Awesome day trip to Winchester

Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It’s Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more.

The must see things in this article includes The Round Table (awesome – it’s the legend of King Arthur!), the ruin of Wolvesey Castle (ancient and striking), Winchester Cathedral (with it’s really long nave), the last home of Jane Austen (a sweet yellow brick house near an old bookshop) and loads more..!

 

Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Outside The Cathedral.
It was our 28th Wedding Anniversary.

It was our 28th Wedding Anniversary and as we are both history lovers we decided a day in Englands first city was a perfect treat for us both. We set about planning an awesome day trip to Winchester

But, less about us and more about discovering all the best things to do – and why you should do them during a day trip to Winchester.

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Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table, the ruin of Wolvesey Castle, Winchester Cathedral, the last home of Jane Austen and loads more..!

 

The Cathedral

 

We received a warm welcome as we approached Winchester Cathedral. As you enter the church it’s easy to miss the entrance to the Treasury which is straight on the right.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Stairs To The Treasury.
Stairs to the treasury.

The 12th Century Font is made of marble and depicts scenes from the life of Saint Nicholas.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. 12th Century Font.
The 12th Century Font.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Scenes On The Font.
Scenes from the life of Saint Nicolas.

Winchester Cathedral boasts the longest Medieval nave in Europe.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Nave.
The Nave.

The best view is actually to stand on the steps to the Quire and look back.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Entrance To The Quire.
Entrance to the Quire.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Long Nave In Cathedral.

 

The Quire itself has intricately carved Medieval choir stalls.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Inside The Quire.
Inside the Quire.

Looking back towards the West window – which was destroyed by Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1660 using pieces of the broken glass.

 

Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table (awesome - it's the legend of King Arthur!), the ruin of Wolvesey Castle, Winchester Cathedral, the last home of Jane Austen and loads more!

 

Look out for the 12th Century tomb within the Quire, it is thought it may be Henry De Blois, Bishop and brother of King Stephen who is laid to rest here.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. 12th Century Tomb.
12th Century tomb.

The High Alter is columns of 19th Century statues. Impressive but the roof is a little distracting!

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Cathedral's High Alter.
High Alter.

I like this story: Below is William Walker. The Cathedral nearly collapsed in the early 20th Century, but this diver single handedly saved the Cathedral by underpinning the foundations. It took 5 years.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Memorial To A Famous Diver.
Famous diver who saved the Cathedral.

This interests me greatly because it is Joan of Ark who is a saint of the church of Saint-Helier in Beuzeville, Normandy. The church there is covered in the same pointy barbed thing that is above the figure of Joan in Westminster. It goes to show how so much is symbolic.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Joan Of Arc Statue.
Joan of Arc.

Another lady worthy of a visit is Jane Austen. I’ve read all her books, relish every film that relates to her and think I love being English all the more because of her.

So, don’t miss the grave of one of our favourite female novelists. If you are facing towards the High Alter, it is on your left.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Jane Austen's
Jane Austen’s tomb.

There are 6 Mortuary chests containing the bones of bishops, a queen and early kings, including Canute.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. One Of The Mortuary Chests, Westminster Cathedral.
Mortuary chest – Canute?

Due to some repair work we didn’t get to see the bones of Saint Swithun, the patron Saint of Winchester, you know, from the old Nursery Rhyme.

There is (or maybe was) a Saint Swithun’s feast day on 15th July. It was on that day in 971 that his bones were moved to be outside the old minster Cathedral. A terrible storm broke out that lasted for 40 days and 40 nights, leading to the belief that if it rains on the 15th July it will rain for 40 days again.

Below is the site of the 7th Century old Minster, right by todays Winchester Cathedral.

 

Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table (awesome - it's the legend of King Arthur!), the ruin of Wolvesey Castle (ancient and striking), Westminster Cathedral (with it's really long nave), the last home of Jane Austen (a sweet yellow brick house near an old bookshop) and loads more..
Site of old Minster.

 

Stuff we missed:

  • best surviving 12th Century English Bible. It’s meant to be dazzling with vivid pages.
  • A sculpture in the Crypt called Sound II 

 

Things to see around the Cathedral

 

This is a beautifully kept historic part of town and it’s well worth a wander. There are some interesting things to see so it’s worth make time during your day trip to Winchester.

This house of Jane Austen, in College Street, is not her actual home (that is a little outside Winchester) but it is the home she spent her last months in before she died.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Jane Austen's last home.
Jane Austen’s last home.

Do visit the delightful independent old book shop a few doors down, P & G Wells. They still have a traditional book binder on site, story times, a writer society and a poet festival.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Independent Book Shop.
Old independent book shop.

Winchester College, a few door down from the Jane Austen House in the other direction, is a beautiful building and you can join a tour to see inside this private school.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Winchester college.
Winchester College.

There are gates everywhere near the Cathedral.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. City Gates.
Old City Gates.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. City Gates.
City gates.

It’s very lovely to walk about because the properties around the Cathedral are unspoiled and although we weren’t sure what there use is now or once was they were intriguing.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Old Property.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. House Near The Cathedral.
Properties opposite the Cathedral.

