Tag Archives: Winchester

Win Guide to Easter

king_alfred_perfectEaster greetings, “practically perfect” Wintonians.  Our secret is out, Winchester has been recognised by the Sunday Times as the number one place to live in Britain.  We are an “historic, cultured, foodie city”, with a strong sense of community, great restaurants and schools. With this extra spring in our step, here’s our Winchester guide to what’s on this Easter.

Chococo Chococo milk chocolate C181 robot eggLooking to buy THE egg?  Chococo’s C181 Chocholate Robot Egg has been featured in the BBC Good Food 2016 great taste test. Alternatively, the Milk chocolate Heavenly Honeycombe Easter Egg has been featured in Hello Magazine’s ‘Ultimate Easter Egg & chocolates gift guide’. And just to make the dilemma a little more perplexing, the Studded milk chocolate Butterfly Egg has been featured in Great British Chefs – ‘The best chocolate Easter eggs for 2016‘ and the Woman & Home’s Easter Collection 2016. 

Easter BrioThe Easter bunny hop returns over the Easter weekend.  Pick up a trail sheet from the Tourist Information Centre or from Chococo and search the city for egg-shaped clues in order to crack the bunny hop clue. Participating locations include Chococo, The Entertainer, Childhood’s Dream, Winchester Discovery Centre, The Old Fashioned Sweetie Shop and Creative Crafts.  Aside from the trail there will be Montezuma’s goody bags (while stocks last) and a Brio Play Event in The Brooks shopping centre offering children the chance to play with wooden railways 31st March – 2nd April. Watch out too for some singing Eggs on Legs and Egg Decoration on Saturday 26th March 10am – 4pm. Finish the trail at Chococo to claim an Easter treat whilst entering a draw for the chance to win a celebrated Chocolate Dinosaur egg.

National Trust Cadbury's Egg HuntWinchester’s Museums also have some Easter activities planned for some egg-ducational bunny and chick related activities.  The Westgate Museum will be holding an Easter spotter quiz throughout the easter holidays.  There will be some bunnies hiding throughout the museum and children can win a small tasty prize if they spot them all.  The museum is open 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday and 12pm – 5pm on Sundays. The Gurkha Museum will be offering an Easter chick hunt with a treat for explorers and normal admission fees apply. Winchester City Mill will be offering a Cadbury’s Easter egg hunt with clues hidden around the 17th-century working corn mill, part of a UK National Trust Cadbury’s egg hunt.

Marwell egg huntFor egg-splorers willing to travel that little bit further, Hinton Ampner will be inviting young Indiana Jones’s to hunt for giant eggs in the grounds with a Cadbury’s Egg head as their egg-grail.  There will be free face painting on offer over the easter weekend too. Marwell Zoo is advertising its Wild Egg Hunt for a chance to meet the Easter Bunny in his burrow and enjoy a free chocolate egg. Again, normal admission fees apply.

Cathedral Easter Buscuits
Cathedral Easter Buscuits

For a guide to Easter holy week at Winchester Cathedral, please visit here. Aside from the services on offer, the Cathedral have also hidden ten giant eggs for ‘eggspert’ egg hunters to find, with a chocolate prize to collect from the gift shop at the end.  The trail is available during normal visitor opening hours, Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5pm and on Sunday 12.30pm – 3pm. Cathedral entry fees apply. Free for annual pass holders (£7.50 adult annual pass, free entry for children under 16 visiting with family). The Cathedral refectory will be offering a ‘drop-in’ easter biscuit decorating session, Sat 26, Sun 27, Mon 28 and Sat 2 and Sun 3 Apr. There is no need to book in advance with a suggested donation of £1 offering exploring adults the chance to sit down with a cup of something whilst the sugar-seekers get creative.

Henry-VFor some theatrical tonic to relieve the easter overload, and while you are visiting the Cathedral, don’t forget to book your tickets to see Antic Disposition’s Henry V by William Shakespeare on 18 April at 7.30pm.  The play marks both the centenary of the First World War and the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

Travels with my AuntFor another evening of entertainment, book tickets to see Creative Cow’s Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene, adapted by Giles Haverga at the Theatre Royal.  The production, directed by Amanda Knott, takes us on a journey with Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager with a penchant for dahlias, in a madcap dash around the world. Our Win Guide editor will be bringing you some more details soon on the production, running 28 March – 2nd April.

