Winchester combines ancient history and modern vibrancy combining a special and almost magical atmosphere. Walking around the city is a pure joy, absorbing the sheer magnificence of its heritage and modern dynamism.

The Theatre Royal hosts many famous plays and comedies with shows from Macbeth to Abigail's Party!

The Chesil Theatre, located inside a former church that is hundreds of years old, also hosts many plays and has a wonderful atmosphere. Cafés, restaurants and brasseries such as Raymond Blanc and Rik Stein's and Cabinet Rooms offer excellent and varied cuisine. Traditional shops and modern retail outlets help form a unity of purpose and enterprise.
Winchester, once capital of England, retains its ancient heritage from Roman times to the present day.

Ancient buildings and edifices adorn the city including ruins of Bishop Henry of Blois' 900 year old palace, nearby Winchester College. And original, crenelated city walls.

A number of half-timbered Tudor buildings grace the city where many are in the main thoroughfare. And of course the magnificent 1000 year old Winchester Cathedral. A magnet for visitors world wide. 

Brief History

The Roman era from A.D. 79 to AD 420, had a significant impact on Winchester, although much evidence lies underground. RIVER ITCHEN The River Itchen was important to the Romans as a navigation route for importing goods from Southampton to Winchester. The River Itchen was narrowed by the Romans to address flooding and enhance cargo boats' access to the city. The Victorians further developed the Itchen to facilitate use of narrow boats for inland transportation of goods complete with locks.

The Romans eventually returned to their homeland which was being invaded. 

Latin and English

The Roman connection has never been lost where Latin is still used to this day for plant species, medical terms and phrases. Latin language prayer books in regular use to this day. Reading Latin on one page and English translation on the other, the connection becomes obvious; especially if Latin was taught at school. Vulgate Latin (Old Latin) was a language used by monks in monasteries.

There are many similarities with English and Latin. For example, the monks prayed without a pause/intermission In Latin: Orate sine intermission. Ad infinitum is another example. Some schools are reintroducing Latin enhance understanding and direct connection with English and other languages of Latin origin including Spanish, of course Italian and French.

Following the Norman invasion, the language of the royal courts and upper echelons was old Norman French; another language of influence.

The words featured on the British coat of arms are from the Royal Order the Garter, dating back to 1348, when King Edward III acted in a most chivalrous manner when Joan, Countess of Salisbury's garter she was wearing, fell to the floor, much to the amusement of courtiers. The king picked up the garter placed it on his leg and delivered the iconic phrase 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'. 'Shame on he who thinks evil of it'. The derivative of 'mal' being evil or malevolent. Also 'Dieu et mon Droit' (God and my right') at the bottom of the Coat of Arms. On the gate entering the Cathedral's Inner Close there is a fine example of the Coat of Arms.

Nearby is a most wonderful pub and hotel; the Wykham Arms which is highly rated by residents and visitors. A wonderful inn serving excellent food and real English ale. Its ambiance and décor is original and delightful. It has Winchester College's (founded in 1382) coat of arms, 'Manners Makeyth Man' above the entrance. 

Anglo-Saxon Era

The Anglo-Saxon era was a most significant period orchestrated by King Alfred the Great (849 - 899). The only monarch with 'Great' as his title and active in delivering a most critical changes during his reign as King of Wessex; eventually King of England. He fought the Danes, but eventually made peace enabling both to live in harmony.

Emma Queen of Norway, and England

Queen Emma was daughter of Richard I of Normand and Great Aunt of William the Conqueror.  She is the only queen to be married twice King Richard I awarded Queen Emma Winchester and Exeter as a wedding present on her marriage to Kind Aethelred the Unready. 

She is the only Queen to be Queen twice.  When Aethelred passed away, she married King Canute.  She is the only woman to have a mortuary chest in Winchester Cathedral.  Her statue is located on the Great Screen.  She had two children. Aeathelflaed and Edward the Confessor.