Look out for the Deanery Porch. It was being worked on during our visit, but it is a bijou bookstall where second hand books are donated. It raises money for choirboys scholarships.

 

The Highstreet

 

It would be amiss not to at least wander down the High Street on your day trip to Winchester. It is a thriving centre with great shops and quality market stalls everywhere.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Main shopping street.
The main shopping street.

The High street is full of delightful Regency and Elizabethan bow-fronted windows. It was once the Roman Road.

 

Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table (awesome - it's the legend of King Arthur!), the ruin of Wolvesey Castle (ancient and striking), Westminster Cathedral (with it's really long nave), the last home of Jane Austen (a sweet yellow brick house near an old bookshop) and loads more.

 

The High Cross, also known as the City or Butter Cross, dates back to the early 15th Century. It was once used by countrymen to sell produce, hence the name Butter Cross.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Pentice.
The Butter Cross, about half way along the High Street.

Look out for the Square and Market Lane where you will find a quality independent shops besides well known high street names, fine bars and restaurants.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Side Streets.
Side streets.

Other notable buildings at the end of the High Street are the Town Hall

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Town Hall.
The Town Hall.

… the City Museum

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Museum.
The Museum.

and the statue of King Alfred – he’s the one out of ‘The Last Kingdom’!

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. King Alfred's Statue.
King Alfred’s Statue.

 

The Mayors House and garden

 

This was a surprise and a delight to us. You’ll find it towards the end of the High Street near the Town Hall.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Mayor's House.
Mayor’s House.

It is the residence of todays Mayor of Winchester so you can’t go in, but it is pretty cool with it’s towers.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The House Of The Mayor.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Mayor Of Winchester Residence.

 

Best of all around the back is a wonderful garden that is open to the public. It has a stream on two sides (safe with iron fencing) and is full of blooms.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester.
Park behind the Mayor’s House.

 

Wolvesey Castle

 

The eerie remains of Wolvesey Castle is next door to the current home of the Bishop of Winchester.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Bishop's House.
Bishop’s house.

When we arrived, children from Winchester college were playing sport on the grass within the outer walls of the remains. It made a pretty awesome school field!

Head down a narrow track between the school field and the Bishops current house to get to the remains.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Wolvesey Castle.
Wolvesey Castle.

Wolvesey Castle was the Medieval home to the immensely powerful and rich Henry De Blois (mentioned before – tomb in Winchester Cathedral – Winchester Bishop and brother to King Stephan).

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The East Hall Of Wolvesey Castle.
The East Hall used for ceremonies.

It’s hard to believe today, but Queen Mary I and Philip II of Spain celebrated their wedding feast here in 1554.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Kitchens Of Wolvesey Castle.
The Palace kitchens.

You go from room to room and it really comes to life with the help of these description boards.

 

The Round Table and Great Hall

 

‘Where history and legend meet’

That line gives me shivers and so obviously I have it as one of the must do things on a day trip to Winchester.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Gate Of Winchester Castle.
Remaining gate from Winchester castle.

 

If you head up one end of Winchester’s main shopping street you will see this gate. It is one of a few remaining parts of the old Winchester Castle. Head through and you will see the Great Hall open up on your left.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Great Hall.
Castle Avenue.

It is surrounded by Henry VIII’s ‘Castle Avenue’ which he had built to give the hall a dignified entrance.

The Great Hall is at the end and is the last remaining piece (above ground) of William the Conqueror’s Winchester Castle. It was built around 1222. The castle was raised to the ground by Parliamentary commander Cromwell during the Civil War but the Hall was protected, despite being a refuge for Royalist troops, as it was being used as a law court (so belonged to the Justices of the Peace).

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Facing The Great Hall.
The Great Hall.

These were tunnels both for escape or for surprising attackers by going around the back of them.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Remains.
Means of escape!

It was William the Conqueror who arrived in 1066 and built a castle here using the remains of the Roman walls. During the next century it became the centre of the Anglo Norman government. The Great Hall was it’s social and dining centre.

The Great Hall is one of the finest surviving aisled hall of the 13th century. Many, however, (like us) come to visit to see the Round Table, possibly the greatest symbol of medieval mythology. Although there is little to prove it is actually part of the Camelot but rather it is thought that Edward I commissioned ‘Arthurs Round Table’ for a tournament celebrating his children’s marriage arrangements. That makes it about 700 years old.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Round Table.
The Round Table.

As the myth has existed for 1000 years it is easy to imagine how it could be used by those in power to associate themselves with it. So, later, in the 16th century, a young Henry VIII decided to ‘repair’ it. Before then it was unpainted.

So, that is how the Tudor rose ended up in the middle of King Arthurs table and how King Arthur looks remarkably like King Henry VIII. It was a way of reinforcing the Tudor claim that they are direct descendants of Arthur.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Henry VIII's Round Table.
Henry VIII (and his beard)

Notice the beard – that was actually painted on by the Victorians who wanted King Arthur to look a bit more mature!

Take a look at the wall below the table, where you will see a load of bricks protruding. This is the remains of the King and Queens throne pedestal.