Enjoy the bountiful easter experiences our number one city has to offer, city folk, and stock up on toothpaste.

Win Guide to January

January – the month of belt tightening and post-festive blues. Here are a few suggestions from the Win Guide to brighten the month:

Fugitive OrchestraTreat yourself to a meal at the Winchester Canteen on 12 January and you’ll be entertained whilst eating by the ‘Fugitive Orchestra’ described as a fusion of Alternative, Jazz-infused, Bluesy Hip-Pop, which draws inspiration from the likes of Paul Simon, Jeff Buckley, Elvis Costello, Kate Bush and many others. Music Set times are 7.15 – 8pm and 8.15pm- 9pm.

Cirque du Glow8-10 year olds are in for a treat by the sounds of it with Cirque du Glow at the Discovery Centre.  Creative Palaver have put together a programme over 10 weeks offering coaching in outdoor performance skills, circus skills, graffiti, costume making and much more.  All that sounds a bargain at £30 for 10 weeks.  Visit here for more details.

Fancy joining the Green Man Book Club?  A group meet and chat over a glass of something on the 1st Wednesday of every month at 7.45pm at, you’ve got it, the Green Man Pub on Southgate Street. Drop an email in advance to organisers, with full details available here.

Reindeer MonologuesGallows Productions return to the Theatre Royal with the Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode.  Definitely an adult comedy, put the festivities well and truly behind you with some reindeer rumours about the real North Pole.  Tickets are a tenner and performances are at 7.30pm on 19 & 20 January.

Sparsholt College will be holding a Lambing weekend on the 30 – 31 January. It’s a fun family event offering the chance to see the fluffy bundles of joy as they enter the world and also explore the college tractors and farm machinery, whilst having your face painted, riding a pony and enjoying a selection of food.  Visitors are warned to wrap up warm as it’s getting a bit wintry out there. Entry is £6 for Adults and £4 for children, or family tickets are available at £16 for 2 Adults and  2 Children, under 3’s are allowed in for free.

Bouncy Cathedral

It’s the first ever “Bouncy Cathedral” on 31 January in the nave at Winchester Cathedral, with giant games, puppets, drumming and a picnic area. The event will launch ‘Children’s Church’, a brand new Sunday school initiative for 4-11 year olds which will take place on Sundays during term-time.

Stay warm Winchester and enjoy the fun…

Win Guide to October

Winchester is fizzing with Autumnal fun and entertainment this month. Here’s a flavour of what’s on offer in October from the Win Guide:
Winchester Comedy Festival
Winchester Comedy Festival

It’s the Winchester Comedy Festival this weekend, with a gala night on Saturday 3rd October. There’s a special kids comedy fest on Sunday 4th, same format minus the ‘rude bits’ and no doubt with some hilarious heckling. The festival will take place at four venues across the city including the Theatre Royal, Discovery centre, Greens Pub and the Railway Inn.

Littleton logo_newLittleton pre-school will be celebrating its 40th birthday with a Barn Dance and Sausage Sizzle event on Saturday 3rd, 5pm-8pm. Tickets are free but there is a pay for bar and child friendly food. Advance booking is requested by email.
Clarendon Marathon
Clarendon Marathon

Good luck if you’re running or walking the Clarendon Marathon on Sunday 4th October.  Although online registration is now closed, registration on the day will be possible for an extra £5 (donation to Rotary charities). The entry fee for 2015 is an inclusive one.  All entrants will be given a free medal and a free t-shirt when they cross the finish line.  Use of the buses will also be included. The prices for 2015 are £30 for the full marathon, £22 for the half marathon and £70 for a 4 person relay team.

Hampshire Harvest Weekend
Hampshire Harvest Weekend

Winchester Cathedral will be hosting its annual Hampshire Harvest celebration 3rd & 4th October. There’s plenty of outdoor entertainment on offer including a mobile farm, vintage farm machinery, horse and carriage rides and the farmers market alongside free entry into the cathedral all weekend.

Ballet Black
Ballet Black

The celebrated Ballet Black return to the Theatre Royal on the 9th October at 7.30pm. The triple-bill will feature Mark Bruce’s Second Coming, a gothic fairytale. The Theatre Royal is offering an Introduce a friend to ballet offer, get 2 for 1 tickets if you bring a friend who has not seen ballet before. Contact the Box Office on 01962 840440 for more details.