Winchester is a city, yet has the ambiance of a market town with a particularly friendly and indeed vibrant atmosphere. 

Revealing Walks

From King Alfred's statue in the city centre, a few minutes' walk visitors and residents are greeted by moors, rivers, hills and nearby Water Meadows creating a most awesome area of natural beauty.

Facing King Alfred the Great's Statue, is a view of St. Giles Hill resplendent in greenery and trees can only be described as extremely beautiful. The foot of St. Giles' Hill is literally minutes from the centre. Pathways lead to the summit where a platform affords a spectacular view of Winchester. At its summit, St. Catherine's Hill can be seen which is around a twenty minute walk from the city centre. Steps to the copse offer truly spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Winchester encompasses many dramatic sights generating a degree of wonder. A tangible synergy of the past and present. For example William the Conqueror's former castle offers a direct connection with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The ruins of which are mostly underground, but downward steps allowing a limited view.

King Arthur's Round Table is exhibited in the nearby Great Hall. In the immediate vicinity a walk under the Westgate the High Street presents in a most magnificent way. Pedestrianised, with Tudor buildings on either side. Wonderful half timbered examples of that era of constructional prevalence dating back to A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1500.

Close by is Winchester Cathedral. A one thousand year old icon commission by William the Conqueror. It has the longest nave in Britain. On entering this truly wonderful masterpiece of creative and dynamic construction, the enormity and grandeur is distinct. Although majestic and magnificent, there is a distinct sense of calm, peace and serenity. The Christmas Market is an incredible attraction. In 2022 it attracted 400,000 visitors and is rated one of the most popular in the United Kingdom. And recognised in Europe as most significant. The Cathedral is well known for its friendliness, welcoming visitors the world. The organ with 5,500 pipes delivers the most incredible sound. 

The Kings and Scribes Exhibition

The Kings and Scribes Exhibition, exhibiting the 900 year old Winchester Bible, written in Old Latin by one monk which took him five years. Complete with full coloured illuminations it is truly spectacular where visitors actually look at it in awe. The Morley Library with around 2,000 books many dating back to the 1500s is where monks studied. The top floor, Triforium literally provides a journey through history and displays many artefacts.

The Cathedral refectory has an excellent range of items including books describing the history of the Cathedral and Winchester City.

Winchester and surrounds; ancient buildings and vibrant city centre, plus literally an expanse of countryside rivers, hills moors and Water Meadows offers visitors a truly remarkable experience. Ancient and present day combined as one.

Being voted Great Britain's second happiest city is a privilege to be proud of and never taken for granted.

Jane Austin

Jane Austin is Most certainly worthy of a visit is Jane Austin's tomb in Winchester Cathedral.  Much information is available in the refectory.

Jane Austin (1775 - 1817) is doubtless the most famous author of all time.

Her books are a true example of her literary prowess, with probably her most revered and popular novel being 'Sense and Sensibility'. 

There are so many famous quotes from her novels, Some rather humorous! Here are some examples:

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man of good fortune, must be in want of a wife'.

'The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.'
'There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.'

Thousands of visitors to Winchester Cathedral ask where Jane Austin is buried. Her tomb is in fact located in the North aisle where visitors gather in awe and wonder to view her final resting place.

A life-size statue is to be erected as fitting memorial to her in the Inner Close of Winchester Cathedral.
Countless visitors from around the world will no doubt visit what will become a tangible presence and tribute to Jane Austin.

In 1866 she started suffering from ill health and travelled to Winchester from her 400 year old residence in Chawton, Hampshire for treatment. Sadly, she passed away in a nearby house in College Street. There is a plaque in her honour.

Here are some famous quotes from her novels, Some rather humorous!

For example, Pride and Prejudice:

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man of good fortune, must be in want of a wife'.

AN INTRODUCTION TO WINCHESTER - PAST AND PRESENT written by Simon Lever in association with Beauty & the Beast Publishing. Photos courtesy of Simon Lever.

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