Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

An 18th Century House

In Winchester each year in September they usually have an Open Weekend, when places that aren't usually open to the public allow access. This year it was part of the nationwide Heritage Open Days celebration, but I didn't think it was so well advertised as previous years, when a booklet was produced. Anyway, the Quaker Meeting House was open, and I volunteered to be on hand for both afternoons. We weren't expecting many people since we're a little off the beaten track, and see also previous lack of advertisement. However all through Saturday there was a steady stream of people, and some visitors on Sunday, although they seemed to be more in groups.

Luckily both days were sunny (almost unheard of for the past few weeks) and the garden was looking lovely. Tea and scones was served in the kitchen for a small donation, and was very popular. Also luckily, Andrew who used to be a conservation officer for the council had put together some notes on the house, so I was able to sound faintly knowledgeable about it. It also meant I found out lots more about the house.

It was built in the early 1770s and stayed a family home for about 150 years, before becoming the rectory for St Lawrence. The Quakers bought it in the 1970s and use the ground floor for meetings - including the meeting for worship - and the rest of the house is divided into B&B and bedsits providing cheap accomodation in central Winchester. There are several 18th century architectural features, like the false brick windows on the street side, which might have been built that way because of the window tax, but it also seems likely it was for aesthetic reasons. Inside we have an original fireplace with surround, cornices, the archway leading to the wooden staircase, and sash windows with folding inside shutters. Outside are mathematical tiles which I'd never noticed or heard of before.

Also in the library we had a couple of old books which are the recordings of the Meeting for Sufferings of the 17th century (this Meeting was set up to assess the persecution of Friends and try to obtain redress) and are quite fascinating for the information they record about the history at that time. We also opened up one of the B&B rooms on the first floor which has a gorgeous view over the garden to Wolvesey Palace.

It was actually a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoons because the visitors were so delighted with the garden and house and the bits of information, and the scones and tea! One of the highlights was a little lad of about 6 or 7 who walked through the door, gazed around, and said, "You have a lovely house." Obviously, a budding diplomat!
Tags: quakers

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