CHALK has its grand opening on 10th October.  Organised by 10 Days, an interdisciplinary contemporary arts platform established by arts professionals in Winchester, “Chalk, time, sense and landscape” will offer a range of stimulating exhibitions across the city until 10th November inspired by the natural landscape under our Wintonian feet. Geologically, chalk is rare, yet Winchester is built upon and surrounded by it. Chalk has long been a material of art and local archaeology. 10 days invites you to join over 100 artists and writers at CHALK Hub, City Space (Winchester Discovery Centre) | City Museum | Winchester Cathedral | The Link Gallery (University of Winchester); Theatre Royal Winchester | The Winchester Gallery (Winchester School of Art, closes on 23 October).

Winchester Camerata
Winchester Camerata

Winchester Camerata have organised a concert on 18th October at 6.30pm in aid of  Winchester Go LD, enabling people with learning difficulties.  The evening will take place at St John’s House on the Broadway and programme highlights include Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. Tickets are £12.50 (Students £5.00) available here: winchestercamerata.ticketsource.co.uk.

Marwell Zoo
Marwell Zoo

Half-term and Halloween end the month with a finale of witches, pumpkins and general ghoulish frivolity.  The City Mill is offering half-term hallowe’en storytelling sessions, a family trail and its traditional baking. If you head to Marwell Zoo, you can join the Halloween Festival between the 24th and 31st October where you can design, carve and take home your own pumpkin or watch the animals explore and enjoy their pumpkin treats. Hinton Ampner will be offering a half-term pumpkin trail and a chance to discover all the gruesome punishments the terrible Tudors carried out.

It’s a treats galore October, we hope you enjoy it.

Win Guide to September

September is well on its way, school terms have started and so we must look to the city to provide some entertainment to end those post-summer-blues.

'One for the Road' at the Chesil Theatre
‘One for the Road’ at the Chesil Theatre

The Chesil Theatre is happy to oblige with a run of Willy Russell’s ‘One for the Road’, directed by Jim Glaister. Russell, who is perhaps best known for his much adored ‘Educating Rita’, ‘Shirley Valentine’ or even ‘Blood Brothers’, penned this witty, observant comedy in 1976, telling a story of class mobility, squandered dreams and mid-life crisis. The production runs from the 19th – 26th September at 7.45pm with a 2.30pm matinee on the 26th and tickets are £13/£11.

The Hospital of St Cross
The Hospital of St Cross

It is the Hospital of St Cross Michaelmas Fair on Saturday 26th September from 10am until 4pm and it promises to be a great day out for connoisseurs of the exquisitely traditional.  There will be performances from the Madding Crowd, a choir and small orchestra with period music, attire and instruments along with local stalls and even tethered hot air balloon flights. The entrance fee for adults is £3 and children are allowed in for free. Michaelmas is traditionally celebrated in the Christian calendar on the 29th September as the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel or variations on the name, to honour his defeat of Lucifer in the great war in heaven.  In English folklore, it is also marked as the last possible date to go blackberrying, as apparently in his fall from heaven, Lucifer landed in a blackberry bush and cursed them so that they were unfit for consumption.  A Michaelmas pie was made with the last ‘safe’ blackberries of the season.

Winchester Sports Stadium
Winchester Sports Stadium

It’s the Winchester Community Games on the 27th September, a free event involving lots of sports activities, some arts and plenty of food and drink.  Confirmed sports include football, rugby, dodgeball, athletics, badminton, archery, netball, basketball, static cycling, swimming-related activities, street dance and cheerleading all held at the Winchester Sports Stadium, based in Bar End. The fun starts from 12pm with an opening ceremony and children are welcome.

Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder

Finally, for those wanting to push themselves to new levels of extreme fitness, Tough Mudder London & South will be heading to Winchester on 26th and 27th September, based at Matterley Bowl.   Billed as Europe’s toughest ‘Tough Mudder’ and featured in the Telegraph, it’s a series of hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle mud race endurance events designed by British Special Forces. The first Tough Mudder challenge was held in the United States in 2010. To date, more than 1.3 million people worldwide have participated in Tough Mudder events, and participants can enter as teams raising money for good causes including Help for Heroes.


