The Hospital of St Cross near Winchester is a twelfth-century charitable institution with sixteenth-century additions. It is a wonderful building, with a walled garden (a hortus conclusus), a pond and tearoom. It has a church and provides accommodation for twenty-five elderly men. St Cross continues to offer the Wayfarers dole, a horn of beer and a morsel of bread, to those who ask for it.
The hospital rises out of the Itchen valley. It is rare to spend any time there and not witness a dramatic sky of some sort. Jackdaws nest in several places around the buildings. I was listening to a particularly vocal jackdaw and saw that it had a nest behind a sculpture on one of the towers (it is the only sculpture that remains on the face of this particular tower). As I looked up, I noticed how dramatic the tower looked, shooting up hard and dark against a bright chaotic sky.
Did I mention the tearoom? There are hard benches inside upon which one might feel suitably penitent while scoffing cake. But in the summer months, there are tables outside and it is a lovely place to sit.
The full title of the building is The Hospital of St. Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty. Presumably, the idea is that poor people can be noble too (or are ennobled by virtue of living at St. Cross) but the underlying sense is that poverty is noble. I do not agree.