Tag Archives: Winchester Guide

Win Guide to February

Chococo Winchester
Chococo Winchester

Winter is dragging its heels, isn’t it? But February is not without its charms.  It’s a short month, which means Spring is on her way at last.  The word February unsurprisingly comes from Latin ‘februa’, a cleansing or purification ritual in readiness for Spring – which explains the rain.  The Anglo-Saxons called it ‘Solmonath’, which can be translated as ‘Mud Month’, and according to the scholar ‘Bede’ was also known as the month of cakes, after the old English custom of offering cakes to the gods to promote fertility as they sewed the seeds and ploughed the fields.  If that’s an excuse to indulge in the cold, we’ll take it. We’d recommend the gluton-free carrot cake at Chococo, washed down with their classic hot chocolate.

Theatre Alibi presents I Believe in Unicorns
Theatre Alibi presents
I Believe in Unicorns

If you know a 6 to 12 year – old, there’s an opportunity to inspire their love of storytelling and reading this month.  Theatre Alibi will be presenting Michael Morpurgo’s popular children’s story ‘I Believe In Unicorns’, adapted by Daniel Jamieson, 5th – 7th February at the Theatre Royal Winchester.  Running at one hour, it’s described as a 4 – star ‘evening of thrilling theatre’ by The Guardian. Whilst you’re in a theatre going mood and if you fancy a trip to London, Winchester – based theatre director Deborah Edgington’s (Chesil Theatre, Forest Forge) critically acclaimed production of Muswell Hill by Torben Betts is running 17th February – 14th March at the chic North London Park Theatre, recipient of the Best Fringe Theatre in The Stage Awards 2015.

February is, of course, Love month, which might explain the exponential increase in bugaboos recently, so with Valentine’s Day looming on 14th February, there’s no shortage of restaurants ready to welcome the lovers in. Lainston House Hotel is offering a £110/head eight – course tasting dinner, including bubbles and canapés on arrival. The Black Rat is offering a sumptuous £50/head set menu, and the River Cottage set menu is £35/head. Booking is obviously advised. Alternatively, folk/punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner will be playing on home soil at the Guildhall.

Shrove Tuesday
Family Bushcraft – Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday  – or pancake-day – also features this month on 17th February, which marks 40 days before Easter and is a chance for a feast before going without for Lent (if you’re that way inclined). The Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum and Gardens is offering an event called Family Bushcraft – Shrove Tuesday Cooking On the Fire. The morning session is sold out, but there’s an afternoon session now available 1.30pm – 4pm, £10 per child with an accompanying adult and suitable for 3-12 – year – olds. It’s part of their half-term fun activities at the Gardens. They’re also offering a Children’s Falconry Day on 19th and family nature trails every day.

For some indoor half-term fun, Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium will be holding an exciting, daily programme of special events for the holidays, from Saturday 14 February to Sunday 22th February. Holiday opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday , 10am to 5pm. The City Mill is offering some half-term seasonal baking,  to show how the freshly milled wholemeal flour can be combined with a variety of local produce to make tasty treats.

To run off the cakes, the 33rd annual Winchester 10km Road Race with be held on Sunday 22nd February 2015, starting outside the Winchester Guildhall and proceeding up the historic High Street and along Jewry Street before heading out towards the village of Kingsworthy.  The return leg passes through the village of Headbourne Worthy and back towards Winchester before finishing at Winchester Football Club ground.

Image Credit: Jonty Wilde
Image Credit: Jonty Wilde

Finally, we suggest venturing to Jane Austen’s house in Chawton on 26th February for the event Stargazing: Poetry with Simon Armitage (CBE) & Moora Dooley. The evening will start at 6.30pm at the museum for readings of star – related poetry before walking through the unlit streets of the village to Chawton House to gaze up at the sky, before finishing with more poetry and refreshments in the Great Hall.  Tickets are £10.


Win Guide to Christmas

Winchester has a myriad of seasonal treats on offer and we’ve picked just a few of our favourites…

Cadogan & Co
Cadogan & Co

The outfit

The Square has been described by the Telegraph as “the beating heart of chic Winchester”. Cadogan & Co has certainly earned this reputation. Featured in Vogue’s 100 best shopping destinations outside London, it’s a treasure trove of couture, sumptuous service and the perfect spot for those wanting to enjoy the act of trying and buying clothes. This independent retailer of designer menswear, ladieswear and homeware has been run for over 20 years by Alex Edwards, and the skillful, comfortable elegance of his welcoming approach, along with that of his staff, makes this the type of shop people will travel back to Winchester to seek out. Celebrity clients include Hugh Bonneville, Colin Firth, James Martin, Isabella Anstruther Gough-Calthorp among many others.