Littleton and Harestock Show

Littleton and Harestock Show
Littleton & Harestock Show

The summer holidays may be over, and yes, we had a lot of rain, but fear not – the best village show in Hampshire is upon us this Saturday 5th September.  It’s time to step back into the rural community spirit with the Littleton and Harestock show!

Climbing Wall
Climbing Wall

Gates open at 1pm and there are plenty of activities on offer for the whole family including a climbing wall, giant slide and roundabout, a chainsaw sculptor, a junior football tournament, ferret racing, an army target range and an archery demo / shoot. For the less energetic, there will be plenty of entertainment on offer along with bric-a-brac and plant stalls and an art exhibition.

Here’s a guide to the entertainment programme:

1:00 – 1:45pm: Barton Stacey Trad Jazz Band

1:45 – 2:15pm: Harestock Community Choir

2:15 – 3:00pm: Barton Stacey Trad Jazz Band

3:00 – 3:45pm: ATR Military Band Display

3:15 – 4:00pm: Barton Stacey Trad Jazz Band

4:00 – 4:45pm: Dog Gymkhana

4:00 – 4:30pm: Junior Football Final

5:00 – 5:15pm Raffle Prize Draw

Flower show
Flower show

If you’re competing in the Flower show, don’t forget to bring your exhibits between 8am – 9.30am in the morning.  Viewing is open from 2pm.  The heart and soul of the show has always been the competitions for gardners, artists and cooks. This year’s competitions include classes for Vegetables, Fruit, Flowers, Pot Plants, Floral Art, Photography, Art. Handwork, Cookery and Preserves. For children and young people, there are classes for all of these and also handwriting and fashion design. There is also the Women’s Institute competition in which the ladies compete to produce the best display on a given theme.

Meanwhile, if you fancy staying in the evening, from 7pm there will be a race night with the 1st Winchester Scout Group. Tickets will be £5 and will include a cold buffet supper. Race goers should bring their own drinks.

King Alfred buses will be running a local service for free, although donations are welcomed.  Alternatively, car parking is free. Cyclists welcome too, but remember to lock up your bike and take it easy on the way home after partaking in the Running Horse bar, Blackers BBQ, Tennis Club Teas, ice creams and cakes.

Jams and Jerusalem, here we come! For a full guide, visit the show website here.


Cabinet Meeting

An Historic Day for Winchester’s First Cabinet Meeting by Gary Whiter

Cabinet Meetings
Cabinet Meetings – Nyetimber

At approximately 17:30 on Wednesday 9 September, Queen Elizabeth II will officially become the longest reigning monarch in British history. To mark this historic day, Winchester food and drink bloggers, Cabinet Rooms, will be hosting a very special wine tasting evening in collaboration with leading English winemaker, Nyetimber.

Cabinet Rooms are inviting wine lovers to join them on the evening of 9 September for a “Festival of Britain”, the first of their new series of food and drink events, grouped under the tongue-in-cheek moniker “Cabinet Meetings”. On arrival, guests will be given a Dubonnet cocktail, said to be a favourite of the Queen’s, before being introduced to Julian Kirk, Nyetimber’s brand ambassador, who will lead the group though a tutored tasting of a selection of their award-winning sparkling wines.

As a nod to the Queen’s ascension to the throne in 1952, Cabinet Rooms has worked with The Green Man, Winchester, to devise a series of 1950’s inspired small plates, created to pair with the wines being tasted. Throughout the evening, Cabinet Rooms will offer a lighthearted reflection on the Queen’s long reign.

Cabinet RoomsCabinet Rooms co-founder, Gary Whiter, said, “While Her Majesty may be hoping for a quiet day on 9 September, we didn’t feel we could let such an important milestone pass us by without at least enjoying a glass of bubbly! We’re over the moon to be able to welcome Nyetimber to Winchester for the occasion; it is a huge honour to be hosting our first Cabinet Meeting with such a prestigious winemaker on this special day. We have designed our Cabinet Meetings to offer something a little different from the norm and we hope that, in particular, our Festival of Britain will tickle people’s fancy!

Whether they attend on their own, as a couple or with a group of friends, our guests will have an opportunity to socialise with like-minded people, learn something new and, most importantly, have some fun along the way!”

