Whilst Winchester isn't the largest city in Hampshire, it is the county town and was once even the capital city of England. The city first developed from a Roman town named Venta Belgarum and is now one of the most charming English cities.
Winchester Cathedral which is a central point to the city is one of the largest in Europe, as well as Winchester College which is one of the oldest schools in the UK, and the oldest that remains in its original buildings. The present form of the city began in the 9th Century when King Alfred the Great destroyed the Roman street system and reconstructed a grid style system to fend off attacks from the Vikings.
Today Winchester is a thriving city and one of the most desirable (and expensive!) places to live in the country.
By road: Winchester sits close to the M3 motorway offering a direct route from London (around 1 hour 50 minutes), the M3 motorway also offers a direct route to Southampton just 12 miles away. Winchester also offers a direct route to Oxford along the A34 (1 hr 10 minutes)
By rail: Direct trains run between Winchester and London Waterloo taking around 1 hour and costing approximately £35 during off peak periods. Direct services also operate to Bournemouth (50 mins), Weymouth (1 hr 45), Southampton (17 mins) and Portsmouth Harbour (56 mins).
By air: The closest airport is Southampton (12 miles), the closest major airports are London Gatwick and London Heathrow.
THINGS TO DO
Winchester Cathedral: One of the most famous landmarks in the South of England, Winchester Cathedral has a nave longer than any other Gothic cathedral in Europe. The cathedral was founded in 642 on a site slightly north of its current position and become part of monastic settlement in 971. In 1079 work began on the current cathedral after the original was torn down, much of the building materials used (particularly limestone) were imported from the nearby Isle of Wight. The cathedral has been the location of various royal weddings and funerals, these days the cathedral has drawn in fans of author Jane Austen who is buried at the cathedral.
Opening times: Open every day of the year Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:00pm, Sun 12:30pm-3:00pm
Price: Adult £8, Concession £6, Under 16’s free
Wolvesey Castle: The main residence of the medieval Bishops of Winchester throughout the middle ages, Wolvesay Castle is now ruined but the left over buildings still reflect upon the grandeur structure it once was.
Opening times: Apr-Oct 10:00am-5:00pm, Nov-Mar closed.
The Great Hall: One of the finest surviving aisled halls from the 13th Century, the Great Hall contains the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, King Arthur’s Round Table, and is all that now remains of Winchester Castle.
Opening times: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm
Price: Adults £3, Concessions £2.50, Children £2
Winchester City Mill: The mill dates back over a thousand years and is still a working corn mill in the heart of the city. With hands-on activities and audio-visual displays about milling and the rich wildlife in the area, as well as regular flour milling and baking demonstrations, the City Mill is a lively and informative place for all ages. The City Mill is also the official gateway to the South Downs National Park.
Opening times: Summer every day 10am-5pm, Winter everyday 10am-4pm
Prices: Adult £4.40, Child £2.20
PLACES TO EAT
Forte Kitchen: Enjoy relaxed dining in an attractive setting, with lots for choice on the menu no one will struggle to find something they like. Be warned, this place is constantly packed (for good reason) and they don’t take bookings so there might be a bit of a wait for a table, so arrive before you get too hungry! Serving up home cooked rustic British food, the chefs display dishes you will definitely want to Instagram.
Manow Thai: One of the greatest parts of living in England is the great food that comes with diversity. Manow Thai is a family run Thai restaurant that offers a casual restaurant environment as well as a takeaway service. A foodies delight, there is also an excellent selection of wines and gin on the menu!
The Old Vine: Located in one of Winchester’s prettiest restaurants and looking out onto the beautiful cathedral, the Old Vine is relaxed and friendly, bursting in charm and character. In the winter sit yourself next to the roaring fire whilst loading up on delicious pub comfort food, in summer enjoy the beautiful garden and patio area, and perhaps opt for something a little lighter. All food is locally sourced and seasonally balanced.
Rick Stein: The first Rick Stein restaurant to open outside of Cornwall yet still offers a nod to Britain’s seaside hertiage. The restaurant is a haven for seafood lovers, offering an a la carte lunch menu and set dinner menu. The price will definitely set you back a bit but if you appreciate good fish, you will be happy to pay.
This 5* country house is located in some of Hampshire’s finest countryside and is just a 15 minute drive to the centre of Winchester. Switch on your sat navs because whilst it is totally worth the journey, it isn’t the easiest place to find.
Pray for some sunshine because the hotel boasts beautiful extensive gardens, even with its own vegetable plot to grow ingredients that are sent straight to the restaurant’s kitchens and cookery school. If you like food then this is the ultimate break away for you. Offering cooking lessons at the exclusive SEASON cookery school, Lainston House also offers traditional afternoon tea and an award winning restaurant.
With a range of bedrooms and suites, you will feel spoilt regardless of which room you stay in. All guest rooms are luxurious and comfortable with the finest furnishings and the ultimate service.
Price: Starting from £144 per night