Course overview

Part of the WEA Art and About Festival 2024! We will take a gentle stroll around a historic part of London focusing on the remains of the Palace of the Bishops of Winchester and the environs of the Liberty of the Clink looking at documentary evidence as we go and speculating on what the architectural record can tell us. This part of South London has played an important part in history since the Middle Ages and we will trace its story in words, pictures and buildings. By the end of our walk and discussions we will have gained an understanding of the many changes and survivals in the area. Meet at Winchester Palace Information Board. Clink Street, Southwark, London. SE1 9DG

Course description

We look at the Palace of the Bishops of Winchester in Southwark and consider the archaeological, built and documentary record for the palace including written accounts and drawings of its former extent. We examine its role in events and what it tells us about changing patterns of use and power. We also consider the wider significance of the ‘Liberty of the Clink’ and the amazing changes that have taken place here over the centuries. In particular we will consider the connection of the palace to Thomas a Becket. We will also connect William the Conqueror, Bishop Odo, Count Eustace of Boulogne, Henry Blois to the district. Much scrutiny of Domesday Book and other medieval references will be made. We will also consider the later iterations of the Clink including its seamier side – the ‘Stews’ and the notorious sex industry of the late medieval/early modern period (The ‘Winchester Geese’ included). The later industrial heritage will also be discussed and we will look into the warehousing arrangements that surrounded the palace and the role it played in those buildings and the trade of the Clink over many centuries. The major architectural survival from medieval times is, of course, the great church of St. Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral. We will discuss the story of this great London landmark and consider its exterior and interior and the procession of characters from history that have been connected with it.

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