Tag Archives: Winchester College

Win Guide to March

March started with the Beast from the East and an Amber weather warning. We hope our fellow Wintonians managed to stay warm and dry in the snow.  A big thank you to Trinity Winchester, local carers, emergency services, public sector staff and neighbours who cared for the vulnerable during an unexpected freeze.

As the snow melts and we return to the beginnings of Spring, here’s our Win Guide to March:

Handbags at the ready, The Original Theatre Company will be visiting the Theatre Royal Winchester with a delightful production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Gwen Taylor, 5 – 7 March.  For more details or to book tickets, visit here. Other theatre highlights this month include Slightly Fat Features, think Monty Python meets Cirque du Soleil, 11 March. Lloyd and Rose Buck will be giving a talk, Our Life with Birds, 13 March.  There will be a rare opportunity to meet Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, hawks, owls, starlings and many more, in the theatre! Jason Donovan will be at the Theatre Royal on 16 March, along with his mid-life crisis.  For the younger audience members, don’t forget to book for Peppa Pig, 17 – 18 March.  The Winchester Comedy Festival will be presenting a Comedy Gala, 17 March.

The University of Winchester students will be teaming up with the Theatre Royal for Scratch Shakespeare on 19 March.  With four directors, four theatre companies and four performances inspired by the Bard himself, be there or be a poisonous bunch-backed toad. Our insult (Richard III) not theirs! There is also the chance to see Wessex Dance Academy, 22 March, and the Young Theatre Royal showcase on 27 & 29 March. Oh, and the Swansea City Opera will be bringing the Barber of Seville to the Theatre Royal stage on 20 March.  For full programme details and to book tickets, visit the website here.

Craig Charles, the beloved Red Dwarf actor, will be bringing his Funk & Soul Club to the Guildhall on 9 March from 10pm.  The event is for 18+ years. Support comes from The Soul Rays and Jimi Needles. For full details and to get booking, visit the Guildhall website here.

Don’t forget it’s mother’s day on Sunday 11 March.  There are still a limited number of tickets left for the Great British Gin Festival, which could be a treat.  To snap the last tickets up and find our more, visit here. There are also various offers on offer throughout the city to spoil mums with lunches, dinners or afternoon tea.  Hotel du Vin has an afternoon tea with Champagne deal on, £50 for two. Or the Holiday Inn will be offering afternoon tea with unlimited Prosecco. An 18+ age guidance of course applies.

For some more theatre fun, The Venetian Twins by Carlo Goldoni will be on at the Chesil Theatre, 17 – 24 March directed by Mark Frank.  Goldoni’s timeless comedy is a wonderful whirling confusion of frustrated lovers, bizarre fights between mistaken adversaries and devious plots that go off the rails – with a surprising bitter-sweet twist at the end. Check out the trailer:

Don’t forget to book tickets here.

Whilst we’re at the Chesil Theatre, the 10×10 Playwriting Competition is open for submissions until 30 March.  The theme is Hidden Worlds.  Ten plays will be selected for performances at the 10×10 New Writing Festival to be held in October 2018. The aim of 10×10 is to discover, promote and produce the very best new writing of ten-minute plays. 10×10 has provided a platform for playwrights and played a small but significant role in their continuing successes. For more details and to download the submission form, visit the website here.

Finally, we recommend a trip to Winchester College to hear the Winchester Symphony Orchestra and pianist Ivana Gavric on 24 March, 7.30pm conducted by Nicholas Wilks. The programme includes Jean Sibelius – Finlandia, The Swan of Tuonela, Lemminkainen’s Return and En Saga. Felix Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto no. 1 and Johannes Brahms – Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn.

We’ll be bringing you more updates throughout the month @Win_Guide.  Have a fun month, one and all.

Winchester Heritage Open Days 2017

Come & celebrate culture & heritage in Winchester this September as part of the Heritage Open days national festival. Thurs 7- Sun 10 Sept 2017

Why not be a tourist in your own town for a day or even two?

