he put it, ‘gaze upon the skeleton of the much loved and venerable Saxon warrior, the bravest of England’s sons.”

Section Four: the Mellor Excavations and the Construction of the Unmarked Grave

The last few months of 1866 and the beginning of 1867 marked a time of deep controversy in Winchester caused by the antics of John Mellor which cast an adverse shadow over subsequent investigations.

One of the problems that Mellor faced – in common with his successors who sought for Alfred – was that whilst there was information about the site, it was incomplete, inconsistent and sometimes downright misleading. Mellor’s romantic zeal for the search for Alfred blinded him to the reality that Hyde Abbey and its adjacent burial ground had clearly housed the remains of many people. One small group consisted of those from ‘New Minster’ carried across in 1110 while another larger group were those buried between 1110 and 1538. In the absence of modern carbon-dating techniques he had no way of distinguishing one group from the other. The fact that so many of the bones had been ‘thrown about’ in 1788 added to the confusion. When digging on the Hyde Abbey site it was almost a lottery as to what one might discover.

By all accounts Mellor’s excavation techniques were a model for their time and he made a well-intentioned ‘best guess’ as to where the altar area of the church lay. He dug there and was successful in turning up a number of skeletal remains which were and put on display on the site and exposed to the shocked gaze of local worthies. Photographs were taken of the five impressive skulls which Mellor had uncovered, one of which Mellor asserted to be Alfred based on a somewhat far-fetched comparison with the king’s image on a coin.

To spice up the story further Mellor then made a series of manifestly false claims about what he had discovered in the graves – including a silver sceptre, silver coins, ermine, a silver needle and so on. He compounded this by planting obviously fraudulent lead tablets purporting to be from the tenth century into the ground by way of authentication. None of this impressed the local gentry and he was derided as being a charlatan. Extensive correspondence in the Hampshire Chronicle, much of its hostile, commented on his activities. But the contradictory accounts make it difficult to be sure exactly what was going on.

Bones for Ten Bob

Yet however foolish Mellor might have been, there were some people, including the Revd. William Williams of St. Bartholomew Church who were intrigued by the fact that bones from the abbey had been discovered. And, in the absence of anything but intuition, they did not discount the possibility that they might indeed be those of Alfred and his family.

As a result Hugh Wyeth, owner of one of the breweries in Hyde Street and the churchwarden of St. Bartholomew’s, was instructed by the Revd. William Williams to buy from Mellor the skeletal remains which he had found and were now in his care. The price paid was ten shillings.

A variety of grandiose proposals were made for the burial of the bones but in the end, due to their uncertain provenance, they were deposited in a brick-lined vault, with two stone slabs covering it, under a ledger stone with a cross but no other markings or names. The ‘Unmarked Grave’ of St. Bartholomew’s, adjacent to the east end of the church and on a little rise, was now to be a focus of debate and speculation for nigh on the next 150 years.

Section Five: a Century of Scepticism

The storm of controversy brewed up by John Mellor’s showmanship spread deep scepticism about the value of what might emerge from the ground in Hyde  – not least because there was no way of proving the identity of anything that might be found.

Nonetheless the fascination with Hyde Abbey persisted in certain quarters.  Several generations have attempted to resolve ‘once and for all’ what had happened to the remains of Alfred and his family and to have a clear understanding of the state of the site.

The first major renewal of interest came in the 1890s. By this time public interest in King Alfred had soared on a wave of imperial idealism and, with the approach looming of the thousandth anniversary of his death (mistakenly to be believed to be 901 although actually it was 899), Winchester worthies decided to revisit the grave site.

The key mover was Alfred Bowker, Lord Mayor of Winchester from 1897 to 1898, who was responsible for the installation of the statue of King Alfred in the Broadway and also heavily involved in the 1901 Millennium celebrations for Alfred. As a noted sceptic of Mellor’s efforts (he once observed, scathingly, that he was surprised  that Mellor had not also discovered the infamous burnt cakes) he was nonetheless keen to bring greater clarity to the site. Under his auspices in 1897 there was a fresh excavation in the area of Mellor’s work and various smaller bones appear to have resurfaced and been reburied in the ‘backfill’. Their significance was not, perhaps, fully understood.

