Voted the best place in Britain to live in the ‘Sunday Times Best Places to Live” guide, history rich Winchester is well known throughout the UK for its notable landmarks and beautiful surrounding countryside. Winchester has a population of over 45,000 people and was the first official capital of the UK when 7 Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms became united under one king in the 9th century.
In the county of Hampshire, Winchester is ideally located on the edge of South Downs National Park, a short 30 minute drive from Southampton and, whilst a little further out, still accessible into the now capital London and its Surrounding areas including major airports such as Heathrow. With so much in and around Winchester to enjoy, it’s no wonder that its residents are so happy there.
Winchester’s most famous historical claim is its housing of the Arthurian Round Table in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle – ‘King Arthurs Knights of the Round Table’ is a well famed British legend. Medieval in its heritage, Winchester Castle was erected in 1067 by William the Conqueror as one of the first Norman Castles in England, chosen for its ideal location where a Roman fort atop a large earth rampart already stood. Today only the Great Hall, added later by Henry VIII, still remains in good condition with few visible areas of the rest of the castle still standing. Winchester castle attracts many visitors ever year and is a major tourist attraction for the city.
Winchesters other points of historical interest include Winchester College, the oldest of the nine original English Public Schools, and Winchester Cathedral. Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and doesn’t only attract visitors for its Gothic architecture but also literature fans may be found visiting the North Nave Aisle where Jane Austin is buried. The city is an important location for book lovers as not only did Winchester open the first Public Library following the passing of the 1850s Public Libraries Act, but author Richard Adams was also inspired by the countryside between Winchester and Newbury to write bookshelf classic Watership Down.
Visitors to Winchester may look to enjoy learning experiences at The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum, City Museum, Beaulieu National Motor Museum or The Winchester Science and Planetarium centre or even head to Marwell Zoo to see the animals homed there.
The City council has in recent times come to be known for it’s support of the arts. The ‘Hat Fair’ street theatre festival started in 1974 and is held annually to support the city’s busking talents and in 2005-2012 a series of bollards in the centre were painted in the style of famous artists or tropical scenes by The Colour Factory.
Food and drink lovers will find themselves very much at home in Winchester as it hosts one of the biggest Farmers Markets in the UK on the first and last Sunday of each month with over 100 stalls of fresh local produce on offer. The Cheese and Chilli Festival also takes place every August as a fantastic summer attraction and a trip to the local Vineyards is always a great option for wine tasting and tours. Winchester tourists might decide to discard hotels and BnB’s and instead choose to enjoy a popular ‘Glamping’ experience in yurts, camping pods and shepherd’s huts.
Still not had your fill of Winchester? You can pick up a Monopoly Winchester Edition including public landmarks such as Jane Austen’s house and King Alfred’s statue… if you look really closely you might even see some Plantation Shutters on the window of the houses, very true to life!