Come and discover some of the many hidden places and secrets in Winchester and the surrounding villages all completely FREE! Over four days there will be more than 70 events celebrating our local heritage: everything from guided walks and labyrinths to storytelling and river dipping for families, and gin and cider tastings for the over 18s. You can even make your own Medieval encaustic tile.

Remember all events are free of charge although some you will need to pre-book as numbers are limited. There are also competitions including a chance to win one of the first Monopoly Winchester Editiongames.

or follow us on twitter @WinchesterHods


Andrew Smith & Son – Antiques & Asian Arts valuation evening 17.00-20.00 (7th)
Pilgrims Hall, The Close, Winchester SO23 9LT
Join us by 5:30pm to listen to Asian Art specialist James Hammond, on the changing nature of the market in Asian Art, and Andrew Smith who will give an insight into the modern auction world. Throughout evening a full team of specialist valuers will be on hand for informal valuation advice on any antiques or works of art brought in on the evening.

Aspects of Winchester – an exhibition at Winchester Heritage Centre 10.00 – 16.00 (7th, 8th & 9th)
Address: Winchester Heritage Centre 32 Upper Brook Street Winchester SO23 8DG
The City of Winchester Trust has invited a group of artists in Winchester, who meet regularly to paint and sketch around the city, to produce an exhibition representing their work. Limited edition prints and cards will be available for sale.

Carter Marsh & Co 11.00 – 16.00 (7th, 8th)
Address: Carter Marsh & Co 32A The Square Winchester SO23 9EX
Carter Marsh & Co are renowned dealers of antique clocks and watches and will be celebrating their 70th anniversary in the city this year. Come and watch skilled craftsmen at work and delight at some of the finest examples of antiquarian horology on display in the showroom.

Cosmic Walk and Labyrinth Tours: 11.00-12.00 & 12.30-13.00 (7th, 8th)
Address: University of Winchester, West Downs Student Village Romsey Road Winchester SO22 5HT
Stroll with us from the beginning of time as we discover the unfolding story of the Cosmos and reconnect with our world. The Cosmic Walk features a Labyrinth and offers visitors the opportunity to reflect upon their relationship with the Earth and the Divine.

Chesil Theatre: (9th, 10th)
Address: Chesil Theatre 4 Chesil Street Winchester SO23 0HU
Discover the delightful 12th century church of St Peter’s Chesil, converted to an intimate 75 seat theatre about 40 years ago. See behind the scenes, the stage and lights along with costumes, set designs and photos which will also be on display. Members of the Winchester Dramatic Society will be available to answer your questions.

Gieves and Hawkes Archive 09.00 – 17.30 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th, times vary)
Address: Gieves & Hawkes Ltd 1-2 The Square Winchester SO23 9ES
For more than two centuries Gieves and Hawkes has been the world’s foremost in bespoke tailoring and has dressed every British Sovereign since George III.  Come and learn about the company’s military history and view some of their archive pieces, including Princess Diana’s original Hampshire Regiment colonel in chief uniform jacket. 

HCT: Abbey House Collections Tours 1000, 1200 & 1430 (7th)
Address: Abbey House The Broadway Winchester SO239BE
Take a guided tour of some of the  city’s collections of paintings and furnishings rarely on display to the public. Originally built as a private house around 1700, Abbey House was bought by  Winchester  City Council in 1889 and restored to its original 18th century splendour following extensive refurbishment in the 1980s. It is now the official residence of the Mayor of Winchester.

Hyde 900: Medieval tile display & workshop 1000-1600 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th)
Address: Winchester Cathedral Chapter House Garden Winchester SO23 9LS
A display of encaustic tiles found on the site of Hyde Abbey. Discover their history and how they were made and why not have a go at making them in the medieval manner– but be prepared to get your hands dirty! For a fee your tile can also be glazed and fired.