Community archaeology and ’The Search for Alfred’

Between 1995 and 1999 a community project – culminating in ‘The Search for Alfred’ – was led by the Winchester Museum Service. This ranged extensively over the whole site of Hyde Abbey (not just the abbey church) and achieved significant results in clarifying details about the abbey buildings. Amongst other important details the community project discovered, for example, that the Abbey mill stream had been over five metres wide in parts and it rendered more detail about Hyde Gate. There was also much excitement at the discovery of fine sculpted female head, probably a corbel, which highlighted once more the quality of the carving in the abbey.

When it came to an examination of the choir and altar area of the church, the excavators were able to get a better understanding of the possible location of the royal graves. Meanwhile, at the upper level, a female pelvis was found which proved to be of the late medieval period. But, as far as human remains were concerned, nothing else of significance was noted at the time.

Section Six: the Hyde900 Investigation Sets Up

The year 2010 marked the nine hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Hyde Abbey and the arrival in Hyde of the bones of the Wessex Royal family of King Alfred the Great, his wife Alswitha and their son King Edward.

In order to mark the occasion a group of local residents set up Hyde900 as a community-based charity to organize a wide series of events to celebrate the history of the area, its environment and the character of its residents. A wide range of activities followed including, notably, a re-enactment of the procession which brought the royal bones to Hyde. But there were also a number of exhibitions organized, books written and published, literary groups established, concerts held and social events set-up.

With so much focus on the legacy on the abbey, the question was raised whether advantage should be taken of the latest technology to examine the bones from the John Mellor dig which had been reburied in the Unmarked Grave which was informally regarded as possibly containing royal bones (and to which reverence was given each year on the anniversary of King Alfred’s death).

With the encouragement of the Revd. Canon Cliff Bannister and the support of the University of Winchester a Grave Investigation Group (made up of a doctor, a scientist, a lawyer, a journalist, a local studies librarian, an artist and an archaeologist) undertook the complicated tasks of drawing up a proposal to persuade the Diocesan authorities to give approval for the exhumation and testing of the bones. Following two years of work and discussion with various partners – and against a background of renewed national interest in royal bones following the discovery of Richard III in Leicester – a ‘faculty petition’ (that is, a request for permission) was submitted to His Hon. Judge Christopher Clark, Q.C. the Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester, in connection with the bones in the  Unmarked Grave.

Section Seven: the Hyde900 Investigation Produces Results

In Spring 2013 approval was given for the Hyde900 project to go ahead and on Monday 25th  March, in the presence of a BBC film crew, the grave was opened by a team from the University of Winchester led by Dr. Katie Tucker. This revealed, stacked neatly, a large collection of bones including those which appeared to feature in the photographs of Mellor’s finds.

The bones were taken to the University of Winchester and stored until August when permission was given by the Diocese for Dr. Katie Tucker, to clean and examine the bones and prepare them for radiocarbon dating, This was to be undertaken by Dr. Tom Higham of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford.

At the same time as this analysis was taking place Dr. Tucker took the opportunity to re-examine some of the human remains which had been found (but never carbon dated) by the 1999 ‘Search for King Alfred’ community dig. It was decided that a number of these bones should also be tested by Professor Higham.

The results which followed finally resolved the ‘Mystery of the Unmarked Grave’. It had contained bones from five individuals whose dates ranged from 1230 to 1500 and who displayed a wide variety of degenerative conditions suggesting that they might, possibly, have ended their lives in the abbey’s infirmary. In addition, there was one individual who dated from around the year 1100 indicating that he could have been amongst the first cohort of monks who moved from New Minster to Hyde Abbey. Collectively these findings indicated an important group from the medieval era who represented a fascinating link with the history of the Abbey. As well as resolving a long-running debate it was an exciting find in its own right. The potential for further scientific research was considerable but historically and emotionally it was inspirational to have discovered residents of Hyde from so long ago.

