Tag Archives: Keats

Two Hundred Years of Autumn

Event: Mon 07 Oct 2019 at 7.30pm Book tickets here

Autumn 2019 is the bicentenary of the great romantic poet John Keats’s famous visit to Winchester. Keats stayed in Winchester for two months, from August to October 2019. On 19 September, he took a walk along the banks of the River Itchen and, inspired by this experience, wrote his immortal ode ‘To Autumn’, one of the best-loved (and indeed most anthologized) poems in the English language.

Keats’s time in Winchester – his ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ – represented the last great flowering of his creative genius. Shortly after leaving Winchester and moving into a house in London on 8 October 2019, he became ill. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, he was advised to leave England to travel to warmer climes. Sixteen months later, in Rome, he died.

Keats was buried in the protestant cemetery in Rome. The epitaph on his tombstone was one he had requested himself: “here lies one whose name was writ in water”.

But in the years since his death his name and his words and his vision have of course proven rather more permanent than he might ever have dreamed.

In honour of the anniversary of his local sojourn, the University of Winchester is staging ‘Two Hundred Years of Autumn’ at Theatre Royal Winchester on the evening of 7 October, as part of Visit Winchester’s ‘Keats in Winchester’ programme of events.

The University has worked with a wide range of regional, national and international organisations – and local people – to assemble this unique show.

“We’re so grateful to Hampshire Writers’ Society, Hampshire Cultural Trust, Winchester Poetry Festival, Winchester Writers’ Festival, Theatre Royal Winchester and Winchester Youth Theatre, as well as our friends from the Keats Foundation and the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association,” says Professor Alec Charles, curator of the show. “This is a great collaboration between such a lot of people who have one wonderful thing in common – an abiding love of the poetry of Keats.”

The show will include performances of Keats’s work and of the winning entries in writing competitions run to celebrate the city’s Keats bicentenary – both a children’s poetry competition run by Hampshire Cultural Trust and Winchester Poetry Festival, and a special competition run by Hampshire Writers’ Society to provide literary responses to the opening of his great autumn ode.

There will also be new music and songs inspired by Keats’s poetry, and scenes from Keats’s life specially adapted from his correspondence by Peter Phillips from the Keats Foundation.

The show will feature performances from the University’s students and Winchester’s Youth Theatre, as well as guest performances from Blue Apple Theatre, Storm Cloud Theatre and the Bard Buskers.

The show is directed by Cara Honey and produced by Alex Mackintosh.

“Working with such a variety of people on this project has been fascinating,” says Cara. “I’ve found that Keats is really relatable to so many creative artists and performers – we share so many of his ideals and aspirations. It’s incredible what he managed to achieve in his short life.”

“Keats is one of those artists whose reputation has grown and grown since his death,” adds Alex. “The poet who died so young has really lived forever.”

Tickets are only £5 (with proceeds going to Live Theatre Winchester Trust) and are available at: https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/two-hundred-years-of-autumn/

Win Guide to October

Autumn is upon us, a time for knitwear, leafy walks in vibrant reds and burnt orange or perhaps a time to head indoors and visit some of Winchester’s cosy city hosts. Here’s the Win Guide to what’s on this October:

The first thing any Wintonian ought to do is follow in the footsteps of Keats, who composed his ‘Ode to Autumn’ whilst gadding about the water meadows, or there about.  For a detailed walking trail, follow the guide provided by Winchester’s Tourist Information Centre here.

Going to the Ball (San Martino)

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the modest Turner exhibition in the Discovery Centre, closing on the 15 October.  Entry is free and it’s a fine opportunity to admire the breathtaking ‘master of light’. For more information, visit here. Comedian Paul Sinha will be bringing his show Shout Out To My Ex on 7 October at 7.30pm, also at the Discovery Centre. For details, visit the website here.

BBC History Magazine’s Winchester History Weekend will be running 6 – 8 October, in association with Waterstones and for its second year.  Events will take place in the Great Hall and the Ashburton Hall, Elizabeth Court. To book for some of the exciting speakers, visit the website here.

If you have little people, make sure you have booked your tickets at the Theatre Royal for The Gruffalo, 6-8 October and Stick Man, 13-15 October. Don’t forget to read our interview with a member of the Stick Man cast, here. Bring the much-loved modern classic stories to life with some live performance in our beloved local theatre. For more details, visit the website. For the slight older children, Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur is on 22 October.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of things on at the Theatre Royal for grown ups to enjoy too.  Jay Rayner will be bringing his The Ten (Food) Commandments on Friday 5 October.  He’ll ‘invite thee to honour thy pig – and so much more besides’. Opera della Luna will be presenting The Tales of Offenbach on 11 October and Bilimankhwe Arts’ dance version of The Tempest will delight us with traditional Malawian music.

