TrustNews September 2019
Heritage Open Days
This year Heritage Open Days are a larger celebration of our Heritage than ever. Nicky Gottlieb and Becky Brown together with a small team of students from the University, helped in certain areas by the Trust, have organised a huge programme of events and the opening of buildings of interest not normally open to the public. The organisation starts almost immediately the last Open Days are over and gathers way through the year. We consider it an extraordinary feat of organisation and stamina to have managed such an event that is so good for advertising Winchester.
Apart from helping in a small way with the organisation, the Trust’s contribution to the day is to have an exhibition of some of the churches of Winchester. This idea was triggered by the re-evaluation of some of the buildings within the conservation area of Winchester, carried out by the City Conservation Officers together with volunteers, including City of Winchester Trust members. The churches past and present were part of this survey, and form an interesting body of work which in the case of the exhibition is supplemented by other church buildings not necessarily in the survey, but very much part of the historical sequence of such buildings evolving over hundreds of years.
For some time now we have been attempting to re-organise the way in which the Trust works. This re-organisation in part is to harness the expertise and enthusiasm of volunteers so that they can make a positive contribution to the Trust’s activities. In the current situation it is very difficult to invite a volunteer into a position where we can use their contribution in a way that is effective.
So, the proposal is to break down the Trust into knowledge areas, the main ones being Development, Communications and Membership.
For example, development would include planning, both development and strategic, heritage and people movement, which is vehicles, walking and cycling. Communication would be responsible for publicity and publications, exhibitions and events etc. Membership would take responsibility for existing members and recruitment.
Each group would take responsibility for their particular area of expertise, but the Trust Council, which has a ‘legal’ obligation, would have an overview of any projects to be promoted. Each group would also interlink with the others as disciplines cross boundaries.
If any member would like to volunteer for a particular group, then please have a word with Tessa Robertson. The idea is to try and launch the re-organisation by December. We are particularly short of someone interested in public relations, in fact we have no one in this position which obviously could be important to the Trust.
The Trust is still concerned about the scale and car parking of this development. Although the design has been modified in response to consultation, reducing the maximum height by two metres, the bulk still seems to us to be overpowering and lacks any consideration for relating to the immediate area or as it will be viewed from the opposite side of the valley.
The development is situated in one of the most sustainable sites in Winchester, next to a main line railway and well served by public transport. Also it is within easy walking distance of the centre of the City. These facts, coupled with the philosophy behind the recently issued Movement Study, which encourages a reduction of traffic in and around Winchester. The number of proposed parking spaces has been reduced in the revised design, but we feel questions need to be raised as to the requirement for any car parking relating to this development.
Not having to accommodate cars brings the following benefits:
1 Capital cost of the development is substantially reduced.
2 An active frontage can be introduced along Gladstone Street, bringing a more desirable, friendly relationship to the street.
3 Reduces the height and could help to articulate and vary the ‘bulk’ thereby helping the scheme to relate better to its surroundings.
It will be interesting to see the procurement method that the City proposes and understand how and if the architectural firm is going to continue to be involved and how the developer will be controlled. Incidentally, we have a great deal of faith in the architectural firm employed. They have in our opinion undertaken a scheme with a great deal of interest and possibilities. Our quarrel is with the Client Brief which drives a design and, in this case requires far too much of the site.
The outline planning application is likely to go before the Planning Committee on 12th September.
The Trust is concerned at the current trend of developers moving in on large garden sites in the outer ring of Winchester and removing large houses and trees in order to accommodate as much housing as possible.
We would accept that some of the existing houses are not architecturally significant and that sites can be exploited, however there are some buildings that do have a value well worth considering. Unfortunately, such houses are not easily protected, they are not listed, and not in a conservation area. One such house that is about to be removed is a good example of the Arts and Crafts Movement with good materials, probably worthy of spot listing.
We have been made aware of two more significant houses that are about to be sold, which may well put them under threat. Both reflect the mid 19th century and early 20th century styles of architecture and both make a major contribution to their locality. The first is Beechwood, Worthy Road, which was the home of John Colson senior; the other is Brendon House, Park Road, now Brendoncare, by John Colson junior. Beechwood is a Victorian house, well detailed with good materials and very much represents a typical piece of architecture of the mid to late 19th century. Brendon House is early 20th century and is in the Queen Anne style practised by a number of architects at that time, including Lutyens. The Colson father and son were well known Winchester architects and followed each other as Winchester Cathedral surveyors. They were also responsible for a number of churches throughout Hampshire.