Kingsgate – A Walk Through Time Walk: 1500 (7th, 8th & 9th)
Address: Kingsgate Arch Kingsgate Street Winchester SO23 9PD
This walking tour takes in Wolvesey Palace, site of the medieval palace of the bishops of Winchester, continues down College Street past the College and the house where Jane Austen spent her last months, and ends with Kingsgate Arch and the 13th century church of St Swithun above.

Old Hyde House, ADAM Architecture offices Tour: 1000 & 1200 (7th, 8th)
Address: Old Hyde House 75 Hyde Street Winchester SO23 7DW
Built on part of the original 12th century Hyde Abbey Precinct, Old Hyde House is Grade II* listed and has served many uses over the years. Visitors will be given a guided tour of the offices, hear the building’s rich history and see remnants of the old buildings that still exist today. Unsuitable for children under 15yrs.

Oram’s Arbour: a walking tour Walk: 1800-1900 (7th)
Address: Oram’s Arbour, Winchester
A guided walking tour with local architect, George Saumarez Smith, describing the district around Oram’s Arbour. The walk will explore how it has changed since medieval times and how the area to the west was developed around West End Terrace.

Peninsula Barracks: a walking tour Walk: 1000 (7th, 9th)
Address: Peninsula Barracks Romsey Road Winchester SO23 8TP
Join local architect Huw Thomas on a guided tour of the  Peninsula Barracks and discover the history behind  this five acre site.  Huw will regale you with tales of  executions, ghosts, mass graves, bloody 13th  century  battles, and his very own battle to save the buildings from demolition  in the 1980’s.

Serle’s House Tour: 10.00 (7th, 8th 10.00 & 14.00)
Address Serles House Gar Street Winchester SO23 8GQ
A rare chance to see inside this 18th century building built in the English Baroque style. Join a guided tour to see the staircase, reception rooms and period items and paintings from both the military and Hampshire County Council collections.

St Bartholomew Church 1000-1600 (7th, 8th, 9th 9:30-10:00, 10th Church closed after 9:30am morning service)
Address: St Bartholomew Church King Alfred Place Winchester SO23 7DN
St Bartholomew was built by the monks of Hyde Abbey in the 12th century. Parts of the original church survive, including the Norman doorway. When the Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII, its stones were used to build the church tower. King Alfred the Great is long rumoured to be buried in the churchyard.

St John the Baptist’s Church 1000-1700 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th)
Address: St John the Baptist’s Church St John’s Street Winchester SO23 0HF
Winchester’s oldest parish church is situated on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way between Winchester and Canterbury. Built in the 12th century, later features include a spectacular south window, wall paintings and screen. Described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘a gem’, major restoration has revealed its medieval simplicity and beauty.

St Lawrence-in-the-Square 10.00-16.30 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th times vary)
Address: St Lawrence Church The Square Winchester SO23 9EX
St Lawrence was a deacon martyred in Rome in AD 258. The Church stands on the site of the chapel of William the Conqueror’s Palace. It is called the Mother Church of Winchester, for it is the only surviving church of Norman foundation within the city walls. Before a new Bishop of Winchester is enthroned, he is first presented at St Lawrence.

St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate 1000-1630 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th times vary)
Address: St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate St. Swithun Street Winchester SO23 9JP
St Swithun is the only church above a gate in the UK still holding church services. It was built in the 13th century and named after a local bishop, Swithun, thought to have been the tutor of King Alfred the Great. When Swithun’s bones were moved to the Cathedral against his wishes, a terrible storm occurred, giving rise to the legend that if it rains on St Swithun’s Day (15th July), it will rain for 40 days.

The Great Hall 10.00-17.00; Special Tours 1100 & 1500 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th times vary)
Address: The Great Hall Castle Avenue Winchester SO23 8UJ
Explore the history and legend of The Great Hall, join our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides with 2 tours on offer and storytelling for children. Visitors will have a rare chance to see the 18th century Former Grand Jury room and discover Charles II’s vision of a King’s House in Winchester.

