Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness ...
Visit Winchester and follow in the footsteps of John Keats as you discover the landscape that inspired his sensuous ode
Winchester's charms have changed little since Keats stayed here in 1819: the medieval buildings are still 'mixed up with trees', the waters of the Itchen still 'most beautifully clear' and mists rise from the river in the early mornings and late afternoons of autumn.
Step out on Keats' Walk and retrace the path of the poet's daily walk through the cathedral close and the water meadows - the inspiration for his famous poem.
> Follow Keats' Walk
> More on Keats in Winchester
> Read 'To Autumn'
Winchester with Charles Ball and John Keats
Coming soon to Winchester Tourist Information Centre: 'An Historical Account of Winchester, With Descriptive Walks' by Charles Ball
Charles Ball published An Historical Account of Winchester, with Descriptive Walks in 1818. The core of the book is six walks in and around the city. Ball introduces them with a history of Winchester from the earliest times to his own day. To read Winchester, With Descriptive Walks and to use it as a guide in the twenty-first century makes the reader-walker move through time as well as space. It brings together a mix of sensibilities, and it draws attention not only to what is there but also to what is not there. Ball describes buildings which are no longer standing, and he talks about customs that are no longer practised. The absences are as instructive as the presences. Ball’s Winchester speaks richly of history, religion, and monument, but it says little of landscape. That we are able to see what Ball does not see is thanks to writers like Keats.
It is the firm belief in Winchester that Keats had a copy of Winchester, With Descriptive Walks and that he used it as his guide to the city. His favourite walk was one that he liked to take in the evening, and it led him to compose the greatest ode in the language:
'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run.'
It will be on sale in the tourist information centre and various retailers in Winchester for £9.99.