The ‘pelvis revelation’

Meanwhile, amongst the other bones, a startling discovery was made which established a firm connection with the Royal House of Wessex.

A pelvis was identified which dated from the end of the ninth century or the years of the tenth century. This made it definitely a ‘New Minster’ bone  – the first ever to be found and identified. Moreover, given its context and age, there is a strong likelihood that it belonged to either King Alfred or King Edward. The significance of this could not be overstated. As Professor Martin Biddle commented, “The news that one of the human bones found during the CityMuseum’s excavations at Hyde Abbey in 1999 dates to the time of King Alfred or his son King Edward the Elder is very exciting.”

So while the ‘Search for Alfred the Great’ was not over a major clue had been found as evidence that his remains were not lost for ever. Indeed, the chances were that they were still possibly waiting to be revealed (albeit scattered and shattered) within the grounds of Hyde Abbey.

A new chapter has opened in the fascinating, posthumous story of King Alfred the Great.

Appendix

Why is King Alfred Regarded as ‘Great’?

ALFRED THE GREAT was a pivotal and landmark figure in English history, proving to be a towering figure in both war and peace.

Born in 849, as the youngest son of King Ethelwulf, he was never expected to become king. But as his fathers and older brothers died – worn out in part by  relentless battles – Alfred took on the mantle of national leader just as it seemed Wessex could fall to the invading Vikings.

Over the next 25 years Alfred turned the tide on the invaders, drew up secure borders with the Danelaw (the area occupied by the Vikings) and re-built the foundations of the Anglo-Saxon state, military and legal infrastructure. He also invested in re-invigorating scholarship and education as well as strengthening the Christian church. No wonder he was described by the Ealdorman Aethelweard as the Unshakeable pillar of the western people.’

His principal achievements include:

  • defeating in battle and then turning the tide on the pagan Viking invaders who threatened to take-over all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
  • stabilizing Wessex and establishing it as a base from which his son and grandson could then progressively unite England
  • re-invigorating learning in England following the depredations of the Vikings
  • establishing a strong administration
  • promoting the use of the English language for government and scholarship
  • publishing a new law code
  • weaving England back into the political and cultural network of western European
  • establishing an effective system of Royal administration

Amongst his many innovations were:

  • the development of a network of sustainable and defensible ‘burghs’ to thwart invaders
  • the organization of the local defence forces on a half-on/half off basis to ensure that both military and agricultural duties could be met
  • the establishment of a naval defence force
  • the recruitment of scholars and educators to come from the Continent to settle in England (including Saint Grimbald , the first abbot of New Minster later Hyde Abbey)
  • making it mandatory for all free young mean to learn how to read
  • extensive translations of key Latin texts into English
  • the negotiation of peace treaties with the Viking which were relatively sustainable
  • the establishment of the New Minster as the dynastic church of the Alfredian Royal family.

Acknowledgements

A very large number of people were involved, in one capacity or another, in the project to exhume and test the bones in the Unmarked Grave and the further investigation of other bones held by Winchester City Council.

Above all, the dedication and thoroughness of Dr. Katie Tucker was exceptional. She was the ‘star’ of the show in so many respects.

We are also grateful to the Revd. Canon Cliff Bannister; His Hon. Judge Christopher Clark, Q.C. the Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester; Professor Tom Higham, University of Oxford; Helen Rees of Winchester Museum Service; Peter Bogan, local Hyde historian; Alys Blakeway, churchwarden of St. Bartholomew, Hyde; Chris Granlund of the BBC; Joe Low, photographer; Lorraine Curtis of Hyde Parish Hall. We are also indebted to Gavin Ingham Brook of Spada, Guy Sheppard of Wiggin and Denys Blakeway of Blakeway Productions. Andrew Napier of the Hampshire Chronicle and Tom Whipple of The Times also both played a significant part in the story.

