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.
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