Welcome to Contrary Life‘s third and final foray into life underground…
Crypts and cellars: little underground delights
Farleigh Hungerford Castle’s crypt
Underneath the north chapel of Farleigh Hungerford Castle is an intriguing crypt. Entered by going down some steps through a doorway cut from a moulded classical window, the crypt is low and segmental.
It contains the lead coffins of six adults and two children; their identity is not known but they are probably 17th century. It is the best collection of 16 and 17th century anthromorphic coffins in the country and the lead masks were thought to have been taken from life and fixed to the head of each coffin.
The Hungerfords lived at the castle for some 200 years, surviving the War of the Roses and the Tudors. There are extensive remains of the towers and curtain walls. The chapel stands intact and contains some medieval wall paintings and a great throng of tombs. So this little gem is well worth a visit.
Adults £4.10 and children £2.50 to visit the castle and crypt.
More info: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Winchelsea is called an Ancient Town (along with Rye) of the Cinque Port Confederation. There are more medieval cellars in Winchelsea than anywhere else in the country other than Southampton and Norwich. Yet there are only have 280 houses!
All the cellars were built between about 1290 and 1300, when the town was moved to its current site by Edward I, after the old town was swept away by the sea. They were to serve the wine trade, as Winchelsea was then one of the main wine ports of England.
33 cellars are still open to the public, so take a tour and find out more about the underground history of Winchelsea. The tours cost £5 per person and the dates of tours can be found on the website.
More info: www.winchelsea.net
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalum is the oldest inn in England. Located in the inn’s cellars is an old cockfighting pit and allegedly part of the Castle Gaol was housed there.
Tours of the cellars are run Monday to Friday 11am to 5pm and take roughly 20 minutes. If you would like a ye olde trip beneath this inn it is advised to make an appointment in advance. A small donation to charity as payment for the tour is usually welcomed.
More info: www.triptojerusalem.com
Go back thirteen hundred years at Hexham Abbey Crypt
The Anglo-Saxon crypt at Hexham Abbey will take you back thirteen hundred years as you discover the rooms and passageways that have remained intact since the original building of St Wilfrid’s Church existed on this site. The stones used carry inscriptions and carvings from Roman times which have been partially erased.
The crypt is opened twice a day at 11:00am and 3:30pm, when services and events allow. A donation of £3 is recommended on visiting the abbey.
More info: www.hexhamabbey.org.uk/visits-history/crypt
A moment of reflexion at Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral’s crypt is probably one of the more well-known but still unique crypts in the UK. The crypt is famous mostly for the Antony Gormley sculpture which stands holding a cup of water. The crypt is prone to flooding which makes this underground space rather beautiful and atmospheric.
To visit the cathedral and crypt costs £7.50 for adults (children under 16 go free).
More info: winchester-cathedral.org.uk
So there you have it, a whole world exists beneath your feet, from old farting caves to modern tunnels. Bit gloomy outside? Who cares, it’s much darker underground!