Blog Archive

Friday, September 7, 2007

Coordinates: 51°03′48″N 1°18′31″W / 51.0632, -1.3085
Winchester or Winton (archaic) is a historic city in southern England, with a population of around 40,000 within a 3 mile radius of its centre. It is the seat of the City of Winchester local government district, which covers a much larger area, and is also the administrative capital and county town of Hampshire. Winchester was formerly the capital of England, during the 10th and early 11th centuries, and before that the capital of Wessex. The city is at the western end of the South Downs with the scenic River Itchen running through it. The city is served by trains running from London Waterloo, Weymouth, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and the North. According to a channel 4 survey program in October 2006, Winchester is the best place to live in the UK.

Notable buildings

Main article: Winchester CathedralWinchester, Hampshire Cathedral Close

Main article: Wolvesey Castle Wolvesey Castle and Palace

Main article: Winchester Castle Winchester Castle

Main article: Winchester College Winchester College

Main article: Hospital of St Cross Hospital of St Cross
Other important historic buildings include the Guildhall dating from 1871, the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and one of the city's several water mills driven by the various channels of the River Itchen that run through the city centre. Winchester City Mill, has recently been restored, and is again milling corn by water power. The mill is owned by the National Trust.

Other buildings


Main article: Venta Belgarum Early history
The city has historic importance as it replaced Dorchester-on-Thames as the defacto 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 as the 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 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 boundary of the old town is visible in places (a wooden barricade surrounded by ditches in Saxon times) now a stone wall. 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.

Anglo-Saxon times
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. As Bishop of Winchester he was responsible for much of the current structure of the cathedral, and he founded Winchester College as well as New College, Oxford. During the Middle Ages, the city was an important centre of the wool trade, before going into a slow decline.
The famous novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral. The Romantic poet John Keats stayed in Winchester from mid August through to October 1819. It was in Winchester that Keats wrote Isabella, St. Agnes' Eve and Lamia. Parts of Hyperion and the five-act poetic tragedy Otho The Great were also written in Winchester.

Medieval and later times
The City Museum located on the corner of Minster Street and The Square contains much information on the history of Winchester.

Further learning
Winchester's association football club, called Winchester City F.C., was founded in 1884 and has the motto "Many in Men, One in Spirit", and currently play in the Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1.
Winchester also has a rugby team named Winchester RFC and a thriving athletic club called Winchester and District AC.
Winchester has a thriving successful Hockey Club (, with ten men's and three ladies' teams catering to all ages and abilities.
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 ( The city has a growing roller hockey team which trains at River Park Leisure Centre.
Lawn bowls is played at several greens during the summer months and at Riverside Indoor Bowling Club during the winter.
Barnsley midfielder Brian Howard was born in Winchester.

There are numerous educational institutions in Winchester.
There are three state secondary schools: Kings' School Winchester, The Westgate School, and Henry Beaufort, all of which have excellent reputations. The sixth form Peter Symonds College is the main college that serves Winchester; it is rated amongst the top and the largest sixth form colleges in the UK.
Among privately owned preparatory schools, there are The Pilgrims' School Winchester, Twyford, Prince's Mead , St Swithuns etc. Winchester College, which accepts students from ages 13 to 18, is one of the most well-known public schools in Britain and many of its pupils leave for well-respected universities.
The University of Winchester (formerly King Alfred's College) serves as Winchester's primary university. It is located on a purpose built campus near the city centre. The Winchester School of Art is part of the University of Southampton.

Winchester abroad
Winchester is the main location of Samuel Youd's post-apocalyptic science fiction series, Sword of the Spirits. The books were published under the pen name John Christopher.
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 officially branded as the Best Place In The UK To Live In: 2006.
Since 1974 Winchester has hosted the annual Hat Fair, a celebration of street theatre that includes performances, workshops, and gatherings at several venues around the city.
In the movie Merlin, King Uther's first conquest of Britain begins with Winchester, which Merlin foresaw would fall.
In the Japanese manga Death Note, The Wammy's House, an orphanage founded by Quillsh Wammy, where the detective L's successors are raised, is located in Winchester.
Winchester hosts one of the UK's largest and most successful farmers' markets, 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.

No comments: