Winchester has been described as “the perfect English city”. The city was first settled around 150BC but came to prominence under the Romans. Known as Venta Belgarum (marketplace of the Belgae), it became a regional capital and the fifth largest town in England.
Following the Dark Ages, “Wintanceaster” became capital of Wessex and later of all of England. Alfred the Great, whose palace was in Winchester, is still commemorated in the city with an imposing statue at the end of the High Street. Although the city lost its status as a capital in the reign of William the Conqueror, it retained its importance for many centuries through its ecclesiastical links.
Residents throughout the ages left their mark and examples of medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian architecture can all be found in the city. One of the oldest houses still standing dates from 1340 and is now a popular restaurant.
This beautiful city offers both visitors and residents the chance to appreciate some of history’s icons: King Arthur’s Round Table, Wolvesey Castle, Winchester College, St. Cross Hospital and Almshouses and, of course, Winchester Cathedral.
Winchester also has a lot to offer from a cultural perspective. The city inspired both John Keats and Jane Austin, who spent her last days in the city and is buried in the cathedral. Winchester hosts the Hat Fair every July, which is Britain’s longest-running celebration of street theatre, and there is a varied programme of events at the Theatre Royal. There are several museums in the city, a number of which celebrate Winchester’s strong ties with the military.
At Christmastime, the Cathedral Close becomes a magical place as it hosts the Christmas Market. And every November people take to the streets of the city to join the torchlit procession to the annual bonfire and fireworks display, Winchester’s largest annual charity event.
Far more information on our city and the surrounding area can be found on Visit Winchester, Winchester’s official tourism website. You can also read more about the history of the city on the Historic UK website.