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The Hospital of St Cross and Almhouse of Noble Poverty

One of England’s oldest continuing almshouses, founded in 1132 by Henri de Blois

St Cross Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9SD

Key membership card Sudeley
Not free for members
Facilities
  • Accessible loos
  • Accessible parking
  • Cafe / restaurant
  • Easily accessible without car
  • No parking
  • Shop
Accessibility
  • As you enter the site there is level access to an accessible toilet.
  • There is disabled access into the church through the ambulatory, which has a ramp. If you would like to use this access please ask at The Porter’s Lodge Shop.
  • Some of the pathways are slightly uneven and are cobbled in places. There are steps up into our Brethren’s Hall with no ramp or lift.
  • If visitors want to wait for other members of their group there are several benches outside around the site and during the summer months our tearoom is open with seating inside and outside.
  • Mobile phone reception is poor around the site. In the event of an emergency please contact the Porter in The Porters Lodge shop or another member of staff.
  • There is a defibrillator on site.
Visit the house's website
for the latest information.

Nestling in the water meadows alongside the River Itchen and in the shadow of St Catherine’s Hill lies the ancient Hospital of St Cross. Renowned for the tranquility of its setting and the beauty of its architecture, the Hospital is one of England’s oldest continuing almshouses.

The gardens

An oasis of beauty and tranquility, the Master’s Garden includes a wide range of plants with flowering interest throughout the year. The borders are very colourful in the summer months, with shades that are particularly sensitive to the historic location and grey garden walls. The garden includes a border planted to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The borders continue to be designed and watched over by horticultural expert and garden owner Victoria Wakefield, the former Chairman of Trustees.

The area incorporates the Compton Garden which commemorates Henry Compton, Master of St Cross from 1667-1675. He later became Bishop of London, when its diocese included America. Bishop Compton created the garden at Fulham Palace with plants from the New World at the time when they were very newly imported into England. This garden therefore also features plants introduced from America into England during Bishop Compton’s lifetime. These have been expertly researched and sourced.

The Compton Garden was relaid in 1986.

The tulip tree in the Compton Garden was planted by Her Majesty Elizabeth The Queen Mother to commemorate her visit to the Hospital of St Cross on 8th July 1986.

Another tree originating from the New World, a Cercis Canadensis ‘Texan White’, was planted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to commemorate her visit on 21st February 2008

The Hospital has an expert full-time gardener who sometimes make plants available for sale in the shop. He also helps the Brothers with their gardening if needed.

Visitors to the Hospital may visit the Master’s Garden.

Children must be accompanied. There is a large rectangular pond in the garden, in which the water is deep. They are asked to respect the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings so that the Brothers may continue to perambulate in the garden.

The Master’s Garden can also on occasion be booked for a private event, as can the adjacent Bowling Green.

Unusual, stylish and attractive small gifts may be found in the Porter’s Lodge Shop.

Opening Times

Hospital:

Summer (1 April to 31 October)
9.30am-5.00pm (Monday to Saturday)
1pm-5pm (Sundays)

Winter (1 November to 31 March)
10.30am-3.30pm (Monday to Saturday)
Closed on Sunday except for church services

Tearoom:

Summer (1 April to 31 October)
Monday to Saturday 10-.30-12.30 and 2.30-4.30
Sunday 2.30-4.30

Winter (1 November to 31 March)
Closed

Admission

Adults: £7.50 (£8.25 with gift aid)

Students and senior citizens: £5 (£5.50 with gift aid)

Children under 13: £4 (£4.50 with gift aid)

Group Visits

The Hospital has received visits from groups all over the world. Closer to home there have been many from The Arts Society, from The National Trust, U3A, Garden Societies and others.

Pre-booked groups of up to fifty people are very welcome at the Hospital of St Cross. Guided tours (max twenty-five in one group) with refreshments can also be booked.

What to expect on a pre-booked guided group tour

A tour round the Hospital with a Brother, wearing his traditional gown and trencher hat. The tour is roughly an hour in length and covers the history and architecture of this superb medieval building complex.

Visitors may explore the Norman church, the fourteenth-century Brethren’s Hall with its Minstrels’ Gallery, the Tudor Ambulatory and the Georgian Kitchen and Bread Room, hearing about the historical facts as well as the legends and the half-truths. They may also enjoy the beauty of the Master’s Garden.

Visitors may, on request, partake of the unique and ancient tradition of the ‘Wayfarer’s Dole’ (a small cup of ale and a morsel of bread).

