New exhibition reunites the treasures of Hyde Abbey

Press Release: 01/03/2010

New exhibition reunites the treasures of Hyde Abbey

A fascinating exhibition called Treasures of Hyde Abbey will open on 6 March 2010 in the Gallery at Winchester Discovery Centre. The exhibition marks the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey.

Hyde Abbey was the successor of New Minster, established for the burial of King Alfred the Great by his son King Edward the Elder. New Minster was one of the great centres of learning and cultural life in southern England. Moving to Hyde in 1110, the monks brought with them Alfred’s remains, their library and other precious relics. Hyde Abbey went on to become one of the foremost monastic houses in England. On its dissolution in 1538, many of the abbey’s treasures were destroyed or dispersed; those that survive are of national importance.

All that now remains of the abbey is Hyde Gate, although the site is marked out by Hyde Abbey Garden which was designed by leading landscape architect Kim Wilkie. Nearby, the beautiful nine-hundred year old parish church of St Bartholomew - which once served the workers of Hyde Abbey - still continues to serve the local community and offers a direct link to one of the City’s greatest periods of learning.

Treasures of Hyde Abbey will be one of the highlights of a year of celebrations, inspired by Hyde resident Edward Fennell, under the auspices of Hyde900, a community-based organisation. The exhibition, which has been given a £50,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is being created by Winchester City Council, with loans from national institutions such as the Bodleian Library, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. Hampshire County Council, the University of Winchester and Winchester College are also supporting the exhibition.

It will be the first time in over 450 years that the Saxon and Medieval treasures of the abbey will be reunited. The exhibits will include the original Hyde Abbot’s crozier, precious manuscripts like the Book of Life (‘Liber Vitae’) and Book of Hyde (‘Liber Monasterii Hida’), and beautifully decorative archaeological finds from the museum collections.

Hyde 900 Chairman, Ron Allison said: “After almost five years of planning and co-operation between Hyde900 and Winchester City Council we are delighted that this exhibition, which is a powerful reminder of Winchester’s history, is about to happen. Exhibits which have been scattered around the country for centuries are coming home to Winchester and we hope it will be a way of bringing people together to reflect upon a shared heritage.”

Entrance to the exhibition is free.

Through the colourful, interactive design, visitors of all ages will be able to find out more about the abbey, and the lives of its monks and the people who lived in the streets around it, as well as its rural estates. The exhibition will also be accompanied and supported by a series of free gallery tours, interactive workshops, lectures, guided tours and craft demonstration. Families will be able to fill the Easter Holidays with inspiring events such as a medieval day in the Discovery Centre where, for one day, all visitors are able to meet the 'medieval community' of Hyde.

Find out more about Hyde900 at www.hyde900.co.uk or, for more information on the exhibition, call Winchester Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840 500 or email tourism@winchester.gov.uk