The carols

Christmas Carol Concert
Christmas Carol Concert

The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Carol Concert could send a shiver through even the most hardened humbug’s spine, with its stunning Cathedral Choir and candle-lit magnificence. The main concert will take place on Friday 12th December at 7pm, conducted by Andrew Lumsden with guest appearances by Stephen Gadd and Claire Rutter, international opera and concert singers and presented by BBC’s South Today Sally Taylor. If you don’t manage to get tickets, there will also be Britten’s Ceremony of Carols lunchtime concert at 1pm on 23rd December or of course midnight mass on Christmas eve (starting at 11.30pm).

Burcot Farm Christmas TreesThe tree

Burcott Farm is “fanatical” about Christmas trees, involved in both growing as well as selling them. Typically you’ll take home a Nordmann Fir between six and nine years old, although Burcott also offer traditional Norway Spruce ranging from 3 – 12 feet, along with tree stands, natural fruit and cone decorations and festive wreaths.

Winchester Christmas Market and Ice Rink
Winchester Christmas Market and Ice Rink

The family outing

The famous Winchester Christmas market in Cathedral Close boasts its open-air ice rink, which is a suitably festive family trip out (open from 20 November 2014 to 4 January 2015). For those who are less Torvill and Dean, more mulled wine and stollen, there are plenty of other festive distractions on offer in the beautifully lit Germanic fairytale cabins, including holiday food and Christmas gifts. Speaking of which…

The gift

Kingsgate Books & Prints
Kingsgate Books & Prints

Winchester is a pretty perfect Christmas shopping destination, with its blend of big name shops and independent retailers. Aside from the Christmas market and the fabulous Cadogan & Co, if you linger in the Square you could find some specialist kitchenware for those budding British Bake-off friends or family members at Dinghams. Or if you’re a bit Gen Y trendy, head into The Hambledon for vintage, clothing and homeware. If you want pure vintage, climb up the hill to Stardust Years for authentic ladies fashion and accessories. For something special you might like to pop over to Parchment Street to Boudoir Blush, which offers luxury lingerie with free gift wrapping. Chococo is a must for edible gifts, and we urge you to stop off for a hot chocolate whilst there. Finally, don’t forget the tucked away gem that is Kingsgate Village for Kingsgate Books & Prints, Cornflowers Gift Shop, P&G Wells Booksellers or Kingsgate Wine and Provisions. And there are many more hidden boutiques or purveyors of luxury items so get some walking boots on, boycott the online retainer whose name we dare not speak and dig out some hand-picked treasures.

The festive tipple

The Old Vine
The Old Vine

Sitting in an ideally central location, across from the Cathedral and in the heart of the Square, is The Old Vine hotel, bar and restaurant.  Managed by Austin, the Grade II listed 18th-century inn is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy christmas markets and and shops. They have a well kept bar, competitively priced menu and a warm seasonal atmosphere.


The dinner

Beechcroft farm shop
Beechcroft farm shop

The award-winning Beachcroft farm shop near Crab Wood on Sarum Road isn’t really a secret anymore. A much-loved destination for local produce, with homegrown lamb, beef and pork courtesy of the small and wonderfully friendly family-run farm, Christmas orders are now being taken and you can download an order form online. Locally-reared turkeys are also on offer, along with all the trimmings. You can also purchase gift hampers or vouchers for fellow lovers of fine-quality Hampshire fare. The farm shop is open on Friday: 10am – 5.30pm,
 Saturday: 9am – 5pm and over Christmas, Mon. 22nd Dec 10am-5pm, Tues. 23rd Dec 7.30am – 5.30pm and Wed. 24th Dec 7.30am – 12pm. And you’ll also be able to catch Rachel or one of the team at the Winchester famers market on Sunday 14th December.

Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal Winchester
Theatre Royal Winchester

The panto

It’s time for panto. Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is, and the Theatre Royal is treating us to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ between Tues 9 Dec 2014 – Sun 4 Jan 2015. Embrace the festive audience participation with fire-breathing dragons, live music and original songs.