For over three years members of Hyde900 put in a vast amount of work to bring this project to fruition. Chairman Steve Marper, lawyer Rose Burns and artist Sophie Cunningham Dawe all worked extremely hard and were supported by Jim Fraser, Paul Williams, Paul West, Madelaine Key, Andy Key, Alan Bailey and Susan Jones.

Institutionally, we are grateful to the University of Winchester, Winchester City Council, the Diocese of Winchester, the Friends of Hyde Abbey Garden and, of course, the BBC for their involvement in a variety of ways.

Above all our thanks to our neighbours and the local community of Hyde, Winchester. It is a magical, spiritual place and it rubs off on those who live there.

 

Edward Fennell for Hyde900

Egbert Road, Hyde

January  2014

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Your chance to help reunite the stones of Hyde Abbey

datePosted on 22:52, December 17th, 2013 by Site admin
Romanesce billet mould stone believed to have been part of doorway to the Abbey church

Romanesce billet mould stone believed to have been part of doorway to the Abbey church

October’s King Alfred Weekend saw the exhibition showing the first results of the Hidden in Hyde project launched last year – an initiative to track down and record the ‘lost’ stones of Hyde Abbey. The project has now developed to include looking at how the Abbey may have appeared and functioned. (Finding the stones remains a key element, so if you think you’ve found something that may be a stone taken from Hyde Abbey, please use the contact form to let us know.)

The project has now been renamed to reflect the expanded project. Re-uniting the Stones takes the results of the finds of stones from Hidden in Hyde and with the expert help of such as Ross Lovett, head mason of Winchester Cathedral, interprets the stones as architectural elements of the Abbey. The exhibition draws together research on the background of the Dissolution of the Abbey with stones found in Hyde and the area to the north of Winchester to produce a fascinating story and some stunning sketches of doorways, arches and vaulting.  See the Re-uniting the Stones Exhibition page for more.

Re-uniting the Stones needs more volunteers to help with this exciting project. If you feel you would like to contribute please use the Contact page.

 

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King Alfred Weekend 2013

datePosted on 18:34, October 12th, 2013 by Site admin

King Alfred's swordHyde900 is proud to present the second annual weekend of events on the theme of Alfred the Great, jointly organised by Hyde900 and St Bartholomew’s Church.

Marking the 1114th anniversary of King Alfred’s death on 26th October 899, the weekend includes a talk on Alfred’s contribution to the English language, two parallel exhibitions and several other events.

All events take place in and around St Bartholomew’s Church, King Alfred  Place, Hyde, Winchester SO23 7DF.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Following the exhumation of skeletal remains in an unmarked grave in St. Bartholomew’s Church, Winchester, in late March 2013, Hyde900  has petitioned successfully to the Chancellor and the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Winchester for a Faculty (formal permission) to commission the scientific investigation of the bones, in order to establish their dates and provenance. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Weekend Fit For a King

datePosted on 19:59, November 5th, 2012 by Site admin

Our second annual King Alfred Weekend was a great success. A large turnout for the launch of the ‘Leylines’ exhibition on Friday afternoon was followed by an audience of more than 50 people for Dr Ryan Lavelle’s lecture. Saturday’s Activity Day included a popular guided walk around Hyde led by Alys Blakeway, activities for children provided by the Winchester Museum Service, and the launch of the ‘Hidden in Hyde’ project. On Saturday evening, choirs from the University of Winchester performed ‘A Concert for King Alfred’s Day’ to a packed audience.

The weekend concluded with a very special church service on Sunday morning. Read the rest of this entry »

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Carved lettering on a stone

King Alfred Weekend saw the launch of the Hidden in Hyde project – an initiative to track down and record the ‘lost’ stones of Hyde Abbey. When the Abbey was dissolved in the 16th Century, its building were knocked down and the stones re-used by local builders. Many of them can still be seen from the public road, embedded in the walls of houses, but others are hidden in back gardens or attics. For more about the project, see the Hidden in Hyde page.

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