Cabinet Meeting: Festival of Britain is taking place at 19:00 on Wednesday 9 September in the beautiful Dining Room at The Green Man in Winchester. Tickets cost £40 per person and include:

  • Dubonnet Cocktail on arrival
  • Tutored tasting of a selection of Nyetimber’s award-winning English sparkling wine with Nyetimber’s Brand Ambassador
  • Food inspired by 1950’s dishes, carefully paired with Nyetimber’s wines

Tickets are on sale now and can be booked online by visiting the Cabinet Rooms website. Spaces are limited so early booking is recommended.

Cabinet Rooms is a blog devoted to “celebrating good food, drink and culture”, run by Gary Whiter and Marcus Roe, based in Winchester. They have 1,890 followers on Twitter, with whom they have enjoyed sharing their gastronomic adventures in Hampshire and London since March 2014. Far from considering themselves aficionados, Gary and Marcus are honest about being on a ‘journey of discovery’ when it comes to food and drink. They ran successful gin tasting events (“Welcome to Ginchester”) with Winchester Distillery for World Gin Day on 13 June 2015 and have just launched a new, exciting series of events called ‘Cabinet Meetings’ aimed at food and drink lovers who want to learn about new things and meet new people at fun and quirky soirées.

Blog: blog.thecabinetrooms.co.uk
Web: cabinetrooms.com
Twitter: @cabinetrooms
Instagram: cabinetrooms


For over 25 years Nyetimber has had a single aim: to make the finest English sparkling wine, one to rival the very best in the world, including Champagne. A true pioneer, Nyetimber was the very first producer of English sparkling wine to craft wines exclusively from the three celebrated grape varieties found in Champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Each bottle of Nyetimber is crafted from one hundred percent of estate-grown grapes. In 1988, Nyetimber planted its first vines and today, the House is regarded as one of England’s finest wine producers.

Julian Kirk

Julian spent 7 years in the City in Lloyds of London before escaping over the fence to freedom. He started his own wine company importing and wholesaling to Event Caterers and Corporates. After selling the company seventeen years later, he became a wine consultant for several years for everyone from Marriott Hotels to Russian Oligarchs. Julian joined Nyetimber in 2012 after being bowled over by the total dedication by its owner to the quality of the wines and everything that Nyetimber does.

Record for the Longest Reigning Monarch

Buckingham Palace has calculated the time at which Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest serving monarch, taking into account the exact time of succession and leap years: 5.30pm 9 September 2015. The current record is held by Queen Victoria who reigned over the United Kingdom and its empire for a total of 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes (63 years and 7 months). Queen Victoria set her own record on 23 September 1896.

Win Guide to Hat Fair

Hat Fair - Abbey Gardens
Hat Fair – Abbey Gardens

It’s time again for Hat Fair and the chance for everyone who happens to be in Winchester to bask in some phenomenal busking. This year the newly-appointed artistic director, Michelle Walker, has gathered together a troop of spectacular artists and performers to delight city folk and visitors alike in this playful street arts festival that is now 41 years young. Taking place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th July, the festival is free to attend but do load your pockets with donations for the hard-working performers’ hats!

So, who’s actually in Hat Fair? Well, where do we begin? The team have rather helpfully put together some audience guides so you can tailor your own Hat Fair experience according to the type of festival-goer you are: Culture Vultures, Family Fun, Festival First Timers, Mad Hatters or Thrill Seekers.

Wet Picnic - Suitcases
Wet Picnic – Suitcases

Some of the multitude of artists in this year’s programme include Winchester’s home-grown theatre company Wet Picnic, with ‘Suitcases’, an exploration of online baggage through bizarre buffoonery. They’ll be on at Cathedral Outer Close on Friday and Saturday, and then at Oram’s Arbor on Sunday.

The brilliant ‘Stopgap Dance’ will present a tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but re-named ‘Bill & Bobby’ at various times in the Great Hall Middle venue, Friday and Saturday.

Gobbledegook 'Ear Trumpet'
Gobbledegook ‘Ear Trumpet’

Gobbledegook Theatre will be inviting family audiences to hear sounds underground in ‘Ear Trumpet’ on Pilgrim’s Lawn on Friday and Saturday. And children can meet and actually paint ‘Blanko’, who’ll be transformed from a blank canvas in Cathedral Inner Close.