The Good deeds

Santa Fun Run
Santa Fun Run

Christmas is all about the giving, and there are lots of ways to get involved with local charity projects. On 13th December there’s the Winchester & District Young Carer’s Charity gift wrap in the Brooke’s centre. The Hampshire Chronicle Christmas Toy appeal allows you to donate a toy for a toddler up to a 13 year-old child with three local charities benefitting: Winchester Basics Bank, Friends of the Family and Home-Start Winchester. Finally, earn the forthcoming culinary indulgence with the Santa Fun Run, a 5k walk or run dressed head to toe as St Nic, in support of Naomi House and Jacksplace hospices for children and young adults on Sunday 7th December.

We’ll be bringing you more festive tips soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget the guide to parking as things get busy in our fair city.

A Nice Little Project

Rebecca JS Nice previews choreographer Debbie Lee-Anthony’s piece A Nice Little Project.

Debbie Lee-Anthony
Debbie Lee-Anthony

A warm welcome to The Winchester Guide! I’ll be sharing my perspectives from high up on the hill at the university and down to the depths of the cathedral crypt. En route I hope to accomplish two things: uncover historical secrets about medieval Winchester, and discover quirky performances, events and local arts practitioners who are beavering away unnoticed.

The University of Winchester is my second home. Please allow me to introduce it to you as an inviting public space, rather than as a place for rowdy students who keep the city up all night. The Uni hosts an array of seminars (on subjects ranging from medieval history to criminology) and organises international writing conferences. Professional dance companies perform in its studio theatre. The Chapel on campus in particular is an unusual venue; often used for professional theatre, it should be identified with far more than its religious functions. The Chapel was designed by local architects Colson and Son of Jewry Street. It was consecrated in 1881 by The Bishop of Winchester who, quite fittingly, used the text from St Matthew: “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”. It’s a motto that we at The Winchester Guide can certainly claim as ours.

Make Every Word Hurt #1 is a night of cabaret-style entertainment to be unveiled in the Chapel on June 26, 6.30-8.30pm, and theoretically ideal for anyone who fancies a glass of wine and some laugh-filled live performance. With any free small-scale event, however, it’s often a punt as to the quality of experience you’ll have. Nevertheless in A Nice Little Project the choreographer/performer Debbie Lee-Anthony promises to question and provoke audiences about a subject anyone can relate to: being nice (or not, as the case may be). She’ll use speech, autobiography, audience contributions and dance to investigate this appealing theme. The intimate setting of the Chapel might well be the perfect environment for Lee-Anthony and her audience to engage in a dialogue, no doubt helped along by a little libation and the light-hearted nature of the work itself.

Debbie animatedly discusses the future of the arts in Winchester, a topic close to her heart as she also lectures at the university. “There are graduates based in the city now,’ she enthuses, “working with Wessex Dance Academy, Integr8 Dance and other project-based performance work who need to be encouraged, nurtured and offered opportunities.” She notes the popularity of festivals such as Winchester Hat Fair, stating that “performances are here all year round but people don’t know about them or aren’t encouraged to come out for them”. This is a gap The Winchester Guide intends to fill, informing our readers of as many outstanding arts events – whether one-off or ongoing, small or large-scale – as we possibly can.

But back to Lee-Anthony. She’s on a high right now, having just won the Senate Learning and Teaching Award 2014 for knowledge exchange at The University of Winchester. In a few weeks she will be attending the Impulse Tanz 2014 in Vienna, studying with Forsythe company dancer Nicole Peisl and ex-Limon dancer Risa Steinbuerg. Lee-Anthony’s passion and drive for performance, and her uncanny ability to connect individually with audience members, makes now a prime time to catch her in performance.

Billed as a pop-up-poetry event by Creative Connections at The University of Winchester, Make Every Word Hurt #1 will be followed the next day, June 27, by a free symposium called Make Every Word Hurt #2 (location: on campus at the Stripe Lecture Theatre, 10am-3pm). Various papers will be given by writers, academics and poets, lunch and coffee will be provided. For more information please email Vanessa.Harbour@winchester.ac.uk

Writer, dance critic, history geek and Winchy lover. Rebecca is a mature student at The University of Winchester studying Choreography and Dance combined with History. After teaching for eight years, she now writes for various publications and blogs about dance and all things arty-farty, whilst drinking copious amounts of tea and day dreaming in Winchester’s many café windows. @rebeccajsnice