"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on July 10, 2019 by Sioux under General
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We didn’t do much walking about in Winchester due to the inclement weather and lack of time, but what we did see was interesting enough.

Winchester, on the edge of the South Downs National Park, is known for the medieval Winchester Cathedral, the ruins of Wolvesey Castle and the Winchester City Mill, a working 18th-century corn mill. The Great Hall of Winchester Castle houses the medieval round table linked to King Arthur, which was also one of our ‘must-see’ stop offs after the cathedral.

IMG_4703-LR-(1-of-1) Saint Peters Catholic church

In 827, Egbert the first king of all England was crowned in Winchester which was elected as the capital of the kingdom of Wessex in 1519. It remained the capital and the most important city in England until the eleventh century and the arrival of William the Conqueror. The current Queen, Elizabeth is a direct descendant of Alfred the Great, who was the grandson of King Egbert.


Winchester prospered under Alfred, and was the seat of royal power. A thousand years after his death, the citizens of Winchester erected a gigantic monument to him that is visible from the city’s outskirts. Erected in 1901, the bronze statue stands 5.10m high from the base to the tip of his outstretched arm, with the sheathed sword adding to the height.


The pedestal consists of two granite monoliths weighing 54 tons and 48 tons, and were transported by rail to Winchester and through Winchester on a trailer. Described by The New York Times as “one of the largest single figures in bronze ever produced in the United Kingdom, the statue stands tall in the center of the city.


The original Guildhall is now Lloyds Bank and was built in 1713. A rather impressive clock dominates the outside decor.

The Butter Cross of Winchester is a Holy Cross, dating back to the mid 1400’s. Beside the Cross, an alley way leads past the site of King William the Conquerors house.

The cross, with all its pinnacles, rests on five octagonal steps and, situated in the High St, was the centre of the commercial world, the steps being used as shelves for local traders selling butter, cheese, eggs, milk. 

IMG_4811-12_Panorama-LR-(1-of-1) Guildhall

The Winchester Guildhall has a long history, with the original building’s construction being completed in 1873.


The site it was built on has its own

unique history as the nunnery to which King Alfred’s widow retired after his death in 899.


The nunnery later became St Mary’s Abbey and grew to be one of the largest nunneries in England until King Henry VIII’s demolition of nunneries in 1538.The land was gifted to the city corporation by Mary Tudor.

Wolvesey has been the residence of the Bishops of Winchester since the late 10th century. The name means “Wulf’s Island” as it is on the high ground between two streams of the River Itchen.

Right next to the residence are the remains of Wolvesey Castle.


A ruined castle near to Winchester Cathedral, Wolvesey was originally built around 970. In 1110, a new hall was constructed with a second added to the west wing between 1135 and 1138.


A new palace was built in 1684 but was almost all demolished in 1786, the West Wing being the only part to be spared. After a variety of different uses the remaining part was refurbished for use once again as the bishop’s residence in 1926. 

An independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, with admission being rated on academic merit, regardless of financial means.


The college has existed in its present location for over 600 years, and is the oldest of the original seven English public schools. Fondly known as Win.Col by pupils, it was founded in 1382, with the first 70 poor scholars entering in 1394.


We couldn’t go in as the gates were locked, so we pushed off and headed towards the famous Winchester College.


In addition to the 70 scholars and 16 “Quiristers” (choristers), college regulations provided for ten “noble Commoners”. These were paying guests of the Headmaster or Second Master in his official apartments in College. Boarding was banned in the late 18th century and all “Commoners” had to live in the city. In the 1850’s three boarding houses were built to increase the number of scholars and there are now ten houses, with a total number of almost 700 pupils. 

The Westgate is one of two surviving

fortified gateways in Winchester.


Rebuilt in the 12th century and modified in the 13th and late 14th centuries, it was in use until 1959 when the High Street was routed around it. Today the building is used as a museum.

In pre-historic times, the River Itchen flowed in 2 main channels in the valley near the cathedral. Following the formation of the Roman town in 70AD, an artificial channel was created to reduce the chance of flooding in the town centre, and provided a defensive moat. In the medieval period, the river was twice as wide as it is today.


Close to the riverbank is the only surviving

section of the original Roman city wall, which was completed in the

3rd century AD. Looking like nothing more than a pile of old rocks, it is closed off and protected from damage and theft by heavy cast iron gates.


The prestigious Westgate Pub nearby the fortified medieval gateway, after which it was named.


The official ‘blazon’ (description of armorial bearings) of Winchester portrays 5 castles and 2 “Lions of England”; one on each side of the crest. The earliest example of the heraldic crest is in a late 15th-century window in the Westgate.

An interesting, albeit wet & chilly day.


However, time was marching on, and the days were shorter than the nights, so cameras were packed away and we took to the road again before it got too dark, heading to our next destination of Salisbury and Stonehenge.

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One response to “Road trips and adventures #2 – walkabout in the city of Kings!”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Thank you S! Great pics you captured and I enjoyed the info re The Queen, incidently, my cousins live in Salisbury near the military museum enjoy!

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