Warren & Son 09.00-17.30 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th times vary)
Address: Warren & Son 85 High Street Winchester SO23 9AE
Look inside the big safe which is rarely open to the public. There you will see memorabilia and several tokens from the past including some first edition books published by Warrens.

Whitchurch Silk Mill on Tour 9am – 5pm (7th, 8th, 9th times vary)
Address: Hampshire Record Office Sussex Street Winchester SO23 8TH
Whitchurch Silk Mill has been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to assist with the restoration of its machinery and buildings to preserve these unique gems of Hampshire’s industrial heritage. Closed from September 2017 the Mill’s Roadshow will give people a glimpse of this exciting project.

Winchester Cathedral: tours of the close Tour: 10.00 & 14.00 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th)
Address: Winchester Cathedral The Close Winchester SO23 9LS
Cathedral guides will be offering tours of the Cathedral Close, including some buildings not normally open to the public. The tour itinerary will vary but may include the brand new Wessex Learning Centre and apothecary garden, the stonemasons’ and carpenters’ workshops and private gardens

Winchester College – College tours 1015, 1130, 1415 & 1530 (7th, 8th, 9th & 10th times vary)
Address: Winchester College College Street Winchester SO23 9NA
Believed to be the oldest continuously running school in the country, Winchester College was founded by William of Wykeham in the 14th century and has been described as one of the finest collections of historic buildings in southern England. Join a guided tour to find out more. Unsuitable for children under 11yrs.

Winchester College – War Cloister tour Tours at 14.00 and 15.00 (7th)
Address: Winchester College College Street Winchester SO23 9NA
Winchester College was founded in the 14th Century and has been described as one of the finest collections of historic buildings in Southern England. Within the precincts is the beautiful and peaceful War Cloister, a memorial to Old Wykehamists who died in both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. Listen to their stories and the story of the building of this wonderful memorial. Unsuitable for young children.

Winchester Embroiderers Guild 1000-1700 (7th, 8th 09.30-16.00)
Address: St Lawrence Church 18-19, The Square Winchester SO23 9EX
An opportunity to meet Winchester Embroiderers Guild members demonstrating stitched textile techniques. There will also be a small display of members’ work in a range of styles.  We are a diverse group of textile artists who enjoy celebrating our heritage in contemporary as well as historical embroidery.  We look forward to meeting you.

Gilbert White’s House 10:30am -17:00pm
Address: High Street Selborne Alton GU34 3JH
A rare chance to view items from the collections store not on display in the Museum. From personal items belonging to 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, to artefacts brought back from Africa by Victorian explorer Frank Oates, and memorabilia from the tragic Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1912 led by Captain Scott.

Hinton Apmner – National Trust 10:00-17:00 (9th)
Address: Hinton Ampner Nr Alresford SO24 0NH
A house lovingly rebuilt by Ralph Dutton, after a fire in 1960. Beautifully proportioned rooms house an exquisite collection of ceramics and art. Manicured lawns lead the eye down avenues of sculptured topiary, past borders full of roses, to views across the South Downs. Explore the grounds with a brand new Quiz Trail App and follow clues to discover the secrets of Hinton Ampner.

Long Barn 0900-1700 EXHIBITION ONLY (7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, paid talk available on some dates)
Address: The Old Sheep Fair Bishops Sutton Road Alresford SO24 9EJ
Long Barn home & garden store loves all things lavender!  Visit their free exhibition of artefacts showcasing English lavender growing.

Matterley Bowl Tour 09.00, 11.00, 13.00 (7th)
Address: off A31 alresford road Alresford SO21 1HW
Discover the recent history of the Matterley Bowl and join a guided tour of this stunning natural amphitheatre within the SDNP. Learn about traditional land management and go in search of late flying butterflies. This event is not suitable for small children.

