A tribute to King Alfred's legacy?

Residents of Hyde, Winchester, are being invited to hear about plans to celebrate the 900th anniversary of King Alfred in 2010. While this might seem a long way off, local journalist Edward Fennell says there is a real need to start planning now for what he sees as "high profile events".

On Monday 27 June at 7pm local people are being invited to hear about plans to mount a major celebration of the history and heritage of Hyde at a public meeting at St Bartholomew's Church.

In 1110, King Alfred was buried in Hyde Abbey, the outline of which is marked out today by the elegant, modern garden created by noted landscape architect Kim Wilkie in 2003. 

Local resident and journalist Edward Fennell believes the 900th anniversary is worth more than a passing mention.

"I feel it's quite a privilege to live in Hyde with its strong sense of community and fascinating history," he said.  "Most of us have watched with interest as the abbey remains were excavated and the new Hyde Abbey Garden site developed.  It is a living reminder that the abbey became the core of the suburb of Hyde which gradually evolved over hundreds of years.  I think that both the history and the current life of Hyde deserve to be celebrated during the 900th anniversary year."

Following approaches to Winchester City Council Members and officers, Mr Fennell canvassed the views of around 1,600 residents with a letter outlining his wide-ranging ideas for a tribute to Hyde's history and community in 2010. 

They include exhibitions by local artists and of local records and photographs, social events, music, drama and educational activities.  There would also be a more serious historical side with lectures, tours and displays.  To start the whole thing off there could even be a pageant from the cathedral to the Hyde Abbey Garden site.

Conscious that 2010 might seem a long way off to many people, Mr Fennell emphasises that there is a real need to start planning now in order to realise some of the proposed highlight events. 

"Preparations for many of the events envisaged within the festival can certainly wait for a further three or four years.  But some of the more high profile initiatives are quite ambitious," he said.  "For example, we might ask to borrow rare and valuable artefacts from sources such as the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum and it is important to start negotiations - and funding bids - sooner rather than later.  In addition, there are education and living history projects which could start immediately and culminate in 2010."

 The public meeting on 27 June follows an enthusiastic response to Mr Fennell's initial mailing, and it is hoped that some of those attending will volunteer to help co-ordinate the celebrations by taking a role on a Hyde 900 Association.  The initiative is strongly supported by Winchester City Council. 

Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport Cllr Therese Evans said: "Hyde is a special place in the city.  But what I find so exciting about the scope of the Hyde 900 proposals is that 2010 would be a year for everyone - for young and old; for local people and for visitors; for those who cherish the past and for those who live for the present."

Anyone can attend the meeting at St Bartholomew's Church in Hyde, but you are asked to ring and confirm in advance. Please contact Helen Barfield in Winchester City Council's cultural services division on 01962 848537 or e-mail hbarfield@winchester.gov.uk