is the county
, in South East England
. It lies at the heart
of the wider City of
Winchester, a local government district, and is located at the
western end of the South
Downs, along the course of the River
At the time of the 2001 Census, Winchester
had a population of 41,420.
Archaically known as Winton,
Winchester is a historic cathedral city and the
ancient capital of Wessex and the
Kingdom of England.
developed from the Roman town of
Winchester's major landmark is Winchester
Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the
distinction of having the longest nave and overall length of all
Gothic cathedrals in
railway station is served by trains running from London
Waterloo, Weymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and the North.
in the area dates back to pre-Roman times, with an Iron Age enclosure or valley fort, Oram's Arbour, on the western side of the present-day
city. After the Roman conquest of Britain the
civitas, then named Venta Belgarum or "Market of the Belgae",
was of considerable importance.
The city may have been the Caergwinntguic
(literally meaning "White Fortress") as
recorded by Nennius
after the Roman
occupation. This name was corrupted into
following the Anglo-Saxon conquest of the
area in 519.
has historic importance as it replaced Dorchester-on-Thames as the de facto capital of the ancient
kingdom of Wessex in about 686
after King Caedwalla of Wessex
defeated King Atwald of Wight.
Although it was not the only town to have been the capital, it was
established by King Egbert
main city in his kingdom in 827. Saint Swithun
was Bishop of Winchester in the mid 9th
century. The Saxon street plan laid out by Alfred the Great
is still evident today: a
cross shaped street system which conformed to the standard town
planning system of the day – overlaying the pre-existing Roman
street plan (incorporating the
ecclesiastical quarter in the south-east; the judicial quarter in
the south-west; the tradesmen in the north-east). The town was part
of a series of fortifications along the south coast. Built by
Alfred to protect the Kingdom, they were known as 'burhs
'. The medieval city walls, built on the old Roman
walls, are visible in places. Only one section of the original
Roman walls remains. Four main gates were positioned in the north,
south, east and west plus the additional Durngate and King's Gate.
Winchester remained the capital of Wessex, and then England, until
some time after the Norman Conquest
when the capital was moved to London. The Domesday Book
was compiled in the city early
in the reign of William the
Medieval and later times
Winchester High Street in the mid 19th
A serious fire in the city in 1141 accelerated its decline.
However, William of Wykeham
(1320–1404) played an important role in the city's restoration.
Bishop of Winchester he was
responsible for much of the current structure of the cathedral, and
he founded the still extant public school Winchester
During the Middle Ages, the city was an
important centre of the wool trade, before going into a slow
decline. The curfew bell
in the bell
tower (near the clock in the picture), still sounds at 8.00pm each
evening. The curfew was the time to extinguish all home fires until
Thomas Dummer purchased the City Cross
(also known as the Buttercross) from the
Corporation of Winchester, intending to have it re-erected at
Park, near Otterbourne.
When his workmen arrived to dismantle the
cross, they were prevented from doing so by the people of the city,
who "organised a small riot
" and they were forced to
abandon their task. The agreement with the city was cancelled and
Dummer erected a lath and plaster
facsimile, which stood in the park for about sixty years before it
was destroyed by the weather. The Buttercross still stands in the
The famous novelist Jane Austen
Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral. The
Romantic poet John Keats
Winchester from mid August through to October 1819. It was in
Winchester that Keats wrote "Isabella", "St. Agnes' Eve", "To Autumn
" and "Lamia". Parts of "Hyperion" and
the five-act poetic tragedy "Otho The Great" were also written in
The City Museum located on the corner of Great Minster Street and
The Square contains much information on the history of Winchester.
Early examples of Winchester
of standard capacity are on display.
Winchester is currently represented in the
House of Commons of the United
Kingdom through the Winchester Parliamentary
Constituency by Mark Oaten, a Liberal Democrat.
Mr Oaten won the
seat during the 1997 general election in which he defeated the
Minister Gerry Malone
from John Major
's then ousted Government.
Cathedral, the longest cathedral in Europe, was originally
built in 1079.
View of Winchester Cathedral.
It contains much fine architecture spanning
the 11th to the 16th century and is the place of interment of
numerous Bishops of Winchester
(such as William of Wykeham
monarchs (such as Egbert of Wessex
) and later monarchs such
as King Canute
and William Rufus
, as well as Jane Austen
. It was once an important pilgrimage
centre and housed the shrine
of Saint Swithun
Way travelling to Canterbury begins at Winchester. The plan of the
Minster is laid out in the grass adjoining the
(original burial place of Alfred the Great
and Edward the Elder
) once stood beside it. It
has a girls choir and a boys choir, which sing on a regular basis
at the cathedral.It also known for appearing in the popular film
The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks and based on the book by
author Dan Brown. The interior was used for a scene inside a London
The Cathedral Close contains a number of historic buildings from
the time when the cathedral was also a priory
. Of particular note are the Deanery
which dates back to the thirteenth
century. It was originally the Prior's House, and was the
birthplace of Arthur, Prince of
in 1486. Not far away is Cheyney Court
, a mid
fifteenth century timber framed
incorporating the Porter's Lodge for the Priory Gate. It was the
Bishop's court house.