The Brickworks Museum, Bursledon 11.00 – 16.00 (7th & 10th)
Address: The Brickworks Museum Swanwick Southampton SO31 7HB
Come and be amazed at the authentic sights, sounds and smells of the last steam-driven Victorian brickworks in the UK. Make your own brick, get close to the massive brick making machines and see how the men used to run 15 miles a day in the big drying sheds.

Watercress & Gin 18.00-20.00 (7th)
Address: The Watercress Co Old Alresford Alresford SO24 9DH
Explore the history of watercress in Hampshire, take a guided walk around the beds and learn more about the health-giving properties of watercress and wasabi. Afterwards visit the Winchester Distillery site for a tour and free tasting of their award-winning watercress gin. This event is not suitable for children under the age of 18yrs.
Pre-booking essential, for over 18yrs only

Other exciting events include:

Antiquarian Bookselling in Winchester over the years: Weekend
Archaeology at St. Cross Hospital: Friday only
Austen abridged: Saturday only
Barter Memorial Chapel: Saturday only
Free Vintage Bus Service: Saturday only
Friends Meeting House: Weekend
HCT: Behind-the-scenes at Chilcomb House: Friday only
HCT: Brass rubbing at The Westgate: Sunday only
HCT: Musicians at the Westgate: Saturday only
HCT: The Winchester Model at City Museum: Sunday only
Hampshire Record Office Open Day: Saturday only
Jeremy France Jewellers: Saturday only
Morally Insane, Inverted, Born This Way: Medical Treatments for Lesbianism in Britain: 1830-1950 Saturday only
Pilgrim’s Hall: Friday & Sunday
St Cross Meadows: Friday only
Storytelling at Winchester City Mill: Sunday only
The Chesil Rectory & more: Friday & Saturday
The Colour Factory Studios: Sunday only
The Guildhall tour: Sunday only
The Hospital of St Cross: Friday only
The Stable: Cider Tasting & Talk: Saturday only
The Tree Line: Poetry at Pilgrims Hall: Saturday only
Theatre Royal: behind the scenes tour: Saturday only
Vintage Make Do & Mend: Weekend
vOx Chamber Choir: Saturday only
Winchester City Mill – Flour Milling Weekend: Weekend
Winchester College – Archives tour: Saturday only
Winchester College – Fellows’ Library tour: Friday only
Winchester College – Science Collections tour: Saturday only
Winchester College – Treasury: Weekend
Winchester Lido: Saturday only
Winchester MG Owners Club Display: Saturday only
Winchester’s Historic Journey Through Paper Cut: Friday & Saturday
Winchester’s Military Museums: Weekend
Wolvesey Castle guided tour: Sunday only
Bullington Craft Fete: Sunday only
Heathcote Mausoleum: Sunday only
Hockley Watermill: Sunday only
Hursley House: Sunday only
The Granary Creative Arts Centre: Weekend
The Grange at Northington: Friday only
The Vyne: Weekend
Walking Tour of Winchester’s Historic Sites and Best Real Ale Pubs: Saturday only

Win Guide to February

Get ready, Winchester, for there are 29 days in February 2016 which means we are in a leap year.  Ladies, traditionally this extra day is an opportunity to propose to your significant other if you feel so inclined, a custom dating back to 5th century Ireland and ‘St Bridget’s complaint’ to St Patrick about women having to wait. Partners, if for whatever reason you spurn the proposal, please be ready to pay a fine in the form of a pair of silk gloves. Do keep us posted on any leap year love matches. Here’s our guide to make this February a good one:

