#letthecultureshine: Win tickets to the Royal Pavilion

Advertisement

A Weekend Away in Winchester

There are few cities in the UK which have so much history packed into such a small space as Winchester. Did you know it was the first capital of England and was home to King Alfred The Great? Well, you’ll certainly be reminded of this when you arrive and see the huge statue of him standing proudly at the bottom of the High Street!

Image credit: Winchester Cathedral/ via Facebook

The most famous and popular attraction in Winchester is the Cathedral, which has the longest nave in Europe and stands proudly above the city drawing in tourists from far and wide. You can learn all about how in the 1900s the cathedral was saved from sinking by the infamous deep-sea diver, William Walker, and enjoy the serene echoes around the cathedral. Once you’re done there, head up to the Great Hall, the only remaining part of Winchester Castle, to see the iconic King Arthur’s Round Table and even take a selfie with your head on the executioner’s block.

If the weather permits, go for a walk along the river, passing the prestigious Wolvesey Castle and boys’ public school Winchester College, which you can tour around at certain times of the week. Carrying on through the water meadows with a great view of the college’s beautiful grounds you’ll eventually come to the Hospital of St Cross, a picturesque church and almhouse famous for its ancient tradition of providing the Dole (beer and a morsel of bread) for any visitors who request it.

Image credit: The Wykeham Arms/ via Facebook

For a slightly more substantial (and tasty) meal, head to The Wykeham Arms on Kingsgate Street – a pub so steeped in Wintonian history you’ll think you’ve stepped back in time. Many of the tables are old school desks from adjacent Winchester College, and beer tankards, old walking sticks and all sorts of memorabilia hang from every corner. The Wyk pie (their take on cottage pie) is probably the nicest I’ve ever tasted.

Moving into the evening, there are countless restaurants to suit all tastes. However, particularly special is The Chesil Rectory, a 600-year-old Grade II listed medieval building where exquisite modern British food is served. It’s one of the pricier options but you won’t be disappointed. For a bit of entertainment, the Theatre Royal regularly hosts great comedians and touring shows, or if you’re looking for a more low-key evening The Railway Inn is a great live music venue, where the likes of Frank Turner have played to intimate crowds.

Image credit: Winchester Sciene Centre/ via Facebook

If you’ve brought the family along with you, there’s no shortage of activities for the kids. The Science Centre is home to the UK’s largest planetarium and 100s of exhibits and activities for children and adults, while Marwell Zoo and Paultons Park (home to none other than Peppa Pig World) are great places to keep everyone entertained all day.

For the hiking fans out there, Winchester is perfectly placed to explore the South Downs Way, which runs for 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne through some stunning countryside and small market towns - although it might take you a few days to walk the whole thing! Old Winchester Hill, about a 20-minute drive from the city centre, is a much more manageable stroll which provides stunning views right across the National Park to the sea and an array of wildlife and historical features, including an Iron Age hill fort and Bronze Age burial mounds.

Image credit: The Watercress Line/ via Facebook

On the way back into town, it’s worth paying a visit to the quaint market town of Alresford. It is famous for its watercress beds, which dominate the surrounding area, and for the steam railway aptly called The Watercress Line. It is the perfect place for exploring beautiful boutiques and charming cafés and, like most good market towns, has some fabulous pubs! The Bell does a fabulous Sunday roast - the twice-baked watercress & spinach soufflé is heaven on a plate. Meanwhile, The Globe has the perfect garden for a summer afternoon, overlooking the Alresford pond, which is home to an array of wildlife. If you’re just after a quick cup of tea or a light lunch, The Long Barn is a lavender farm, café and shop selling beautifully fragrant candles, homeware products and gifts all made locally.

So, to conclude, Winchester has it all. From beautiful scenery to fascinating history and picturesque pubs, the city makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

Advertisement
Advertisement