Facing the other end of the hall are the modern ‘Wedding Gates’. Installed in 1983 to commemorate the Wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. The letters C and D can be seen in the design.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The Wedding Gates.
The Wedding Gates.

On the wall itself there is a great tree of names. It displays the Parliamentary representatives of Hampshire between 1283 – 1868. As great as this is (spotting a few names we recognised) previously there was a map of the world dating back to Medieval times.

The windows are interesting as they show the Kings, Queens, Bishops and one very important commoner (it was thanks to him that Salisbury Cathedral has a copy of the Magna Carta) (oh also did you know, the Magna Carta was signed by King John right by the castle?) from the time of Edward the Confessor to Charles II.

Queen Victoria colossal statue, built to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, has finally found a place in the hall after being placed in various places around Winchester (apparently the pigeons were unkind).

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Victoria.
Queen Victoria.

There are only a few statues of Queen Victoria seated – and this seated body was a copy of the sculptures own mother.

In honour of our Queen Elizabeth and her Diamond Jubilee there is a bronze Hampshire rose with her face on it.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Eleanor’s garden is named after two Eleanor Queens.

There are foundations at the back of the garden of the King’s House. Charles II in the 17th Century had built a noble palace resembling Versailles. Alas, it was never completed and his son James II abandoned the plan.

The bronze falcon topping the fountain is based on a writing from 1272 and a Medieval drawing.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Tudor Garden Of The Great Hall.
Tudor Garden.

A tremendous amount of effort has gone into the herber garden. In Medieval times plants were used for domestic and medicinal purposes. Today we appreciate mint for it’s digestive qualities. Others have symbolic meanings. For example, the Broom is the emblem of the Plantagenets.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester.

 

Some however, were simply used for their perfume – so that ladies can refresh their aroma as their clothes brush up against them. I was too busy chatting to my son about our weekend plans to take much advantage.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester.

 

These Tunnel arbours were made of coppiced poles with grape vines and roses grown over them for shade. The ladies of the court wanted to keep their prized white complexion. However, the gaps are kept so the ladies decency in case a man was walking with them.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester.

 

Other things to note about the Great Hall:

  • Sir Walter Raleigh was tried and condemned here. He was charged with plots to overthrow James I.
  • There was a notorious ‘hanging judge’ who would threaten the jurors until they came out with a guilty verdict. Once he wanted to burn a women at the stake and coerced a guilty verdict. The Kind stepped in and showed (some) mercy allowing her to be beheaded instead.
  • Look out for the trap door on the floor where the prisoners were held before their trials.

 

The River Ichen

 

There are some beautiful river walks in Winchester. My favourite is near King Alfred’s Statue. He has his back to the bridge you see in the photo below.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. The River Ichen.
The River Ichen.

Garden gates in crumbling walls line part of the route.

 

Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table (awesome - it's the legend of King Arthur!), the ruin of Wolvesey Castle, Westminster Cathedral, the last home of Jane Austen and loads more.
Garden gates.

The last remaining piece of Winchester’s Roman wall (above ground) can be found (rather unceremoniously) here.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Roman Wall.
Last known remaining scrap of the Roman wall.

As we wandered around the centre of the city we were coming across so many delightful waterways.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester. Waterways.
Waterways everywhere.

 

One Awesome Day Trip To Winchester.

 

There is another walk favoured by the poet Keats, but you will need your wellies. Look for signs for the Water Meadows. Legend has it Keats was inspired to write Ode to Autumn while walking through the water meadows of the River Ichen. Amusingly, he was trying to escape the violin lessons of his landlady’s daughter.

So, hopefully that’s more than enough to fill an awesome day trip to Winchester. But, it would be amazing if you could share your favourite things to do in Winchester in the comments below. I always love to hear from you.

 

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Whether you are staying or just planning a day trip to Winchester you will get the most out of it with a little knowledge about what you should see and why. It's Englands oldest city and so there are ancient tales to discover. Apart from the history of Winchester you have great shopping, riverside walks, parks filled with flowers and more. The must see things in this article includes The Round Table, the ruin of Wolvesey Castle, Winchester Cathedral, the last home of Jane Austen and loads more.

 

Where to eat and stay nearby

 

A Dinner And Stay At The King’s Head, Hursley

 

Chesil Rectory, Winchester

 


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21 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. We stopped in Winchester once, just a flying visit but we loved it and it’s been added to the list of places visit properly. This has only confirmed that thought for me. Fab pictures! #blogstravaganza

    Reply
    1. Thank you! Yes, you must get back there! I visited a few times before I was a blogger – I missed so many key things. This visit I had done all my research and absolutely loved it. It is steeped in a rich history! x

      Reply
  2. Unbelievably I was in Winchester for a flying visit last week, and I wish I’d seen your blog post before I went! I didn’t make it into the cathedral in the end as thought I didn’t have enough time to do it justice – I would have loved to have seen Jane Austen’s house, and the bookshop looks amazing. You’ve convinced me I need to go back for a proper visit!

    Reply
  3. Oh wow how have I not been to Winchester before??? so beautiful! That church at the beginning looks very similar to the church in Kings College, Cambridge!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

    Reply

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