Winchester Cocktail Week
Winchester Cocktail Week

This month marks the inaugural Winchester cocktail week, 1 – 7 February. Yes, you heard it correctly, a whole week dedicated to supping cocktails in some of Winchester’s finest establishments. A collaboration between the Cabinet Rooms and Winchester Bid, you can purchase a wrist band for £15 to be entitled to £4 signature cocktails at venues across the city. There are also various masterclasses on offer for wristband holders, so you can learn more about cocktail artistry. Special events include the Luxardo masterclass with Chococo, 2 & 3 February. Expect cherries soaked in Luxardo, chocolate and cocktails – sounds decadent. Entry is free for wristband holders and £5 for others.  You can book tickets by popping into Chococo or by emailing Libby here. On 4 February, the Theatre Royal bar will be taken over by mixologist supremos from Hartnett, Holder and Co. Entry is free for wristband holders but do reserve your place in advance.  For full details on other events and participating venues, visit the website.


Award winning performance artist Peta Lily will be performing her confessional theatre piece ‘Imperfection’ at the Winchester Discovery Centre, 11 February at 7.45pm. Imperfection takes an unflinching look at the ordinary. An all-waving, all-drowning look at hidden corners of life where Dionysian worship rubs shoulders with Stevie Smith, Charles Bukowski and Japanese outsider art. The show is well worth a visit and tickets are available here.


We’ve got chills and they’re multiplying – Encore Youth Theatre will be singing their hearts out with Grease at the Theatre Royal, 17 – 20 February. It’s also the theatre troupe’s 35th birthday this year, so join them for a rock and roll celebration.

Winchester Rotary
Winchester Rotary

Winchester rotary will be holding a charity swimathon on 20 February in the Winchester College Pool. Teams of 8 are invited to participate in a 55 minute sponsored swimming relay. £25 of funds raised by each team will go to the Winchester rotary with the remainder going to other charities of their choice. To register, visit here.

Winchester 10k road race
Winchester 10k road race

The Winchester 10k Road Race starts outside the Guildhall on 21 February.  Participants must be over 16 to enter and will need parental consent if they are under 18.  The route includes a trip to Kingsworthy with a return leg through the village of Headbourne Worthy before the finish line at the Winchester City football club ground, where there will be custom medals, bottled water, bananas and Haribos on offer. Visit here to register.

Little Pickles Market
Little Pickles Market

Little Pickles Market will be taking over the Riverpark Leisure centre on 21 February with over 30 nearly new tables of baby kit: prams, high chairs, toys, books, maternity wear – the works.  The market is open from 2-3.30pm and entrance is £1, with kids allowed in for free.

Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium

Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium will be hosting an exciting programme of activities for the school holidays, 12 – 22 February.  Advanced booking is advised, particularly for the planetarium cinema shows. Opening hours are 9.30am – 5pm. Keep an eye out for Destination Space, a live family show running at 10.45am & 2.45pm focussing on Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Programme.

Leap your way through February, Wintonians, for it is not long now until Spring.

A Wayfarer’s Winchester

Winchester Guide editor Donald Hutera spends a few happy hours on the hoof in an exceptionally attractive city centre.

Walking about a city is akin to putting together a puzzle. The pleasure is seeing how the pieces fit together and into what kind of bigger picture they assemble themselves.


I didn’t plan to wander in whistle-stop fashion round the centre of Winchester on a late Tuesday afternoon in early October. In truth, I had no fixed plans at all other than to finish my three-hour teaching gig  at Winchester University (topic: critical writing, especially as it pertains to dance) and then meet this website’s co-founder, George Sallis, to discuss the future of our burgeoning dance and performance festival, GOlive. My session with a dozen or so bright second-years on the Uni’s dance course went well. How do I know? No one fell asleep, including me. Joking aside, the students were alert and attentive during what seemed to be a fun and, I trust, informative dialogue or exchange of thoughts, feelings and opinions about art-making and art-watching.

Afterwards I was unexpectedly free to go where I would at least for a few hours. Why? Because something had come up that meant George would be unavailable for a few hours. Did I mind? Not at all. Having visited Hat Fair in July I already knew how attractive Winchester is as a place to amble about in.

