Common Time 2019


The entrance to College
The entrance to the Porters' Lodge
The Head Porter - Mr Alan Reinthall
Looking through the two wicket gates toward Chamber Court
Some of the keys used on a daily basis
A smiling corbel in the vault outside the Porters' Lodge
Historically a porter is a gatekeeper and here at Winchester the Porters still fulfil that role although twenty-first century duties encompass wider responsibilities as will be seen below.
The Porters' Lodge has enjoyed a history as long as the College has existed and has evolved over the centuries to be the main hub of communication and coordination in today's modern world. Housed inside the main entrance, The Lodge is manned for sixteen hours a day and welcomes visitors, College men and dons all of whom can be confident they will be efficiently helped when seeking information and directions.
One of the many duties that the porters undertake is the sorting of the mail for all the departments and individuals within the College and more specifically for the Scholars, who thus view mail collection time with some degree of excitement. Another duty is the superintending of two types of College discipline. These occasion less excitement than the arrival of mail but nevertheless contribute in part to the smooth running of the College. In the first instance is a 'Sargents' whereby a man of the College has to present himself to the duty porter between 7.30 am and 7.45 am dressed 'up to books' (i.e. formally for lessons). For more serious offences a man must serve a 'Detna' which entails mustering at the Lodge in 'Scruffs' (working clothes) between 7.30 am and 8 am and being set a manual task – usually sweeping or cleaning of some nature. On a cold winter's morning this has a salutary effect.
The Lodge, over time, has become a font of all knowledge pertaining to events, dealing with emergencies, locating of individuals, relating the College history to the general public, assisting the tour guides and most of all being able to answer the majority of questions when members of the community are directed to “ask the porters”.
Security is of prime importance throughout the campus and these duties are carried out by the porters who mount random patrols, check doors and windows and move on members of the public who may have strayed on to campus.
Each porter has a secondary role within the Lodge beyond his prime job of security. Overseeing car parking and the issuing of parking permits, ordering and issuing of cleaning materials for central cleaning, mini-bus bookings and driver allocations are some of these. The Deputy Head Porter is responsible for the Events Information Board update, issuing keys and mobile telephones and summoning emergency services when needed.
During the quiet hours 23.30 to 07.30 the Head Porter is on call for all emergencies that may arise throughout the College campus.  He is also responsible for processing the Warden and Scholars in the various ceremonial occasions which take place during the academic year. (See 'Traditions' in the top menu.)
One of the most important duties, although hardly ceremonial, is the closing of the gates. There is a specific Founder's Rubric on this – number 45 – and it is worth quoting:
Concerning the closing of College gates, and that every service to the College be done by males, and that females are not brought into College.
Next we state ordain and wish that the external doors and gates of the said College be firmly shut and locked at sunset, or at least before night fall and that they remain shut and locked, and are not opened before sun-rise on the following day, unless there is a requirement otherwise for some reasonable purpose, approved by the Warden or Vice-Warden. Wishing that the keys of the doors and gates are to remain guarded in the custody of the Warden when he is present, and in his absence, in the custody of the Vice-Warden, every night unless there is some reasonable cause to prevent it.
The outer court main gate is locked to 'wicket' - the small door cut into the main gate - at 6 pm every night and secured as a whole at 11.30. Chamber Court gate follows the same format and both are reopened at 7.30 am. The main gates are made of English oak and secured by a beam eleven feet long, also of oak, with an iron bolt at one end which is shot into the stone work and then locked.
The keys for these locks have been lost over time but we still retain the key to the original lock on Chamber Court wicket gate and the bolts on the beams are still in good working order. The keys held in the Lodge to Chambers, Hall and the Muniment rooms all appear to be original and vary in size from just over six inches long to the largest at ten inches and weighing 13 oz. These keys were not meant for today's pockets.
The rubric goes on to say the following:
Ordaining furthermore that every service to the College and the persons of the same, especially within the confines of the College itself, it is to be done by males, and in no circumstances by women unless perchance, in the absence of a male laundryman, a washer woman be appointed for the linen and other necessary day-to-day clothing, both for the College and for the scholar of the same; and she is to receive everything to be washed at the outer gate of the College from the hands of a servant appointed to the task by the College and bound by oath; and this washerwoman we wish to be of such age and condition to be most unlikely to excite any sinister suspicion; and we wish this person, male or female to reside outside the College. Insisting furthermore that neither porter, baker, brewer, cook, steward nor any other functionary or servant of the said College bring any females into the said College at their own places of work, or receive them in the same except for some acceptable reason approved by the Warden, Vice-Warden or Bursars.
It seems the closing of the gates has remained unchanged, but that we no longer seek permission to receive females onto the campus.
The porters are responsible for hoisting the Warden's flag when he is on site. On other ceremonial occasions such as Accession Day, the Queen's (actual) Birthday, the Queen's Official Birthday, Coronation Day, Remembrance Sunday, and Armistice Day the Union Flag is hoisted. One other day is celebrated, April 23, when the St George's flag is flown. The flag pole is positioned on the flag tower above the main gate and can be seen on entering College Street.