The earliest hammer-beamed
still standing in England is also situated in the Cathedral Close,
next to the Dean's garden. It is known as the Pilgrims'
, as it was part of the hostelry used to accommodate the
many pilgrims to Saint Swithun's shrine. Left-overs from the lavish
banquets of the Dean would be given to the pilgrims who were
welcome to spend the night in the hall. It is thought by Winchester
City Council to have been built in 1308. Now part of The
Pilgrims' School, the hall is used by the school for assemblies in
the morning, drama lessons, plays, orchestral practices, Cathedral
Waynflete rehearsals, the school's Senior Commoners' Choir
rehearsals and so forth.
Wolvesey Castle and Palace
Castle was the Norman
bishop's palace, dating from 1110,
but standing on the site of an earlier Saxon structure.
was enhanced by Henry de Blois
of his brother King Stephen
's reign. He was besieged there
for some days. In the 16th century, Queen Mary Tudor
and King Philip II of Spain
were guests just prior
to their wedding in the Cathedral. The building is now a ruin
(maintained by English Heritage
but the chapel was incorporated into the new palace built in the
1680s, only one wing of which survives.
Winchester is well known for the Great Hall
castle, which was built in the 12th century.
Great Hall was rebuilt, sometime between 1222 and 1235, and still
exists in this form. It is famous for King Arthur's Round Table
, which has hung
in the hall from at least 1463. The table actually dates from the
13th century, and as such is not contemporary to Arthur. Despite
this it is still of considerable historical interest and attracts
many tourists. The table was originally unpainted, but was painted
for King Henry VIII
The names of the legendary Knights of the Round Table
written around the edge of the table surmounted by King Arthur on
his throne. Opposite the table are Prince
'Wedding Gates'. In the grounds of the Great Hall is a
recreation of a medieval
from the hall, only a few excavated remains of the stronghold
survive amongst the modern Law Courts. The buildings were
supplanted by the King's House, now incorporated into the Peninsula Barracks where
there are several military museums.
Winchester is also home
to the Army Training Regiment
Winchester, otherwise known as Sir John Moore Barracks, where Army
recruits undergo their phase one training.
buildings of Winchester College, a public school
founded by William of Wykeham, still largely date from their first
erection in 1382.
There are two courtyards, a gatehouse,
cloister, hall, a magnificent college chapel and it also owns "The
Water Meadows" through which runs a part of the River Itchen
. It was planned to educate poor boys
before they moved on to New College, Oxford and often a life in the church.
Hospital of St Cross
almshouses and vast Norman chapel of
St Cross were founded just outside the city centre by Henry
de Blois in the 1130s.
Since at least the 14th century, and
still available today, a 'wayfarer's dole' of ale and bread has
been handed out there. It was supposedly instigated to aid pilgrims
on their route through to Canterbury.
Winchester Guildhall 1871.
important historic buildings include the Guildhall dating from 1871
in the Gothic revival style, the
Hampshire County Hospital designed by William
Butterfield and one of the city's several water mills driven by the various channels of the
Itchen that run through the city centre.
City Mill, has recently been restored, and is again milling
corn by water power.
The mill is owned by the
Although Winchester City survived World War
intact, about thirty percent of the Old Town was demolished
to make way for buildings more suited to modern office day
requirements (in particular for Hampshire County Council and
Winchester City Council). Since the late 1980s the city has seen a
gradual replacement of these post war brutalist structures for
contemporary developments more sympathetic to the medieval urban
fabric of the Old Town.
There are numerous educational institutions in Winchester.
three state secondary schools: Kings' School Winchester, The Westgate School, and The Henry Beaufort School, all of which have excellent reputations.
Symonds College is the main college that serves Winchester; it is
rated amongst the top and the largest sixth form colleges in the
privately owned preparatory schools, there are The
Pilgrims' School Winchester, Twyford
School, Prince's Mead School etc. Winchester
College, which accepts students from ages 13 to 18, is one
of the best-known public schools in Britain and many of its pupils
leave for well-respected universities. St
Swithun's is a public
school for girls which frequently appears on the league tables
for GCSE and A-level results.
The University of
(formerly King Alfred's College) is Winchester's
university, beginning life as a teacher training college. It is
located on a purpose built campus near the city centre.
School of Art is part of the University of Southampton.