Planning Appraisal Group
During May, June and July our panels reviewed 119 applications of which we objected to 20 which although quite a large number is still a fairly low proportion of the applications reviewed. Sometimes we object simply because the applicant has not supplied sufficient information for any sensible comment to be made and although we look at all the applications, we tend not to comment on those which are for relatively minor modifications.
We have noticed that the trend, which started on Chilbolton Avenue with developers buying up plots, demolishing the existing house and replacing with much denser development, has now spread across the City. Sometimes the properties being demolished have considerable architectural merit and sometimes they do not. As there is currently no local list of non-designated (i.e. non-listed) buildings which nonetheless are considered to be heritage assets we have to rely on the vigilance of the public and of the City Historic Environment officers to notice when a potentially significant building is threatened with demolition; this cannot always be prevented, but the more lead time there is the more time there is for an appropriate appraisal and action if it is felt necessary. We hope to work more closely with Historic Environment officers to develop at least an informal list of non-designated heritage assets since developing a formal Local List can be a lengthy and potentially expensive process. We are grateful to those who have recently informed us of properties (Beechwood, Worthy Lane, and Brendon House, Park Road) threatened in this way. Beechwood was designed by John Colson senior (1820-95), who was the Cathedral architect for forty years, and Brendon House by his son John Colson junior.
The application to demolish Prospect House (the former stationmaster’s house at Chesil Station, mentioned in the last issue of TrustNews) went to the mid-August Planning Committee with a recommendation for refusal, and was refused. The application for 49 Stoney Lane has also been refused. Along with many others we have strongly objected to the proposed McCarthy & Stone development of an extra care/assisted living facility in Weeke (1–4 Woodpeckers Drive). This is not because we are in general opposed to the development of such much needed facilities but on grounds to do with the nature of this specific development which include overdevelopment of the site and inadequate parking provision; this seems to be something of a pattern with this company.
As you may or may not have noticed, the Trust is now publishing the weekly list of planning applications which affect Winchester Town on its website, with the hope that members will take a look and use WCC’s planning website to comment on any application that they happen to know something about. This is the list that goes to our weekly panels for review, which happens on a Thursday morning. We do not get the list (which is for the whole Winchester District) until the afternoon of the preceding Wednesday, so you can see that the time-line is quite tight. Any information you might wish to pass to the reviewing panel would have to reach the Secretary by mid-day on the Monday after the list is published.
WCC has reported its statistics on planning appeals 1 July – 31 March 2019 during which time 37 appeals were received. Note that this covers the Winchester District not just Winchester Town. Of these 11 (30%) were allowed, 25 (67%) dismissed and one reversed a planning permission (3%). 8 applications were made for costs. 6 of these were refused, one was dismissed and one was allowed.
Only 7 of the appeals concerned Winchester Town. One was a TPO which allowed a tree to be felled on Bereweeke Road. One was about signage on a listed building (dismissed), and one was for a telecom site (allowed). The student development on Greenhill Road was allowed on appeal. The other 3 for Winchester Town (Dashwood House, 24 Quarry Road and 8 Grosvenor Drive) were all dismissed.
Members and Public Comments
The Trust welcomes informative comments from local people, but must avoid being influenced by vested interests or personal matters. Individuals who believe their interests are being threatened by proposed schemes are advised to contact their Ward Councillors, who have more influence over such matters. If you would like to see details of Trust objections to planning applications and their fate, please go to the monthly PAG reports on our web site.
Extraordinary Women of Winchester
1918 saw the end of the Great War, and also the beginning, for those over the age of 30, of women’s right to vote. The two were of course connected.
In 2018, to mark the centenary of Women’s Suffrage, the theme of Heritage Open Days was Extraordinary Women. A highly successful exhibition in the Great Hall ranged from Juliana de la Floude, at the end of the 13th century, to Jean Johnson, who died in 2016. Juliana’s legal fight for access to water led to the concept of clean drinking water as a right, not a luxury, being enshrined in the UN Convention of Human Rights; Jean worked through the Hampshire Federation of Women’s Institutes with the English Collective of Prostitutes to decriminalise prostitution and improve the conditions and treatment of the women involved.