This, then, was the route I took on that particular day…

Peninsula Barracks
Peninsula Barracks

First, directly across from the entrance to the University, are spread the seven or so sloping acres of West Hill Cemetery. It’s a place worth exploring further, especially for an aficionado of final resting places like me. Then uphill to Peninsula Square, the location of former military barracks that have been converted into private flats surrounding an ample courtyard complete with fountains and greenery. Very picturesque it is, too.

Little did I know that just behind the Barracks is the Great Hall (accessed via a pretty little sliver of a back door garden) wherein the Round Table resides, and next to it the Law Courts. Fronting the latter is a large plaza cobbled in a circular pattern, which – can’t help this, given my career as a professional arts journalist turned curator – put me in mind of possibilities for outdoor performance. (The cobbled area and a neighbouring plaza were, in fact, utilised during Hat Fair.)

Winchester City Mill
Winchester City Mill

I took a moment to admire the local landmark that is the Butter Cross before popping into both the Discovery Centre (a library, exhibition and performance space all in one) and, just across the road, the chocolate box-like Theatre Royal. I veered back to the High Street. Down at the bottom of it, on the stretch of road known as Broadway, sits the Victorian-era Guildhall. I stuck my head into two of its adaptable halls, the King Charles and the Bapsy, both of which are available for hire. Not far away above the River Itchen is the City Mill, a working urban mill powered by the fast-flowing water and operated by the National Trust. They were just about to lock up, rendering this another place to which I’d willingly surrender an adequate amount of time.

The Chesil Theatre, just round the corner on Chesil Street, was shut. I rang the stage door bell but, alas, no answer. No matter. This meant I could backtrack a bit and mosey along The Weirs, a relaxing and even romantic riverside walkway through gardened grounds complete with benches for sitting or, in my observation, something more intimate judging by the passionate, lip-locked embrace of one unabashed young couple.

Wolvesey Castle
Wolvesey Castle

Turning onto College Street I spotted the entrance to Wolvesey Castle, the extensive ruins of which are overseen by English Heritage. Although it was already past the supposed closing time of 5pm I’m glad to say I was able to meander there for a good ten minutes or so. Situated next to Winchester Cathedral, the Old Bishop’s Palace (to use Wolvesey’s other, informal moniker) has been an important residence of the Bishops of Winchester since Anglo-Saxon times. The ruins date largely from the 12th-century and are mainly thanks to Bishop Henry of Blois. The English Heritage website states that ‘the last great occasion here was on 25 July 1554, when Queen Mary and Philip of Spain held their wedding breakfast in the East Hall.’ What history this piece of land and these stones must contain! I wasn’t there long but Wolvesey immediately shot into a prime position as a favorite and resonant place in Winchester, and one more to which I want to return.

Jane Austen's house
Jane Austen’s house

Further along College Street is Winchester College itself. According to Wikipedia, this boys’ school (ages 13-18) has existed in its present location for over 600 years and claims the longest unbroken history of any school in England. It can be toured, too, although not at 5.30pm. And so I strolled past Jane Austen’s house (where she spent her last days and died, but it’s a private residence and thus not open to the public) and on to the Cathedral for a mere five transportingly melodious minutes of the service known as Evensong. The sound of the choir singing far up at this resplendent building’s imposing centre was like a balm, but I had a dinner date at the Hotel du Vin on Southgate Street.

Hotel du Vin
Hotel du Vin

This handsome building dates back to 1715. Next time I ought to take a look at a few of the rooms, but I was there principally to wine and dine with George from a three-course set menu costing £19.95 per person. It was a case of decent food at a good price accompanied by smart service and in elegant surroundings. It’s worth drifting out into the back garden, an area lit by strands of white lights and anchored by a small fountain with fish swimming in its gently splashing waters.  They can’t have been much more content than me with my full belly and a head full of Winchester’s eminently accessible wonders.

By Donald Hutera