If you’re arriving by train, or even if you aren’t, pop along to Winchester Station for a steamy romance from Flintlock Theatre at various times on Friday and Saturday. Bad Brass Band’s ‘Lands of Hope and Glory’ will be wandering the city playing rousing English tunes to keep everybody feeling nicely nostalgic.

At 12pm on Saturday there’ll be a ‘Swingtime’ dance flash mob. You can go online to learn the routine in advance if you’re super keen, or there’s also a workshop at the Great Hall in the morning. Time for a cuppa? If you visit the Brooks Shopping Centre, director Rebecca JS Nice will be exploring intimacy and immersion in her piece ‘How do you take it?’, part of Hat Fair Fringe, a new platform this year for emerging performers sponsored by the University of Winchester.

If it all gets a bit much and you need some down-time, Oxfam Books and Music have kindly sponsored an outside library in Abbey Gardens where you can settle down for a while with a good book.

Southpaw Dance - Carousel
Southpaw Dance – Carousel

Southpaw Dance will be providing a spectacular finale to Saturday night’s events at the bus station with Carousel, a fairground spectacular. The fairground itself will open at 7.45pm and the performance from this headline act will start at 9pm.

As usual, everything will wind down on Oram’s Arbour on Sunday, with plenty of food and entertainment for family audiences, including the amazing ‘Amazing Mr Fish’ and the chance to visit an authentic Camera Obscura.

Don’t forget to get the Hat Fair ‘app’ so you can hop from venue to venue and see as many events as possible.

Happy Hatting, one and all!

Win Guide to Easter

Egg-cellent news! It’s Easter time and there’s lots of egg-citing things on offer! Here’s the Win Guide to Easter.

Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is well worth a visit this weekend. Built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester (who owned the estate in Newbury from the 8th century), since 1679 the castle has been home to the Earls of Carnarvon. Never a retiring lot, the  Carnarvons have been noted for Egyptology (the 5th Earl was present at the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb), for an association with HRH Elizabeth II’s race horses (the 7th Earl was racing manager for her majesty) and now synonymous with the thespian equivalent of royalty in the form of Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville et al. as the filming location for Downton Abbey. This weekend, Sunday 5th April, the Highclere team will be holding an Easter Egg Hunt  event to raise funds for local charity Naomi House and Jacksplace. Lady Carnarvon herself will be judging an Easter bonnet parade. Spider-Man and Elsa from ‘Frozen’ will be wandering the grounds, and there will be market stalls, a vintage car display, a climbing wall and zip wire, a petting farm and birds of prey on offer to boot! Tickets are a steal at £5 on the door.

Closer to home, Sparsholt College will be holding an ‘Easter Bunny and Chick’ weekend from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th April. It’s an Alice In Wonderland – themed affair with a Mad Hatter’s tea party, Easter egg hunt and classic craft activities such as egg painting.  Not forgetting the newly-hatched chicks and young bunnies on display, it sounds like a must visit for families.

Winchester Cathedral - Easter Egg Trail
Cathedral – Easter Egg Trail

Winchester Cathedral will be holding its own ‘Easter Egg Trail’ between the 5th – 19th April.   Ten decorative eggs will be hidden amongst the stunning architecture for ‘eggsplorers’ to discover, and free chocolate prizes can be claimed in the Cathedral gift shop.  Services on Easter Day itself (5 April) will be 8am Holy Communion, 10am Choral Mattins (Preacher: The Bishop), 11.15am Festal Eucharist (Preacher: The Dean) and 3.30 Choral Evensong.

Winchester Bunny Hop
Winchester Bunny Hop

The Winchester Bunny Hop will be celebrating its sixth birthday this year.  It’s a great initiative on the part of Winchester City Council, Winchester Bid and, this year, Chococo the chocolate shop and cafe have rightly got in on the action.  The quiz allows children to hunt for egg-shaped clues hidden in participating shops in Winchester and rearrange them into an Easter themed word to claim a Chococo prize. And if that’s not incentive enough, the Chococo team have recently been hailed as experts in the field of Easter chocolates. Their ‘Robot’ egg was dubbed by the Telegraph as ‘best egg for children’ on 28th March 2015. Even better news: they will be open every day over the Easter weekend. Quiz sheets can be collected from the Winchester Tourist information centre or downloaded here: http://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/winchester-bunny-hop-2015.