A public vote was held, complete with ballot papers and a Winchester City Council ballot box, to identify the most important of the 30 or so women. It was resoundingly won by Josephine Butler, 1828–1906, who arrived in Winchester from Liverpool in 1882 as clergy wife and social reformer par excellence. It’s not known whether she inspired Jean Johnson, but she came to be known as the patron saint of prostitutes. After being shocked to find prostitutes as young as 12, her work resulted in the age of consent being raised to 16, and also brought about the Married Women’s Property Act, changing the law under which all legal rights and property were ceded to the husband upon marriage. This had led to many women becoming prostitutes in the first place.
This year will see a second tranche of Extraordinary Women being acknowledged and applauded. This is a small taster for the exhibition, which will run from 13th–22nd September in the Great Hall and then until the end of the year in the foyer of the Hampshire Record Office. The chronological scope is not quite so great but the women are every bit as remarkable.
Continuing the remarkable Winchester theme of women’s social reform, Eliza Pumphrey was the first and only superintendent of the Carlisle Memorial Refuge, established in 1865 in four redbrick houses opposite the prison, on the corner of St James’ Lane and Romsey Road. They are still there, one of them called Connaught House, in need of care and attention. The refuge was a home – Eliza insisted on that word – for women who had been released early from prison for good behaviour, prior to full release. They were able to have their children with them; Eliza also established a school for them nearby. She gave evidence to the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Working of the Penal Servitude Act in 1878, by which time the refuge had been operating for 13 years. By then 1,016 women had passed through the establishment, only two of whom had ever absconded despite their being no locks on the doors. The establishment caught the attention of the great and the good; Ruskin was a visitor. Eliza was one of many number of Victorian women reformers, but one of whom little otherwise is known. There is no image of her to be found.
Leaping into the 20th century, in 1920 Jeanie Dicks inherited and ran her parents’ electrical firm, employing up to 90 men at a time when she was still deemed too young to vote. Winifred Holtby, best remembered as an early 20th century novelist but also a firm feminist, wrote of Jeanie Dicks in her book Women and a Changing Civilisation, “without thinking too much about it they have as successfully broken the line between ‘women’s interests’ and ‘men’s interests’ as the English woman electrical engineer, Miss Jeanie Dicks, who secured the contract for rewiring Winchester Cathedral.” That was in 1934. The contract, worth £3,000, was won in competition with firms from across Britain and Europe, and the results were praised in the national press. Letters and journals in the Hampshire Record Office from some of her employees say she was a good and fair employer, and hint delicately that she had no difficulty deflecting any inappropriate comments from her staff. She sold the firm in 1960.
The most recent of the Extraordinary Women is Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock of Weeke, who died at the age of 94 in March this year. She was a philosopher and writer, who received her peerage for her role chairing the government inquiry leading to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990. After school at St Swithun’s she took a first in classics at Oxford, but was barred, as a woman, from Oxford’s Saturday morning meetings of faculty philosophers. Despite this, she became head of Oxford High School and then Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge, writing some twenty books on ethics and education. Josephine Butler, who before arriving in Winchester had founded the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women, and who campaigned for Cambridge University to allow women to take exams, would surely have had something to say about that.
Trust Visit to South East London
On 5 June twenty-five Trust members met at the Pitt Park and Ride for a coach trip to the very far reaches of south east London. Our first destination was the Red House built for William Morris by architect Philip Webb in Bexleyheath. Although it is now very suburban, the surrounding garden and orchard still give a flavour of its original setting in the Kent countryside. The beautiful red-brick and tiled property deliberately harks back to the medieval and was intended to adapt late Gothic building methods to the needs of Morris and his family. Furnishings were designed by Webb and Morris in an austere medieval style and murals were painted by Burne-Jones and other friends. Sadly, the Morris family only lived there for 5 years – the commute into central London to the Morris design company was just too long. The house fell on hard times until a group of architects bought and restored it after the second world war and it was eventually acquired by the National Trust in 2003. The original features and furnishings by Webb and Morris and the paintings and stained glass by Burne-Jones mean that it is still a very evocative shrine to the ideals of the Arts and Craft movement.
