[Today’s post is by John H. Parker, co-author of the newly released book, Abide With Me, published by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

Winchester College is one of my favorite hymn site destinations because it offers a tourist-free look at a school emerging from time. Notice please that this is Winchester College, not Winchester Cathedral from the song title or adjacent Winchester University, stately as it is.

The college was founded by wealthy William Wykham in 1382 for poor boys. It’s still running just fine, probably better than ever after a few centuries of establishing wealthy and famous alumni. Each year for hundreds of years the school has produced its group of carefully cultured and trained young men.

Inevitably some of these have become quite famous. One is Thomas Ken, author of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” who was director of the chorus in the middle seventeenth century during the Puritan Interregnum. A highlight of my visit is holding a small seal given Thomas that once belonged to acclaimed minister and poet John Donne.

Winchester College

Winchester College

One of the neatest experiences of visiting Winchester, though, is walking around the dining room. The paneled walls and tables, the portraits, the grey-clad hostesses—all make it look like we’re at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. Head master Dumbledore or Professor Snape could stroll in any minute.

Things don’t change much at Winchester College. They’re not supposed to, and they sure don’t need to.