endeared to her family by the varied charms of her character …’ and ends with a line from one of the proverbs of the Bible: ‘She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness’, a true comment to her career and wonderful writings. An interesting exhibition, Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation, displayed some important pieces tracing the history of the city as well as the renowned Winchester Bible, an elegant illuminated manuscript in four volumes commissioned by Henry of Blois in the 12th century. It is a huge work that might have cost as much as a small castle. The parchments are 23 by 15 inches and are neatly written looking like a printed version. The illustrations, especially the initials, reveal great sophistication and expertise as well as the hand of different masters; the colours are still bright as they used gold and lapis lazuli. The exhibition also displayed the relics of Swithun, an Anglo-Saxon saint and the Siebe-Gorman 6-bolt diver’s helmet that William Walker wore when he worked in the foundation of the cathedral for almost five years.
The City Museum has interesting artifacts from the ancient Roman time including beautiful mosaics. The Celtic settlement was renamed Venta Belgarum (the market place of the Belgae) and became an important trading centre producing pottery, tableware and metalware. Economy and trade thrived under the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans until the Black Death that spread all over Europe in 1348-50 reducing the population by a third. The pandemic changed the course of history as it is happening in a minor scale with Covid-19. Subsequently, Winchester declined and London became the centre of trades.
Elizabethan architecture. The current freeholder, Richard Knight, is a direct descendant of Jane Austen’s brother Edward. Luckily, additions and alterations did not change much of the interior and the exterior of the building as the owners did not have enough money to make major changes. The edifice also hosts the Centre for Early Women’s Writing, whose collection includes early feminist writings, fiction, journals and also books of recipes.
Wollstonecraft, the Brontës, George Eliot, George Sand, Mary Beale, Mary Moser, Sara Siddons and Angelica Kauffman. In the final part, besides an interesting bookshop where I found an early epistolary novella, Lady Susan, by Jane Austen, there was a second hand book stall. Here is the list of the lucky picks I bought for a few pounds: Italian Farmhouse Cooking, Ice Creams, Sorbets, Mousses and Parfaits, The Victorian Kitchen Garden, The Golden Age of Finnish Art, Where’s
Spot and Jane Austen: A Celebration. I read through all of them with great interest rediscovering Jane Austen from different angles and appreciating once more her inspiring style and contagious wit. The amazing renaissance of Finnish art in the closing of the 19th century was unknown to me. It is linked to the famous composer Sibelius and the architect Eliel Saarinen. Though Finland was part of Sweden since 1362 and was conquered by Russia in 1808, it maintained its own language, folklore and distinctive art. My favourite books were the cream and sorbet one and the Italian farmhouse cooking. As soon as I came back home, I experimented soups, ice creams and sorbets with fairly successful results. The lemon sorbet was super and I learned some basic good rules about freezing and how to dose salt and use the white of the eggs in sorbets. At the end of our visit, we had a nice walk in the park and a good stretch in the lawn at safe social distance from the other visitors.