Cornflowers Gift Shop
Cornflowers Gift Shop

A spring-time stroll to Kingsgate Village is always worthwhile to walk off the chocolate and browse for an Easter gift, curtesy of Cornflowers Gift Shop, Kingsgate Books and Prints, P&G Wells Booksellers, Kingsgate Wines and of course a visit to the Wykeham Arms for rest and refreshment awaits. Finally, don’t forget to visit to the 17th Century City Mill who will be offering hot cross bun baking on Friday 3rd April, and a Cadbury Eggsplorer Easter Egg trail over the weekend.

Have fun, and stock up on Gaviscon…

Win Guide to March

Lainston House
Lainston House

Ladies and gentlemen of Winchester, spring has nearly sprung! And it’s about time too.  According to the astronomical definition, the first official day of Spring in 2015 is on March 20th.  Some of you will be celebrating this momentous burst of growth and sunshine with the Winchester duathlon on Sunday March 22nd which this year is being held at Lainston House.  It’s a 2.5km run, a 7.5km bike race and a further 2.5km run, followed by a private bbq.  Billy the falconer will be on hand with his birds of prey to keep the children (and adults) entertained.

Others might prefer to celebrate with the  CAMRA Winchester Real Ale and Cider Festival, which is being held at the Winchester Guildhall on Friday 20th & Saturday 21st March.  Tickets are running low so do book in advance to avoid disappointment.  There will be tutored beer-tasting sessions available introduced by writer and beer expert Adrian Tierney-Jones and over a hundred different real ales, ciders, perries and foreign bottled beers to behold.

Cream teas on the Watercress Line
Cream teas on the Watercress Line

Mum’s the word on Sunday 15th March, and the Watercress line is offering a traditional afternoon cream tea onboard a steam train. Don’t forget to order some spring flowers from the divinely named Mills in Bloom Florists & Vintage Interiors, where Mother’s Day local deliveries are available all day on Saturday 14th March.  Other gifts on offer include vintage items, pictures, glassware & china. The aforementioned Lainston House will be offering a homely 17th century barn or 3AA Rosette awarded restaurant lunch, and a champagne tea. All guests attending the three-course Sunday lunch will also be treated to a free falconry display. The Winchester Hotel and Spa are also planning lunch or afternoon tea treats, with a prize draw to win a luxury spa day for two. The whole party will receive a free glass of fizz – or non-alcoholic fizz for the kids and non-drinkers. And the day can be rounded off with a few giggles at the Theatre Royal Winchester which will be presenting Richard Herring and his take on death, love, religion and spam javelins at 8pm.

The Cathedral’s newly refurbished and relaunched Refectory will be hosting a special evening on the 13th March at 7pm to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma. Tickets are £40 and include a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, a three-course meal and tea or coffee. After dinner, Dr Nigel Paterson will give an illustrated talk about Austen and what we know about her from circa 1815. Some ideas will also be given about following in Jane’s footsteps around places she would have known 200 years ago. Dr Nigel Paterson regularly gives after-dinner talks about Jane Austen and other topics of cultural interest. Educated at Winchester College and then Jesus College, Cambridge, he was later a Senior Lecturer in English for the University of Winchester.

Captain Finn and the Pirate Dinosaurs
Captain Finn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Les Petits Theatre’s Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs will be on offer for young theatre fans at the Theatre Royal between Wed 25th – Thurs 26th March (Wed 4pm & Thurs 1.30pm, 4pm).  And if you’re keen to ‘cultivate’ your kid, don’t forget to call into the City Museum, which has plenty available for children such as sorting artefacts like an archaeologist, brass rubbing, Anglo-Saxon pot design, quizzes and the opportunity to try on all sorts of period costumes and see what you’d look like as a Roman, a Saxon, a Victorian gent or an Edwardian lady. Adults welcome too! The museum has just acquired a large collection of locally collected archaeological items, due to go on display in Autumn 2015.