Winchester has an association football league and two
recognised clubs, Winchester City F.C., the 2004 FA Vase winners
who were founded in 1884 and has the motto "Many in Men, One in
Spirit", currently play in the Southern League, Division 1 S&E
after a highly successful spell in the Wessex League and Winchester
Castle F.C., who have played in the Hampshire League since
was born in Winchester, as
was Doncaster Rovers
international midfielder Brian
Winchester women also have successful sports teams with Winchester
City Women FC currently playing in the Hampshire County League
Division 1 and recently went through a league campaign unbeaten.
The club caters for players of all ability and ages. 
Winchester also has a rugby union
named Winchester RFC
and a thriving
Winchester and District AC.
Winchester has a thriving successful Hockey
Club /www.winchesterhc.co.uk/>, with ten men's and three ladies'
teams catering to all ages and abilities.
The city has a growing roller hockey
team which trains at River Park Leisure Centre.
is played at several greens (the
oldest being Hyde Abbey dating from 1812) during the summer months
and at Riverside Indoor Bowling Club during the winter.
Winchester College invented, and lent its name to Winchester College Football
played exclusively at the College and in some small African/South
Media and culture
Winchester is home to Winchester
, a live music festival set up in 2008 as a special event
organised by Placid Piranha
aimed at promoting the area of Winchester and
Hampshire to the music industry and local music scene. Happening
across three venues and boasting 11 gigs in 7 nights, it will be an
opportunity to showcase Winchester as a thriving music town with
big names in rock ‘n’ roll performing with a wealth of talent that
Hampshire has to offer.
Since 1974 Winchester has hosted the annual Hat
, a celebration of street
that includes performances, workshops, and gatherings
at several venues around the city.
Winchester hosts one of the UK's largest and most successful
, with close to –
or over – 100 stalls, and is certified by FARMA
. The farmers' market takes place on the second
and last Sunday monthly in the town centre.
On Channel 4
UK's Television Programme
"The Best And Worst Places To Live In The UK" 2006, which was
broadcast on Channel 4 UK on 26 October 2006, it was branded as the
Best Place In The UK To Live In: 2006. In the 2007 edition
of the same programme, Winchester had dropped to second best place
to live, behind Edinburgh.
The University of Winchester was established in 2005 and has grown
rapidly in both the size and scope of its activities, and an
excellent Student Union
In 2003, Winchester was ranked 5th in a league of 50 'crap towns'
in the UK nominated by readers of Idler magazine.
Winchester in fiction
12th century Winchester is one of the locations described in
's Pillars of the Earth
Winchester is the main location of Samuel
's post-apocalyptic science fiction series, Sword of the Spirits
. The books
were published under the pen name John Christopher
In the movie Merlin
, King Uther's
first conquest of Britain begins with Winchester, which Merlin
foresaw would fall.
fictionalised Winchester appears as Wintoncester in
Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles and
is in part the model for Barchester in the Barsetshire novels of
Anthony Trollope, who attended
Winchester College; The Warden
is said to be based on a scandal at the Hospital of
In Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife
the His Dark Materials
trilogy) the main male protagonist, Will Parry, comes from
Winchester. However, little of the book is set there.
In the Japanese manga Death
, The Wammy's House, an orphanage founded by Quillsh
Wammy, where the detective L's successors are raised, is located in
A fictitious estate near Winchester is the scene of a crime in the
The Problem of Thor
, by Sir Arthur
, while some of the action in his The Adventure of the Copper
takes place in the city.
A scene in Henry Esmond
by William Makepeace Thackeray
set in the choir of Winchester cathedral.
Winchester Cathedral is featured in James Herbert's horror novel
The Siege of Winchester in 1141, part of the English Civil War
between King Stephen
and the Empress Matilda
, is an important plot
element in the detective novel An Excellent Mystery
part of the Brother Cadfael
chronicles by Edith Pargeter
as Ellis Peters.
and upcoming author
Christopher Couture is originally from
Winchester and in his first novel
his first character called Alexander Cunningham is from and resides
in Winchester. His second novel, Life
In Pink, is based in both Winchester and Southampton.
Twin towns - Sister cities
Winchester is twinned
district is twinned with
is also the sister city of Winchester, Virginia.
The Mayor of Winchester (UK) has a standing
invitation to be a part of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom
in Winchester (VA) each year in the Spring.
of Winchester gave its name to a suburb of Paris, France, called
Le Kremlin-Bicêtre (23,724
inhabitants), owing to a manor built there by John of Pontoise, Bishop of Winchester, at the end of the
- Roman Britain.org Venta Belgarum
- Dodson, Aidan. The Royal Tombs of Great Britain.
London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. 2004.
- History of Winchester Guildhall