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For Winchester Archaeology and Local History

WARG’s 2011 Excavation: Saint Elizabeth’s College, Winchester College



According to the Victoria County History of Hampshire, in 1301 Bishop Pontoise of Winchester built the College of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. This was a chantry chapel writ large and the term college refers to the mixed establishment of both secular and ecclesiastical brethren whose role was to perform prayer to a strictly laid down code.


It goes on to describe how three great altars were established in the chapel. The first is dedicated to Saint Elizabeth; the second to Sts. Stephen and Laurence and the third to St. Edmund and to St. Thomas of Canterbury.


The chapel was to become an integral part of Bishop Wykeham’s new college and remained so until dissolution when Thomas Wriothesley acquires the site, like many others in Winchester, and systematically demolishes the buildings, which leads to much re-use of the materials in the local area.


The site had been excavated before but disappointingly was never recorded, certainly not to the high standards expected today. As a result little is known about the fabric of the chapel, the three putative altars, nor how “grand” the building was.


This is where WARG came in. Our brief was simple: over two weeks to establish the extent and layout of the chapel, record any structures within which will corroborate the known history, and most importantly record the site using the expertise and experience for which WARG has becoming increasingly renowned.


Oh, and of course, for all our volunteers to have had a good time. This year we were joined by some students from Winchester College. It was a chance for them to experience the excitement (and hard work) of a dig and be part of uncovering the history of their own place of education.



Our dig is now complete  -  Click HERE for the webmaster’s Interim Report