There’s comedy aplenty, including Winchester Comedy Festival – Comedy Gala (6th) Mark Watson (7th), Penny Ashton (16th) Lea Anderson (18th), Ed Byrne (19th, 20th) and Stewart Lee (21st). Comedy drama fans can enjoy Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles (25th, 26th) and there’s live music from The Baroque Bohemians (10th), Graham Gouldman, one of the founding members of 10cc (17th) and the Spitfire Sisters (28th). Finally Winchester Poetry Festival will be hosting a Winchester Poetry day on 14 October, and the delectable Private Lives by Noel Coward opens on the 30 October. For full details or to get booking, visit here.

Things get spooky at the end of the month in time for half-term.  Join the Halloween Spooky Trail, with a riddle sheet that can be picked up from Winchester’s Tourist Information Centre. Don’t miss the activities at the City Mill including baking, pumpkin carving and storytelling.

Plenty to amuse and entertain this October and we’ll be bringing you more highlights throughout the month on Twitter @Win_Guide.


Ode To Autumn

Keats Walk leaflet, Winchester City Council
Keats Walk leaflet, Winchester City Council

It’s feeling a bit fresh outside, not to mention the cascading downpours of rain that edged their way into the ‘summer’ bank holiday. This can mean only one thing: summer is on its way out and autumn is making a comeback.  The good news is that Winchester knows how to do autumn. Keats made us famous for it with his Ode ‘To Autumn,’ composed whilst walking in Winchester as documented in a letter to J H Reynolds dated the 22nd of September, 1819: “How beautiful the season is now. How fine the air — a temperate sharpness about it… This struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.” ~ Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman, Crowell publ. 1895. You can follow in Keats’ footsteps on this 2-mile walk in what the Telegraph describes as a “win-win stroll”.

There’s plenty going on in September to tempt city-folk out of the post-sunshine blues. Here’s a selection from the Win Guide

Winchester College War Cloister
Winchester College War Cloister

Presumably as a nod to Keats’ ‘seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness,’ Winchester is offering its inaugural Poetry Festival 12th-14th September.  Predominantly based at the Discovery Centre, but with events happening at the United Church (Jewry St) and Winchester College, the poetry festival will feature the likes of Patience Agbabi, David Constantine and Brian Patten, among many others. The Wilfred Owen Association is sponsoring a commemorative reading event in Winchester College War Cloister, in which Michael Longley is taking part. Fans of Owen will be delighted to hear they can follow this up by visiting the Theatre Royal for the Blackeyed Theatre tour of Stephen MacDonald’s celebrated ‘Not About Heroes’ 11-14th September.


NTlive Medea, National Theatre
NTlive Medea, National Theatre

The Theatre Royal is holding its Centenary Gala on 28th September at 7.30pm with an evening of variety and film.  The event is free, courtesy of the generous support of Lady Jennie Bland and the returning performers and creative team who will be offering their time voluntarily. Donations are welcome at the box office. And the National Theatre is coming to the Everyman cinema in Southgate Street on 4th September with the NTlive streaming of Euripides’ Medea, featuring Helen McCrory and directed by Carrie Cracknell.  If Greek infanticide tragedy isn’t your thing, NTlive will also be streaming the Young Vic’s fastest-selling production to date ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ later in the month on 16th September featuring Gillian Anderson and directed by Benedict Andrews. Win Guide editor Donald Hutera saw the latter show live in London last month and tells us it’s “a steamy and emotionally stinging sensation”!

SC4M Festival 2014
SC4M Festival 2014

To get you in an Americana mood don’t miss the SC4M 2014 Music Festival at the Railway Tavern on Sunday 7th September, 2-11pm.  The line-up includes Danny And The Champions Of The World,
 The Rails, 
The Travelling Band and 
Peter Bruntnell, with many more treats in store.

Be sure to catch the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition running at the Discovery Centre until 21st September.  And, if you’re inspired to get snapping yourself, the Winchester Photographic Society’s new season commences on the 2nd of September 2014.  One of the largest societies in the South, members meet on Tuesday evenings 7:30-10:00pm from September to May at the Performance Hall ( again in the Discovery Centre).

If you’re feeling in a back-to-school mind-set, why not take some French or Spanish classes with Language for Fun? Visit their free taster session in Hyde Parish Hall on 2nd September 8-9pm for a chance to try out a class and meet fellow students over a glass of vino or cup of coffee.

Winchester 100
Action Winchester 100

Finally, for those of you who’ve already doused yourselves in iced water and are still craving more action for charity, why not join the Winchester Memory Walk at the North Walls Recreation Ground on September 13th at 10am? The event is in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, and participants can choose between a one-mile walk around the park or a more challenging six-mile stretch; both are pushchair and wheelchair-friendly. There’s a Zumba warm-up and also post-walk live music, entertainment, homemade cakes, tea, coffee and games. Later in the month get pedaling with Winchester 100, in aid of Action Medical Research for Children. Taking place on 21st September, this event offers an organized opportunity to experience a ride in the New Forest that passes through three counties and a number of stunning hamlets.

Given all of the above, it’s obvious that there’s no dearth of splendid and sometimes blood-stirring activities to keep us busy as we make the gradual transition to cooler weather. Enjoy!