Hospital of St Cross

Cited as 'a Norman cathedral in miniature’ by Simon Jenkins, this fine Norman church is all that remains of the original 12th century Hospital.

About this church

The Hospital of St Cross is said to be England's oldest charitable institution. It was founded by Henry of Blois between 1132 and 1136 after he was appointed Bishop of Winchester at the age of 28. It was created in order to house and support 13 poor men, known as Brothers, and to feed a further 100 men at its gates each day, with food and drink from the hospital's own land, mills and farms. In 1445 another Order of Brothers was created by Cardinal Henry Beaufort, the Order of Noble Poverty. Today the Hospital is home to 25 'Brothers'.

Built with stone from as far afield as Caen, the church consists of stunning honey coloured Norman stonework both inside and out. On a column on the north aisle is carved the cross of St Cross. In the window nearest to the eastern side of the north transept, the stone surround is strangely angled. This device means that sunlight from the window falls on the cross only on 3rd May (the day in the church calendar of the Invention of the Cross) and 14th September (Holy Cross Day).

It was recently featured in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall!.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Wildlife haven
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Ramp or level access available on request
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Church shop or souvenirs

Other nearby churches

Winchester College Chapel

The chapel was built between the years 1387 and 1395 to designs by William Wynford, with Hugh Herland responsible for the traceried wooden ceiling and Thomas of Oxford for the glazing.


Winchester Cathedral

Fifteen centuries of English history lie behind the massive Cathedral you see today. It stands at the heart of historic Winchester, once the seat of Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal power, on the site of an early Christian church. It’s been a place of worship ever since.


St Bartholomew

St Bartholomew’s was founded in 1110 as the church for the lay workers at Hyde Abbey, where the remains of King Alfred the Great are believed to have been re-interred.

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