After our tour of the Red House we travelled a few miles to Blackheath for an afternoon at Eltham Palace where again we were fortunate to have a very interesting and entertaining guided tour. This was a royal palace from the early 14th century and Edward IV built the Great Hall with its impressive hammer-beam ceiling. Henry VIII spent his childhood at Eltham but it gradually fell out of favour over the next few centuries and eventually the Great Hall was used as a barn. And then, extraordinarily, the wealthy socialites Stephen and Virginia Courtauld persuaded the Crown Estate to grant a lease of the site and built an Art Deco country house onto the medieval palace – complete with a special apartment for their pet lemur. The Art Deco mansion has been beautifully restored by English Heritage and has something of the flavour of a great ocean liner of the period but it is the juxtaposition with the moated palace which makes the whole site so unusual. Just like the Morris family at Red House, the Courtaulds only lived there for a few years and for the next 50 years Eltham was the home of the Army Education Corps – perhaps not the ideal custodians of such an important and interesting building.
Heritage Open Days
Heritage Open Days is the country’s largest heritage festival. In Winchester every September, local volunteers organise over 100 events to celebrate Winchester’s fantastic history, architecture and cultural heritage. This is your chance to discover hidden places, hear fascinating and unusual stories, learn new skills and try out new experiences.
It is Heritage Open Days’ 25th anniversary this year, and to celebrate there are even more guided walks, expert talks, live music and theatre as well as new buildings opening their doors. The two themes are ‘Food & Drink’ and ‘People Power’, and every tour, lecture, activity, creative workshop, bike ride and exhibit is completely free.
The Trust acts as the charity sponsoring Heritage Open Days in Winchester and through which grants are submitted of its behalf. The Heritage Centre has provided office space for a paid intern and base volunteers. As in past years the Heritage Centre will be open to the public 10am-6pm Thursday 19 – Sunday 22 September with an exhibition ‘Winchester’s Conservation Area’ inspired by work undertaken by Trust volunteers in Collaboration with Winchester City Council on their Winchester Future 50 project. Trust volunteers used a survey provided by WCC to look at listed buildings and buildings of faith in part of the walled town and on St Giles Hill. They also took photos.
We would welcome volunteers to staff the Heritage Centre and more generally help out with events around Winchester.
The General Public box office opened online on 7th August, and an ‘in person’ box office is open from 2nd September for a week. Tickets for the popular events have been going fast but there may still be time to pick up a place for an event, particularly for a talk which might be less in demand. There are close to 150 events this year. You can see the full programme by going to the City of Winchester Trust web page.
12 September 7:30pm at Winchester Discovery Centre is an opportunity to hear Martin Biddle talk about why the Anglo-Saxons built a church in the middle of a ruined Roman city. This is a fundraising event for Winchester Heritage Open Days and tickets are £14.00.
For bookings visit: www.winchesterheritageopendays.org
WINCHESTER HERITAGE OPEN DAYS Friday 13 – Sunday 22 September 2019
Don’t miss this chance to be a tourist in your own town and treasure the treasures on your doorstep. Celebrating local history, architecture and culture, the ten-day event offers you the chance to see hidden places and experience something new.
Here are just a few of this year’s events in Winchester and surrounding areas. There are lots more, there really is something for everyone – all completely FREE.
Food & Drink Exhibition and Extraordinary Women Exhibit – throughout festival
A Celebration of Hampshire Treasures at Great Hall – Sat 14th & Sun 15th September
Eel House Open Day in Alresford – Sunday 15th September
Winchester College Treasury – 19th through to 22nd September
Winchester Cathedral Open Evening – Thursday 19th September
Weorod: Early Medieval Living History – Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd September
Steve Jarvis: Winchester Through Postcards – Saturday 14th September
Hampshire Firearms Collections – Thursday 19th September
Dr Tim Hands: The Path to Keats Autumn – Thursday 19th September
University of Winchester Chapel Tours by Design Engine Architects – Friday 20th September
Alastair Stewart 'Shifting Sands in News Coverage' – Friday 20th September
Jane Devonshire 'Food, Masterchef & beyond' – Saturday 21st September
Hursley House – Sunday 22nd
For a full list of events visit www.winchesterheritageopendays.org.
Copies of the Winchester programme are available from the Winchester Tourist Information Centre.
Thursday 12th Sept talk by Martin Biddle on ‘Why did the Anglo-Saxons build a church in the middle of a ruined Roman city?’ at the Discovery Centre, tickets £14 from website or the Discovery Centre.
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