FIGURE GROUND - Yorke Dance Project
FIGURE GROUND – Yorke Dance Project

Finally, our editor recommends the Yorke Dance Project ‘Figure Ground 2015’ at the Theatre Royal on 24th March. Founded by dancer-turned-choreographer Yolande Yorke-Edgell, the company’s lush and lively mixed bill features the quartet Lingua Franca, the first new work in a decade by the American-born UK modern dance giant Robert Cohan OBE. No spring chicken but still a sharp-witted creative, Cohan turns 90 on March 27th. The programme also includes Yorke-Edgell herself in the revival of a Cohan solo dating from 1978, a sextet by the promising (and, at 17, certifiably young) Charlotte Edmonds and a septet by Yorke-Edgell set against a computer-animation backdrop. You can read more on the company and its work later this month on this website, but for now we can all start to kick up our heels in anticipation of the impending season.

Talking Murder with Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley

Touring her current talk on murder, Lucy Worsley – author, TV presenter and Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces – visits the Theatre Royal, Winchester with a grizzly package of scintillating information that helps transport startling notions from the past into our own time.  Asked how she feels about such macabre subject matter, and what we might learn from it, Lucy explains that the 19th century saw a distinct rise in the fear of murder.

People began to get obsessed with the idea that they might be murdered, and you see that in Victorian art, fiction and theatre.  It’s a luxury, really, to be so free from care that you can afford to worry about something as inherently unlikely as being murdered.  It goes along with neurosis, paranoia and anxiety and all the other things we ‘enjoy’ about life in the modern city!”

Lucy Worsley has become a bit of a household name to students studying at The University of Winchester. Breaking a series of boundaries as a female historian and presenter, she has brought certain aspects of social history (such as wardrobe and dance) to the forefront, legitimising her choice of topics in academic circles.

Lucy stresses that Historic Royal Palaces is a charity.  Every penny that visitors spend on their admission ticket goes towards our conservation and education work; we don’t get any money from the government or the Royal Family.  So we have to make sure that the type of history we research will appeal to kids, families, tourists – a really wide range of people.  I like the challenge of using things people can really relate to – like lovely dresses – to open up the whole history of society.”

I ask Lucy how she feels about the rise in social history and how it will affect her work and the focus of her research.

“Because I work for Historic Royal Palaces people think I might only be interested in kings and queens, but I’ve always been drawn to people who are a bit marginal to the main story: the servants, the mistresses, the bit-part players.  What particularly interests me about kings and queens is the way that they tend to be the best-documented people of their day, and that you can really get under their skin as representative of Tudor, or Stuart, or Georgian people at large as well as heads of state.”

Accessibility is one of the core objective for Lucy’s unique choice of subject matter – from blogging about the cod-piece to presenting on the Royal Wardrobe. The diversity of media at her disposal, plus the balance between academic research and commercial output, is what makes her career unusual and inspiring to young historians, particularly as the rise in gender studies, social history, and accessibility are currently hotly debated. But for Lucy the emphasis has always been on curating:

Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley

I knew from the age of 18 that I wanted to work in the field of historic buildings as a curator, and I dedicated myself to achieving that like an Exocet missile.  The route I took was to work my way up through jobs as assistant curator and then as curator at English Heritage and Glasgow Museums, before joining Historic Royal Palaces ten years ago as Chief Curator.”

This grounding in academic research feeds both historic exhibitions and commercial projects. As she says, “Any exhibition, book or show arises out of research – the bread-and-butter day-to-day work of being a historian. By that I mean research into historic artefacts, research into an archive of documents or perhaps more active research like carrying out a re-creation or an investigation of a particular event or process.  So whether commercial or academic it comes from the same place.  For academic historians, it’s important that they publish their research in a peer-reviewed journal so that the world’s experts in that field can read it.  For a public historian, like me, the aim is more to intrigue a larger number of people to go on to learn more.”

As a fellow historian it’s comforting to hear that the processes applied both commercially and academically are similar. Perhaps Lucy Worsley is paving a path for the rest of us to strive for such varied careers. Tonight, aptly enough on Friday the 13th of February, you can catch her at the Theatre Royal , Winchester where she’ll demonstrate that murder – or the idea of it – has formed trends throughout history. The evening [editor’s note: which is, not surprisingly, now sold out] exemplifies the juicy material that can inspire historians and general audiences alike.

by Rebecca JS Nice

Visit www.lucyworsley.com for more information.