Pre-booked guided tour costs

A flat charge of £20 plus standard per-person entry fee (see Admission).

Educational Visits

Continuity and Change Workshop In the summer term St Cross offers school groups the opportunity to take part in its Continuity and Change Workshop specially targeted at KS2 pupils. Visits must be booked in advance. This experiential workshop gives pupils the chance to explore different aspects of St Cross including:

  • Taking the dole – refreshment offered to travellers for over 800 years
  • Meet a Brother – an introduction and Q&A session with a resident Brother
  • Old and New Buildings activity – examination of building materials and features of the hospital
  • Church Detectives activity – exploring key features of the church and understanding their significance
  • Food and Hospitality activity – getting to know the historic kitchen at St Cross and what it was like in medieval times
  • Preserving the Past activity – thinking about aspects of craftsmanship at St Cross and why it is important to preserve old buildings

School groups are welcomed by a Brother and given an introductory session. Teachers and their helpers from school then lead their class, divided into four smaller groups, around a range of activities. At the end of the day pupils meet with the Brother again to share their learning and ask any questions. Full details including a map, programme for the day and helpers’ notes can be found in the pdf document titled Your Visit Information and Resources and Old and New Building Sheets. For all booking information and everything you will need to know to plan your trip download the pdf document titled Pre Visit Information and Booking. If you would like to visit St Cross outside the summer term please phone to discuss suitable dates.

Booking

To book a tour with a Brother

Contact Catherine Secker, Porter
Accessibility
  • As you enter the site there is level access to an accessible toilet.
  • There is disabled access into the church through the ambulatory, which has a ramp. If you would like to use this access please ask at The Porter’s Lodge Shop.
  • Some of the pathways are slightly uneven and are cobbled in places. There are steps up into our Brethren’s Hall with no ramp or lift.
  • If visitors want to wait for other members of their group there are several benches outside around the site and during the summer months our tearoom is open with seating inside and outside.
  • Mobile phone reception is poor around the site. In the event of an emergency please contact the Porter in The Porters Lodge shop or another member of staff.
  • There is a defibrillator on site.
Visit the house's website
for the latest information.

Getting here

St Cross Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9SD

PARKING

We have very limited parking at the Hospital of St Cross. If you are coming to visit, please consider using public transport. We are only a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride on the No1 Bluestar bus from the City centre. The bus stops conveniently at the end of our driveway. Our grassland parking areas are unfortunately not available between October and March.

BY TRAIN TO WINCHESTER

From the train station you can either take a 30 minute walk from the town centre along St Cross Road or through the Water Meadows. You can also take a No 1 Bluestar bus from Station Hill bus stop directly at the station which runs regularly throughout the day and disembark at St Cross bus stop (just past the chip shop on St Cross Road).  A taxi is another option from the Station to The Bell Inn.

BY BUS

The Bluestar No1 runs a regular 15 minute service from Winchester bus station to Southampton which stops almost directly outside the driveway to The Hospital of St Cross. There is also a Stagecoach Service No 69 (Winchester to Fareham) and an E2 service which runs throughout the day which also stops outside The Hospital of St Cross

PARK AND RIDE

The nearest Park and Ride is Winchester South. Please note the Park and Ride bus does not go along St Cross Road so you need to exit the park and ride site and head along Otterbourne Road in the direction of Winchester and there is a Bluestar number 1 bus stop just before the roundabout at the end of Otterbourne Road which will stop just opposite the Hospital of St Cross.  The Park and Ride is open from 0600hrs to 2100hrs.

BY FOOT

You can follow in the footsteps of Keats by taking a leisurely 20-30 minute walk from the Cathedral either through the Water Meadows or take the route along : Kingsgate Street, St Faith’s Road, St Cross Back Street. Contact the Tourist Information Centre for further information of this route.

FROM THE M3

Exit the motorway at junction 11. Follow the signs towards Winchester. From the B3335 (St Cross Road) turn right immediately after The Bell Public House into the hospital driveway. Parking for visitors is along the right-hand of the driveway (when approaching the Hospital). There are spaces for up to 10 cars.

FROM WINCHESTER CITY CENTRE

Take the B3335 (Southgate St), which becomes St Cross Road. Shortly after the BP garage, turn left immediately before The Bell Public House into the hospital driveway. Parking as above. On foot from Winchester City Centre, follow the riverside footpath that starts behind Winchester College and continue south for approximately 20 minutes.