Hidden Winchester

A lesson learnt

I didn’t attend the tour of the Barter Memorial Chapel at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital as I knew the room well from my days as an NHS manager working there. Then it was known as Butterfield Meetings Room. It was a rather glorious venue for meetings although it could be dull in winter because the amazing stained glass window doesn’t let much natural light in.

Eastern Window of Barter Memorial Chapel
Photograph by Mike Hall

Last September I didn’t think I had missed out on much as I had seen the room and also the exhibits displayed in the entrance. However when I came to write this post I realised I had no idea why it is called the Barter Memorial Chapel! Fortunately thanks to the internet I have been able to do a little bit of research. The following is taken a Friends of Royal Hampshire County Hospital article written by Barbara Selby an Honorary Archivist at the hospital in 2003.

It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Robert Speckott Barter, Warden of Winchester College and Chairman of the Hospital for twenty-one years, who died of typhoid in 1861. Dr Barter was a remarkable man. He was born in Devon and became one of a local group of friends – Sir William Heathcote, Dr. Soberly, Headmaster of the College, John Keble, Charlotte Yonge and her brother Julian Yonge. He was a great walker, 20 or so miles a day. On one occasion he walked 50 miles to Oxford to vote in an election and then walked back to Winchester the next day. He was a large, strong man who made good use of his strength. One day when he was travelling on top of a stagecoach he became so angry with the man beside him who swore and blasphemed constantly that he held him dangling over the wheel until the man promised to desist for the rest of the journey! Barter was also a great cricketer and has a particular stroke named after him

I have no recollection of the chapel ever been called after him when I worked there, nor does my husband who also worked at Royal Hampshire County Hospital for a number of years. However I guess this is what makes Heritage Open Days so very special; you always get to discover something new about a place, even one you thought you knew well. And so my lesson is learnt – this year I’ll be visiting places I thought I knew as well as those I have never visited!

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