Even though we were there in appalling weather, we were staggered recently by the beauty of Winchester. Initially, visitors might dismiss the city as merely being a carbon copy of York or Chester, but would be a mistake (in my opinion).
The city of Winchester has a rich and varied history, so please don’t be disillusioned by the lack of colour in my photos. When out and about in Britain on a miserable day in early November, it’s the risk you run.The present layout of the city dates from the 9th Century, when King Alfred the Great threw out the Roman street plan in favour of a grid pattern. This new design enabled the city to be better defended against the Vikings. For his trouble, King Alfred the Great got his own statue.There’s a tiny working water-mill, run by the National Trust, right in the city centre and still producing some twenty tons of flour annually. You can have a go at grinding the flour, should you be so inclined.Wondering the narrow side streets allows you to discover houses from all periods of British history, including the rather ordinary looking house where Jane Austen spent her last days.Winchester College is the world’s oldest public school still occupying its original buildings. You can take a tour of the school, but sadly not on the day we visited. Still, the exterior of the Headmaster’s office is fairly imposing.A large portion of the cathedral is currently obscured by scaffolding, but is still open to worshippers and visitors alike. It’s choristers are famous. Around the corner from the cathedral, near to the College, is a magnificent Bishop’s Palace. It’s not open to the public, but you can admire it from the gateway (and the neighbouring sports pitches).You can stroll around the city centre in under two hours, before relaxing over lunch and/or a cuppa in one of the many pubs and restaurants locally. Winchester pretty much has everything you might need for a day out (including fabulous, and free, public conveniences). Just, you know, maybe visit on a day when the sun is visible.